Family Photo Album: Childhood Halloween Costumes, Thematically

I don’t remember how it started, but I think it was Stef’s fault we all started comparing Halloween costumes we wore as kids. Sharing pictures of yourself ridiculously dressed as a child is so satisfying, because before a certain age, it’s really not embarrassing for you at all. It’s only embarrassing for your parents. My mom, the original Thing-Maker, made all of my costumes as a kid, so I was pretty much whatever she thought would be cute. I think this is a common theme in childhood costumes. Here are some other themes I’ve found.

1. Most kids, at one point or another, were pumpkins:







2. If not pumpkins, other awkwardly boxed objects:



“One year I was Thomas the Tank Engine. My brother started out as Edward the Blue Engine but he was too little to walk around inside of a giant moving box so he was a ghost instead. My dad went as a conductor and had a whistle. This costume is my childhood favorite because it was particularly elaborate and home made in a way that most of my childhood was not (later I was a ballerina or a witch or a writer dying of consumption or, when I found a billowing long black cloak with a dramatic sweep, Death, and my brother was Batman).” -Carolyn

3. There will never be a picture of you and your siblings that isn’t super awkward:


Laura M.

“Me and my brother. Can you tell that I made this swamp monster costume myself?” -Laura M.





“I’m the Care Bear… the only person who made it out of that picture with any dignity.” -Stef



4. Except for this picture in which Vanessa looks perfect and adorable:



“Here I am with my baby bro. A bunch of girls had these pj’s because they were “cool” that year. Go team.” -Vanessa

5. Fashion of the times seems to sneak into Halloween costumes. For example, jellies!:



6. Nerdy movie references live on:



“Here I am as Queen Amidala, circa 1999. If I look a little solemn, it’s because I’m either in character, or still mad at my parents for not letting me be Xena. (Really, it’s probably both.) Other favorite costumes of yore have been the Pink Power Ranger, Meg from Hercules, and a lady knight. I may or may not still have the toy sword.” -Hannah



“I’m holding a headless doll, please note.” -Laneia

There will never be anything more amazing than Laneia as a Wednesday Addams.

7. Stef wins the award for cutest child in an animal costume:



8. And to end it, oh my goodness, baby Riese as a clown:



“If you open this image in a new window to witness it at full size and then zoom in, you’ll notice that I”m reading a book about Thanksgiving, clearly illustrating that I’m ready to move on to the next thing. This is very forward-thinking/psychic of me.” -Riese

What was your favorite childhood costume? What do you think that says about you? How old is too old when it comes to trick-or-treating? Happy Halloween Homos!

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Hansen is the former DIY & Food Editor of and likes to spend most days making and cooking and writing. She teaches creative writing at Colorado State University and is pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in her free time.

Hansen has written 189 articles for us.


  1. i’m sorry, laura’s swamp monster costume just changed everything i ever believed to be true about the world.

  2. I love how Vanessa looked exactly the same as a kid as she does now…

    My favourite costume was Anything But The Kitchen Sink. Home-made, of course (just about all my costumes were). It was a reflection of my astounding inability to pack lightly, even just for a day at school (but what if I need a paperweight?).

  3. My favorite was the year I went as a bunch of grapes. Mom pinned purple balloons all over my winter coat and put felt leaves and pipe cleaner vines in my hair. The only problem was I couldn’t see my feet because of all the balloons, so my teacher had to hold my hand for our Halloween parade around town so I wouldn’t trip and fall.

  4. My mom also made all of mine and my sister’s costumes when we were kids. I think her crowning achievement was my She-Ra costume when I was 5; she made the crown, belt buckle thing, and sword out of cardboard spray painted gold, and even let me have an old pair of shoes painted gold to make into the boots.
    She’s continuing her tradition of creative costuming with my daughter, who is being Firestar this year with her mask, arm bands, and shoe covers made by her grandma.

  5. Oh my goodness, these are so wonderful! What a great thing to wake up to! The baby Riese clown pics made me squee! :D

    I don’t have any pics unfortunately but I’ve always loved Halloween and dressing up so much and my dad really loved helping me make costumes. I was Donatello the ninja turtle one year (it was the early 90s) he made my shell out of a garbage can lid with leather belts for the straps. I thought it was so awesome. But I’m not sure now how many people other than me and him could tell what I was.

  6. fyi if my mom knew what a scanner was we would get to see the year i went as a tomato (sewed from a “pin cushion” pattern), which would’ve been thematically relevant to the large objects and round fruitvegetables, just wanted to make sure everybody is aware of this

  7. I don’t really have any costumes to brag about, mine were pretty cut and dry. I do, however, have a photo of my brother and I holding pumpkins we had carved – I think I was 5 and he was 3. Mine is a cat with the ears and the eyes as the same holes, and his is a cute little face that he accidentally carved on the pumpkin up-side-down. I still have no idea why our parents let us handle knives that young.
    And Stef’s elephant costume is adorbs.

  8. Okay, sorry to comment twice, but my Dad just reminded me of a costume we’re both particularly proud of. There was a year (8th grade?) I was the energizer bunny, and escorted my brother and his friends around the neighborhood. The entire costume was home made, except the fuzzy drum sticks/mallets that one of his friends loaned me, right down to the fleece onesie (I made it myself).

