Kids’ Easy Costumes and Costume Make-Up

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MAKE UP at Page Bottom

The more kids (or you) look and sound like someone else, the more exciting the drama activity will be. Wearing a hat, scarf, shawl or apron will help change appearance. Collect interesting hats, skirts and jackets– as well as acting tools such as fabric, tinsel, wigs, jewelry and the endless list of accessories.The keys words to remember are experimentation and imagination!!


Collect unused pellow cases!
They can make great costumes, such as a superhero, ghost, domino, playing card, Greek goddess, warrior, and more.
Glue on felt pieces for the pattern…

ARTIST COSTUME –All you need is a big white shirt, a beret, black tights or leggings, some paintbrushes and several colors of paint on an artist’s tray. Paint different blotches of paint on the white shirt. Cut a circle from the felt a little bigger that your head. Sew a running stitch around the outside of the felt and pull in just a little to make it puff up. It just sits on the head with bobby pins. Put paint brushes in pocket and carry artist’s tray with you.

Need: Sturdy cardboard, Utility knife, Colored netting, Batting, Brightly colored paints,
Satin ribbon, Leotard & tights, One & half yards of the same colored fabric, Same colored socks, Shoes, A plain, simple mask, Silk flowers, Pipe cleaners, Pom-poms, Glue, Stapler

  • Cut out two sets of the wings from the cardboard.
  • Using a utility knife cut out designs from the inside of the wings.
  • Paint one side of each wing and fold them in half like a real butterfly.
  • Next, lay the netting between the set and glue in place. Punch four holes through the cardboard to run the ribbon through to give the effect of a backpack.
  • To make a mask–Separate the petals of the flowers and glue them neatly around the mask from the inside out, carefully making sure that the eyes are not covered; Remove the elastic cord and staple a piece of ribbon (long enough to tie around the head and dangle down) to each side. Double the pipe cleaners and attach to the back of the mask; glue the pompoms to the ends.
  • Have child put on the leotard, tights and shoes, covering the shoes with the socks.
    Use combinations of reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, purples, and pinks. This could also be used as a fairy with silver and white!


  • Cat: Black leggings or pants and black shirt. Cover a stretched-out wire hanger with a black sock– or stuff a black sock with material for the tail.
    Use a black headband with ears attached that are made of cardboard and painted black. Add black mittens or gloves for paws–and black socks and shoes. This idea can be used for any animal by switching colors and the type of ears and tail.
  • Dog: Add spots to construction paper and adhere the spots with tape or washable glue. Use a barrette to attach long felt ears to the sides of the child’s head.
  • Pig: Wear a pink or white sweat suit with a pipe cleaner tail.

CLOWN: Over sized clothes make a clown costume. Add hat, wide tie and face paint.

CONE HATS:  The Basic Cone: Fold a 12″ x 24″ sheet of newspaper in half. Cut out a quarter circle and open the paper into a half circle. Roll the half circle into a cone to fit the head. Tape or staple the cone together.

  • Witch Hat: Make a basic cone out of black paper. Make the brim. Place the cone on a sheet of stiff paper and draw around it. Draw a larger circle around the first circle and cut it out Draw 5 tabs inside the inner circle. Cut out the inner circle around the tabs. Fold the tabs back. Slip the brim over the cone and glue to tape the tabs to the cone.

COWBOY: Shirts, jackets and jeans for a cowboy costume. Add a hat, scarf, and boots.

Need: Poster board, Stapler, Scissors, Black construction, elastic, and construction paper that is the same color as the poster board.

  • Take the colored poster board (your choice) and cut it to fit between the child’s underarms and knees.
  • Wrap the board around the child—making sure to leave room to wear sweats under the colored poster board.
  • Cut an oval out from construction paper of your desired crayon color; Glue it to center of poster board over the stomach area.
  • Cut out the letters CRAYOLA from black construction paper and glue them to construction paper centered on the stomach.
  • Use leftover poster board to construct a cone shaped hat. You should use a 2″ strip at the base of hat to form a crayon design. Make sure the top of the hat has a flat base.
  • Attach elastic to the shoulder area and staple it to the poster board.
    DO NOT make it too long- as it will constrict walking ability. You may have to cut out arm indentations for an easier fit. Use the same colored clothing underneath to create illusion of all one color.

Need: Rectangular cardboard box, X-acto knife, Masking tape, Green spray paint, White, black, yellow paint, Green sweats, Green tights, Styrofoam ball (2-3″ diameter), Stuffing material, Green felt (optional), Velcro points (optional), Red felt (optional).

  • The cardboard box should fit over child’s head and shoulders to form a Dino head/snout.
  • One designer has done it 2 years in 2 different ways — one year she cut out “shoulder rests” for the box to fit on the child’s shoulders.
  • The next year the box was longer and too wide, so she cut armholes in the box. It takes some measuring and adjusting by putting the box on the child).

Next …basically figure out how to turn a rectangular box into a Dinosaur head by cutting away pieces, folding, and taping.
Leave a “window” for child to see out of between the top of the elongated “snout” part of the head and the top of the head (This gives the head a 2-level look and avoids the problem of lining up eyes with). Spray paint the “head” green. Cut a Styrofoam  ball in half and paint it yellow; paint a black pupil in the center of each, and glue on the sides of the head for eyes. Have child paint red spots on the head.

  • Cut one leg off the green tights and stuff with poly-fill to form the tail. Close it with a rubber band; pin it to elastic on back of the child’s sweatpants.
  • If desired, cut paired triangles of felt. Glue them together and attach it to the tail and back of the child with Velcro. If desired, cut circles from red felt for spots and attach to them to child’s outfit with Velcro.
  • Can also be used as a crocodile with a few modifications. For a crocodile, put the eyes sticking up from the top of the head instead of on the sides.

Need: Material, Thread, Sewing needle, Mesh or lace material for wings, Metal or wire in a “C” shape for wings.
You can use a dress with a flared skirt for the base. Next, cut the mesh or lace material into the shape of the wire with just a little room to overlap it. Sew the lace or mesh over the wire and it’s complete.

Paint a box bright red with ladders on the sides. Use aluminum pie plates for reflectors. A plastic firefighter’s hat is a good addition. Children will be more than happy to come up with the siren sound!

Children enjoy discovering all the flowers that bloom in the summer. The colors are bright and inviting. To make an inexpensive and colorful blossom mask— cut out the center of a paper plate, leaving a hole large enough for the child’s face. paint the plate and then cut flower petals from colorful construction or tissue paper. Glue the petals around the rim to make a unique flower. Attach elastic thread to the back of the plate to finish the mask

Need: Bathing suit top and bottom, a pair of pajama bottoms with a hem you can put a string through to tighten around ankles and matching midriff vest. To make a hat, cut a hole in the middle of a small plastic container for a ponytail – cover it with fabric and fasten a scarf to each side of the hat so that it hangs loosely in front of your mouth. (Picture the old “I Dream of Jeanie” episodes for this.

GHOST: A white sheet creates the perfect ghost costume. For an added touch buy an old hat to place on the ghost’s head.

GRASS SKIRT (From Paper Bag)
Materials: A roll of brown wrapping paper, Glue, Self-adhesive Velcro fastener, Stapler, Scissors.

  • 1: Cut off two sheets of paper that measure six inches longer than child’s waist size; lay one sheet on top of the other. Staple them together along the short side (to form the waist) about a 1/2 inch from the edge.
  • 2: For a waistband, use a four-inch-wide paper strip with the same circumference as the skirt waist. Glue the lower half of the waistband to the stapled edge of the skirt front.
    Fold over the waistband top, and glue it to the inside of the skirt. For a decorative waistband, twist together two long paper strips and glue them on.
  • 3: Use scissors to fringe the skirt from the hemline to just below the waistband.
  • 4: Stick one part of the Velcro fastener to the front of one waistband end and the matching part to the back of the band’s opposite end. Wrap the skirt around the child’s waist, and fasten.

GRASS SKIRT made from Green Crepe Paper
To make these easy grass skirts, you’ll need a roll of green crepe paper, and duct tape.

  • Cut a piece of duct tape large enough to circle the child’s waist plus 4 inches.
  • Lay it on a flat surface sticky side up.
  • Now unroll the green crepe paper and lie perpendicular to the tape, lying one end ½ way into the tape. The length will be determined by the height of the child.
  • When the tape is full with the crepe paper strips, cut another piece of duct tape and lay it sticky side down over the first piece, trapping the crepe paper ends into the “waistband”.
  • Last, punch a hole in either end of the duct tape and tie together with a ribbon.

