Secrets of a Great Do-It-Yourself Halloween Costume

Jealous of your friend down the street who always seems to come up with the most creative and unique Halloween costumes? Looking for the “wow” factor in your Halloween costume this year rather than going as the color green (again)?

If you’re ready to dive into the costume venture of your life and catapult yourself into fame and fortune with the best do-it-yourself Halloween costume in the world (or at least get a few compliments at the Halloween party), there are a few things to consider before you begin.

  1. Consider your audience. Will you be going to a costume party with some close friends, or just trick-or-treating door to door? Do you need to keep it kid-friendly? What are the interests of those around you? Going as the main character in your favorite show to a party where no one has seen it won’t earn you the recognition your efforts deserve. You can save yourself a little trouble by thinking about what your audience will appreciate.
  2. Seek inspiration from the world around you. Be observant as you walk around during the day and ask yourself, “How could I turn this into a costume?” as you look at everyday objects. Inspiration can strike at any time!
  3. Be prepared to put in some time and effort (and maybe a little money too). Even if your DIY costume ends up being relatively inexpensive and easy to put together, you’ll probably end up putting in some hours on this — if not on the actual costume assembly itself, at least in the thought and creative process.

Elements of an Awesome DIY Costume

So, now that you know a little better what you’re getting yourself into, let’s look at some of the characteristics of the most successful DIY costumes. The best DIY costumes are:

  • Creative: In order for your DIY costume to be a hit, you have to be unique in some way. I’m sorry, but the whole witch or black cat routine isn’t going to work here. Think outside the box. Or maybe think differently about the box—cardboard boxes make for some great costume possibilities. (Love Rubiks Cubes? Dress up as one!) Your costume has to be something people don’t see on every other street corner while they’re trick-or-treating in order for you to stand out from the ghoulish crowd.
  • Easily Identifiable: If you’re going for something a little off-the-wall, you have to make sure it’s still in the ballpark as far as recognition value goes. How will people recognize your genius if they don’t know what you’re supposed to be? The most effective DIY costumes are those that others can identify immediately or within a minute or two (for costumes that are more subtle in their meaning). “DIY” doesn’t have to mean “elaborate,” but the costume has to be faithful to what you’re trying to represent in order for people to recognize and appreciate your costume masterpiece.
  • Resourceful:It’s great if you have the money to rent a costume or buy all the expensive supplies for a detailed costume, but generally people appreciate the clever use of readily available resources. Paint and cardboard and a little ingenuity go a long way. How about a clear plastic garbage bag with some colored balloons? Voila! A bag of jellybeans! Use what you have on hand and get creative.

    DIY Halloween Costume King Kong
    Photo: Ericka McConnell/Halloween Celebrations
  • Timely: Capitalizing on current pop culture crazes or current events can score big laughs and lots of “That’s so cool!” comments and pictures with smartphones. For example, dressing up as the lady on the Progressive Insurance commercial has been popular these past few years.

Think of a Theme

Now that we’ve named some characteristics of great DIY costumes, let’s look at some of the categories that they seem to fall under to really get the creative juices going.

  • Technology: Some of the most brilliant/clever DIY costumes I’ve seen fall into this category. For example, what about being a Facebook wall or YouTube channel? You’ll get some comments for sure—especially if you have a marker handy for that purpose. If you have a little tyke in tow, why not outfit their car seat with this iPhone getup? iLove it.

    ipone baby costume
    Image credit: IngaMun on Flickr
  • Food:This category provides some great fodder for DIY costume ideas. I love this DIY deviled egg costume—a food and a pun all in one!

    food costumes deviled egg
    Image credit: txkimmers on Flickr
  • Everyday objects: Salt and pepper shakers are a little bit cliché, but it’s going down the right track. How about Pepsi and Coke cans? Or a washing machine with clothes inside?
  • Puns: Love wordplay? Transform it into a brilliant costume that will dazzle and amaze your friends. Or at least it will make them snicker. Hi-ho the dairy-o; what about the Farmer in the Dell?:

    farmer in the dell costume
    Image credit: Coolest-homemade-costumes.com

One of the greatest things about Halloween is that it provides so many opportunities to be creative, even for the normally non-creative types. So don’t delay—get out there and make yourself a Halloween costume to remember.

