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Seven Not-So-Scary Creative Costumes

Ideas that make YOU and your kid look amazing.

Got another idea? LET US KNOW! 

  • An iPhone4
  • A bag of groceries
  • A hot air balloon
  • A jellyfish
  • A mailbox
  • A rabbit in a hat
  • A window box of flowers


 You’ll need:

  • 1 sheet of black foamcore board, plus:
  • 1 sheet any color foamcore board (for the back)
  • large sheets of heavy card stock in various colors (or use thick, Sharpie® – style markers to color in white card stock.)
  • white card stock (to print the icons provided) and a color printer,  or colored markers (for you or your child to draw your own icons)
  • double-stick tape, glue stick, Glue-Dots® (my new fave), or glue
  • wide ribbon and glue (or staples) to join the “sandwich board” phone together for wearing.


You can download a booklet of instructions here, which includes standard iPhone icons, as well as blank icons you can get creative with. If you don’t already have Adobe’s FREE Acrobat READER program to view PDFs (Portable Document Files), then click the “Get Adobe Reader” icon above, and it will take you – in a separate window – to the Adobe web site, where you can easily download the latest version and install it on any system you have.

iPhone 4

Print out this image of the iPhone as a guide. (Click or right-click and choose “save as“)

Avoid copyright infringement; Google your own iPhone image at your own risk – honestly? You can be really creative with your own ideas. Encourage your kids to avoid copyright infringement, which is illegal, and wrong – and encourage them instead to be inventive.

Use a large coffee can to round off the edges of each corner of both pieces of foamcore board.

Decorate the back of the back piece of foamcoare board. This is the “phone cover,” so go nuts.

Follow the instructions in the PDF you can download here for placement of the printable pieces for the front, black piece of foamcore board.

You can each punch holes in the tops and sides of the foamcore boards when you’re done, as shown, to keep the boards on your child, or you can fasten the ribbon with tape. (Holes and knots are FAR more secure.)



A Bag of Groceries

  • Cereal boxes, oatmeal cylinders: anything packaged in light cardboard will work.
 oatmeal can
  • At the grocery store, when they ask: paper or plastic? Ask for paper, and fold it carefully and tuck it away until it’s time for you to make your BIG bag.
  •  You might want to consider a trip to the dollar store for some cheap fruit, too.
  •  Depending on the size of your child, you may need one to three bags to fit.
  •  If you need more than one bag, you will simply cut on the seams and layer the bags together to create one larger bag – duct tape on the INSIDE, for security, but use transparent cellophane tape on the outside to keep things neat.
  •  Since you’ll be cutting out the BOTTOM of the bag, to allow your child to walk, use that nice, thick bottom to make secure straps for the shoulders: THAT will be the grocery bag straps.
  • Before you make the final duct tape seam? Along the inside, duct tape your (now) lightweight items you’ve bought (and used) from the store. Add tissue-paper lettuces, dollar-store fruits, etc.
grocery bag costume diagram
…and so on… plastic fruit, tissue paper lettuces.. they’ll be empty, so they won’t weigh down the bag.
  • You can even add an old grocery-store receipt dangling from the bag – but not too long. Make sure your child doesn’t trip.



You’ll need:

  • A smallish, on-the-thin-side, round pillow
  • Silk, or silk-like, shiny fabric
  • Shiny pajamas (to match)
  • Shiny ribbon (wide) from the dollar store, or any craft store
  • Safety pins


  • If your child is into the ocean blue? Then a trip to the thrift store for a round pillow and some silky stuff is the trick here.
  • Bag up the pillow and bunch it into a silk pillowcase. (Or, more accurately, if you’re budget-conscious: “silk-like.”) Rubber-band or use a ponytail holder to tie it together, and you’ve got the beginnings of the headpiece.
  • Safety pins, judiciously located on either side of the “hat,” will allow you to tack on a below-the-chin ribbon to keep it fastened onto the head. (Make sure the pillow isn’t too heavy.) Use more safety pins to add “tentacles” to the jellyfish, which will dangle down from the pillow.
  • Add pajamas to match, and you’re good to go.



 You’ll need:

  •  A rectangular box, longer than wide, and big enough to fit your child’s head, but still sit on their shoulders. You should be able to get this by asking around at your local grocery stores, which dump boxes of varying sizes away every week.
  •  White poster board
  • Red construction paper
  • Glue or staples. (If you go with staples, pick up some masking tape to cover the staples for safety.)
  • Optional: gold-colored paper fasteners, to use to secure the red flag and make it also moveable.
mailbox costume diagram 1
  •  Cut any flaps off the box, so there aren’t any hanging off.
  •  Get the box, and cut out a hole in the front, so you can slide the box from the back onto the child’s shoulders.
  •  Take the semi-circle you cut out, and save it aside.
mailbox costume diagram 2
  •  Pick up the large white poster board, and cut it the length of the box.
mailbox costume diagram3
  •  Secure one edge of the poster board to the bottom of the box; glue or staple to the side. Flip the poster board over the empty top. It will form a curve, like the top of a mailbox. Do the same to the other side, securing it, finally, at the other bottom edge. (Do not forget, if using staples, to cover the staples with a thick tape – like masking tape.)
  • Once you’ve cut the red flag out of construction paper, you can either glue it on, or you can use the gold paper fastener to affix it – if you use the fastener, your flag will be able to go up and down.


Rabbit in a Hat

You’ll need:

  • Hair band (hard, not stretchy)
  • Bunny ears, downloadable here.
  • Fluffy cottontail, made from cottonballs.
  • 2-3 sheets Black posterboard.
  • Black duct tape.
  • Black ribbons or large-size, soft black yarn
  • Shiny, black, blue, or other bold color ribbon – enough to fit around the perimeter of the giant hat.
  • Two mismatched socks
  • White school glue
  • Bag of cotton balls and old or disposable bowl
  • Newspapers to pick up glue drips
 (optional: you can modify a sister’s princess costume to be a “magician’s assistant” costume. Just add magic wand.)

NOTEFor a quick and easy rabbit?

Download this ear pattern, which can be easily attached to any hard (as opposed to the stretch kind) hairband. (BONUS: Cat ears, too.)

Make up the face like so:

rabbit makeup diagram1

You need a headband. NOT the stretchy kind. The hard kind.

rabbit makeup diagram 2

Attach the downloadable ears to the headband.

rabbit makeup diagram 3

Add a pink circle to the nose with lipstick or lip gloss.

rabbit makeup diagram 4

With brown or black eyeliner, or eyebrow pencil, draw the muzzle and whiskers.

For a quick and easy rabbit’s tail?

(Here’s a good use for some mismatched socks, too.)

  • Take the smaller sock, ball it up, and place it in the toe of the other.
  • Tie off the toe of the first sock.
  • Dip or cover the toe of the sock in glue. (Make sure you’ve laid down the newspapers to catch the glue drips.)
  • Now: after all the drips have stopped, dunk the sticky (roundish) sock end in the bag of cotton balls. You should have a nice, fluffy tail. With a convenient “tail end” to attach to your child’s costume.


To make the hat?

  • Make a cylinder out of 1-2 sheets of posterboard – make sure it’s wide enough and short enough for your child to take a step and they won’t trip.
  • As long as the perimeter of the cylinder, create a 4-inch (approximately) “brim” for the hat: basically, a long, long strip. You’ll probably need to tape together several strips. For the sake of planning, though, keep in mind: if you want a 3-inch brim, cut a 4-inch strip. A 4-inch brim? Cut a 5-inch strip.
  • At one end of the strip? Cut one inch into the brim, every couple of inches or so, until your strip looks a little bit like a fringe.

hat diagram

  • This will allow you to bend the brim – and then glue it onto the cylinder part of the hat.
  • The brightly colored ribbon will hide the fringy mess.
  • Like the other costumes? Punch discreet holes, and use ribbon or yard to make sort of suspenders to hold the hat up on your child’s shoulders.


Window Box of Flowers

 Again: hit your local grocery store for the perfect sized box for this.

You’ll need:

  • Colored tissues in all colors – and green, for the leaves.
  • You COULD invest in wire? Or you could just save bread ties.
  • Acrylic paint, to paint the box a nice white floral box color… OR?
  • White card stock, to cut out a cute little fence to glue onto the box.
  •  Optional? Floral tape.
  • Also optional: floral foam.


  • If you’re going to cut out the fence? Fold the cardstock in half, if necessary, and cut the cardstock along the folded half.
  • Fold your cardstock into as many even pieces as you like.
  • Cut along the folds, and that will give you a nice easy way to get even fence slats.
  • Save one or two long pieces to “connect” the fence posts.
  • Glue onto the box.

For the flowers:

  • Layer two shades of tissue on top of each other, and bunch up, or accordion fold.
  • Secure in the center with tape or wire.
  • Fluff out again, into flower shapes.
  • Repeat until box is full with as colorful a set as you like.

Fill box first with artfully crumpled shades of green tissue. (If box is semi deep? Fill first with something you can’t see, like an old towel or something on the light side… you don’t want to weigh your child down too much.)

Another possibility? If the box has room? Use a cardboard separator: flowers in front, and in back? The candy stash!

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