Making Halloween Costumes From Cardboard Boxes

DIY GeekMom

When my eldest son, Brad, was three, I introduced him to the concept of Halloween. Dressing up and candy! Who wouldn’t love that?

“I want to be a tractor,” he announced, fully confident in my abilities as a costume designer.

Halloween costume, do it yourself, homemade
Oh, John Deere!

“A tractor?” I asked incredulously, mentally sorting through our box of dress up clothes.

He grinned and nodded, already anticipating the joy of portraying a piece of heavy equipment. How could I possibly say no?

And, so it began. In October, while other parents were buying ready made costumes or choosing fabric at a well-lit store with piped in music, I found myself scrounging through dumpsters for the perfect cardboard box to transform my kid into an inanimate object.

That first year, I decorated a box to look like a John Deere tractor. I removed the bottom of the box, cut a hole in the top, and painted it bright green with the customary yellow stripe. Black cardboard wheels, suspender style straps, and a cardboard tube for the exhaust pipe completed the project. Dressed in a plaid flannel shirt and a straw hat, my son slipped into the box and was ready to hit the (dirt) road.

Halloween costume, homemade, do it yourself
Bulldozer

Utilizing cardboard and hot glue to craft Halloween costumes became a family tradition. My husband was no fan of the local craft store, but he could wield a box knife with the best of them. We became a team – he the builder of cardboard creations, me the painter. And the boys became confident in their dad’s ability to construct anything. The year Brad asked to be a backhoe – complete with fully-functioning digger arm – we had to rein him in.

Over the years, we worked side by side with the boys to create some one-of-a-kind costumes. Halloween became a month-long holiday as costumes were planned, scrounged, and constructed.

My boys are beyond trick-or-treating age now, but I still find myself eyeballing the recycle bins for good cardboard. Just in case.

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48 thoughts on “Making Halloween Costumes From Cardboard Boxes

  1. Thanks, Kris. This helps me with what I’m tasked with creating this year… a castle, as in “I want to be a dragon coming out of a castle.” She lost instant for a moment when we were in the nausea-inducing Target “girls costumes” aisle faced with the sea of tantalizing princess and fairy costumes. I quickly ushered her out with a “Remember, Mommy’s going to make you a castle!”

  2. Thanks, Kris. This helps me with what I’m tasked with creating this year… a castle, as in “I want to be a dragon coming out of a castle.” She lost instant for a moment when we were in the nausea-inducing Target “girls costumes” aisle faced with the sea of tantalizing princess and fairy costumes. I quickly ushered her out with a “Remember, Mommy’s going to make you a castle!”

  3. Great post- I have a student in a wheelchair that has used cardboard boxes to make great costumes. Two years ago, he was an army tank; last year, a fire truck. He always gets great compliments on his creativity, and says that he has an advantage because he already comes with wheels 😉

    I’m going to pass along some of these ideas, because I think he’ll get a kick out of them.

  4. Great post- I have a student in a wheelchair that has used cardboard boxes to make great costumes. Two years ago, he was an army tank; last year, a fire truck. He always gets great compliments on his creativity, and says that he has an advantage because he already comes with wheels 😉

    I’m going to pass along some of these ideas, because I think he’ll get a kick out of them.

  5. These are great! My daughter was once a pizza, which we made primarily out of cardboard. When I was about 11 I was a table – took a big piece of cardboard and covered it with a plastic tablecloth and cut a hole in the middle for my head. I attached plates, cups, silverware to the table then put flowers in my hair so I was the centerpiece!

  6. These are great! My daughter was once a pizza, which we made primarily out of cardboard. When I was about 11 I was a table – took a big piece of cardboard and covered it with a plastic tablecloth and cut a hole in the middle for my head. I attached plates, cups, silverware to the table then put flowers in my hair so I was the centerpiece!

  7. I wish I’d read this about 10 years ago. My kids are teens now and mostly not into Halloween costumes, but I was always the absolute worst at figuring out creative costumes on a budget.

    I could probably fund their college educations with all the money we spent on Halloween costumes worn once and then sent to Goodwill.

  8. I wish I’d read this about 10 years ago. My kids are teens now and mostly not into Halloween costumes, but I was always the absolute worst at figuring out creative costumes on a budget.

    I could probably fund their college educations with all the money we spent on Halloween costumes worn once and then sent to Goodwill.

    1. Oh my goodness, Debbie. That’s a challenge! What about forming cardboard rounds for the “tires” and gluing on a bunch of plastic bottle caps? I think oatmeal containers wouldn’t be wide enough, but I can’t think of anything else that would be ready to use. I’d love to see a picture of what you end up with!

    1. Oh my goodness, Debbie. That’s a challenge! What about forming cardboard rounds for the “tires” and gluing on a bunch of plastic bottle caps? I think oatmeal containers wouldn’t be wide enough, but I can’t think of anything else that would be ready to use. I’d love to see a picture of what you end up with!

  9. These look so great! I have to get on the Halloween wagon and figure out costumes for the kids. We always make our own too. It’s fun coming up with ideas. (My 11-year-old says she is going to be a purple nature spirit, so I guess she’s all set?!)

  10. These look so great! I have to get on the Halloween wagon and figure out costumes for the kids. We always make our own too. It’s fun coming up with ideas. (My 11-year-old says she is going to be a purple nature spirit, so I guess she’s all set?!)

  11. I made one for myself from a stroller box last year. I went as Dorothy’s house from the Wizard of Oz and my daughter was the Wicked Witch of the East. Haha! See my blog for pics!

  12. I made one for myself from a stroller box last year. I went as Dorothy’s house from the Wizard of Oz and my daughter was the Wicked Witch of the East. Haha! See my blog for pics!

  13. Love it! My youngest is all about combo costumes (no cardboard required–this year she’s debating between being a witch fairy or a cat fairy. Strangely enough, the costume is easy either way!

  14. Love it! My youngest is all about combo costumes (no cardboard required–this year she’s debating between being a witch fairy or a cat fairy. Strangely enough, the costume is easy either way!

  15. Kris,
    Great ideas to recycle cardboard and make your kids look adorable! Nice job!!

    My sister always made costumes for her 4 girls and every year they would march in the town’s Halloween parade and nearly every year they won prizes for being the best dressed kids.

  16. Kris,
    Great ideas to recycle cardboard and make your kids look adorable! Nice job!!

    My sister always made costumes for her 4 girls and every year they would march in the town’s Halloween parade and nearly every year they won prizes for being the best dressed kids.

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