20 Lazy, Last-Minute Kids’ Halloween Costumes You Can Put Together From Stuff You Already Own

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Hey now, you’re a rock star!

I’m pretty into easy Halloween costumes. I like to either buy them ready-made (if I can afford it), or go with costumes fashioned out of stuff we already own or can use again in some other capacity. My daughter has always had a great time on Halloween, and she’s never noticed that her costumes have been executed with a minimal amount of effort and planning. And with the exception of last year’s last-ditch effort at throwing a costume together after a particularly stressful month, she’s always looked incredible, too. (And last year she looked just fine. Remember, for kids, Halloween is about candy. That’s it. The costume is for you, Mom and Dad.)

Here are some of the brilliant lazy and/or last-minute costumes I’ve dressed my daughter in over the years, along with some other ideas you might want to choose from this year if you haven’t been making a papier-mache masterpiece in your garage since August:

  • Kitty, Rabbit or Anything That Only Needs Ears 1 of 20
    This was my daughter's Halloween costume three years ago. I bought the dress for her to wear to school because it was on sale at Macy's, and I think the ear/tail combo cost $8. Afterwards she used them as dress-up toys until they fell apart.
  • Gypsy 2 of 20
    My friend Hillary Buckholtz of I'm Remembering! as a gypsy from a Halloween night in the 80's. Just give your kid a bunch of the gold jewelry you never wear and dress her like a sexy grandma and you've pretty much got the look down.
    Photo credit: Hillary Buckholtz
  • Hippie 3 of 20
    Tie-dye + peace sign = hippie. (My daughter never wore this as a Halloween costume, but I'm just sayin'. It's that easy.) Throw a scarf in her hair. The hippie costume is just a slight variation on gypsy, but use beads instead of gold.
  • Soldier 4 of 20
    I'm a peacenik, but every kid has camo sweats - even if they're pink. If you're liberal and you want to get goofy, make him wear a sign that says, "I'm fighting the War on Women" or something ridiculous that will make your kid hate you now but feel proud when he looks back at your mommyblog with his college girlfriend.
    Photo credit: iStock
  • Mime 5 of 20
    Black clothes, eyeliner. White gloves if you have them. White makeup unnecessary, but you can use baby powder if you want. You may think this costume is the lamest of the lame, but trust me, once your kid realizes he can spend the night pretending to be tugging rope while trapped in a box, he'll be psyched.
    Photo credit: iStock
  • The President and First Lady 6 of 20
    Dress your kids in their finest red, white and blue duds and have them go as FLOTUS and POTUS. (Or Mitt and Ann Romney. But in that case be sure to bring your dog along in a bin. Har har.)
    Photo credit: iStock
  • Animal Hat 7 of 20
    Throw an animal hat on and you're that animal, baby. Just wear clothes that match.
    Photo: My daughter's first Halloween! Little lamb.
  • Athlete or Sports Fan 8 of 20
    Oh hai. Why not get out your football uniform and wear it as a Halloween costume? Not only will it look cool, you can remind people to come to your final games before winter hits!
    Photo credit: iStock
  • Movie Star 9 of 20
    Boa, sunglasses. Done. (Note: actual movie stars do not wear boas but your child does not have to know that.)
    Photo credit: iStock
  • Chef/Baker 10 of 20
    Your kids probably have their own chef hats and aprons from that fancy cooking class you enrolled them in when they turned two, or because Grandma made them a set, or because you made them a set. But if not, just let them wear one of your aprons. If you don't have a hat, give them a spoon or spatula to carry. Dust some powder on their face. If you want to mix it up a little bit, use some fake blood and pretend the chef had a cooking accident, or add a boa and sunglasses and voila! You're a celebrity chef.
    Photo credit: Flickr user Big DumpTruck
  • Nature 11 of 20
    My sister gave me the flower headband randomly - I think it had been my niece's ten years ago. I'm sure you have something like this in the bottom of one of your toy piles. If not, make a sun hat out of paper. Or dress your child in brown pants and a green shirt, throw some leaves in his hair and he's a tree. Boom.
  • Hobo 12 of 20
    Old clothes + sack on a stick = hobo. Timeless classic, as you can see thanks to this retro photo from the 60's.
    Photo credit: Flickr user ChicagoGeek
  • Rock Star 13 of 20
    My daughter, two Halloweens ago. I bought the hat, tie, tights and guitar purse at The Children's Place when I was just doing regular clothes shopping. She still plays with all this stuff as dress-up toys. If you don't have a kid's tie, go with a vest or denim jacket and whatever fake instruments you own. Rockers can play the egg shaker!
  • Flower Girl/Bride 14 of 20
    Has your daughter been in a wedding? Made her First Communion? Does she own a white dress? Throw a ring of flowers or a tiara on her head and she's a flower girl or a bride, whichever is easier!
    Photo: my daughter's flower girl ensemble from a wedding earlier this month.
  • Punk/Punky Brewster/Rainbow Brite/Raver/Sk8r 15 of 20
    You get the idea. Trashy cute rainbow vomit. This is an outfit my daughter wore to school on Wacky Wednesday. Roller skates are an added bonus.
  • Recycling Box 16 of 20
    Yes, this is a cool costume idea. Here's how it looks in action on Flickr. Or go as a TV, or anything you can quickly and easily make out of the cardboard boxes you haven't recycled yet.
    Photo credit: iStock
  • An Old Dance Costume 17 of 20
    Do your children take dance lessons? Have you paid $40-$100 per costume? Why aren't you reusing these so you can get your money's worth?! Change it up with different accessories so your kid won't complain. Halloween costumes are all about the mental perspective with which you view the clothes. So if she wore a number for her jazz dance, tell her now she's a ballroom dancer, or an Argentinian spy! Or a stylish ostrich! It doesn't matter! She only wants candy!
    Photo credit: iStock
  • Superhero Pajamas 18 of 20
    Wearing superhero pajamas makes you a superhero. That's all I'm saying. (Works for girls wearing Princess nightgowns or Dora pjs, too.)
    Photo credit: Target
  • Anything from your Dress-Up Bin 19 of 20
    Kids nowadays have so many more costume items than we did growing up. Last year my daughter went trick-or-treating as a fairy without wings ... because someone had given us a second-hand fairy costume without wings, and I didn't have time to get anything else. She also wore this second-hand Snow White outfit to a party. No one will know it's not the first and only time this costume has been worn/played in!
  • Dinosaur 20 of 20
    Does your kid have a bike helmet like this? My daughter does. She's worn it about three times. It might be this year's costume!
    Photo credit: Amazon

Photo credits: iStock


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