Instead of buying a run-of-the-mill Halloween costume for your kiddo, why not make your own? A homemade zombie costume looks so much better than the store-bought variety. As an added bonus, it costs very little to make, because the actual costume can be any old, worn out clothes you don't mind cutting and shredding a bit for that "hey, I just popped out of the ground" look.
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Step 1: Creating Zombie-Worthy Clothes
Find some clothing that's stained, stretched or worn out a bit. It can be a little too short or too large for the child, as the goal here is to make the clothing look like rags. For best results, pick a top that is white or light in color, so the stains and fake blood show up. Take scissors or a craft knife to cut random holes in the shirt and pants. Tear at the threads and shred the hole areas a bit to make the clothing look even more worn. Use a razor for even more ragged effects.
Step 2: Soaking for an Aged Look
Soak the homemade zombie clothing in a plastic tub along with some coffee or black tea overnight. Feel free to use old coffee grounds from the morning's brew, as they still work well as a dye. If using old coffee grounds and water instead of a pot of brewed coffee, put the grounds in a coffee filter and tie the filter closed to make it easier to remove the grounds from the liquid the next day.
Step 3: Adding Realistic Stains and Splats
Blood-red streaks and spatters on the zombie costume add to the gruesome Halloween effect, while grass stains and dirt make it look like your little zombie just crawled out of the ground. Rub the zombie costume over some grass and dirt in the yard to make it look like the clothing has been in the ground for a while. It doesn't matter whether the costume is still wet from the staining soak, as it should still pick up stains easily, wet or dry. For blood stains, ketchup or strawberry syrup work in a pinch, especially on light-colored clothing. Just squirt the syrupy red liquid over the clothing from different angles, or flick it from the bowl of a spoon or from the bristles of an old toothbrush or paintbrush.
To make your own fake blood, Good Housekeeping recommends mixing about 1 tablespoon of chocolate syrup into 1/2 cup corn syrup, then stirring in 4 or 5 drops of red food coloring, stopping when you achieve the desired color. Splat it all over the zombie costume around the holes and randomly on the entire outfit. To make it extra creepy, put on a rubber glove, dip your hand or fingers in the fake blood, then make a partial handprint on the costume.
Step 4: Rice for Added Grossness
Ask your kid to put on the costume top, then hand him some cooked rice to rub all over the outfit to emulate the look of maggots. For added effect, he can keep some in his pockets during Halloween festivities, pulling the faux maggots out when it's time to make others scream.
Step 5: Applying Zombie Makeup
Coat your young zombie's face with white or greenish white washable Halloween makeup to create a ghostly look. Rub charcoal gray or purplish makeup or eye shadow beneath the eyes to enhance the undead look. Use strawberry syrup to create drips of fake blood running from his mouth.
Step 6: Finishing the Hair
No respectable zombie has neatly combed hair. Grab some styling hair gel and run it through your child's hair, sticking the hair out in random directions to make it look as unkempt as possible. Your zombie is ready to terrorize the neighborhood.