Is it the eleventh hour and you still have no costume for the kiddos? No worries! Those brown bags from the grocery store come in handy for all kinds of things, but this time of year they’re the go-to material for last-minute Halloween costumes. You can have any of these costumes ready to wear in less than 24 hours, but some will take no more than an hour or two.
First, you’ll need to know how to create a paper bag vest. With the opening of the bag facing you, cut up the middle of the bag and over the fold at the bag’s bottom. Cut a 6-8″ hole in the bottom of the bag for the neck. Cut 4-6″ holes in each side for the armholes. Carefully turn the vest inside out so that the store logo is on the inside, and you’re ready for transformation. If you plan to paint the bag, you’ll want to do that the day before you plan to decorate it.
Here are ten quick and easy paper bag costumes to get you started:
1. Fisherman: Trim the vest so that the front edges are rounded (see photo). Glue on an assortment of old fishing gear, like lures, bobbers, and flies.
- Wear with: Jeans, a flannel shirt, and a funky hat.
- Accessorize: Carry a fishing pole.
2. Cowboy: Fringe the bottom of the vest and glue on “pockets” cut from a second paper bag.
- Wear with: Jeans, a flannel shirt, a bandana, and a straw hat.
- Accessorize: Tie on a rope.
3. Robot: Paint the paper bag vest silver and add a control panel with miscellaneous parts from the toolbox like washers and springs or old computer components.
- Wear with: Grey sweats and a grey sweatshirt.
- Accessorize: Make a robot head out of a small square box that fits over your child’s head.
4. Paper Bag Princess: Based on the fabulous kids’ book from Robert Munsch, this vest needs no embellishment whatsoever.
- Wear with: Brown or tan leggings and a neutral colored shirt.
- Accessorize: A crown made from a paper bag.
5. Duck: Add feathers made from paper plates (see more detailed instructions here) and paint yellow.
- Wear with: Black sweats and a yellow sweatshirt.
- Accessorize with: A ball cap covered with more “feathers” and orange felt for a bill (see photo).
6. Cat, Dog, or Rabbit: See number 5 and paint the vest accordingly.
- Wear with: Sweats in a color to match the painted vest.
- Accessorize: Cut the appropriate shaped ears out of felt and glue to a beanie.
7. Space Invader: Paint the vest white and glue on stars and lightning bolts made out of construction paper. Outline the shapes with glitter glue.
- Wear with: White sweats and sweatshirt.
- Accessorize with: A bike helmet. Not the right color? Use colored masking tape to transform it into a suitable space helmet color.
8. Ladybug: Paint the bag red and glue on black construction paper dots.
- Wear with: Black leggings and a black turtleneck shirt.
- Accessorize: Slip on antennae from the dress up box and carry a silk flower.
9. Caveman: Wad up the vest and then smooth it flat. Repeat 5-10 times, until the bag becomes supple and resembles leather. Cut the bottom of the vest into jagged ‘V’ shapes. Paint to resemble an animal print if you’d like.
- Wear with: Tan leggings or sweats.
- Accessorize: Cover a small baseball bat with brown paper from another bag so that it resembles a club.
10. British Redcoat: Paint the vest red. Glue on gold trim, fringe, and buttons.
- Wear with: Grey sweats and a red sweatshirt.
- Accessorize: Make and wear a tri-corner hat.