Last Minute Halloween Costume Ideas

Last Minute Halloween Costume ideas

With Halloween looming I've been a bit nostalgic for the days when my kids dressed up and went Trick or Treating. Most years they decided what they wanted to do a maximum of 24 hours before, sometimes even on the afternoon of the 31st October, so most of the things we've done are pretty last minute! 

So I've trawled the archives of our family photos to share our awesome (and less than awesome) ideas - they might just help if you are a bit like us. All these photos are just pre-blog family snaps taken just before the kids went out Trick or Treating so forgive the grainy, poorly lit quality (and the mess in the background!)

The main things I learnt when my kids were small and dressing up for Trick or Treating are:

  • In the UK at the end of October it can be pretty chilly so the costume needs to be warm. Layers underneath are your best bet. (Of course if you live somewhere hot you have no problem with this, maybe even the opposite )

  • Personally I much prefer face paint to a mask. Masks are just too scary for me, but I know some kids are allergic to face paint so I guess that's your call.

  • Assuming you have time, the Charity shop/Thrift Store is your best friend for costume materials, otherwise you can usually do something with stuff from the wardrobe of someone in the house.

  • Really young children's costumes need to be simple, prop free and close to normal clothes. They will loose/drop/remove anything that gets in their way after about 5 minutes

  • If you have several kids save everything that's not broken and reuse each year

  • Beware mixing fake fur and rubbery masks, it can get pretty sweaty in a mask and fake fur can moult - we had an unfortunate Chewbacca incident, enough said!

So here are some of our masterpieces, UK kids tend to do scary fancy dress for halloween, especially the older they get, I know in some countries it's a bit more 'anything goes'. 

I warn you now, these are not dazzling ideas, but they might come in handy if you have to come up with a costume in next to no time.


Homemade Dracula costume

Same costume, different years, different kids

This is just black school uniform trousers, white shirt, a strip of red fabric for a tie, fake plastic teeth and a cape made from a black bin bag and black duck tape. They are wearing long sleeved t-shirts under the white shirts for warmth. 

I seem to have varied the face paint a little over the years, here is our very theatrical son showing that off a little better.

dracula facepaint.jpg



homemade mummy fancy dress costume

3 different kids, 3 different years

For this they wore white clothes (or grey when no white was available in their size - it looked better in real life, I blame the flash) and we ripped up an old white sheet to make bandages. They were just pinned on with safety pins and a very simple bandage face paint finished it off. White socks make good white gloves at a pinch too! On the left here was the year when we discovered how cold you can get if you go out in thin white summer trousers - layers people, it's the way to go! I still have the bag full of "bandages" just in case someone ever wants to do this again.

The Grim Reaper

homemade grim reaper costume idea

Black clothes, including something with a hood and a plastic scythe prop (we bought one for next to nothing in a supermarket and it lasted several years) On the left here we revisited the black bin bag and duck tape cape idea too. Again I seem to have varied the face paint a bit over the years but it's pretty straightforward.

grim reaper face paint.jpg


simple witch facepaint ideas

Black clothes, black cape (bin bag and duck tape of course!), witches hat, maybe a broomstick if possible. The only thing that has varied here over the years is the face paint.


zombie facepaint idea

Not to blow my own trumpet or anything but this is probably the best face paint I've ever managed! It's not that complicated when you look closely though, just a white face, black round the eyes with a sponge and on the cheeks, then a little red under the eyes and mouth with a little paint brush.

homemade zombie costume ideas

This was such a easy costume, just take some clothes that they have almost grown out of and chop 'em up! Then attack them (the clothes not the kids!) with felt pens and/or paint. The hair was sprayed with some white colour hair spray.

Mad Scientist

homemade mad scientist costume idea

This is probably my favourite. We had the doctors coat from an adults fancy dress outfit from years ago so I just took up a massive hem with tape. You could just put them in a man's white shirt. Then it's just swimming goggles, washing up gloves and white colour hair spray. To finish off we made the test tubes by running laminating pouches through the laminator with just a small piece of bright paper, cutting out the test tube shapes and then taping them to a piece of string. 


homemade ghost costume

I can't find any great photos of this but they have all taken a turn in the pillowcase ghost costume. It's a white pillowcase with the top rounded over on the sewing machine and an oval cut out for their face. 

This was one of the first Halloween costumes I ever made when the kids were really little. To start with I just popped the pillowcase over their heads without rounding the top, 2 seconds in it slipped to the side and the corner pointed to the ceiling (very KKK and scary but not at all what we were going for) After rounding the top I though we would be able to just cut eye holes - NO - not for little children, this did not work AT ALL, the oval "whole face poking out" was much more practical.

And now for something a little less scary:


homemade santa costume for kids

Red coat, Santa hat (you probably can't see but that is a Santa hat, just a very fluffy one), black belt and a white face painted beard. If I remember right he finished it off with welly boots.

70's Hippy

70's fancy dress.jpg

That's a wig, but I guess it depends on your hair. The head band is the same strip of fabric as the Dracula tie at the top of the page. A plain old t-shirt with the design just drawn on quickly in regular felt pen and a cardboard and foil pendant.


home made jedi costume

This was Dad's old long sleeved sand coloured T-shirt that had gone all out of shape. I drew the "folds" on the front in pen, we rolled the sleeves up a bit and added a belt and light saber. Job done. He had to wear a T-shirt underneath as the V neck was a bit low but it did the job.

We've also done but not photographed:

A Pumpkin, just an old orange t-shirt with a face drawn on in felt pen, and a couple of cushions tied round the waist underneath.

A Cinderella with a summer dress, apron, headscarf and feather duster.

A Pirate from a stripy top, the same trousers in the zombie photo further up the page, a headscarf, eye patch and a little parrot toy from MacDonalds pinned on the shoulder.

Peter Pan from a green shirt cut in a zig zag round the bottom, green trousers, a belt, a cardboard dagger and paper hat

So, if you need a last minute costume and don't have time or money to go to the shops maybe you will feel inspired to create something yourself from stuff you probably already have. If you have more time to be creative I have a pinterest board full of DIY costume ideas I've found and liked to give you much more inspiration.