Age Appropriate Halloween Costumes

Updated on July 08, 2015
J.P. asks from North Anson, ME
19 answers

My daughter (5) was talking this morning about a dream she had about Halloween. She said she wants to be a butterfly this year, which is likely to change haha but it got me thinking about where to find GOOD and AGE APPROPRIATE Halloween costumes. We will be trick or treating at Disney World this year too :) Every year she gets older the costumes at the store seem to get smaller and frankly, skankier. I have zero skills in sewing too, so I am looking for a website that has good costumes, with good coverage, and good selections. What the heck happened to Halloween anyway? I am not up for raising my daughter to believe that Halloween is a holiday to dress up in a skimpy outfit and get away with it (she's young now, but thinking ahead to the teen years).

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So What Happened?

So after a lot of planning to have something that won't be too hot or get in the way of the rides at Disney, we are going to be making a very special Elsa dress :) It is going to be like anything anyone's seen before and I am so very excited! My great-aunt will be sewing it together for us, and for the pattern and all the fabrics it came out to $45. Not too bad :) also this is something she is going to want to wear over and over again.

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answers from Lakeland on

I would just use regular clothes (t-shirt, skirt/shorts,tutu) and add wings and some makeup.

I have found nice kid costumes at Target and Party City.

Also, an FYI Halloween here in Florida is hot. We go to Mickeys Not so Scary Halloween party every year and I do not recommend a costume that you would wear up north. Average temp that time is 75 or so and not much cooler at night.

You will have fun and the fall decorations are very nice.

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answers from Detroit on

I'm all for making costumes but sometimes I just don't want to deal with it! If you want to try making one, the Martha Stewart website has some good ideas. If you want to buy a nice one, Chasing Fireflies ( has some beautiful ones but they're a bit pricey. They do sell parts of the costume sometimes (I bought a few pieces for a Hermoine costume last year) and you could probably find some nice wings or headband. I would worry she would change her mind about what she wants to be since it's so early in the year.

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answers from Santa Fe on

My daughter usually wears black leggings/sweat pants and black t-shirt and then we make or put together the rest of the costume. Last year she was a butterfly. I bought wings and an antennae headband. At the last minute she wanted to wear a tutu type skirt with it too. I do not sew either, but you can cut felt and hot glue gun it onto the leggings/shirt and make so many costumes. We like to make as much of our costumes as we can. Although I gave up on making the butterfly wings bc I ran out of time last year.

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answers from Washington DC on

I also don't sew, but you don't need to sew a stitch to make costumes with your child! Have fun with her! And the key word here is "with," because at five years old she is old enough to enjoy helping you find the stuff for a costume and put it together. Starting in about preschool we just went to the thrift stores and found pieces to use (you can find costume pieces but also can use, wear, cut up or otherwise alter regular clothes). Fabric glue really helps, as does fabric paint (there are types in tubes that she can use, or she can use a paintbrush with fabric paint to paint on a t-shirt or clothing). As a butterfly, for instance, she could really go wild on a white t-shirt with whatever she decides are "butterfly colors" in glitter fabric paint, while you use store-bought wings -- dollar stores have them sometimes, or party stores if you can't find dollar store versions--and you can use pipe cleaners to make "antennas" you just wrap around a hard headband from the drugstore. Add a cheap tutu from the dollar or party store, or look online for how to make one from fabric scraps (there are no-sew versions). And so on. Let her do all of it that she can and do it alongside her! It will also show her that she doesn't need to buy costumes, so that as she gets older, she doesn't assume that each year you're going to simply purchase stuff. Even in middle school, my daughter still makes costumes -- she was a bag of jellybeans one year recently (two clear plastic trash bags filled with small colored balloons; one trash bag on each side of her, taped together at her sides and shoulders, and she's a walking bag of jellybeans).

I agree with you about age appropriateness and you can guarantee that by making them with her.

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answers from San Francisco on

Never mind the appropriateness, most store bought costumes are simply ugly, cheap and never fit right. Who buys these things?!
You don't need sewing skills to "make" a butterfly costume. A leotard and tights, butterfly wings (easy to find online) a headband with some pipe cleaners for antenna and voila, instant butterfly! You can paint her face too if you're good with makeup. And all the pieces of the costume can be reused for dress up play or dance class.
You can do the same for almost any costume (princess, superhero, animal, fairy tale character, etc.) Usually you just need to purchase or make a few small pieces (a wig, crown, mask, tail/ears, hat, etc.) and the rest can be made out of regular clothes. At least that's what I usually did.
But you're right, she probably will change her mind ten times before Halloween so don't buy anything just yet.

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answers from Dallas on

We have a lot of Halloween store that pop up in empty shopping center locations around here.

Of course, I have seen plenty of skanky things for older girls but I've not seen and skank for a 5yr old.

I believe we can overthink things sometimes when planning our children's future actions, etc. It is all about moderation... remember if you ban it, forbid it etc then your daughter will be drawn to it. You can find happy medium outfits for all ages... it just takes a little work.

When my daughter was little I bought very nice, good quality outfits from Lillian Vernon. I still have most of them. When we did the Disney trips she always got one or two outfits from Disney.

I hate the cheap, low quality products at the pop up stores that sell for the same price that you can get at a good online location like Lillian Vernon. Also check out the Once Upon a Child and stores like that for some nicer dress up.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Google Halloween costumes for kids. You'll get tons of ideas.

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answers from Washington DC on

Make one. You can put her in any appropriate outfit, get a headband with dillyboppers on it, and get some wings from a costume shop or online. My DD likes monarchs, so I'd put her in black, put some butterfly wings on her and put her hair in pigtails.

We rarely do store bought costumes. They're less creative and more skanky or scary than necessary.

