It’s a universal fact: Kids in costumes are adorable. Babies in Gryffindor robes and lightning scars? Stop it. Five-year-olds in Leia buns? Get out of town. A trio of tiny Powerpuff Girls? You’ve killed me.
Every parent scrambles for a costume for their kid around Halloween, but that’s not the only time you can transform your kid into a cute, smaller something. Plenty of parents are getting their kids into cosplay, making costumes of book, TV or movie characters for fun or for convention-going.
Give your kid ownership of the costume
Making a costume for your kids is fun, but it’s important to remember you are making it for them, not for you. Listen to what they want, let them choose the costumes and encourage them to make some of the decisions when putting it together. A lot of times they can have great ideas, such as a Mutants, Maidens & Munchkins kid’s adorable MythBusters cosplay with his younger brother. Remember: this all for fun, so don’t be afraid to share some of the control. You raised them, so they’re sure to have great taste.
Keep it comfortable
Your kids will like the costumes more if they’re not trying to take them off every 10 minutes. The trick is to simplify the costume when possible. Maybe instead of a full-body, fully-functioning Iron Man suit, try a cute mask and a cape, or make a dress version of a more complicated costume, such as My Little Pony’s Rainbow Dash, as two Mutants, Maidens & Munchkins moms did. Use makeup and wigs sparingly, and trade heavy props and armor for a lighter material, such as foam. The more your kid can move and feel like themselves in the costume, the better.
Maximize your budget
Costumes can get expensive, but they don’t have to be. Start your material shopping with a trip to Walmart, or a scroll through Ebay or a deep dive into your local thrift store (here are five great places to start). You can even use parts from cheaper store-bought costumes to make something entirely new. BFG Cosplay put a logo on a the chest armor from a bagged Halloween ninja costume to make a pretty legit little Nightwing. Get creative and keep things affordable.
Recycle what you can
Normal clothes can make for some great costumes. Go through the clothes your kid already has to see what can be part of a costume and buy pieces they can wear on a daily basis. Use old toys to make new props, and buy props that can become new toys. Some spray paint can make an old Nerf gun look straight out of an action movie, and a new plastic wand or plunger-tipped bow and arrow can be fun in and out of costume.
Make costumes that will last
Little kids double in size every two minutes (look it up, it’s science) and you don’t want your costume to be a casualty of growth spurts. To fight time, make costumes a little too big so it will fit your kids longer. It’s also smart to make costumes that can be handed down to other kids over the years. A Mutants, Maidens & Munchkins mom made a baby-sized Jedi costume that she used for all three of her kids. Hold on to old costumes, or pass them along to someone else.
Have a convention plan
So your kid has a great costume, and looks adorable as all get out. What’s the next step? Try taking them to a convention. There’s a fan convention for most everything nowadays, and it’s a great place to get your kid excited about their costume. Taking a kid, and even multiple kids, to a convention is totally doable, but you’re going to want to go in with a plan. Camouflage a bag to your costume, and pack plenty of snacks. Look around for small, cheap souvenirs for the kids while you’re there and plan your time around naps. Most conventions have quieter rooms for costume maintenance, and they can be good places for the kids (or you) to take a break if you need one.
Get into it
Don’t be scared to get dorky with your kids. Family costumes can make for an even better time, not to mention an awesome one. Get some of your kid’s friends together and make a group costume, like the Avengers, Equestria Girls or Teen Titans. Pictures, poses, and playacting can make a costume into an even more fun, memorable experience. Let loose and make sure you have a good time, too.