GYPSY: Flowing dresses and bright shoes make a gypsy costume. Add lots of jewelry such as bracelets, necklace, beads, earrings and scarves.

HATS—THE BASIC BAND: Cut a 2″ wide strip of paper long enough to go around the head with an overlap of about 1″. Staple ends together.

INDIAN HEAD DRESS #1: Make a basic band; tape or staple feathers to the band.

INDIAN HEADBAND #2: Cut brown construction paper into strips; fit it around child’s head and staple or tape ends together. Cut feathers out of scrap.

INDIAN VEST TO GO WITH HEADBANDS: Cut a vest from a brown paper bag, cut a slit up the front and neck and arm holes. To decorate, either cut out construction paper shape (arrows, sun, designs, etc.) and glue them on.

ROYAL CROWN: Make a basic band about 4″ wide. Cut points in the top. Decorate the crown with beads, buttons, braids, sparkles, etc.


Wear a peasant dress, flowing light material skirt, or bell-bottom pants. The top can be a tie dye shirt or flimsy top-with love beads, long hair parted down the middle (may need a wig), a peace sign button and -tinted glasses. Using makeup, paint a peace sign, flower or heart on child face.

Need: An old thick blanket like a comforter, large pieces of brown and tan felt, small pieces of red and yellow felt for ketchup and mustard, cotton pillow filling, Brown pants, face paint.

  • First you cut the comforter so that it fits around the child and ties in the back.
  • Cut a hole in the front for child’s head and arms. Then cut the brown felt in the same shape as the comforter.
  • Sew the felt onto the comforter.
  • Cut the red and yellow felt (in the shape of ketchup and mustard) and glue it on the front of the hot dog. Then get the tan felt and measure it like a jacket.
  • Cut arm holes in the sides. It should look like a bun.
  • In order- put on brown pants, then the hot dog, then the bun and finish with the face paint. You have a hot dog!


No time or too small for a full costume? To make an adorable bunny, kitty, puppy, or an elephant—all it takes are ears (construction paper or cardboard attached to a hat or headband) and a nose (a tiny bit of makeup on the nose and cheeks, and the appropriate tail pinned to the back of pajamas or a sweat suit.

A big box with bottom and top cut out, a clown looking shirt, Clown Makeup, Aluminum foil, Paint.

  • Take a box-making sure child can fit into it. Paint the box with decorations such as numbers and letters.
  • Sew, glue, or tape a shirt onto the inside of your box; a hat could be made to match the shirt.
  • Make a crank with the aluminum foil; tape the crank onto the side of the box.
  • Make up the child’s face with clown paint. Have “Jack” bend down in the box and POP Back up.

This is especially good for Preschool to Grade 1. They enjoy playing dress up and many costumes can be made from items around the house. To make a Mail Carrier’s costume- find or make a canvas bag with a short strap so it can be carried on the shoulder. Be sure to “equip” it with mail. Save old postcards, junk mail, little gift boxes, and a couple of magazines to put in the mail bag. Decorate an old shirt to be a uniform. For props, use shoe boxes that are decorated and used for mail boxes. Put names of program children on the “mail-boxes” so the mail-carrier can deliver the mail.

Rainbow wig, Oversized glasses, Face paint, Headband, Silver or gold pipe cleaners, Foil

  • If possible have child wear green slippers and a fluorescent green leotard and tights. If not possible find blue or purple, etc.
  • Wrap the headband in foil and attach 2 or more pipe cleaners to the top for the antenna.
  • Paint child’s face in a variety of psychedelic colors and outer space designs.
  • If you’re a girl Martian, add a sheer fluorescent green ballet skirt. If you can’t find oversized glasses, make some from cardboard.
  • Cover the cut-out cardboard with foil or decorate with fluorescent markers.
  • Let your imagination go wild and add your own touches to this visitor from another planet.

Tear some sheets and wrap them around the body (but never around the

neck). For safety, paint child’s face white instead of wrapping sheetstrips.
Paint black rings around eyes for empty eye sockets.
Use a white swimming cap or stocking cap over child’s hair and attach sheet strips to it.
If you have sheet strips dangling from the body, make sure they are of a length that will not trip the child.

