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Buying guide for best Halloween costumes for kids

Starting your search for the best Halloween costumes for your kids is both overwhelming and exciting. There are countless themes to choose from, from everyday objects like crayons to movie and television characters. Kids can be very opinionated about their Halloween costumes, sometimes changing their minds multiple times, which means it's a good idea to do a bit of “homework” before you head into the holiday.

Once you find the perfect theme or costume for your child and it’s time to buy the outfit, you may find that there are many options and feel uncertain about which would work best. Some costumes may be too warm or cold for the weather in your area at Halloween. Others may have odd sizing or be missing key accessories to complete the costume.

Just remember: It’s all about fun! And to keep the fun alive, it helps to familiarize yourself with a Halloween costume buying guide so you know what to look for and what to expect as you shop.

kids in Halloween costumes
Halloween costumes can get pricey. Consider giving your older child a set amount of money to spend on a Halloween costume. This will help them learn to plan and budget.

Questions to answer before selecting the best Halloween costume for a child

How old is your child?

If you have a baby and it’s their first Halloween, you get to choose the costume. Note that you won’t have many years to do this without them interjecting their own opinions!

Many Halloween costumes for babies have cute and simple themes, such as a cow or a pumpkin. In some cases, you may decide to go a more DIY route, purchasing different accessories to complete the costume. For example, if you want your baby to wear a football costume but can't find the right one-piece outfit, you could buy a baby onesie styled like a football and add a brown hat, pants, and socks.

As for toddlers and older children, they’ll want to have a say in their costume choice. TV and video game characters are some of the most popular options, but if you browse around, you are sure to find many other appealing options as well.

What is your child interested in?

For kids with opinions, it can be hard to narrow down exactly which costume to buy. Or, they may be set on a certain costume… and that costume only!

If your child is able to communicate, the first step is to ask them what they want to be for Halloween. Toddlers may not fully grasp the idea yet, and as such, they may recite a bunch of different costume ideas.

Be prepared to help your child narrow down their choices. Explain the concept of Halloween: It may be helpful to say that it is a day when they can dress up as whatever they want for fun. You might offer some options based on what they watch on TV, what their interests and activities are, and what they might want to be when they grow up. For younger kids, it can be helpful to show pictures of Halloween costumes so they understand the concept visually.

What do you want the tone of the costume to be?

Spooky: Halloween is traditionally a spooky holiday, and as such, many adults and kids opt for a “scary” costume. If this appeals to you and your child, it can narrow your search to characters from horror movies, shows, and video games. Make sure the costume won't scare your child too much when they look in the mirror or scare younger siblings, which could take some fun out of the holiday. Also, be sure that there are no sharp pieces on the costume that could pose a danger to the child.

Pop culture: One of the most popular themes for Halloween costumes for kids is characters from television shows and movies. For example, there are countless princess costumes for kids who want to feel royal and glamorous on Halloween. Superheroes also abound on Halloween, as well as characters from Nickelodeon and Disney programs.

Funny: For families with a sense of humor, some Halloween costumes for kids are silly and fun. For example, a child may want to dress up as a food item, like a hot dog. Or, they may be intrigued by a full-body inflatable costume that turns them into a T-Rex or a unicorn.

Do you want to match?

When Halloween season begins, some families love to pick a theme for the entire family. If you have chosen a family theme and want your kids to go along with it, provide different kid Halloween costume options that adhere to the theme.

Are your pets going to be involved, too? There are many fun dog costumes and cat costumes that just might match your family theme.

What will the weather be like on Halloween?

If you anticipate cold weather on Halloween, a thick and plush costume may be best. If layers are required, put long sleeves, pants, and even a coat under a Halloween costume so the costume still shows. This may require buying a costume the next size up so it fits over bulky layers.

In warmer weather, costumes with long sleeves or plush material may be too hot for little ones—especially when they are running around outside while trick-or-treating. Thinner long sleeves and pants may be acceptable. Keep an eye out for costumes with short sleeves, shorts, dresses, and skirts.

kids in Halloween costumes
DID YOU KNOW?
Wearing costumes to fend off ghosts began in the Celtic culture.
STAFF
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What features do Halloween costumes for kids have?

Costume materials

Many Halloween costumes for babies (and those portraying “fluffy” characters) are made of soft material that feels like a snuggly blanket. Other costumes may have plastic, cotton, rubber, and polyester components. Some Halloween costumes for kids pull on or are made with zippers or Velcro.

Accessories

Many Halloween costumes have accessories that make the outfit more realistic. For example, a dog costume may come with ears and a tail. A dinosaur or dragon costume may have elaborate scaly tails with spikes. Some of these “extras” may make it harder for kids to move around, but they will have fun feeling even more like their character.

How to accessorize Halloween costumes for kids

Face paint

One of the best ways to up the excitement factor of a costume is to add face paint. Purchase a face-painting kit with colors that match your costume or desired aesthetic. Test a little of the paint on the child's skin to make sure it doesn’t irritate them.

