Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays because it's so well-suited for creative projects and personal expression. My mom never challenged my unconventional costume requests (in fact, she made them come alive), and somehow, I was always able to convince a friend to join me when the concept required more than one person. For example, in pre-K, I saw the Austin Powers DVD cover in Blockbuster and became dead set on dressing up as Elizabeth Hurley's character. My poor big sister, a second-grader at the time, had to go as Austin himself, wearing a blue velvet pantsuit, fake teeth, hair glued to her chest, and all.
So as you can probably tell, I think Halloween is the perfect time to inspire creativity in children. But with busy schedules and so many premade costumes available, it's not always the convenient option. Pro tip: Instead of going to a Halloween warehouse pop-up, head to a thrift store. This can result in stylish, authentic, and unique costumes, even if they are inspired by a popular character or event since you'll be giving it your own spin. To make this task less daunting and a lot more fun, we came up with a list of 22 cute Halloween costumes for kids that don't require you to be a super crafter (though those are welcome here, too), as well as some prompts to ask your children to help them come up with ideas of their own. Scroll through for the full details.
- Have your child recruit a friend or sibling to go as a famous Hollywood or rock-star couple. Think Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, Victoria and David Beckham, Sonny and Cher, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi, Yoko Ono and John Lennon, Jerry Hall and Mick Jagger, and Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake (in the famous all-denim outfits, of course).
- Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz is probably the most popular costume of all time, but when it's done well, it's always a winner. Choose a cute gingham dress your child will wear again and again. Or make it a family affair, and you can go as Dorothy (you've probably been eyeing these and these anyway). Then use tulle, ribbon, and other craft supplies to create the costumes for the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man.
- If your child is super young and you don't mind dragging them along in a wagon while trick-or-treating, then consider your wagon the jackpot of all props. You could transform it into a walking bubble bath by gluing balloons to it, and dress your little one as a little rubber ducky; put them in a Flintstone costume, and turn the wagon into a prehistoric-looking vehicle; or create a frontier-bound covered wagon, and dress the whole family in prairie-chic garb.
- Does your child have a favorite movie character? For example, if they loved Up, dress them as Carl, and have them step in a bottomed-out basket glued to a bunch of balloons. Or if they're full-throttle obsessed with Elsa from Frozen, create a custom costume out of tulle and a leotard. It could also be funny if the whole family bought their own size of the same costume. How about dressing the whole family or a group of friends as the cast of characters from Inside Out?
- Take it as a chance to help them discover a passion as well as a role model. For example, if they love comedy and acting, teach them about Charlie Chaplin and Lucille Ball so they'll be even more excited to get into costume. Do they love fashion? Show them Karl Lagerfeld, Grace Jones, Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington, and André Leon Talley. Do they love writing? Send them as a Beat Era poet.
- Have the family dress as Ghostbusters. You can step into a cool beige or white jumpsuit, and if you have to buy one, at least you know you'll wear it again in a non-Halloween context. Then dress your little one as a friendly ghost. And don't forget to carry a leaf blower around with you.
- If you have a large family, dress each person up as a character from the Addams Family. This way you only have to come up with one idea, and you can go all-out with it. Plus everyone gets to play a special role. Or if your children are young, you can go as Cruella, and dress your little ones in head-to-toe polka dots as a clan of Dalmatian puppies. She's the chicest Disney villain of all time, so you'll have fun getting dressed up too.
- Pun costumes are some of the most clever in the lineup, though they're also usually the easiest to throw together. Win-win. Consider dressing them as a pig in a blanket in all pink and a little throw blanket, a deviled egg with a white outfit and yellow felt circle taped on (plus a few devil horns), or you could even dress them as a shrimp on the barbie.
Can you think of any other cute Halloween costumes for kids? Share your ideas in the comments below.