Costumes for kids — especially character costumes — can cost anywhere from $50 to more than $100. That’s a lot for an ensemble that will be worn once or twice, and probably smeared with chocolate! For thrifty parents who want to save money, many outfits can be created from thrift-store finds and items around the house. We’ve gathered 11 DIY costume tutorials featuring characters from movies such as Frozen, How to Train Your Dragon, Star Wars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Captain America, Thor, The Lego Movie and Maleficent for crafty moms and dads. So, grab your glue gun and some cardboard and let’s get started!
Captain America costume
Michele, author of the The Scrap Shoppe blog, made this amazing Captain America costume from a blue sweatsuit! She painted the details right onto the material, and created gloves and boots from felt. Don’t forget the shield, crafted from cardboard.
Thor costume with hammer
The Scrap Shop blog also offers this fun tutorial for a Thor costume using black sweatpants and a gray sweatshirt as a base. With a chest protector painted onto the shirt, paired with boots and gloves of felt, your mini Thor will be ready for battle with Loki! An oversized hammer crafted from cardboard will make a kid feel powerful, but unable to do a sibling any major damage.
The most recognizable part of Maleficent are those magnificent horns! Rachel of the The Chic Site blog offers a tutorial for making a headdress from a headband, foil and Dixie cups. When these beauties are wrapped in black satin and accented with purple ribbon, no one will know you made them yourself.
Maleficent staff and makeup
Once you make the horns, hop over to the Life with Poot ‘n Toots blog and check out her tutorial for creating a raven-topped staff. This crafter spent less than $8 in materials to make the intimidating accessory. Then, check out the gorgeous make-up for a finishing touch for your own little villain.
Elsa dress from Frozen
If your princess longs to be the famous ice queen, then check out the Kiki and Company blog. Kiki shows you how to make an Elsa dress, sparkles, train and all. The dress has no sleeves, making this sewing pattern super simple. It is perfect for layering over a long-sleeve shirt in winter.
Lego-figures costumes from Star Wars and more
Look what a mom can do with cardboard, foam and a hot glue gun! Julia of the Everyday Mom blog made these amazing Star Wars Lego Figure costumes for fewer than $20. She says that adults can even fit into these suits, doubling the fun (and usefulness). These basic directions could be altered to create other Lego figures, not just Star Wars characters.
Olaf costume from Frozen
Who doesn’t love Olaf, the cute snowman from Frozen who loves warm hugs? Karen over at the Desert Chica blog made an easy Olaf costume from a white hoodie and felt. She says the hardest part was finding an all-white hoodie, so she offers a link in her post for finding what you need.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costumes
Cowabunga! Michele of The Scrap Shoppe blog brings it again with these amazing TMNT costumes. With a spray-painted aluminum roasting pan as the shell and a sweat suit as a base, your kiddo will be a hero in a half shell!
Photograph credit: Lotus Blossom Photography
R2-D2 costume from Star Wars
This amazing costume is the creation of Ericka, the photographer and author of the Yellow Pear blog. The body is a piece of poster board rolled into a cylinder with the details drawn on. That great head piece is a silver bowl perched on her son’s bike helmet. Genius!
Luke Skywalker costume from Star Wars
Another gem from the Yellow Pear blog, this Luke Skywalker costume is simple: a hemmed off-white robe from a thrift shop. Khaki pants with ace wraps wound around the lower legs complete the look. With light saber in hand, the Force is with this awesome costume!
C-3PO costume from Star Wars
What’s R2-D2 without C-3PO? Ariane of Storymix Media contributed to this blog on Offbeat Families. She made this great costume out of poster board and paper towel rolls! Gold spray paint gives the cardboard the look of metal and the halved paper towel rolls are glued onto sweatpants.
You won’t believe what Cheri over at the I Am Momma Hear Me Roar blog used to make this tough Viking costume: brown, fuzzy toilet seat covers! She used a white T-shirt and brown sweatpants as a base, and a toy-store helmet topped off the ensemble.
If your kids are running around chasing Pokemon, why not look the part? Kaysi of the Keeping It Simple blog shows you how to create a super-easy Pokemon Trainer costume. She even includes instructions in making a Poke Ball! Gotta catch ‘em all!
Everyone loves Hank, the ornery octopus with a heart of gold from Finding Dory. Karen, the author of the Desert Chica blog, made this cute costume from a red hoodie sweatshirt. Check her post to see how to make your own, and you can even make this costume more authentic by creating only seven tentacles, since Hank is missing one.
Feeling blue? The movie Inside Out offers a wonderful message about feelings. “Sadness” is one of our favorite characters and it will give your kids a perfect excuse to slouch! The authors of the blog Love and Lion show you how to make this great Sadness costume out of just a few materials.
If your Minecraft fanatic wants to be a Creeper for Halloween, check out this post from the stlMotherhood blog. Made from a sweat suit and a box, this costume offers freedom of movement while still looking really cool. She even offers a printable for covering the box/mask!
Bonus: Minecraft DIY torches, pickaxes and swords
What better to light the way on Halloween night than these cool, handmade torches? Check out the blog post of Twitchetts and they will show you how to make torches, pickaxes and even pixelated swords! Any of these will enhance a Minecraft costume and will be played with by kids long after trick or treat has passed.
Who ya gonna call? Everyone knows that trick or treaters need ghost protection on Halloween night! We love this costume that offers girl power and brings the reimagined classic movie to life, available at Target. Looking for a more homemade approach? This amazing costume from the At Second Street blog was crafted from a thrift store dress, a diet coke box and other random items. Check the post to see how to make your own! Green slime not included!
To be properly attired for Hogwarts, one needs the appropriate uniform. Let the Doodlecraft blog show you how to create an inexpensive, yet authentic tie. And if you scroll to the bottom of the post and click on the tag “robe” it will take you to her post on how she made the robe as well.
Everyone loves the modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia. If your kiddo wants to dress up as Nick the fox, check out this amazing, printable fox mask from the HappyThought website. The site offers detailed instructions in putting this realistic mask together and claims it takes only five minutes. And for Officer Judy, they have a rabbit printable mask as well. Check it out!
If your kiddo wants to catch dreams (or trogglehumpers) as the Big Friendly Giant this Halloween, Karen of the Desert Chica blog comes through for us again! She put together this great costume from thrifted items and duct tape! Check her post to see how she did it!