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Think out of the box! DIY Halloween costumes

Halloween is a time to get creative with your costume, but before you shell out all that dough for a store-bought one, look in your closet! TODAY style editor Bobbie Thomas highlights some fun costumes that are easy to make on your own.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Whether you’re planning to trick-or-treat or hoping to win first prize at a big bash, creative costumes are key to having a happy Halloween. But before you head out to the nearest store, consider creating your costume by hand instead. It’s likely to save you money AND score you points for standing out. Bobbie Thomas, TODAY style editor and author of the Buzz column for In Touch Weekly, highlights some fun costume ideas that are easy to make on your own.

Say boo with balloons!

  • Bunch of grapes: Be the talk of the “grapevine” this Halloween by dressing up as a bunch of grapes! It will only cost a few bucks, and take you no more than 15 minutes to make. Blow up a number of purple balloons and affix them to a dress or unitard ( with safety pins and you’re good to go. After all, purple is in fashion this season!

  • Bag of jelly beans: It’s the holiday of candy, so why not be a belly full of jellies?! Start with a clear trash bag from the grocery store, and cut holes for your arms and legs. Next, print out or draw a jelly bean package label onto a piece of paper, and mount it to the inside of the trash bag, facing out so everyone can read what it says. Finally, fill the bag with an assortment of bright colored balloons, and loosely tie a ribbon into a bow around your neck at the top of your bag to “seal” the package.

  • Bubble bath: For a tub to rub-a-dub-dub, cut out the bottom of a lightweight nylon/linen/cloth laundry hamper or plastic bin. Drape the handles over your shoulders, or use rope to create a suspenderlike style if the handles aren't long enough. Fill the top rim of your bathtub with white “bubble” balloons, then accessorize with a towel, rubber ducky and slippers for a night of clean fun!

Get creative with your closet

  • ‘Gossip Girl’ couple: Take a cue from Blair Waldorf and Chuck Bass, the troublesome twosome from Manhattan’s Upper East Side on hit show “Gossip Girl.” Accessories are key to creating this uber-preppy private school look. Wanna “B’s” can start with a basic white button-down and ladylike skirt, but must remember to sport her signature headband, bow accents and tights to polish things off. Guys should go for bold color, plaid and pinstripes. Just be sure to bring your cell phone with you for any breaking news Gossip Girl might send while you’re out trick-or-treating!

  • Geisha: Grab a silk robe and slippers from your closet (or a local Asian market such as, and toss your hair up with chopsticks from the kitchen drawer. Cinch your waist with a sash, then mix some cold cream and cornstarch together (with a little water) for a pale face. Powder with a little flour, add red lipstick, and finish with a fan.

  • Miss Piggy: If you can still slip into your prom dress, this is the perfect excuse! Just go for glamour in anything, from a dreaded old bridesmaid dress to your favorite evening gown that is collecting dust! Find a fake pig nose and ears at your local party supply store, and add a blond wig if your locks aren’t already light. Pile on all of your fabulous jewels, and last but not least — cuddle a little Kermie!

  • Where’s Waldo: It’s the 21st anniversary of these always-amusing puzzles! It’s not only fun, but easy to emulate this elusive character. Pull on your favorite pair of “true blue” jeans and slip on some brown shoes. Next, find a red-and-white striped turtleneck, black glasses and a hat. You may try quietly popping up in photos or challenging friends to spot you in a crowd!

Poster boards and boxes

  • iPod ad: Using a neon green, blue or pink poster board, affix the Apple iPod logo to the top corner and attach arm straps with black elastic or rope. Dress in all-black head-to-toe (including face paint), grab an iPod, and dance your way down the street!
  • In Touch weekly cover: Extra, extra — who’s the hottest girl in Hollywood? Be the cover girl of your favorite magazine! Paste celebrity images and head-turning headlines onto an oversize poster board, or stop by your local copy center to enlarge a pre-existing one. Attach two handles to the back side, then cut out a hole for your famous face to pop through. Welcome to Hollywood, baby.

  • Doll in toy chest:  Wear a doll-like dress and your hair in pigtails or a pony, blush on bright pink cheeks and try lush false lashes. Cut the bottom out of a cardboard box or lightweight nylon chest (Minnen, $15,, safety-pin stuffed animals and toys to the top rim, and use suspenders to hang from your shoulders.

  • ‘Me in a Box,’ aka: God’s gift to women: Guys, Halloween is the one holiday where you can get away with (almost) anything — even a conceited attitude! To dress as “God’s gift to women,” start by wearing a suit, and then step into a box tied with a bow and filled with wrapping paper. For the kicker, be sure to create an oversize tag that reads, “To: All women,” “From: God.” Making the ladies laugh is sure to win you points!

Quick fixes

  • ‘Count on Me’: For a simple yet smart play on words, dress in all black and use double-stick tape to secure cut-out numbers all over your body. Your friends will love that they can “count on you” all night long!

  • Dry cleaning: Simply slip on the plastic garment bag from your most recent round of returned dry cleaning over your outfit. Who knew the stain you got on your shirt last week would one day come in handy?

  • Got milk?: Using a solid white T-shirt, write “Got milk?” with a sharpie, or try printing out an iron-on T-shirt transfer using your computer. Finish with a “milk moustache” and you’ve done a body good!

  • Facebook: A fun costume for friends to figure out … all you’ll need is an oversize old book and elastic. (Large children’s books work best, as they are light and pages are often hard-covered.) Punch a hole in the top right-hand corner of the middle pages, slip the elastic through and tie a knot on each end to secure. Slip your head into the book so that the elastic works like a headband, with the spine sitting behind your head and sides on your shoulders like a sandwich. Then have fun watching your friends stop to guess.

  • Pinup girl: Attach safety pins to a T-shirt in the shape of an arrow pointing up. Then pucker up and strike a pose.

  • Smarty pants: Attach Smarties candies to your waistline or belt, add nerd glasses, a pocket protector and graduation cap if you have one to be transformed into a “smarty pants.” Better be prepared when you’re asked to figure out the bill at the end of the night!

  • Self-absorbed: And for a final play on words, dress in all black and use double-stick tape to secure sponges to your body. It’s the one time you’re allowed to brag about your achievements to anyone who will listen!