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DIY: Homemade Halloween

From full frocks to bows and bags, poster board and markers make for a unique and easy paper doll costume this Halloween. (Republican Eagle photos by Danielle Killey)1 / 3
Become a sea creature easily with an oversized sweatshirt and white paper or fabric. This octopus costume is easy to make and will keep you comfortable and warm on Halloween night.2 / 3
Siblings — like my brother Zach Nordine (left) and me in this old photograph — or friends can enjoy dressing up like a pair of dice. The costume is simple and only requires a cardboard box and white and black paper.3 / 3

From candy to costumes, Halloween expenses can add up. But making outfits at home can be cheaper, not to mention more fun and creative.

A do-it-yourself costume can be perfect for kids, teens or adults.

So avoid the polyester “one size fits all” frocks in many stores this year and create something different from materials that are inexpensive or likely found around the home.



• Medium or large square cardboard box

• Large roll of white paper

• Black paper

• Scissors

• Glue or tape

• Black pants and top

Bring fun to Halloween night by becoming a board game staple — dice. Friends or siblings can “pair” up or go at it alone.

Find a square box that’s roughly the size of your torso. Trace and cut arm holes on the sides of the box and a hole on top for the head.

Remove the bottom of the box.

Wrap a roll of white paper around the box, taping or gluing on edges. Cut matching arm holes in the white paper.

Trace and cut circles from the black paper to represent the number dots on each face of the die. You’ll need at least 21 circles, though arms can serve as dots too. Glue or tape the black paper circles onto the box.

Wear black pants and a top underneath the costume.


• Depending on the weather, the clothes underneath the dice box — black pants and top — can keep you extra warm and comfortable while trick-or-treating.

• Choose a roll of white paper, such as butcher paper or wrapping paper, that is wide and tall enough to cover the surface of at least one box face.

• Make sure to cut the arm holes at a comfortable height so arms can be put down to the sides without the box in the way but the head also comfortably fits at the top.

• Adults and parents: you might need a utility knife or box cutter for the arm holes rather than scissors.

LEGO brick


• Medium or large cardboard box

• 6-8 clear or colored plastic cups

• Hot glue

• Bright colored paint (same as cups, if colored)

• Pants and top that match paint color (or white or black)

Another cardboard box option for Halloween dress-up is the LEGO-style brick.

Simply find a box, preferably rectangular. Trace and cut arm holes on the sides and a hole for the head at the top. Remove the bottom of the box.

Glue six to eight plastic cups in pairs on the front of the box (representing the raised interlocking circles on the LEGOs).

Paint the whole costume in a bright color, such as blue, red, yellow or green. Match pants and a top to the paint color, or wear white or black underneath the box.


• Again, adults or parents might need a utility knife or box cutter for the arm holes rather than scissors.

• Make sure the rectangular box isn’t too long — that could interfere with comfortable walking.

Paper doll


• Large sheets of poster board

• Black marker

• Colored markers or paint

• Scissors

• White shirt and pants

• Strong tape or Velcro

Dress like a paper doll this Halloween with some simple flat clothing with tabs.

Measure the child (or whoever is dressing up) and trace a shirt, skirt, pants or other clothing on poster board. If there is room on the poster board, also draw several tabs on each side of the costume, representing the paper doll dressing flaps. Outline the tabs with dotted lines and the “clothing” with black lines. Fill in the clothing with whatever colors you want and finishing touches (ex. collars, buttons).

If you need the whole sheet of poster board for the clothes, draw tabs on separate paper, outline with dotted lines, cut out and tape to the paper clothes.

Attach the paper clothing to a white shirt and pants or shorts with sturdy tape, such as duct tape, or Velcro.


• You can also make accessories, such as purses, hats or bows, and add the tabs to keep the paper doll look going.

• Velcro is the sturdier but more permanent option for attaching the paper outfits. The costume still could be used for dress-up with other paper doll accessories.

• The paper doll costume can serve double duty — for example, you could be a paper doll fireman, or nurse, or any other outfit.



• Large sweatshirt (bigger than normally worn)

• Glue or sewing materials

• Stuffing material, such as newspaper, paper towel or cotton stuffing

• White felt, fleece or paper

• Scissors

Become an eight-legged sea creature — and stay warm on a cold Halloween night — with an octopus costume made from an oversized hooded sweatshirt.

Cut the front and back panels of the sweatshirt each into three even pieces. Roll up each piece into a long tube, stuff and glue or sew shut. This will create six “legs,” plus the arms of the sweatshirt for eight all together.

Cut white felt, fleece or paper into circles to represent the suction cups. Glue or sew onto the bottom of all the “legs.”

Wear with the hood up and a simple shirt and pants.


• Choose a sweatshirt several sizes bigger than you normally wear.

• Don’t stuff the “legs” too full or the closure might come undone, especially if it is not sewn.

• Make sure the “suction cups” are firmly attached to the fabric. Use glue made for fabric, hot glue or sew them on to the sweatshirt.

• You can take this costume even farther by wearing a blue shirt and pants to represent the water and attaching seaweed, fish or other underwater animals and plants.

Peanuts characters

Materials, Charlie Brown:

• Yellow T-shirt shirt

• Black duct tape or electrical tape, or fabric

• Black shorts

There are many characters whose signature outfits are simple to make or find at home. Charlie Brown from the Peanuts is one of them.

Just take a plain yellow T-shirt and add a zigzag pattern toward the bottom of the shirt with layers of black duct tape or electrical tape, or by sewing on fabric. Finish off with black shorts and a football, Snoopy stuffed animal and some profound thoughts on life.


• Join together with a group to make the Peanuts gang, which also has some relatively simple costumes to put together — a friend with a blue dress, saddle shoes and a football or someone with a red-and-black striped shirt and a blue blanket, for example.

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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