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answers from New York on

You might want to wait until september to revisit this idea. she wants to be a butterfly now, but she might change her mind 10x over between now and halloween.

Good luck.
F. B.

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answers from Austin on

I love the costumes from Costco, But not sure if they are available yet, check online.

Just googled and there are tons of choices.. online.
It would be Easy to put her in a leotard with tights, a tutu and a pair of wings, then a head band with antenna..

Pottery Barn
Oriental Trading
Costume Express
The Costume Barn

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answers from Boston on

I agree about making costumes, even if you don't sew. I live in the northeast, as you do, so we always make stuff out of sweats. I hate seeing little kids in flimsy costumes and then wearing coats over them. You'll be in Florida this year so you need to go much lighter, but for future years, think sweat suits in any color to match the theme/critter you are trying to create. I agree wholeheartedly with those who say you give values to kids about not just popping off to the store for something, especially for a one-time use. And having them participate in the creation of a costume is both a bonding experience and a lesson in working for what you want.

Any good fabric or craft store will have people who can show you the latest in easy-to-use materials. There is fabric paint, sure. If that scares you, there is fabric glue and iron-on stuff that can even wash out. Felt is sold in long pieces and in squares, and can be cut with sharp scissors into pieces that require no sewing of the rough edges. There are simple pattern books to follow.

You have good suggestions already on the butterfly theme, assuming she sticks with it - store-bought wings are easy to find, headband antennas are everywhere, and light leotards and tights will have other uses. And they won't take up a lot of packing space, which is great for your needs this year.

For the future, think outside the box. One year, my kid was a robot - we cut a whole in a box bottom and inverted it over his head, with 2 holes for his arms. We put a smaller box over his head as a sort of helmet. We painted the outside with leftover white paint, bought white dryer hose which we cut into arms and legs (safety-pinning the ends inside the box). We blued a bunch of things on the front to be the buttons and dials - old TV remote controls, the rubber tips that go on the bottom of chair legs, anything else we found in the basement with no apparent use. He wore long underwear and sweats underneath, and was toasty warm. We even hung a cup hook on the outside to hold his trick-or-treat bag - he acted very "robotic" and the neighbors loved putting the candy & toys right in the bag.

I've seen people create a "mailbox" costume out of a larger box - the larger public mailboxes you see on street corners. The fold-down flap became the opening to the mailbox and a candy bag is attached inside. Basic blue paint and some white lettering for "U.S. Mail" and so on. Make a mistake? Paint over it!

There's so much stuff on the internet now. Take the time to look around. If you want inspiration, look at this costume the parents made for their child in a wheelchair - they used a big box behind his wheelchair with a 2nd set of wheels, and the wheelchair was the front wheels of an ice cream truck. Truly brilliant!

The point is, with planning and Google, you can create fabulous things!

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answers from Las Vegas on

I have found that the best costumes are the ones you make.. By that I don't mean you have to sew really well, but just have some creativity..
Example, one year, when my son was 7, he was general MacArthur..
he already had military green colored pants, so for the shirt I took an old white long sleeved shirt and dyed it the same military green.. bought online, cheapie aviator glasses and long stemmed corn cob pipe, and including the infamous hat he wore.. Then I found some pins that looked that miltary medals... all in all, looked like the real deal and of course he won the school Halloween contest.. which he won every year since kinder through 4th, at which time we transferred to another school..
point is..
So what I would do is a look up a costume she likes and then think of how you can bring it together.. I never go to those big box Halloween stores for a full on costume, I only use them if I need a prop for one that I am putting together on my own..
the most creative and best costumes are the ones that people design..
plus, it's more fun.. however, I do advise to begin designing a couple months in advance..
good luck

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answers from Chicago on

Strangely, Cracker Barrell has nice quality inexpensive costumes. Not a wide variety of choices, but quality popular styles.

With all the 'Frozen' rage last year I figued it would be hard to find any of those costumes.

We ended up finding one at a Cracker Barrell at the end of July/August.

It is better quality then the official Disney one and half the price.

So maybe try there in a month or so.....

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answers from Washington DC on

I would absolutely wait - it's too early for them to settle on something now. My kids have been making their own for a while now. My boys are bigger and so their costumes are $50 or more at the costume shop - not happening. My daughter is 12 and her stuff is also too risqué for my liking. So they make their own and they are creative. We get them whatever they need, and it still is probably close to $30 or $40 per kid, but it's original and they love them.

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answers from Columbia on

You have a ton of time...I'd work with her to make a cute costume. I'll bet there are some great ideas on Pinterest.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Look on Pinterest and recognize that the glue gun is your friend. I have zero sewing skills and would never purchase on of the cheesy costumes which seem to be all that is available. Plus making a costume together (or having the child make it) is much more what I remember as a child.

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answers from Kansas City on

I don't sew - but there are a ton of ideas online. And worst case you can always use a little fabric glue in strategic places. There are a ton of things you could do (especially with a butterfly, if she does stick with that- check out the no-sew elastic/tulle tutu that is so popular - I made one of those and it was super easy, and no sewing). I've always been a big fan of Goodwill/Pinterest/easy for Halloween. Although since I have a boy he is really much more excited by a cheap $20 costume from Walmart *sigh*....And really, whoever heard of a homemade Jango Fett costume anyway?

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answers from Sacramento on

I prefer the old fashioned costumes- a cowboy, the bunny pajamas, etc.

Look on Pinterest for ideas. One year my friend's daughter was a present. She wore a box that had been covered in wrapping paper and ribbons and had a huge bow on her head. It was adorable however she couldn't bend over :)

I have also found great ideas at Goodwill. They seem to hold all their costumes in the back room until closer to Halloween.

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answers from Las Vegas on

Halloween costumes are a 1 time deal. If you have to, use a glue gun. Add some pieces. She will wear it for a day and it will get tossed.

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