DIY This!

These DIY Family Halloween Costumes Aren’t Just Dad Jokes — They’re Performance Art

Here’s how to nail the family theme this year, whether you go classic — or delightfully obscure.

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Emma Chao/Fatherly; Photos Courtesy of Vanessa Craft/Real Simple/Costume Works; Getty Images

The temperature is dropping, the pumpkin spice is flowing freely, and the hoodies and flannels are coming back out. We all know what it means: Spooky season is here! Trick-or-treating is an American tradition that’s not even a century old, so there’s still tons of fresh territory to explore for coming up with an inspired family Halloween costume.

Especially with younger kids, who are bound to be more on board for a goofy family-wide theme, the family costume can be a true masterpiece — dad joke as performance art. So whether you’re celebrating your favorite intergenerational franchise (Star Wars!) or going deep on a questionable pun, this is the season to leave it all on the field.

Halloween is just around the corner, so if you haven’t already, it’s beyond time to get to work. We offer inspiration below, with seven family costumes, from the tried-and-true classic to the delightfully obscure.

Rock, Paper, Scissors

We’ve all played with endless combinations of the decision-making game “rock, paper, scissors.” As a family costume, it’s an instantly recognizable pun when the whole crew is standing together, and a fun puzzle when everyone briefly splits up to trick-or-treat. Without paper and scissors, after all, a rock is just a rock. Depending on how much time you have — and your level of commitment to craft in the name of great puns — these costumes can be rendered very simply with some suspenders, poster board, and paint. Or you can construct something more elaborate, using paper-mâché or repurposed cardboard, painted silver, gray and white.

Pilot, Airplane, Cloud

Even considering the effort it takes to build an effective family costume, this is still the easiest form of family travel: This Halloween, go as a pilot, a plane, and cloud(s). Rain or shine, these airplane costumes are kid-friendly and super easy to DIY. A bag of fiberfill from the local craft store glued to an old shirt will make perfect fluffy, white clouds, while all those Amazon boxes can be repurposed into a fantastic airplane for your little pilot! As for you, just get a pilot costume off Amazon or dress vaguely uniformed, bedecked with an airplane pin on your blue, short-sleeve button-up.

Emma Chao/Fatherly; Photo Courtesy of Costume Works; Getty Images

Spotted Lantern Fly

For the ecologically minded family, a group of spotted lantern fly costumes is an excellent conservation conversation starter! Spotted lantern flies are an invasive insect species that, while wreaking agricultural havoc, also have the benefit of looking pretty cool. Vibrantly colorful and appropriately scary, this family costume is sure to turn heads. There are two options for this family costume: you could purchase butterfly wings for each family member and spray-paint them to be like the famous colors — and spots — of this pest. For a family of four, that’s fairly easy. You could also go, as a family of three, dressed as one person covered in spots, one person holding a lantern, and one person as a fly. The possibilities are endless!

Fruit Salad

The only thing cuter than a toddler dressed as a princess or a cowboy is a toddler in a strawberry costume. Or an apple costume. Or a banana costume. Who are we kidding? Toddlers and preschoolers dressed as fruit is always a winner. Have a grown-up rig up a bowl costume out of cardboard, and you’re all set for a fruit salad family Halloween costume!

Pack of Crayons

It doesn’t get much easier than this! You can use what you have to make a perfect family crayon costume — monochrome outfits for the family and cardstock or construction paper cones to top it off, taped together to make a hat of sorts. And best of all, everyone can choose their favorite color!

Emma Chao/Fatherly; Photo Courtesy of Real Simple; Getty Images


In the same spirit as Rock, Paper, Scissor, the family s’mores costume really comes together when you’re all, well, together. With two adults taking on the role of cardboard graham crackers, kids can don fiber-filled DIY marshmallows or be chocolate bars, just by painting cardboard dark brown and adding a Hershey’s logo, for example.

Super Mario Bros

This is perhaps the most pop-cultural of all the costumes and probably the easiest costume to pull off last minute. Pull out those old overalls and put them to work this Halloween. Pair them with a green or red t-shirt for an effortless Mario and Luigi costume. Your daughter’s favorite pink princess dress will make an incomparable Princess Peach (or, for a cheat, you can almost assuredly find a Spirit Halloween Princess Peach costume kit, too.) Green poster board attached to form a cylinder is the perfect DIY pipe for our fearless plumbers to explore.

Emma Chao/Fatherly; Photo Courtesy of Vanessa Crafts; Getty Images

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