Halloween is a holiday that celebrates creativity. Decorations and costumes provide opportunities to let your imagination go wild and to see old things in a new way. The policy in our house is that costumes must be created primarily from things we already have. Last year, my Smurfs-obsessed child went as Gutsy Smurf – his kilt and sash were made from an old flannel shirt we had stashed in a “get rid of” bag in the basement. In that vein, I've found a few DIY costume pieces that could be the inspiration for (or cherry on top of) a great costume. I've also rounded up some Halloween decor to create with your kids. Why buy decorations when you can make fabulously spooky ones like these? (If this post inspires your inner crafter and you're looking for even more ideas, take a look at these cheap and easy Halloween crafts from our LA editor.)
Redbook has a whole slideshow of fun Halloween decorations, but the Tangled Webs craft is my favorite because it’s simple, the supplies are easy to get, and even little tykes can make the sparkly glitter webs (with help from a parent, of course).
While you have the glue and wax paper out, go ahead and make this adorable Ghost Necklace. If you tie the ghost on, you can actually make two or three ghost and string them along the necklace. These little ghosties can also be used for decorations (which may be a good idea if your little one really gets into the project and wants to make multiple ghosts, or if you have a kid who doesn’t like to wear necklaces).
I’ve always liked the crafts and recipes from Family Fun (which is now Spoonful), but this Ghostwriter pen project thrills me. The coolest Halloween party favor. Ever.
Say what you want about Martha Stewart, but when it comes to creating something fabulous, she really knows her stuff. I think these Collage Halloween Masks are genius. If you ditch the templates provided and use paper plates and old magazines, you can make this a green project and as wild, spooky, creepy or funny as your imagination allows.
Keep those magazines out and grab some paper shopping bags. The Paper Bag Gargoyles from Spoonful use a very similar collage concept to make super fun decorations. You can keep it simple for little ones, or let your older kids go wild with the “hairdos” and facial expressions.
These Recycled Haunted Houses from Parents Magazine are great – they reuse milk cartons and newspapers to create a fun, open-ended project that can be spooky or cute, depending on your child’s taste.
This easy, very inexpensive Egg Carton Animal Nose Mask Craft could really make a costume. Just add ears, a tail and possibly a little face paint. You and your child could make a whole zoo of animal noses and keep them around for dress up. This would also make a good party activity, whether it’s a Halloween hootenanny or a birthday celebration.
I think Crafting Mom may have been snooping around my house, because I literally have all the supplies for her Halloween Ghost Jars craft just lying around. I always save jars, thinking that they will make a good craft someday, and apparently I’m right! Thank you, Crafting Mom, for validating my recyclables hoarding habit.
The Halloween Ring Critters from AllFreeCrafts.com are so cute, and definitely do not need to be limited to the Halloween season. Just be careful of the potentially pokey ends of the chenille stems (you may want to cover the tips in glue). To avoid frustration, I recommend using glue dots as the adhesive – otherwise, your kids could be sitting there a while, holding the pompoms together to dry, only to watch the whole thing fall apart as soon as they let go.
The Handprint Mask Craft from About.com is quick, easy, good for all ages, and absolutely brilliant. You may want to Pin this tutorial for future Mardi Gras celebrations; or, if you have an American Girl fan in the house, it could be used for a Marie-Grace and Cécile themed event.
Originally published October 17, 2012; updated October 2013, September 2014