Cute Halloween costumes don't have to be expensive.

Making a Costume for a Toddler out of Recycled Materials

by Dana Hinders

If you'd rather spend your money on extra bags of Halloween candy so you don't have to nibble on your toddler's treats, skip the expensive store-bought costumes and make a Halloween outfit from recycled materials. With paint, glue, fabric scraps and cardboard boxes, you can whip up a costume your tot will be proud to wear trick-or-treating.


The mother of all recycled Halloween costumes is the ghost made from an old sheet. But, a sheet can be a tripping hazard for a toddler who is not very steady on her feet. Make a safer version of the classic homemade ghost costume by cutting holes in an old pillowcase for your toddler's eyes, mouth and arms. To make the ghost costume look more authentic, cut a jagged border along the bottom of the pillowcase.

Trash Monster

If you need a unique costume for your child and you've only got a few minutes to spare, a trash monster costume will rescue you from being labeled a slacker by the other preschool moms. Simply cut a large brown paper bag to make a vest for your child, then hot glue to the bag scraps of paper, empty snack food boxes, pop bottle lids, and whatever other recyclable items you can find. If you have time, glue a few trash bits to an old baseball cap or a stained pair of sweatpants to complete the look.


Toddlers love robots, so it's a happy coincidence that a robot costume is fairly easy to make. Spray paint a large cardboard box silver and then cut out holes for your child's neck, arms and torso. Use hot glue to add painted bottle lids to the box to make dials for your homemade robot. Make robot arms and legs by using strips of duct tape to cover an old pair of pants and a long sleeve shirt.

Lego Brick

If your toddler loves Legos, consider making a homemade Lego brick costume. This is also a great project if you want a coordinating family costume since everyone can be assigned a different color. To make the Lego brick costume, glue two columns of four round box lids or paper bowls to a large rectangular cardboard box with holes cut out for your child's neck, arms and torso. Spray paint the entire project in the color of your choice and let dry before writing "LEGO" on each brick stud with a permanent marker. Have your child wear the costume with a sweatsuit in a matching color.

About the Author

Dana Hinders is an Iowa-based writer. She earned her B.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa in 2003.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images