Princesses may want fancy makeup; skeletons may want bones drawn on their faces; and kids who dress as animals may want a nose and whiskers drawn on. Face paint can be minimal, or it can cover the entire face—and even other parts of the body. Keep in mind, however, that face paint can get messy!

Footwear

Most of the time, kids can wear their own shoes on Halloween. But some costume footwear coordinates especially well with the costume: princess heels, slippers for a pajama costume, or animal feet.

Headwear

Halloween costumes for kids work well with different pieces of headwear. For example, a costume wig can be the finishing touch to a costume, especially for characters with iconic hair, like Dorothy with her braids or Cruella de Vil with black and white hair.

A child’s hat may work, too. For example, a regular baseball cap could top off the costume of a baseball player or television character. A kids' sun hat could work well for a fishing costume or a tourist costume.

Headbands and crowns are common additions to Halloween costumes for kids, and there are many to choose from. Cat, mouse, and dog ears are easy to find, and an ornate plastic crown completes a royal costume.

Handheld accessories

Fairies carry wands, and Star Wars characters have light sabers. Many Halloween costumes for kids come with accessories, but in other instances, you may want to buy an accessory to complete the costume.

Keep in mind that your child will be holding the item and may not want to do so to the entire time. Remember, too, that the child will also have their bag or bucket of candy to hold.

Worn accessories

Fairies, bumblebees, ladybugs, and other characters wouldn't be complete without wings. Some may come with the costume, but wings can also be purchased separately. Try on the wings before Halloween to make sure the elastic does not irritate the child's arms and is not too tight.

A cape is another popular wearable often seen on superheroes as well as spooky characters, like vampires.

Jewelry can be another great addition to Halloween costumes for kids.

Candy bucket

Most of the time, a candy bucket or bag for trick-or-treating will not be included with the costume. Think about which option might best match the costume or even add to it.

The classic pumpkin candy bucket works with all costumes and matches exceptionally well with a pumpkin costume. An empty doctor or nurse kit bag works well as a candy container for a child dressed up as a medical professional.

Want to go as twins with your kid on Halloween night? It can often be very easy to DIY an adult costume to match a purchased kid's Halloween costume.

STAFF
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How much do Halloween costumes for kids cost?

Inexpensive

Minimal Halloween costumes for kids cost under $20. Most of these costumes involve having the child wear their own clothes and purchasing accessories.

Mid-range

Most Halloween costumes for kids cost between $20 and $50, and many come with small accessories. Some costumes cost more in larger sizes.

Expensive

More ornate and elaborate Halloween costumes for kids cost over $50. This includes fancy ball gowns made of premium materials, detailed scary costumes, and get-ups with lights and sounds. Some full-body costumes that stay inflated fall into this category.

a kid in Halloween costumes
DID YOU KNOW?
Some of the first Halloween costumes were ghosts, witches, devils, and other ghoulish characters.
STAFF
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Tips

  • Save your costumes. You invested in the Halloween costume, and not only can your child wear it on the holiday, but they can also have fun dressing up when playing. Set aside a dress-up bin for storing Halloween costumes. If you have younger children, they may even want to wear that same costume for a future Halloween!
  • Buy as early as possible. You don't want your child to change their mind before the big day arrives, but some costumes, particularly character outfits, are increasingly hard to find as the holiday approaches. It's also helpful to make sure the costume fits and can be safely cleaned before Halloween.
  • Light-up costumes and accessories enhance nighttime safety. Add glow bracelets or light-up accessories to a costume so your children are easier to see in the dark while trick-or-treating.
kids in Halloween costumes
When in doubt, do not place your child’s Halloween costume in the washing machine. Instead, spot clean it as needed.

FAQ

Q. Are Halloween costumes for kids washable?

A. It depends on the costume. Read the care instructions on the costume to know if it is machine washable or not. Some costumes will fall apart, tear, or shrink in the washing machine.

If the costume says machine washable, it is safest to wash on a delicate cycle and hang dry or dry on low. Wash the costume carefully before Halloween (as early as possible) to make sure it won't be ruined right before the big night.

Q. Do Halloween costumes for kids contain latex?

A. Although latex is a known allergen for some people, it’s found in many Halloween costumes. In fact, many Halloween costumes for kids include masks made with latex. Read costume materials before purchasing, especially if your child is sensitive to latex.

Q. Are some Halloween costumes forbidden in schools?

A. The answer to this question varies depending on the school. Many schools prohibit kids from carrying weapons (even toy weapons) with their costumes during a school Halloween parade or party. Some schools prohibit scary costumes, period.

If your child’s chosen costume is  “prohibited” by the school, it can actually be fun to dream up “two” different costumes: one for the school party and one for later that night, during trick-or-treating.

 

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