Does the thought of coming up with a creative Halloween costume for your kids scare you?

Jackie Kontoes is here to save you from the costume crazy this year. She created the best thing to happen to October since pumpkin spice: #31daysofcostumes, an initiative where she creates—and shares—Halloween costumes for her kids made in about 20 minutes, with (as she puts it!) “random household items.”

We interviewed Jackie to get all her tips and tricks for taking the fright out of your Halloween costume plans this year.

The Jolly Holiday

Who or what was your original inspiration behind building these costumes? 

I was living in Hawaii at the time, when I had the idea to dress up my kids as different characters. My initial thought was that it would be something funny for my friends and family to all enjoy and laugh about. In addition, I wanted my kids to have something fun to look back on. That October passed, as I did not immediately begin dressing them up. However, over the next year I began brainstorming and soon was seeing each of my children reflect different characters. Each idea I had came with a different friend or family member in mind whom I knew the costume would make laugh.

When did you begin designing and dressing your children up?

2014 was the first year I dressed my kids up for #31daysofcotumes. I initially thought this #31daysofcostumes idea was quite original until a few days into dressing my kids up. I soon found many other Instagram accounts using this exact hashtag during the month of October. This resulted in us ditching the hashtag but continuing the costume designing and dressing up of my children. Unfortunately, the next year was much harder for me to continue the daily costume dressing considering I was on the road moving halfway across the country. However, we made it work. Although it was more difficult to find and dress up my children while in an RV, it almost added to the excitement. The tradition continues today as I am still dressing up my kids, all thirty-one days of October.

The Jolly Holiday The Jolly Holiday

How many children do you have?

I am a proud mother to three, with a set of eight year-old twins and another who is five. Each of my children loves the opportunity to dress up and takes the job very seriously. Every time, they get really into the character they are dressing up as. I am always really impressed with how much they start to reflect their characters.

How do you go about getting your costumes? Do you design them yourself? Buy them at the store?

My biggest secret is that most all of my “costumes” are things that my children and I find around the house. These costumes are generally our regular clothes that we simply turn inside out or backwards and they are almost always reused. There are few times I have gone out to buy something because it rarely turns out the way I want it. The only costume-related item I buy now is hairspray and hair dye, which I use to replace cheap wigs. By manipulating these hair products, I am able to imitate and sculpt my children into the characters they are dressing up as. It’s all about making the most of what you have around the house and using the aspect of illusion to make people see what you want them to.

The Jolly Holiday

What are your Halloween tips and tricks for other parents in dressing up their kids? 

The first tip I have is to look around your home for things you already own. There are so many setbacks in buying costumes, including spending money, but the main reason is that they never look authentic or realistic to the character you’re trying to replicate. That being said, my best advice would be to make do with what you have and to really get creative. You don’t have to get crazy with your outfit. I usually stick to about five details in the outfit and then the rest will come together.

The Jolly Holiday

Whether you’re buying costumes or building your own, we can’t wait to see your Halloween photos this year!