Halloween Costumes: Our One New Thing Rule

Baby Halloween Costume

Has the costume parade started in your neighborhood yet? My kids have been trying on costumes for at least a month, and each has settled on a final masterpiece. They settled weeks ago. Truthfully, they’ve probably been planning for a year, but I have “Don’t talk to me about Halloween until September” policy that is little more sophisticated than sticking my fingers in my ears and singing loudly. Now the season is really here, and this past week we’ve had to see the costumes several times again in order to show best friends.

“Mama, do you want to see my costume again?”

“Of course, I do.” And I really do.

One New Thing

In order to avoid the wicked impulse to buy new off-gassing costumes annually, my family follows a one-new-thing rule. Everyone is allowed one new thing. Over time, the new thing has been simpler by their own choice. The new thing isn’t such a big deal now, and we are all happy to work with what we already have or what we can borrow.

I have been seeing these creatures parading around.

My Son the Cave Goblin
This is a character out of HackMaster, a game my son plays frequently.

  • The costume: hooded black cape from the dress-up box, glowing teeth he got in his Halloween basket some years ago.
  • His one new thing: green hair goo. He also made a hatchet out of wood scraps, since a goblin needs a hatchet (I am told).

My Daughter the Witch
Especially as we deconstruct cultural baggage about witches (including the child-friendly version of Wicked that I’ve been telling her), a witch costume ends up being a proud costume for my daughter.

  • The costume: pointy hat, striped tights, black robe, old black dress shoes, long black wig
  • Her one new thing: glowing make up stick

Easy Halloween Costumes from Our Past

Dinosaur Baby

  • The costume: this was a full bodysuit. I made the whole costume new from a pattern. This was then reused for my second child and friends’ children.
  • New: fabric

80s college student

  • The costume: the year my daughter was two and we just dressed her all in black. Complete laziness, yes, but it gives us something to talk about. No one else has used it yet that I know of, but feel free to borrow the idea if you can wear it with pride.
  • New: nothing


  • The costume: My son wanted to look like a real chef, so I made up a chef’s hat, white jacket, and reused checked pants (see Clown below). He wore the jacket and pants for dress up until he grew out of them.
  • New: fabric


  • The costume: Furry brown jacket and brown corduroy pants. I made my daughter a winter coat with little horns and ears on the hood. The hair on the jacket was very long and tough to zip, but she adored the buffalo coat. I also sewed simple, pull-up brown pants.
  • New: fabric


  • The costume: Checked pants and a crocheted hat with long loops. I made big, checked pants without a pattern (no particularly recommended, though it sort of worked), then I made a loopy blue wig that doubled as a winter hat.
  • New: fabric and yarn

Frida Kahlo

  • The costume: Skirt, Mexican peasant blouse, black wig, painted on eyebrows, and paint palette. This was completely my daughter’s idea. It was 100% obvious who she was when she showed up at the party that night—to the adults, anyway. The kids were confused, as was she when she didn’t understand why other kids didn’t know Frida Kahlo. How come anyone not know who she is?
  • New: black wig


  • The costume: skirt, T-shirt, play silks wrapped around over the skirt, flower crown, and silk wings.
  • New: silk wings


  • The costume: panda hat and all back clothes. (Yes, a theme.)
  • New: panda hat

More recently, the characters have been darker: one year a vampire, another year a devil, then the next year a dev-pire (my daughter’s ingenious combination of the two previous years’ costumes). Keeping these within the same general theme has made it easy for my daughter to keep up the standard of scariness she insists upon.

The Rest of the Family, Too

The 80s college student costume plays on my own tendencies in Halloween dress up. One year I was all in black and said I was a shadow. Next year, I added a 5-foot tall witch’s hat. Next year, I wore a long cat tail. I like to keep to Halloween tradition.

Daddy Wears a Kilt
He’s really not sure what it is, but this was a special request from his co-workers. He’s very obliging. This would blend really well with last year’s nerd costume (old glasses with tape, pocket protector), but this year that’s just too much like what he wears every day.

  • The costume: kilt, black books, lab coat
  • New: nothing!

Mama the Witch
I am just going to wear the giant witch hat again. This is the most my family can get out of me. The hat works perfectly with my daily stay-home costume (black jeans and whatever’s on top). In last year’s window shopping, I saw a great pair of high-heeled witch shoes with a curled up toe. Love them. That’s on my list to get one year, but the world will have to settle for big, black boots again this year.

  • The costume: 5-foot witch hat, black sweater, black jeans, Doc Martins
  • New: attitude, perhaps

Poor Poodle Cow
There has been talk of adding white spots to our black dog to create some kind of reverse Holstein cow, but I’m not sure the dog will be thrilled with this. This one I will believe when I see.

My husband and I aren’t much for dressing up, but we love Halloween and we really are in the true spirit of our favorite holiday.

Reuse for a Green Halloween

As you and your children plan your final Halloween costume masterpieces, look around to see what you will be able to reuse from dress-up and Halloweens past.

Green Halloween Costume Resources

  • “Costumes,” Green Halloween.
  • “Eco-Halloween Costumes to DIY For,” Care2

Image © Brad Calkins | Dreamstime.com

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