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How to Make an Emergency Last-Minute Costume

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Halloween Masks

Halloween Masks

Photo by Terri Mauro
So your child decides at the last minute that he wants to go trick-or-treating after all. Or that her storebought costume is itchy and too uncomfortable to wear. Or that he forgot to tell you there's a pageant tomorrow, and he's in it. You have no time and no special materials to put together a costume, but a costume is quickly called for. Here's how to assemble something homemade, makeshift and slapdash that you can call a costume and that your child will tolerate. Now get going! Quickly!
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: As much or as little as you have

Here's How:

  1. First, a mask. Print one out from sites like Jan Brett's, Terminix, or those listed at About.com Freebies, or use markers or crayons to turn a paper plate into a scary monster face. Cut out eye and nose holes as needed. You can punch holes in the sides of the mask, thread a string or rubber band through, and tie it around your child's head, but some kids don't like the feeling of mask against face, and it will probably just fall apart anyway. Try the options in the next step instead.
  2. How to wear that mask? Here are three options: Glue or tape it to the front of a paper bag and put the paper bag over your child's head; dangle it by a piece of string from the front of a sweatshirt hood or a cap; or glue or tape it to a ruler or a long thin stick and let your child hold it in front of his face (glue or tape a paper mask to something stiffer first, like the front of a file folder or a piece cut from the side of a cereal box.)
  3. If your child has clothing that can work with the mask to create a costume, you're done! Brown shirt and pants makes a bear, black makes a cat, grey makes a mouse or a robot or the Tin Man. Your child's not that color-coordinated? Then you'll need some sort of tunic. Go on to the next step to find out how to fake one.
  4. Assuming you have no tunics lying around the house ready for service, try one of these: a garbage bag with holes cut out for head and arms; a pillow case with holes cut out for head and arms; a beach towel with a hole cut in the center for the head; even a long piece of butcher paper or sturdy gift wrap, with a hole cut in the center for the head and a scarf or piece of ribbon to tie it around your child's middle.
  5. Finally, decorate the "tunic" with as much imagination and creativity as you have time for. Depending on what you're working with, you can glue construction paper on the tunic, draw on it with crayons or markers, or attach all manner of feathers and sequins and buttons and shoelaces and what-all.
  6. Now, stand back and admire that costume. It may not win any prizes from judges or the judgmental, but it's homemade, it has sort of kind of a theme, and it was crafted with love. Take a picture. Then start strategizing for next year, because you know this is going to happen again.

What You Need

  • Paper or paper plate for making a mask
  • Cardboard for gluing paper mask to, if needed
  • Ruler or long thin stick for gluing mask to, if needed
  • Crayons and markers, if needed
  • Construction paper, feathers, sequins, shoelaces, other add-ons (optional)
  • A "whatever works" attitude (essential)
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