7 Tips to Nail This Year’s DIY Halloween Costume


The following is a guest post by my creative and hilarious friend Carly Tatum. She nails Halloween every year! Can’t wait to see what the Tatum family costume will be this year.

Halloween is hands down my favorite holiday. I trick or treated way into high school. I get decked out for work when there isn’t even an office party. And I have multiple costume changes for my kids on Halloween.

But the struggle is real. Life as a working parent of two boys is hectic chaos, and planning elaborate Halloween costumes can easily just add stress.

Credit: Funny Times

Credit: Funny Times

So here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years to keep Halloween fun and exciting for the little ones and (relatively) stress free for the parents:

Start brainstorming early

I’ll admit it—I start thinking about Halloween on November 1st every year. And I don’t just think about next year’s costume. My hubby and I keep a running list of costume ideas in our back pocket to avoid the last minute panic. And the lines. Believe me, you do not want to make the mistake of standing in the fabric line at Joanne’s the week before Halloween.



Keep it EASY

Unless sewing is your stress reliever, ditch the patterns and templates. My mommy mantra is Keep It Simple, and the same strategy applies to costumes. You can execute an excellent Halloween costume without spending hours on the sewing machine. Pins and staples work fine for one night out. And I guarantee you Etsy, Goodwill and Amazon have every accessory you’re looking for.

This tip was never more important than our first Halloween with a baby in tow. Our oldest was about four months old so we celebrated Halloween on our couch. We kept it simple… and Weird.

Yes, I drew a Mercedes Benz symbol on my baby’s onesie instead of a peace sign. #Mombrain.

The caption completes the costume

It’s no longer just about the costume itself but the digital story you tell. My husband and I wanted to dress up as Braveheart for years. We’d had it on our running list and were just waiting for the right time to try it. In 2015, two months before the arrival of our second son, we decided it was time. The caption said it all.

You can take our freedom but you can't take our lives #braveparents

You can take our freedom but you can’t take our lives #braveparents

You must be Immediately Recognizable

Despite what I just stated, your costume really should not require explanation.  One year I wrapped an electrical socket frame around my finger, burned holes in a white shirt, and sprayed my hair straight up in the air and went as “electrocuted.”  While it was the easiest, cheapest costume I’ve ever put together, I spent the whole night explaining what the heck I was.

My husband and my 2010 rendition of Mary Poppins and Bert was instantly identifiable.

Consider the weather

I can’t remember the last time we had a chilly Halloween in Austin so don’t put your kids in one of those furry animal bodysuits. They just hate it. And therefore hate Halloween, and then everyone loses.

Also, make sure they can walk (or in the case of my child, run) comfortably or you’ll be carrying them door to door.


Look to your closets for inspiration

Start a costume bin, and save your old costumes. I think my husband has rocked the above brown hair wig on at least three Halloweens. Or maybe you just thought I married a member of Guns and Roses.

And before you pitch outdated clothes, bridesmaid dresses, and accessories, consider adding them to the costume bin. My son’s ring bearer outfit for his aunt’s wedding was the perfect fit for his Stillwell Angel costume for our 2014 “There’s no crying on Halloween” get-up.  A little chocolate sauce, and he was a fan too!


Add a prop, and you’re ready to party.

Props are fun. They help you get into character and are a great conversation starter.  You probably noticed from all the above photos that I’m a big fan. My son is too. He’s fought every costume I’ve ever put him in, but hand him a fun prop, and he’s all in.

Here’s me fully embracing my Charlie Chaplin costume for my “Say Goodbye to the Roaring 20s” birthday bash.  Ok, it’s not Halloween, but it’s probably my best example of all of the above tips. Simple, recognizable, and a prop that had me dancing all the way down dirty 6th.

charlie2 charlie

Clearly that was before kids.

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One Response to 7 Tips to Nail This Year’s DIY Halloween Costume

  1. Erin ruoff October 6, 2016 at 9:23 am #

    These are awesome!!!

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