To say I love Halloween would be a gross understatement.
I was born only a few hours shy of the holiday, which is reason enough to love it. But, there’s something so magical about getting to pretend to be someone or something else for a day— which is probably why I spent a good 8+ years doing theatre as well.
But while I’ll hung up my acting hat (for now, at least), my love for costumes and playing pretend will never end. So it’s no surprise that I absolutely adore dressing my family up for Halloween every year.
I’ve gained quite the reputation among family and friends for having cute, family themed costumes, and so I thought it would be fun to share some tips with you guys on how to come up with a killer theme that is sure to have you winning at all things Halloween this year.
Step One: Brainstorm
I write out a list of anything and everything I can think of. Even if it’s something that everyone does, I write it down. Because it is less about what you do and more about how you do it. I’ve seen Mickey and friends done a million different times, a million different ways, and some of them are absolute perfection! So don’t be deterred from an idea just because it’s not “unique”. Write it down anyway. Here’s a list of places to draw character ideas from to help get you started:
- Favorite Movies
- Favorite TV Shows
- Popular Children’s Books
- Favorite Eras
- Occupations (barista, ice cream man, construction worker, etc.)
- Opposites (cops & robbers, heroes & villians, etc.)
- Favorite animals
Step Two: Visualize The Kid’s Costumes First
Once I’ve got a list, I comb through it and highlight the ideas that would translate well into a child’s costume. Since Halloween is really about them, I want to make sure I pick something that they aren’t going to completely hate me for in 10 years. A good example of what not to do, would be putting a box over their heads and making them into bags of groceries…. which was a reality for these two kids.
You want to pick something that is going to excite them. Whether it be because it’s an animal they love, or a cool prop, etc. Cross off all of the ideas that just won’t work well or make the kid’s excited to be dressed up.
When I chose the Circus theme last year, I made Declan the “strong man” because I knew he would be amped to have the weight prop. It allowed me to pick something really cute, while also keeping him excited about his costume. (DIY strong man dumbbell tutorial, HERE)
Step Three: Be Realistic and Know Your Strengths
A family of varied Starbucks drinks would be ADORABLE, but will that require you to make 90% of the costumes? And if so, do you know HOW to make said costumes? Remember what I told you earlier— it’s not about the costume per-se, it’s about how you do it. That means knowing your limitations and playing on your strengths. If you’re a master at the art of DIY, then something like this would be right up your alley. If not, try to stick to ideas that allow you to create the family set without whipping out the sewing machine.
For example, last year was the first time my cousin wasn’t around to help with our costumes (she made Declan’s the two previous years), so I had to set new expectations for what I could achieve, based off my own skill level.
Since I can’t sew, I chose to buy the boys’ costumes and then use my skills to create my own and make Declan’s strong man dumbbell from scratch. I know that embellishing is a strong point of mine, so I played on that and allowed those things to tie together and already solid look.
Step Four: Get Your Internet On
Once you’ve narrowed it down, start scanning Pinterest, Etsy, Amazon, etc. for inspiration. When we decided to make Declan “Rufio” from the movie “Hook”, the first thing I did was google images from the movie. Once I had a clear idea on what I was looking for, I went accessory searching. Since those were a big part of the costume, I had to make sure I could find what I needed easily before committing to a costume. If you have key pieces to a costume, make sure you find them BEFORE you start buying everything else. Once I found the necklaces and a wig that would actually fit his head that I could sculpt, I decided to give the green light on the costume and theme itself (which my amazing cousin made, by the way!).
I knew the wig was key in making this costume work, so I took care of that part first and then moved on once I had the hardest part handled.
Step Five: Make It Your Own
More than likely, you won’t be doing a theme that’s never been done before— but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it your own! I love to add little details to all of our costumes to set them apart and make them special. Little things can go a long way in the final look. For example, on our very first Halloween as parents, we dressed Declan up as a little chick (again, my cousin made his costume because she rocks) and we were farmers. Derek’s boots and straw hat rounded out his look, while I opted to go barefoot.
It was the smallest thing, but it really added to the look and feel of our costumes/characters. And I’m all for buying store costumes and then embellishing them, which is exactly what we did for Derek’s Peter Pan costume.
Toss in a free “Bangarang” print, and our look was thrown together using a combination or store-bought costumes, and homemade goodness.
I hope these tips help you decide on the perfect family halloween costume theme this year! Just remember to have fun with it— your kiddos will have a blast if you’re having a blast, and that is the ultimate WIN.