'Green' Halloween Costumes Don't Have to Be… Green

Green Halloween costume ideas

This year promise yourself that you won't buy your children Halloween costumes from the drug or discount store. You don't have to, you know. And you don't have to be a talented sewer or artistic genius to create your own costumes. All it takes is a pencil, a variety of colors of acrylic kids' paints, a couple different-sized artist brushes, cardboard boxes or slightly used poster board — and patience. Your kids can even do some of the work.

Use easels if you have them, clear off a table, or spread a large cloth on the floor so you have a flat surface on which to work. Using a box cutter, cut two identically sized pieces of smooth and unmarked cardboard to fit each child roughly from the shoulders to mid-shin, and set them aside for now.

The next step requires a visit to the pantry or family room. You will serve as tour guide — ask the kids to look around and select what they want to be for Halloween: a box of Cheerios or Ritz Crackers or taco shells? A container of cocoa or a box of raisins? Maybe Jell-O, cake or pudding mix, or a box of macaroni-and-cheese. Or consider the possibilities that a deck of cards presents: King or Queen of Hearts, Jack of Clubs, or Ace of Spades? Maybe a favorite book, CD, or even a computer screen? The longer you search, the more possibilities you'll discover. Collect the products to be emulated so you can make your rough sketch and also have a color guide.

Roughly sketch out the chosen container, first on paper to get the proportions right, then onto the cardboard. Let each child determine the colors he'll need to carry out the mission. If time is short, this would be a good point at which to stop work for the day.

When everyone's ready to paint (don't forget those relics from the past, paint shirts), get the budding artists set up at their own stations and, after a few necessary coaching tips, cut 'em loose.

When the painted cardboard is completely dry — waiting until the next day is a good idea — make suspenders by attaching two lengths of ribbon, twine, clothesline cord or spare bicycle tires to the top edge of the front pieces, one on each side so they fit comfortably over the wearers' shoulders, then fasten the other end to the back panels, so your little trick-or-treating boxes look as though they're wearing sandwich boards. A little face painting, a funky wig, or an old hat can complete the look.

If the costumes turn out to be objects of pride and hold up well all through the festivities, they can be carefully stored for the following Halloween. They can even be hand-me-downs: this year, raisins, next year pudding mix. The possibilities are endless.

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