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Easy Halloween costumes

Pull out the dress-up trunk, the junk drawer, the sewing basket. It's time to get ready for Halloween.

Stores selling cheap off-the-rack costumes have made it easy to dress up the kids. But you can save some green by making your own -- and make more fun for the holiday.

Even if you don't have time to make a costume from scratch, you can still enhance the store-bought get-ups with a little imagination. Do you really want your kid to blend in with all the others from High School Musical trolling the neighborhood this year?

Don't be afraid. MomsMiami consulted some experts on the topic to offer some simple tips for original Halloween looks for any kid or adult.

"I think it is more fun when you make your own," said Cindy Williams, a mother of two from Davie who has always made her kids' costumes. "You can add your own personality into it. It is more special that way."

Among her costume creations over the years: a dog, a lady bug, pumpkins and a penguin.

"I got into the thinking that I didn't want my kids to look like anyone else's kids," she said. "I just wanted their costumes to be special."

Seattle mom Corey Hope Colwell-Lipson, founder of GreenHalloween.org, encourages homemade costumes -- recycling, with a touch of nostalgia.

"We always made our costumes from things we found around the house," Colwell-Lipson said of her own childhood. "Whenever friends would ask, ‘What are you going to be for Halloween?' that automatically meant, ‘What are you going to come up with or create - not buy.' ''

When she was 11, she and a friend made one-of-a-kind costumes out of old boxes, dressing themselves as "circle people.''

"Not only did we have ourselves and our neighbors in stitches as we went trick-or-treating, we had a great time with the process - conceiving of the idea, searching for the materials and then constructing the costumes all on our own," she said.

Now she helps her children, ages 4 and 7, make their costumes each year.

"A homemade costume is not only unique, it reduces demands on natural resources and landfill space," said Colwell-Lipson, who with her mother co-authored Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family.

Here are a couple of her easy, do-it-yourself costume ideas:

Be a recycling bin

. Wear brown or black clothes and attach all kinds of recycled materials: aluminum cans, pieces of cardboard, or newspaper. Or fasten suspenders to a cardboard box from which you've cut out the top and bottom. Cover the outside with newspaper and print "Recycling Bin'' in large letters. Then fasten items to the inside sticking out from the top.



Be a tree.

Wear brown pants and a brown shirt. Attach leaves to the upper body or attach small branches with leaves to arms by wrapping them with twine around the arms. Or you can cut leaves from felt and sew or glue them onto the shirt.



Meredith Lasher of Fort Lauderdale, a board member and producer at The Women's Theatre Project, has some great tips for making easy costumes.

"Use a sweat suit as base of the costume. For someone who does not sew, this is the easiest way to start," she said.

Lasher is a big fan of Stitch Witchery, a fabric fusion tool that turns whatever you are making into an iron-on applique. It is available at the Rag Shop.

"To make a Dalmatian costume, get a white sweat suit and some black fabric. Cut out the fabric in the shape of the dog spots and use some Stitch Witchery. This is a great product for moms who can't sew," she said. "But be warned: The glue may clog up your iron."

To make a ladybug costume, Lasher suggests dressing your child in a black leotard and leggings. which they may already have. Using red felt, make two big circles and glue or stitch them together to make a pouch. Glue on some black dots. Blow up and insert a garbage bag to make it puffy but keep it light. You can use the same technique for a turtle costume.

If your little princess wants to get fanciful, a Disney makeup pro suggests going to the source for inspiration: Watch Cinderella, Snow White and the other fairytales, said Rebecca Downin, a manager at Pete's Paint Shop, a face-painting shop at Disney's Magic Kingdom.

"The movies will give the best representation," she said. "Look for the details of the characters' costume."

MORE GREAT IDEAS ONLINE

  • Simplicity.com: Offers patterns for toddlers, children, adults and pets, most for about $10. Patterns for a cute clown, fuzzy pink bunny and ladybug costumes for toddlers run less than $20. A multi-size pattern package has matching penguin patterns for a child, a teen and an adult for $8.95.
  • About.com: Offers tons of ideas -- and step-by-step instructions -- for homemade Halloween costumes, everything from a package of M‚&‚Ms to a baby jack-o'-lantern.
  • Everything Halloween: Offers tips for keeping kids' costumes on a budget.
  • Parenting.com: Offers great no-sew costume ideas for kids, including corn-on-the-cob, tomato and carrot outfits and strawberry, lobster or a pea pod costumes for babies.
  • Martha Stewart: Offers some clever costumes. You can choose a "Good Thing'' like a fairy godmother or a rock-'n'-roll prince, or a "Bad Thing'' like a swamp monster or a white ghost made from layers of tulle. Other Martha highlights include an adorable infant bluebird costume; a garbage bag witch getup; and a dramatic bat costume made from black umbrellas.
  • 13PumpkinAvenue.com: Offers a range of ideas and instructions, from a slice of pizza to a bag of grapes.
  • Special needs: This site offers some creative ideas for costumes for those who are in a wheel chair.
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