Most children love to dress up, but for parents who don't wish to buy outfits each year, here are some great ideas. Use your creativity to put together simple outfits yourself! Be sure to look for clothing items at garage sales and thrift stores.

The Football Player

What you need:

  • Undershirt in your child's size, preferably long-sleeve
  • Two pairs of long adult socks — fold each pair together and tuck under each shoulder of the undershirt to simulate shoulder pads
  • Any large or adult-sized football jersey, worn over the undershirt
  • A pair of your child's sweatpants, or sweatpants that match the jersey colors, pulled up just under the knee
  • A pair of child's dark or light long socks, pulled up and underneath the bottom of sweat pants
  • Child's tennis shoes
  • Eyeliner or dark eye shadow — smear a small amount under each eye.
  • A football to hold
  • Helmet is optional

The Pirate

  • Dark shirt in your child's size, or a long-sleeve button-up white shirt with a collar. If it has puffy sleeves, so much the better.
  • Long-sleeve shirt, preferably in a dark plaid, worn over the white or dark shirt
  • Brown, black, or dark blue casual pants — rolled up to just below the knee
  • A long, thin scarf tied around your child's waist as a belt or sash
  • Long, dark socks, pulled up over shins. If you have pants you are willing to cut the bottom hem off of (or find cheap pants at a garage sale), cut in a crooked line just above the ankles.
  • A dark scarf, or any large dark piece of fabric cut in the shape of a square. Fold into a triangle, and wrap around your child's head, tying at the back and behind the neck. You can also use a long strip of fabric to tie around the forehead.
  • A gold hoop earring. If the earring is for pierced ears, secure it through the bottom of the scarf where comes across your child's ear. No one will be the wiser.
  • Any dark shoes or boots your child currently wears will suffice.
  • Optional: beaded necklaces to wear around the neck, or attached to scarf, and black eye makeup for smudging the face.

For more inspiration, search images of Captain Jack Sparrow.

The Cowboy, Cowgirl

A great standby for a last-minute costume. You'll need:

  • A checkered or denim long-sleeve shirt
  • Bandanna to tie loosely around the neck
  • Jeans
  • Cowboy hat
  • Boots or regular shoes
  • Optional: Adult's long, dark coat and a belt with a big buckle

The Scarecrow

  • Checkered or plaid long-sleeve shirt
  • Overalls
  • Hat with a brim
  • Brown eye makeup/eye pencil for making freckles on cheeks, and a smudge of brown on the nose
  • Child's boots or shoes
  • Long pieces of straw to stick out of overall pockets (in front, back, and bib pockets)

The Clown

  • Long-sleeve adult shirt, or shirt a few sizes larger than what your child wears
  • Pants, sweatpants, or ugly pants you stuck in the back of the child's closet. Girls could wear pants, or an oversized skirt or dress, secured with a tie or belt.
  • An oversize vest that doesn't match the outfit
  • Socks, one each from a different pair
  • For girls: tie a few pieces of yarn in their hair
  • For girls and boys: hang a man's tie around their neck
  • A clown nose. If you don't have one, paint one with lipstick
  • If you don't have face paint, use makeup. Eye pencils for drawing tears, lipstick or cream blush for bright, red cheeks or outlining lips.
  • A big, floppy hat or party hat
  • For the picture: a pair of adult shoes. For trick-or-treating and Halloween parties, let them wear their own.

Extra tip: Consider reusing an infant or toddler's bunting-type costume for a young or small preschooler (pumpkins and peas are popular). These costumes are usually one size, and pretty big. Measure and cut leg holes in the bottom (sew for reinforcement) and have your child wear pants, sweats, or tights.

For more outfit ideas, check out costumes in current magazines or search images on the web.

More Halloween Ideas: