When you have children, you learn to expect the unexpected and to make the most of what you have. Whether your child tells you while you're tucking him into bed that he needs to bring two dozen cupcakes to school the next day or your daughter tells you she needs a ballerina costume for her friend's birthday party next weekend, a parent is constantly faced with surprises. If your child suddenly springs on you the need for a costume, don't panic --- there are plenty of ways to make quick and easy kids costumes from things you have around the house.
Dress your child in a long-sleeved flannel shirt, denim overalls and a pair of work boots. Top off the costume with a straw hat if you have one.
Tie a red bandanna around the straw hat or around your child's neck and give him a sun-kissed look by adding a few freckles to his cheeks with face paint or eyeliner. As an alternative you can imitate dirt smudges on his cheeks with brown eyeshadow.
Give your child a bucket or pail to use as a candy tote if you're taking your child trick-or-treating. If your child is very young, sit him in a wagon full of barnyard stuffed animals and wheel him around with you.
Dress your daughter in her Sunday best or pick out a favourite dress from the dress-up closet.
Create a crown or tiara out of silver or gold garland and tape and give your daughter a bouquet of flowers to drape over her arm.
Finish the look with a white sash that states her title. Choose your own title such as "Miss Universe" or "Miss USA." Use a long length of thick white ribbon and write the words with a permanent marker. Drape the sash around one shoulder and tie or pin it under the opposite arm, near her hip.
Cut up a rope-style mop head and sew or tie the ropes to a piece of ribbon or into the waistband of an old skirt. If you sew the ropes onto a piece of ribbon, leave enough excess ribbon to tie around your daughter's waist.
Dress your child in shorts (if the rope skirt is open), the rope skirt, flip flops and a brightly coloured top.
Make a headband and lei out of artificial flowers or bright-coloured stick-on bows. If your child has a toy guitar or ukulele, have her carry it with or make one out of recycled cardboard boxes and rubber bands.
Dress your child in pastel blue or green trousers and shirt or pajama set to imitate scrubs and have him don a pair of disposable plastic gloves.
Make your child's doctor accessories out of paper, cardboard and string. To make a stethoscope, tie one piece of string to the centre of another piece of string. Cut out three circles of cardboard. Attach the three pieces of cardboard to the three ends of the string and drape the stethoscope around your child's neck.
Modify a toiletry bag or black purse to look like a doctor's bag by affixing a red construction paper cross (think of the American Red Cross symbol) to the side of the bag and give it to your child to carry. Fill the bag with medical instruments such as tweezers, a thermometer and bandages.
Use your creativity when making quick costumes for your kids and encourage your kids to help you make the costume. This will save you time and will also give your child a fun activity to do.