This is very off-topic to “nj playgrounds”, but I thought it would fit the season.  I wanted to share some of our costume making experiences, and would love to see yours too. 

Please comment below or post a picture on our facebook thread here for Halloween inspiration!

When you have the luxury to have flexibility with work-life balance, there are some seasons that will take up more of your creative energy, whether it is in the kitchen, the garden or in our family’s case, the aisles of Michaels and Joanne’s Fabrics. 

October is here, and my daughter (pictured on right of smiley face friends) has decided to go with a costume she made for a movie premiere back in April, Captain Toad from Super Marios Bro. (don’t even ask me to say it the right way, I’ve been corrected many times, is it Mahhrio, or Mawrio, I will never get it right). 

Anyway, with one kid in college and one being a high school senior and a freshman in hs, I have fond memories of making or shopping for costumes with all my kids at some point or another.  I’m not a pro at all at these, but wanted to share 5 things I learned in the process.  

Freddy Fazbear & Withered Bonnie 2015

  1. Going homemade can sneak up on you, and hope builds when watching youtube – We always bought costumes at Party City until October 2015. It wasn’t in my radar at all, until my oldest son wanted to dress up as “Withered Bonnie” from FNaF(Five Nights at Freddys).
    This was before they mass-produced any FNaF . After negotiations of alternate costumes failed, it was apparent that this was happening.  So I went down the rabbit hole of youtube and found one youtuber that gave us the hope that we can do this.
    It wasn’t until there were clear steps involved that I got on board.
    Thank you
    briphoenix it was only through your thorough tutorials that we had any clue on where to start.  If you want more details on the process here is a link to our old 2015 post 
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help- Kids helping and Crunch time Grandma
    They grow up fast, and the memories of them being part of our costume making moments bring me lots of joy.  But sometimes during crunch time, you may need to seek a new source.  In our case it was grandma, the expert sewer. When my son wanted to be SlowBro from Pokemon.  (the evolution of Slowpoke) 

    My mom helping her grandson when her daughter knew she was in over her head, thanks grandma!

    Slowbro stroll- one of my favorite memories (Comic Con 2016)

    As we were nearing Comic Con time- I knew that I was definitely not going to be able to pull this off without some sewing.  So although grandma likes a lot more lead time, she can’t resist her grandson’s wishes.  Grandchildren have magical powers. Here’s

    a link to our Comic Con post and how it all turned out plus link to all our process pics.

  3. Embrace the Imperfect–  Unless you are going for a competition and this is your livelihood, make peace with imperfection.

    Poofessor (Yokai Watch?) in 2018 flanked by Panda and Roman soldier

    Every costume we took on, we learned a little bit more, and we are far from expert costume makers but when looking at other DIYers you gain such an appreciation of the hours of effort that goes into their creations.

    Halloween in 2020 (Watermelon Girl)

  4. Hot Glue Gun is your friend-  I never touched one until I was 39, and think of all that time without a hot glue gun, I could have been a contender.
  5. Starting in September would have been smart- Oh I wish.  But somehow we repeat the same mad rush every year. If anyone has been successful at planning in advance please let us know your secret. There have been plenty of half done projects too, so you are only seeing the ones we completed.

    Middle child’s Daedric armor (Skyrim) from 2018 just painted in 2023- not sure where it goes next


  6. Bonus Tips– Save your cardboard! Old Amazon boxes or cardboard inserts are great to flatten out and create a mockup before you cut up foam. Materials we use: modpodge, wire hangers, pipe cleaners, felt, foam, those rubber flooring mats, polyfill, old pillow stuffing or couch cushions. Thrift stores are great for getting props, and materials.

It’s ok not to be crafty, but important to release your creativity

I never thought of myself as a “crafty” or “artistic” person, more of an enthusiast who is prone to deep dives and rabbit holes on youtube.  So when people compliment a costume we made, and follow it with “I’m not crafty” I want to let them know that there are soooo many levels to being crafty. 


And that it is also ok to not have any interest in this kind of “crafty”. Similarly I’ve always perceived myself as the most unathletic person, and would say “I’m not athletic”.  But physical fitness is importance and I found ways to be “athletic” (very loose term here) in zumba, swimming and a dance class.  


So if you want to be crafty or creative but think you aren’t, dip a toe in something that calls to you.  Whether learning to draw, figuring out a small household project, or find an activity to do with your kids that you think you both will enjoy.  This can be in many creative fields, not just making a costume, it can be cooking, gardening, music, drawing or even joke telling. Every year I look forward to a Christmas card from one of my friends who always writes a “parody song” about their year sung to a holiday tune. These outlets of creativity are so important and the evidence is obvious here, here and here


I’m not sure how I always end up on a tangent but here we are.  Anyway if you are interested in the processes for our imperfect homemade costumes, happy to share it with you: Withered Bonnie & Freddy Fazbear (FNaF) and SlowBro (Pokemon) (link to the photos at the end) if anyone wants info on Watermelon Girl, Captain Toad or Poofessor (Yokai) comment below, we didn’t document those, but can explain it briefly. 


Taking on a project can be an adventure and it is more fun with other people, so if you think it’s a challenging one for you, enlist a friend, family member so it isn’t so daunting.  Take a moment to watch the tutorials and take note of the time.  Things can get pretty long especially with drying times and multiple steps. 


Thankfully many creators and youtubers are there to help to get on track.  Make sure you give them a little love on their social media, those tutorials are time consuming as well! 


And if you have a favorite cosplayer youtuber, or your own pictures to share, comment below or give us a shout out on social media @njplaygrounds (IG/FB and Tiktok) We would love to append this post with unique Halloween costumes you created or tutorials you found helpful.