About the Author

Emma Rae Curtis researches and writes about everything Halloween, from costumes, to party ideas, to makeup and more.

The Faerie Realm of Angelique Duncan

Angelique Duncan, aka Twilight Faerie, is a gifted Halloween artist who creates a variety of inspiring Halloween objects, such as porcelain faeries, costume accessories, ornaments and decoupage. Her inspiration comes from vintage works and styles, and everything is handmade with loving detail. Through networking with other Halloween artists, she launched Halloween Artist Bazaar to showcase handcrafted works from other artists.

As far back as I can remember Halloween and winged things have intrigued me. I found a certain unconventional beauty in the imagery of autumn and Halloween. Equally so, I have had a fascination with the mythology of fairy tales and winged creatures. While other kids were running, skipping and climbing trees, I was content playing with colors and textures and challenging myself to create what was stirring around in my mind. This usually resulted in Halloween or whimsical imagery.

Ghost Party Hat by Twilight FaerieI always had a natural inclination to create. I could spend hours on end with scissors and construction paper just making things or drawing. Somewhere I along the line I kept making Halloween things. I would, and still do today, have images of a something I want to make rattling around in my head that won’t stop haunting me until I bring it to life.

I read a lot of science fiction and physiological fantasy as a kid. I found Ray Bradbury and fell in love with the stories. The “Green Town” series of short stories spoke to me. The imagery of stories like “Halloween Tree” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes” stuck with me. I read old classic fairy tales and there seemed to be a lot of wisdom in the pages. The illustrations of old books had an influence on me. I have always loved the idea that there is something more fantastic than the everyday world. I think that is where my creative inspiration comes from, the notion that that there could be a world where animals speak, fairies have guardianship over wooded places and Jack O Lanterns have magical powers.

I remember as a kid growing up in the 1970’s when Halloween was a big deal. There were a lot of homemade costumes and decorations. What one could buy in a store was well designed and had a classic quality to it. Holiday decorations were just that, holiday decorations. It was great. There was certain sincerity about the atmosphere surrounding it all. As I got older things became more and more commercial and Halloween like other holidays became more of a mass-produced corporate profit maker for merchandising the latest big movie, television shows and their celebrities. The spirit of the thing has just gotten lost.

This is how I arrived at creating hand made Halloween, holiday and faerie objects. I realized the market for what I create, those who grew up with fantastic stories and faerie tales, our grandparent’s decorations and childhood Halloweens, hence the creation of Twilight Faerie. My business became a way to preserve a history and imagery that was important to me and share it with others. My hours on end drawing, cutting and pasting found a noble purpose.

Jack o Lantern Circle by Twilight Faerie Vinyl Bat by Twilight Faerie

I founded Halloween Artist Bazaar in February 2012. I want to help other professional Halloween Artists promote their works and help them to succeed in their business so they can continue to do what they do. Through Halloween Artist Bazaar the tradition of handcrafted Halloween and fantasy art can be perpetuated. The retail market is flooded with mass produced generic Halloween and holiday goods. It is very hard for self-representing artist and small business owners to compete against the corporate giants when going it alone. It is also become harder for collectors to find unique one of a kind decorations. Gathered together we can help cross-promote each other and promote handcrafted goods. In our own way as a Halloween artist group, we can keep the spirit of Halloween imagery alive and available for collectors who are seeking it out.

The average demographic for Halloween Art is between the ages of 34 to 45 years of age. This tells me, folks like myself are a generation with a particular love of Halloween. My guestimation is that it comes from that common experience of Halloween being a big deal when we were kids. I hope that we can pass the same sort of memories on so that the generations after we are done and gone will have the same appreciation for the history and imagery of the holiday. It would be quite sad to see the tradition of hand made Halloween get lost completely from our culture.

Twilight Faerie can be found online at: http://www.twilightfaerie.com/

Her Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/TwilightFaerie