Ten Real Steps to Building Your Toddler’s DIY Halloween Costume

Really, how hard can it be?

Sure, maybe you were the one in elementary school who rubber cemented your hands together. But that was a long time ago. Now you’re an adult with a small child. Why not show off your awesome adult competence by creating your own adorable, home spun Halloween costume? Your child will be amazed at their own lovingly made, one-of-a-kind, Halloween creation, and you will be a hero.

“How clever,” your friends will marvel, “What a brilliant, good parent you are! Your child is bound to become a president, with parenting like that!”

Well, we’ve been through it. And we want to share what we’ve learned. Here are the real ten steps to creating your own very special Halloween Creation..

Step 1, October 1-5: Realize the Need

Your child is obsessed. Perhaps with a train, or a crime-fighting puppy, or little girl with a backpack. It really doesn’t matter what – you just realize that YOUR kid loves it like no one ever has.

Step 2, October 6-10: Righteous Indignation.

You see a pre-made version of the costume at your local Toy Emporium. It’s so chintzy you’re insulted. It DOESN’T EVEN LOOK LIKE A TRAIN! It’s also expensive! You resolve that your child will be different, and that your ingenuity will be the difference. You’ll use stuff from around the home. You’re clever and resourceful! You’ll save money! And your kid will have a REAL Halloween costume.

Step 3, October 10-15: Research

You google “Homemade DIY Costume of a Popular Train That Causes Obsession in Children”. Pretty quickly you find a blog post of a guy who did just the thing you’re looking to do. Wow. That costume looks good. Memories of that time you papier-mache’d your glasses to a pine cone only briefly flash in your head before getting banished by your raging ambition

Step 4, October 16: Beginnings.

You assemble supplies. You’re MacGyver and there’s no need for you to buy anything that isn’t already in your house. Cardboard boxes, construction paper, felt… wait, felt? Okay, you’ll go to the craft store and buy the felt. Spray paint. Fine. Buy the spray paint too. And just from eyeballing it, the glue’s not going to be enough. You’re going to have to go over to the hardware store to get some nuts and bolts and washers. That should be everything you need to buy. Except for that big mailing tube for the guy on the blog uses for the train’s boiler.

Step 5, October 30, 8 am: Finishing touches, part 1

No one makes mailing tubes that big. Where on earth did the guy on the blog buy that friggin’ mailing tube?

Step 6, October 30, 3pm: Finishing Touches, part 2

You find yourself in line at the wholesale store, buying a doomsday-sized container of pretzels with peanut butter stuffed in them. You will never eat those pretzels – but in a month of searching, the container is the only item you have found that’s the approximate size and shape you need for the stupid boiler. On your way to check out, you pass the chintzy pre-made costumes. You now notice that the container of pretzels under your arm actually costs more than the whole costume.

Step 7, October 30, 8pm-October 31, 3am: Finishing Touches, part 3

There will be at least five trips to the 24-hour drug store between 8pm and 2am. Sharpie out. Need more golden glitter glue. You cut the felt wrong. You need more felt. You know what? Dammit, scratch the felt. Scratch the whole ten dollar sheet of felt. You’ll use more construction paper. Back to the drug store for more construction paper.

Step 8, October 31, 3am: Victory!

You’re dizzy. You know that you have maybe three and a half hours before your kid wakes up. But there, gleaming under the kitchen fluorescents, is your completed costume. Is it as good as that dude with the blog’s? No. But come on. That guy’s some sort of structural engineer hollywood special effects professional artist. This, though, this little cardboard and plastic piece of wonder, is yours from top to bottom, and you’ve put love into every square inch of it. You imagine your kid’s wonder in the morning when he first beholds it. You post a photo to facebook, so that anyone in your social network can declare it, now: you “won” Halloween. Tomorrow is going to be awesome.

Step 9, October 31, 8am: Magic Time!

The moment that makes it all worthwhile is finally here! You go to put the costume on your child.

As you do, for reasons you will never comprehend, your child begins screaming in terror.

You try to coax, but it doesn’t help. You try to demand, and it just gets worse. You end up carrying the costume on your shoulder all day long. You bring it to Mommy & Me class – and every kid there tries it on and plays with it… except yours.He wants nothing to do with it. You end up following him around with it while he’s trick or treating in sweat pants. Some of the neighbors give you charitable looks. Others seem to think it’s a costume you made for yourself while you while you dressed your child in sweat pants for Halloween. Like the Spanish Armada, your magnificent dreams have dashed themselves on the rocky shores of reality. There is nothing for you but shame.

Step 10, Sometime soon: Learn a Valuable Lesson

On your way home, about a half-block from your house, your kid asks to try on the costume. Despite your frustration and exhaustion, you’re just so sick of carrying the thing that you set it down for him. He climbs right in and suddenly fills with delight. He starts making train noises. He starts running up and down the sidewalk. He’s in love. For about five minutes, because it’s bed time. He will put it on again tomorrow morning. And the morning after that. And there’s going to be a time when you have to bring it in the back of the car, because he may want to wear it at a picnic. And some time, over the course of the next six months, you start thinking about what you can make for a costume next year..

Check out the rest of our #MakeStuff posts curated by our guest editor Sarah Michelle Gellar throughout October. Also, be sure to check out Foodstirs, Sarah’s subscription box focused on healthy and creative baking kits!

Photo via

THE LATEST

SHOP ALL