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Create harmlessly crafty costumes for kids

Parenting magazine explains how to make cute, easy and fun getups, including a fluffy blue cloud and a dramatic-looking twister. Also, learn how to safely prepare your children for their festive night of trick-or-treating.
/ Source: Parenting

The scariest part of Halloween: the sugar highs. But candy aside, here's how to keep kids safe — and ensure their costumes are, too.

Stay brightIt may be dark outside when you go trick-or-treating, says Chrissy Cianflone, spokesperson for Safe Kids USA. If you can't convince your kid that there's a secret order of ninjas who wear only yellow, trim his costume and booty bag with reflective tape so he'll be visible to drivers.

Keep costumes shortTrips and falls are the leading cause of unintentional injuries, so watch out for long hems.

Toddlers will do great in Parenting’s “Here Comes the Sun” costume, since the costume is made from an oversize yellow sweatshirt that hits at the knee, helping kids avoid any danger of tripping. Here’s how to make it:

  • Oversize yellow sweatshirt
  • Fabric glue
  • 1 yard 1"-wide elastic
  • Large safety pin
  • 1/2 yard yellow felt
  • Small piece orange felt
  • 1 yard golden-yellow felt
  • Bag pipe cleaners
  • 1 yard yellow rickrack

1. Cut sleeves off shirt 2" from neck; glue under raw edges. Cut small slit in waistband. Secure one end of elastic to safety pin; insert into slit and work through waistband. Tie ends in knot and cut off excess.

2. Make face: Cut a 12" circle from yellow felt. Create eyes and mouth with orange and golden felt; glue onto circle.

3. Make rays: Cut fourteen 3"-tall triangles and fourteen 6"-tall triangles from golden felt. Cut pipe cleaners into seven 3" pieces and seven 6" pieces. Glue each to the center of a corresponding triangle; glue remaining triangles on top, covering pipe cleaners. Glue triangles around back of circle, alternating sizes.

4. Glue rickrack around edge of circle.

5. Make hat: Cut one sleeve 6" down from top. Glue under raw edges of top. Create three additional 6" rays. Tuck each inside top of hat and glue closed. If necessary, trim bottom of hat to fit.

Save faceA mask can block your child's peripheral vision (and can be a suffocation hazard for infants). Stick with nontoxic face paint instead, or go with a cool accessory like a hat to add emphasis to a costume.

Parenting’s “Fluffy Blue Cloud” costume is a good example. For this costume, the sleeves you’ll cut off of an oversize pale-blue sweatshirt will make an adorable topper that’s hard to resist.  You’ll need:

  • Oversize pale-blue sweatshirt
  • Fabric glue
  • 1/2 yard white felt
  • 1 yard batting
  • 8" piece string
  • Small toy plane or helicopter (make sure it's age-appropriate)
  • Large needle

1. Cut sleeves off shirt 3" from neck; glue under raw edges.

2. From felt, cut out two cloud shapes large enough to cover shirt. Glue each to top of batting, then trim to size. Glue clouds to front and back of shirt, felt side down.

3. Make hat: Cut one sleeve 6" down from top. Glue under raw edges of top. Create two smaller clouds and attach to front and back of hat; glue clouds to close. If necessary, trim bottom of hat to fit.

4. Attach toy to string, and knot securely. With needle, poke through cloud and knot inside sweatshirt. Glue to secure.

Go with themKids under 10 aren't old enough to trick-or-treat alone, says Cianflone. Carry a flashlight with you and have your kids hold glow sticks (trust us, this one's a snap).

Walk onEnforce a strict "no running" rule, and use the sidewalk. If there isn't one, walk on the street facing traffic, as far to the left as possible. Cross the street at crosswalks, says Cianflone. "Kids are twice as likely to be struck and killed by an automobile on Halloween than on any other night."

Be neighborlyTrick-or-treat in a familiar neighborhood. Stick to the homes of people you know when you can and never let your kids enter alone.

Fill up firstFeed your kids a hearty, early dinner so they're not too tempted to sneak treats on the go. If you’re really concerned with them holding off on sampling their booty until you get it home to inspect it, go with Parenting’s wild “Mr. Twister” costume — they’ll be too caught up in the whirlwind of trick-or-treating to even think about the candy. Here’s how to create it:

  • Hula hoop
  • 2 large adult-size dark-gray T-shirts
  • Fabric glue
  • 10 yard black tulle
  • Stapler
  • Twigs
  • Dark-gray gloves (optional)

1. Make tornado: Place hoop inside one shirt, and attach with glue around upper torso. (If hoop is too large, cut it to fit, and secure ends with strong tape.)

2. Cut off body of second shirt, just below armpits. Glue this piece to bottom of first shirt. Place shirt on hanger; hang from clothesline or shower rod.

3. Starting at the top, take one end of tulle and wrap it loosely around shirt, stapling it as you go. Continue in this manner, wrapping, gathering, and stapling, until you've created a funnel. When you reach the bottom, twist tulle tightly, and staple to secure.

4. Tuck small twigs inside tulle.

5. Make hat: Cut one sleeve from second shirt 8" from top. Glue under raw edges of top, then glue closed. Wrap tulle around, turban style, stapling as you go.

Check it outLook over all candy before your kids dig in to make sure it's in original, unopened wrappers. Tots under 3 are at increased risk of choking, so remove any hard or gummy candies and chewy bars made with caramel, nuts, marshmallows, or raisins. (You can save those for yourself!)

For more on Halloween costumes, visit