  9. It’s like “Throwback Thursday” except that it isn’t a Thursday. These photos and costumes are amazing! ^____^

  10. My mum single-handedly made me a ‘three-headed monster’ costume that I think she then decided had been too much work to use only for one year, so I was a three-headed monster from about age 3-7. My real head was the middle head, with two entirely homemade monster heads sewn to my shoulders on either side. One of my extra heads was chomping on a naked barbie that had been sewn in the mouth. To my lasting embarrassment my mum persuaded me to re-wear the costume at some point during high school.

  11. These photos are the best thing I’ve seen today!

    My brother and I both have birthdays in the first week of November, so we had more than one combined Halloween party/joint birthday bash as kids. I think I was almost always a vampire or a witch or some combination of the two (I liked caps and hats and running around on a broom okay). He was usually a skeleton or some kind of zombie, but in all the photos he looks like he’s scared of his own costumes – that’s just how his face was when he was little!

  12. Day made. You’re all perfect humans.

    My favorite childhood costume was Peter Pan bc gay, also bc Mary Martin feels.

  13. also one year when i was a tiny thing my mom dressed me up as big bird and the costume was home-made and the head was so gigantic that sometimes i would fall over just standing there from the weight of it.

  14. I too was a young Queen Amidala. My hair involved so much hair spray and toilet paper rolls that I was convinced that my hair would stay in one big loop for the rest of my life.

    Then there was the time that my “friend” group was the Teletubbies and I was given the purple one because that one was the lamest (but I was secretly pleased with this decision).

  15. When I was seven I glued pieces of construction paper to a paper bag, put it over my head and called myself a monster. I thought I was a genius.

  16. I went an angel for my first real trick-or-treat expedition, I think I was about 3. I just couldn’t comprehend that I was getting candy, I was dressed up, and I was allowed to pet all the dogs we saw. I literally ran from house to house as fast as a 3 year old can.

    Petting all the dogs is still one of my favorite Halloween traditions.

  17. When I was 5 or 6 my mom made me a Xena costume. I usually state this as a punchline about early coming-out experiences or prescient parents, but I haven’t figured out the joke yet.

  18. Lord have mercy, baby autostraddlers are cute.
    I was all the things you’d expect from a future queer lady; ninja turtle, chipper jones, wolverine.
    One year, my cousin and I went as thing 1 and thing 2 but as if they were from a bad trip. Fun times.

  19. yo stef i was an elephant too (except for carnival cause in NL we don’t do halloween) and it was the best costume ever

  20. When I was in fourth grade, I had the bright idea to dress up as a grape popsicle for Halloween and designed the costume myself for my mom to sew. I remember her thinking it was kind of weird, but she went along with it because she got a good deal on purple vinyl at JoAnn’s and it was easy to wear a coat underneath the costume. But in retrospect, hot damn that was probably the best accidental giant purple dildo costume my elementary school ever saw.

  21. I was Glinda the Good Witch every year from 2 to 7 with a different pink dress each time because I wanted to be a princess but also powerful. I was then Cleopatra, Amidala, and a favorite witch from a YA book series. I feel like this trend led pretty smoothly to my current hard femme habits.

  22. Also, can we find a way to photoshop pics of Laneia as Wednesday Addams into Carly and Robin’s Morticia and Gomez photo shoot? Because I feel like it would make all my dreams come true.

  23. I had the same clown costume as Reise!!! I remember growing up and thinking it was a Christmas tree skirt, though, because of the way it was shaped. Strange but true…

  24. Anyone from Minnesota remember the Halloween blizzard of 91′? I went as a ghost that year but it turned out more like a marshmallow because I had to wear a snowsuit underneath. Pretty sure my mom pulled me in a sled from house to house trick-or-treating as well because my little 4 year old legs couldn’t make it through all the snow. Ohhhhhhh Minnesnowta.

    • i remember having a few snowy halloweens as a kid (i lived in wisconsin). nothing ruins an awesome costume like covering it up with a coat/hat/mittens/scarf/snowboots!

  25. this was just great. I love looking at other peoples photos. Even more so when they are adorable baby straddlers.

  26. I hated dressing up in costumes as a kid, so my favorite was probably when I just put on my dad’s motorcycle helmet and was a motorcyclist

  27. When I was 5 I was Gene Simmons from Kiss complete with black wig and face make up. Homemade costume. Fucking epic. I feel like it explains a lot about who I am.

  28. I was consistently some kind of dinosaur. My mom made us go house to house and ask for donations for the local food pantry instead of candy. This meant that we got a lot of food for the food pantry and usually double candy. Which I was then not allowed to eat. Hippie moms. Winning all the things.

  29. In grade 1 my mom made my costume. I was a cloud with a rainbow (the cloud was made of a LOT of cotton stuffing, secured with suspender-type things, and the rainbow was a pillow that she had sewn!) The cloud was so wide that when we all sat on the square carpet at school, I had to have a corner spot, otherwise I couldn’t fit!

    Oh and in kindergarten I was Pocahontas and my mom sewed the costume out of an actual burlap sack and I still have memories of how gross it smelled.

  30. Much to my father’s chagrin, I was a USC football player one year, and my younger brother was a witch.

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