Halloween DIY: Chicago parents show off mad skills in costume making

Anyone can buy the most in-demand Halloween costume at a store. But when the kids want something out-of-the-ordinary, parenting creativity kicks into high gear. These costumes from four Chicago Parent readers - Samantha Sheahan, Maria Dripps-Paulson, Heather Holtz and Sue Quinlan - are certain winners.

Fire Truck


  • Box, spray paint, spray adhesive, contact paper, scissors, foam board (white & black), aluminum foil, black Sharpie, pair of suspenders, other supplies that will make your box your own!

Step 1: Take the box and use spray adhesive to seal all sides and let it dry overnight.

FT4Step 2: Cut a hole in the bottom and top that is big enough for your child to stand comfortably

Step 3: Spray paint the entire box red.

Step 4: Cut a piece of white contact paper to create the front of the truck (which also adds another layer to help hold the box together).

FT1Step 5: Use the foam board to create windows, ladders, etc. Cover some foam pieces with foil to create headlights/front grill, etc.

Step 6: Use anything else to continue decorating your truck! We used stickers, foam as a hose, and flashing lights for the top. This part is all up to your imagination!

FT3Step 7: Use suspenders with clips to place the box over your child's shoulders and have them dress in their best fireman costume!

Samantha Sheahan of Oak Lawn

Son, Jackson, 5


Cabbage Patch Kid


  • Cardboard
  • Yellow tempera paint with primer
  • Construction paper
  • Logo
  • Crochet hat
  • Yarn


Find a piece of cardboard large enough to fit over your stroller. Fold it over the front of the stroller creasing it twice.  Fasten the cardboard behind the stroller using string or bungee cords.

Cut a hole in the front of the box so you can see the "doll".

Paint the box yellow. We used tempera paint with primer.

Add a green border with construction paper around the cut-out hole.

CP2Borrow the Cabbage Kids logo from Google Images, print it on regular paper, cut the access paper off and glue the logo to the box.

Cabbage Patch Kid "Doll"

Make or purchase a crochet hat in any color to act as "hair."  Pull long strands of yarn through the crochet hat as pigtails. Leave the hair loose or braid strands together. Fasten ribbons to the ponytails! If you do not know how to crochet, do not worry. I have seen Cabbage Patch hats available for purchase on Etsy.com.

CP1For the outfit, your "doll" can wear just about anything you like! In this doll's case, she simply wore her own patchwork jeans and a wool jacket!

Sue Quinlan of Palatine

Daughter, Alexis, 21 months


Luigi Riding Yoshi

My son wanted to be Luigi riding Yoshi for Halloween, so we improvised to make him a cute and unique costume.

yoshiWe bought a dinosaur costume at the store, which served as the Yoshi part of the costume.

We pieced together different clothing items for Luigi's costume: We bought a green sweatshirt at Goodwill. We found white gloves and a Luigi hat at the Halloween store.

My son put on the green shirt, added the dinosaur costume over it. The straps from the costume served as Luigi's suspenders. Then, he put on the Luigi hat and white gloves.

Add a mustache with Halloween makeup or eyeliner.

Luigi riding Yoshi is complete!

Heather Holtz, Hanover Park

Son Jaden Holtz, 6





  • White shirt (I used a long sleeve tee). This is the costume base.
  • TONS and TONS of packing peanuts (NOT biodegradable)
  • Hot glue gun/glue sticks
  • Old T-shirts of various colors to be made into fish (I used my old orange, pink, white, and yellow T-shirts)
  • Black duct tape for seaweed
  • Various pieces of scrap (cardboard, piece of foam) to make fish forms
  • Velcro
  • Scissors
  • Needle and Thread

Hot glue packing peanuts on the front of the costume base (white shirt).

sushi9Create fish pieces (check out many pictures of sushi on Google Images to get the general shape/look of the fish)

For Tamago (egg cake)

Cover a box or a rectangle piece of foam with fabric from a yellow T-shirt

Hot glue the yellow fabric to the rectangle

For Sake (salmon)

Cut a piece of foam the shape of the salmon

sushi2Cover and hot glue the foam form with fabric from an orange T-shirt

To make the stripes on the salmon, braid strips of fabric from a pink T-shirt and glue on the salmon.  You could also cut strips and glue without braiding.

For Ebi (shrimp)

Cut orange and white T-shirts into long strips and tie the strips together on one end

Braid shirt strips together (I did a fishtail braid)

sush5sushi6Cut cardboard the size of a shrimp tail, cover and hot glue the tail with parts of an orange T-shirt

To make the tail look shiny like a shrimp tail, cover the tail with clear packing tape

Hot glue the tail to the shrimp

Making Seaweed

Use black duct tape to create long pieces of seaweed

Fit the black duct tape around the sushi and your Trick or Treater with Velcro

Affixing the fish to the costume base

Using hot glue, glue the fish on to the costume base.

Tack various areas of the fish pieces to the  costume base with needle and thread

Watch your children be the hit of the Halloween parade and enjoy many compliments


Instead of a shirt, use a puffy/quilted vest, then maybe omit the packing peanuts

Other family members can be a part as a sushi chef, wasabi, soy sauce bottle or packets

Find shiny black belts to use as seaweed



I bought the white shirts (costume base), because I wanted them to be new (more durable) and a larger size than what my children were wearing at the time. Online, I found the shirts for about $30 with shipping ($8 each).  All the other items, I already owned and found many people who had foam and packing peanuts and were more than willing to have me take them off their hands.

Things to consider:

Ownership. Involve your Trick or Treater in the fun.  At the very least, you'll need to have them try the costume on along the way. There's nothing worse than getting halfway through a costume creation and having your Trick or Treater change his/her mind

Weather. In Illinois, it can rain, snow, or broil on Halloween. I always make costumes that can be put over a coat/layers AND is waterproof just in case.

Lightweight. Depending on the size of your Trick or Treater, you'll want to use material that is not too heavy and might travel on a school bus well.

Indestructable. Use materials that are easy to mend and hold up against the elements.

Add Ons. Find cute accessories to put fun finishing touches on the costume. I used wasabi green turtle necks under the costume base on days they needed just a layer. Cute soy sauce packet hair clips would be fun, too!

Maria Dripps-Paulson of Sugar Grove

Son and daughters Philip, 9, (sushi chef purchased costume), Clara, 5, (shrimp), Naomi, 5, (salmon), and Zoe, 5, (egg)

Kids Eat Chicago

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