High-water pants, white button-down shirt, bow tie, white socks, black dress shoes, a pocket protector, and dark frame glasses with masking tape around the nose piece are all you need for this classic costume.

Remove the top and bottom flaps of a box, then place a box around child’s middle and attach with over-the-shoulder ties. With paint, paper plates, tin cans, some additional cardboard, and imagination, the child could be a race car. Paint racing stripes, add cans, cups, or stickers for front and rear lights. Don’t forget the sponsor’s names on the side and the personalized license plates.

Use a past-the-knee dress, wig, handbag, umbrella, nude colored knee-highs that don’t stay up and old shoes. Use gray eyeliner to draw light lines from your eyes (crows feet) around your mouth (looks like no teeth). Add vertical lines around the cheek bones for additional wrinkles. Experiment until you reach the desired look. Blend this all lightly so the lines are just shadows in add a layer of white powder, two pink spots of blush and pink lip stick. For a chilly night, add a cardigan sweater buttoned at the top or a long fuzzy overcoat and flowered hat.

PRINCESS: Prom or evening gowns make an excellent princess, queen, or your favorite movie star. Add jewelry, gloves, high heels, purse and shawls.

Dress in purple sweats; jell child’s hair so it stands up in a “horn”; draw an “eye” in the middle of child’s forehead with make-up. Top it off with a necklace made of a plastic fork, knife and spoon; tie these on a shoelace around and around the neck .

You may also be interested in our ‘PURPLE PEOPLE EATER’ THEME!


Use a small box for the head with a large space cut out for the face, and a larger box for the body, with head and arm holes cut out. Other materials: Paint, sparkly stick-ons, aluminum pans with stickers for the control panel.

Wear worn-in jeans or over-alls that have patched holes with an old bandanna; add a flannel shirt, a worn-in hat and gardening gloves. Stick some straw in various places to add to the effect. Use makeup to paint the face yellow and add short lines around the eyes to look like a sewn on patch. Use green make-up to paint an upside down triangle on the nose— again adding short lines around it to look like a sewn on patch. Use red for the mouth adding the short lines. Add small red circles of color to the cheeks.

Un-tucked, solid-color button-down short-sleeved shirt, jeans rolled up to mid-calf, or a poodle skirt, white socks and penny loafers or saddle shoes. Girls wear ponytail and boys slick-back hair ducktail style with gel.

Wear black pants, white button-down shirt, black shoes, a cape (buy a vampire cape or dye a sheet black), plastic teeth, and slick hair back with some gel. Use white make-up for the face and highlight with red blush on the cheeks and red lipstick on the lips. Red lipstick applied carefully with a lip brush down the side of the mouth can look like blood dripping down.

Black dress or skirt and top, black tights, cape (dye a sheet black), witch’s hat, and of course a broom. Make the face green and use a black eye pencil to make dark lines. Stick a piece of oatmeal colored black to the make-up paint on the nose, chin and/or cheek to make a good wart. Pin a plush-toy black cat to child’s shoulder or tie it to the broom.
Some ideas adapted from:

Tie or sew glow-sticks to your child’s costume so they can be seen more easily in the dark. You can also use reflective tape and/or carry a flashlight.


MASKS AND SIMPLE HATS are quick and creative projects. Animal masks are really fun, made from just about anything you have on hand. Whatever they are doing, have the kids draw their design first and then try to create it; that reinforces how a costume designer works.

If you have time, they can bring in research materials before they start to draw. It also reinforces the concept if they all draw characters from the same story (the biggest problem being that for every fairy tale you suggest, they will draw the Disney characters…you’ll spend a lot of time explaining that there was a Cinderella before the one that wore the blue ball gown in the cartoon….) With hats, have them draw a design based on one of several simple shapes that you can help them make (cone, top-hat, crown, etc.) Older kids can make hats of felt or fleece.

  • If you want to get older kids into some basic construction, VESTS ARE GREAT. They are unisex and can be designed for just about any character (and some kids will actually end up wearing what they make, if it’s cool enough). A simple, two-piece vest pattern teaches the concepts of how to size, cut, and sew, with only four short seams that can be sewn by hand. Embellishing and/or distressing the vest helps to continue the concept of creating a character through dress. You can also start with a finished thrift-store vest and have them embellish it — faster and easier than trying to teach construction


FACE PAINT RECIPE #1 (for six colors) 6 teaspoons of corn starch; divided
3 tablespoons of water; divided
3 tablespoons of cold cream; divided
6 cup muffin tin
Food coloring…

In each cup of the muffin tin put 1 teaspoon of cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon of cold cream, and 1/2 teaspoon of water. Add a different color food coloring to each cup. Mix well.

