Halloween costumes made from a cardboard box are definitely the way to go when you’re short on cash or want to show your creativity. With a few household items, glue and craft paint, you can turn an ordinary cardboard box into a trick-or-treating masterpiece.
Keep in mind that most cardboard box costumes are made with a cut out for your head or some sort of fabric or belt straps to hold the box over your shoulders, so be sure to measure and allow room for these in your creation. It’s also helpful to tape off or draw designs before making cuts in the box or painting details, so as not to ruin the whole project with a misguided slice of a box cutter or swish of a paintbrush.
Beyond the basics, there is no limit to the type of costumes you can make from a cardboard box. All you need is imagination and some basic supplies. Try these 50 costumes on for size:
1. Etch-A-Sketch – Be sure to use a ruler to draw the design for the front of your box, so it actually looks like the straight lines an Etch-A-Sketch would make.
2. Rubik’s cube – Use tape to or a ruler to mark off perfect cubes, then color!
3. Jack in the Box – decorate the outside of your box in a colorful circus theme. Then put on a clown wig and makeup to be the pop up toy.
4. Lego brick – use empty packing tape rolls with a cardboard covering, equally-sized round plastic food containers, or wooden discs to make the brick studs, then paint.
5. Toy robot – Use household recyclables such as aluminum pie pans, tin foil, plastic juice caps, straws, toothpicks and more to make the gadgets, levers and dials.
6. Doll in a box – dress yourself up as a Barbie, Cabbage Patch, American girl or generic baby doll and enter the box from the bottom.
7. Classic children’s book – print or draw the cover of a favorite kids’ book. Paint one side of the box white with thin gray lines to represent the pages.
8. Crossword puzzle – a little black and white paint and voila, a word-nerd’s delight!
9. Slot machine – paint flat or add three outwardly curved cardboard pieces for the slots.
10. Tissue box – add tissue paper around your head for the tissue
11. Mailbox – Paint a standard mailbox, or include a flap that opens to reveal letters piled up inside
12. Cereal box – Design to replicate your favorite cereal and glue a few Cheerios or other cereal pieces to the top of the box
13. Computer screen showing slide show of photos – Add your favorite Halloween photos from the past for the slide show
14. Computer screen showing screensaver – For a simpler design, glue a print out of a Microsoft screensaver to the front of the box
15. TV – Your screen can be on any channel you choose. Simply print out a screen shot of your favorite show!
16. Boom box – take a trip back to the 1980s and add a few round lids for dials and speakers
17. Wii remote – you’ll need a longer box or will need to tape a few together. Make a cut out for your face and design the rest to look like the Wii.
18. Cell phone – your home screen can be app icons, a Face Time screen, or a funny text message!
19. Crayola crayon box – Fill your crayon box with paper-wrapped mailing tubes with paper or fabric formed cones on top.
20. Dinner table top with place settings – decorate your table top with a tablecloth and add plastic dishes and utensils
21. Candy Land board game – duplicate the colorful game or even change the name to Trick Or Treat Land
22. Scrabble board game – Spell out a spooky or silly message
23. Suitcase with passport stickers – Add some real buckles from the hardware store and print out some stamps from places you’ve been.
24. Display case – adhere a collection of watches, toy knives, jewelry or other miscellany, attach string price tags, and cover with clear plastic.
25. Bean bag toss game – Cut out holes, attach a few bean bags that missed, and be sure to put a possible points to score number under each hole.
26. Book of witches spells – Cover your box with tea-dyed paper, a few metal embellishments such as an antique key or bat emblem. Title your book in gold lettering.
27. Calculator – add up your candy total with colorfully painted buttons
28. Crane game – entering the box from the bottom, you’ll fill the area around your head with small toys. Paint your box with the amount it takes to play the game and a coin slot.
29. Gift – actual wrapping paper and a large bow gives you an instant Halloween costume!
30. Vehicle – With a little careful cutting and adding some extra, round cardboard for wheels, you can paint yourself into a taxi, race car, bus or other vehicle.
31. Stoplight – Black, red, yellow, and green paint. Trace around a lid for the lights, then paint the centers. For actual lights, cover your circles in colored cellophane and toss a glow stick behind it.
32. Vending machine – You’ll step into the main box, which forms the back of the vending machine. Add rows of cardboard shelves to the front of your box and extra cardboard to form the sides. Add vending items to your shelves and a plastic cover across the front.
33. Aquarium – Blue paper and fish stickers is the easiest way to go, but you can also make a diorama of shells, pebbles, plants and toy fish inside a clear-sided box.
34. Tardis – If you’re a fan of Dr. Who, use masking tape to detail the box and paint to match the iconic symbol of the show.
35. Candy bar – Replicate your favorite sweet treat. Add a half circle of paper around the back of your head to look like a wrapper being torn off.
36. Playing cards – Choose your favorite card or paint the box as one card and add a fanned-out deck of additional cards by gluing poster board to the box.
37. Kissing booth – Especially cute for small children, but ladies and even guys can pull this off. Step inside the box and add lipstick prints and hearts on the outside along with the price of a kiss.
38. Washing machine – Clear plastic trays glued together with doll clothes inside makes the perfect front loader view for your machine.
39. Minecraft characters – Some careful painting inside taped or drawn squares can bring your favorite characters to life for Halloween.
40. Price is Right Showcase Showdown contestant – Paint your box to look like the Price is Right podiums and add your price guess for your showdown at the top. Don’t forget to wear a contestant name tag on your shirt.
41. School chalkboard – add an eraser and a message painted in white. This goes great with an apple hat.
42. YouTube video – Turn your box into a computer screen. Step inside the box dressed up as whomever is the star of your video. Be sure to add the video title and view count.
43. X-ray – Print out or paint a skeleton on the front of your box.
44. Wizard of Oz Tin Man – Use the box as the torso and wear gray clothing, and a funnel covered in duct tape for the hat. Use a painted or tape-covered watering can for the oil can.
45. Toy box – This works best if you have a piece of cardboard coming up behind your body so it looks like a lid opening up. Paint your toy box and add small toys around the top of the box. Stuffed animals, rubber duckies and playground balls are fairly lightweight to carry around on your Halloween costume.
46. Labyrinth – Add a made of cardboard slats on the front of your box and glue a silver-painted marble or super ball inside the maze.
47. Rat maze – Add cardboard slats to the front of your box and adhere a toy rat.
48. Photo booth strip – You can wear a full box or just cut off the front of a long box and strap the flat piece of cardboard over your shoulder. Leave one cut out for your face and then, above and below your head, glue silly pictures of yourself.
49. Bubble gum dispenser – Enter the box from the bottom. Cut the sides out of your box, leaving only the framework and cover the sides with plastic. Use balloons, plastic Easter eggs, or real gum balls to fill your machine.
50. Hot air balloon – Your cardboard box will serve as the basket. Attach a balloon bouquet to the top.
Making a Halloween costume out of a cardboard box can be loads of fun. Just be sure to use a box that is lightweight enough to carry, but sturdy enough to support your design if you need to add extra pieces to it. When you let your imagination go wild, you’ll be sure to come up with a costume that gets lots of attention on Halloween night.