Easy No-Sew Costume Ideas

You can get your costume together in minutes.

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Awesome alien

The basics:Heavy-duty garbage bag (green, silver or black)

Holiday tinsel garland (silver or green)

Double-sided tape

Pre-packaged silver ball antenna (available at costume shops)

Cut V-neck in garbage bag for head and two side holes for arms. Tape tinsel garland around neck, arm holes and bottom of bag for hem. Use a long strand of garland for a belt. Tape strips of garland to mittens or gloves, shoes or tops of boots to complete the alien look. Add antenna and blast off for fun!

Special effects:

Silver or green face paint or makeup

Add a sparkling toy laser pistol or make a "laser stick" with cardboard tubes and foil

Adorable artist / Groovy gardener

The basics:

Old button down shirt for smock (white is best)

Cardboard & poster paint/Toy trowel

Paintbrush/Garden gloves

Beret/Straw garden hat

For artist, cut palette shape from cardboard, decorate with bright circles of paint (or glue paper circles onto palette). Don beret at a jaunty angle, grab paintbrush and voila' - a miniature Monet! For gardener, wear straw hat and gloves, carry trowel (preferably plastic).

Special effects:

Dab paint on face and smock for artist

Use brown paint (or real dirt) splotches on face and smock for gardener

Add silk flowers/leaves to garden hat

Mr. or Ms. Moneybags

The basics:

Black or dark green garbage bag


Tape or string

Play money

Reflective safety tape

Cut two leg holes in bottom of garbage bag, cut armholes near top, stuff with crumpled newspaper. Gently gather top of bag around child's neck, secure with strip of tape or string - not too tight! Tape play money around neck opening to suggest a bursting sack of moola. Use reflective tape to make dollar ($) signs on front and back of costume.

Special effects:

Tape gold foil candy coins and more play money to hat and shoes

Perfect princess / Fabulous fairy

The basics:

Old frilly nightgown (or new inexpensive one)

Filmy nylon scarf or crepe paper streamers

Ribbons, sequins, fake jewels, etc.

Gold foil

Poster board or party hat

String elastic

Tape and glue

Cardboard tube/paper dowel from clothes hanger

Adjust length of nightgown to size of child. Make sure it's large enough to fit over warm clothing. Tape together a poster board cone hat or use party hat. Decorate with glued on sequins, fake jewels, etc. Attach scarf or streamers to top point of hat. Punch holes on sides of hat, tie on elastic string. Hat and gown are versatile for both costumes. To create a princess scepter, use cardboard tube covered in foil, glue on sequins and fake jewels and attach ribbons to the end. For fairy, cut a star from poster board, cover with foil, attach to dowel from hanger, tie ribbons underneath the star. She'll make magic on Halloween night.

Special effects:

Glitter face paint or makeup

Nail polish

Attach extra ribbons and sequins to gown and shoes.

Fancy lace gloves and tights

Instead of cone hat, decorate a crown, headband or hair barrette.

Gorgeous grapes / Rollicking raspberries

The basics:

Leotard and leggings or sweat suit (Purple for grapes, red for raspberry or all-purpose green)

Balloons (purple for grape, red for raspberry)

Double-sided tape or adhesive velcro circles (available in craft or sewing sections)

Pipe cleaners or raffia

Matching hat

Stick balloons to clothing. If using tape, twist it around tied-off end of balloon and crimp tightly onto clothing. Velcro circles come apart. Each half can be attached to a balloon and the clothing. Make a "stem" by twisting together brown and green pipe cleaners or raffia and attach to hat. This works b est as an indoor party outfit and should not be worn by children under five - balloons are a chocking hazard. It makes for a sweet treat, fresh off the vine.

Special effects:

Colored face paint or makeup

Add silk leaves to hat or use a headband decorated with greenery and pipe cleaners

Simple scarecrow

Denim bib overalls

Plaid flannel shirt

Rope or twine

Straw hat

Gloves and boots

Straw or shredded raffia

Dress in overalls and shirt, then stuff all pockets with straw or shredded raffia. (Dried long grass from a nearby field will also do in a pinch.) Use twine or rope for a belt. Add a few touches of straw to hat, gloves and boots. It is sure to scare them silly.

Fast firefighter

The basics:

Yellow or red raincoat

Rubber boots (yellow, red or basic black)

Toy fire hat

Special effects:

Cardboard and foil fire axe

Short length of old hose and nozzle

Stuffed dalmation puppy toy

Radical robot / Terrific tin man (as seen on cover)

The basics:

2 large cardboard rectangles or whole box

Silver foil or silver paint

Glue or rubber cement

Heavy string

Double-sided tape

Diaper or safety pins

Aluminum funnel or birthday hat covered in foil

Knobs, plastic milk caps or bottle caps

Cover cardboard with foil or paint. Make a "sandwich sign" of rectangles using string attached at shoulders. Pin strings to clothing if necessary, to keep sandwich sign from slipping. If using the whole box, cut neck and arm holes. Glue knobs, caps or other decorations on front of robot/tin man. Tape aluminum funnel or paper hat to a warm winter hat or use the elastic attached to party hat to secure under chin.

Special effects:

Silver face paint or makeup

Add foil strips on boots and gloves

Cut lengths of silver or white dryer vent hose (available at hardware stores) for robot arms. Attach to clothing with diaper pins

Cardboard and foil axe for tin man

Robin Hood / Jack "IN" the beanstalk

The basics:

Green or brown hooded sweat suit

Black or brown boots


Tape or safety pins

Toy bow/Toy axe (or cardboard and foil axe)

Imitation ivy vines (available at craft stores)

Twist ivy around arms and body of sweat suit, tape or pin in place. Attach feather to side or back peak of hood. Use a bow for Robin, the axe for Jack. Terrific for tough guys who won't stand still for an elaborate dress up session.

Special effects:

Face paint

Brown or green vest

Cape (for Robin)

Necklace of dried beans (for Jack)

Petite pirate

The basics:

Horizontal stripe shirt (red & white is best)

Black sweatpants or old black jeans



Gold clip-on earring

Cardboard and foil sword (or plastic toy sword)

Tuck sweatpants into boots, or if using old jeans, cut ragged fringes on bottom hems. Tie bandana around child's head with knot sticking out at side. Clip on earring, seize the sword and go grab the loot, mate!

Special effects:

Add a wide belt with large buckle

Create a mustache or beard with face paint

Tricorn black felt hat with skull and crossbones instead of bandana

Girls can wear lacy white blouse instead of shirt.

Add lots of gold necklaces, bracelet bangles and two earrings.