FACE PAINT #2 (For one color) Materials: 1 tsp. cornstarch, 1/2 tsp. water, 1/2 tsp. cold cream, food coloring
Mix cornstarch and cold cream together until smooth. Mix in water and food coloring. Use a small brush to paint designs on the children’s faces. Store in an airtight container.

1 Tbs. Crisco shortening
2 Tbs. cornstarch
Food coloring
Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Use sponge or fingers to apply to face. Wash with soap and water.

1/8 c Baby Lotion
1/4 tsp powdered Tempera paint
1 squirt liquid soap
This is easily removed by soap and water.

Blend on a paper plate:
2 tblsp. shortening
5 tsps. cornstarch
1 tsp. flour
Dab of Vaseline
Add food coloring for various colors.
Wash Off with Soap and Water…

Favored drink mix
1 cup vegetable shortening
Food coloring
Small container such as a film container
1. Mix one packet of drink mix with shortening.
2. Add in a few drops of food coloring that matches the flavor. ie: yellow for lemon.
3. Pack in small container, such as a film container, and you have wonderful tasting and smelling lip gloss. Of course the lip gloss is edible should some accidentally be licked off.

Ingredients: Hershey Cocoa, vaseline, small conatiner with lid

Put  vaseline in a small jar/container
Add cocoa to the vaseline. Lip gloss is made!


To lightly blacken faces, carefully burn a cork and when cool, rub on the face.

Add a dusting of flour to already made up faces.

Whole peppercorns white or black
Corn syrup or eyelash glue
Hair bristles from a paintbrush or out of your hair brush
(Optional) Non-toxic watercolors (the kind you use in school)
 Glue peppercorns to your hands or face using the corn syrup or eyelash glue. KEEP PEPPERCORNS AWAY FROM YOUR EYES! You may have to hold them in place until the glue or syrup is dry.
2. Dip one end of the hairs in the glue or syrup and attach to the peppercorn, so they look hairy.
3. Use the paints to color them creepy!


  • Use make up that will give your skin a sickly pallor: rub green eyeshadow on your cheeks and red lipstick to highlight scars.  Ketchup for blood and gore.
  • Old clothes and hats, like an old black raincoat over your shoulders for Dracula cape.
  • Swim fins to create horrid Creature from the Black Lagoon feet.
  • Child-safe white school glue…dab a thin line of glue across the cheek and let it dry to create a temporary scar. Or make dots that’ll dry into warts.
  • Talcum powder dusted into your hair looks ghostly!
  • Oatmeal. Mix it onto a paste with water, dab it on your skin and let it dry. Gross (but actually good for your skin when you wash it off with warm water.)
  • Lots of mousse rubbed into hair creates vampire-looking slick effects. Or pull your hair into spikes or wild snarls. Be ready for lots of shampooing to get back to normal.
  • A rubber glove, filled half full of lukewarm water and secured with a rubber band. Hold this inside a long baggy sleeve and extend the arm to shake hands with unsuspecting friends.
  • Old wigs and fake fur can be cut up to make mustaches, wild eyebrows, even hairy werewolf hands.
  • Always be careful to keep make-up and glue and powder far away from eyes! Don’t keep monster make-up on too long, and don’t use any of this stuff on your skin if you have allergies.

Karo brand corn syrup
Red and blue food coloring
Add some red food coloring to the corn syrup, then just a drop or two of blue to get a more realistic dark color. Milk will make the blood appear more opaque and more realistic.
Note: This mixture is sticky and can stain clothes.

2-1/2 Tablespoons water
60-70 drops of red food coloring
10-15 drops yellow food coloring
2-3 drops blue food coloring
5-1/2 Tablespoons white corn syrup
 Mix all of the food colorings and water together.
2. Slowly stir in the corn syrup until the mixture is thick, but still “slides” down your arm. This goop WILL STAIN your clothing! 3. Smear it on your skin wherever you want the “blood” to be.
Adult Supervision Required


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