Having gone through dozens of Halloween-costume mishaps, I've learned what does and doesn't work.
So, Halloween is coming up, but you haven't had a chance to figure out a costume, and time is running out. Buying a costume is a possibility, however, there's also a much easier and cheaper option—make your own. And what better material to use than cardboard? Almost everyone has some, whether in the recycling bin from their latest online order or lying around collecting dust in the garage or attic.
This versatile material can be used for a ton of different outfits, and I've listed a few ideas below to get your creative juices flowing. In addition to cardboard, most of the ideas here will require scissors, tape/glue, markers, and sometimes paper—all materials you likely already have at home. So, prep your creation station and get to work! Soon you'll have a one of a kind unique costume to show off to your friends!
1. TV/Computer Head
A particularly easy costume involves drawing a fake TV or computer monitor on a cardboard box and then wearing it over your head. Choose one side to be the bottom (this side will rest on your shoulders), and cut out a large hole that will allow your head to fit inside comfortably. Then, choose one side to be the front, and either layer it over with paper first or draw straight onto the cardboard to make the screen.
Add details to the sides and back, and make sure to cut out some small holes in the front so you can see. You can even stick pipe cleaners or other stick-like objects on the top to stand in as receivers! If you have a printer, you can print out a still from your favorite game or movie to stick on the "screen."
If you have a larger box that can fit your torso, why not make yourself into a robot? To be able to climb inside, cut out one of the ends off of the box so that it ends up only having five sides. Then, on the opposite end, cut out the hole for your head and neck, plus an armhole on each of the thinner middle sides.
Once you have the body set up, you can then start decorating the outside. Draw on dials, buttons, levers, and whatever else your heart desires! You can even model it after your favorite fictional robot. For a slightly more elaborate costume (if you have additional boxes), create some covers for your arms and legs (and maybe even a helmet) for a more robotic feel.
3. Minecraft Character
Minecraft's blocky, box-based design is perfect for a cardboard box outfit. Just create a head using one box and then finish the rest of the outfit with regular clothes. Or you can go the full mile and add boxes for the torso, arms, and legs, similar to the robot example. But which character to pick? Steve is a classic and universally recognizable, but you might want to customize it to be your own favorite character or even a custom skin.
4. Picture Frame
If you have a long panel of cardboard or a long side from a box, you can make a picture frame! You'll have to cut out a square from the panel to create an empty frame, but after that you can do whatever you want to the frame—draw on it, stick things on it, and do whatever else you can think of.
Not only can you make it into a picture frame, but you can also make an Instagram or YouTube outline instead! Turn yourself into a living Instagram post or become a YouTube star and write your own custom video title.
5. Horse/Other Rideable Creature
To make a horse (or similar creature), you can take a large box to be the torso and then attach a smaller box at the front to be the head. Be sure to cut large enough holes in the top and bottom sides of the larger box that your legs can fit through and then secure it in some way (belt, suspenders, etc.) so that you don't have to keep hiking it up all night. Once the mechanics are set, go wild and draw whatever animal you want to be your riding companion! Alternatively, you can skip the animal and create a car, train, plane, boat, or something else entirely!
6. Any Cube-Shaped Object
Have a big cardboard box that's a cube (or close to it)? Why not use that to your advantage and create a costume based on an object that's already cube-shaped. Some good options include Rubix cubes, dice, ice cubes, sugar cubes, and so on. Like the robot costume, cut out one side completely so you can put it on over your head after cutting out holes for your head and arms. Then, decorate it with the design you've picked out for your costume.
While these are only a couple of ideas, there are infinite possibilities for what you can do with a cardboard box and some markers. And the more boxes and decorations you add on, the more elaborate it gets! As with any costume that isn't made out of regular clothes, take care that you have enough range of motion to move around and can breathe comfortably. Have fun putting together a costume, and have a spooky Halloween!