Halloween DIY: 15-Minute Scientist/Doctor/Vet Costume (Cost=Free!)

Want a Halloween outfit that takes almost no time to make and costs ZERO? This 15-minute costume will have your budding scientist, doctor, or vet covered.

Does your child love doing science experiments in the bathroom? Is she a huge Doc McStuffins fan? Or does he long to be a doctor when he grows up? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then this 15-minute costume has you covered for Halloween.

Even better, it  involves things you probably already have around your house. (In other words, it can cost you as little as ZERO to make!)

For the basic costume itself, you need only three items: a white plastic trash bag, a pair of sharp scissors, and a black permanent marker. Beyond that, you can accessorize however your child wishes, depending on which look they’re going for.

(Because of the plastic bag, this costume is best for kids ages 3 and up, and should go with a safety talk about not having plastic bags over one’s face. For kids under age 3, see the “Final Tips” section at the end.)

I got this idea from my friend Keisha, when I helped out with her boys’ science-themed birthday party a few years ago. Since the party involved actual scientific experiments (and the corresponding potential for mess), I made each child a “lab coat” out of a white trash bag. Each lab coat took only a few minutes, especially once I got the hang of making the cuts.

15-Minute Costume for Scientist/Doctor/Vet

1. Making the Lab Coat

The basic lab coat is actually more like a 5-minute job than a 15-minute costume; I added in the extra 10 minutes for accessorizing. If you don’t have white trash bags, you could also use an extra-large white shopping bag, turned inside out and with the logo-printed side on the back.

Once you have your clean white kitchen-sized trash bag, a sharp pair of scissors, and a black permanent marker, the steps for the lab coat itself go like this:

  1. Fold the trash bag in half vertically, with the closed end at top and the open end at the bottom.
  2. Make a diagonal cut several inches long along the closed end of the trash bag, starting at the crease and ending at the closed bottom seam of the bag. (This will make a shallow V-shaped opening for a head hole in the bag.)
  3. Make two shallow C-shaped cuts, one on each side seam of the bag, near the closed end of the bag. (These are the arm holes.)
  4. Spread the bag out on a flat surface, with the head hole (bottom seam of the bag) at the top. (If there’s any faint writing pre-printed on the bag, put that side face-down.) Using the marker, draw avertical line from top to bottom in the center of the bag.
  5. Draw small black circles, spaced several inches apart, along one side of the vertical line you drew in the previous set. (These are the “buttons” of the lab coat.)
  6. On the right side of the bag, draw a pocket with a tab at the top. Draw several “instruments” sticking out of the pocket (pens/pencils etc). Across the tab of the pocket, write “Dr.” and your child’s name.

2. Accessorizing your 15-minute costume

How you accessorize your child’s trash bag lab coat depends in part on what look they want to achieve. Here are just a few ideas, based on things you probably have around your house:

A. Scientist:

B. Doctor

C. Veterinarian

Final tips:

  • If you find you’ve made one of the holes too big, no worries! Just gather up under the armpit/at the back of the neck, and use a piece of tape to hold the excess together.

  • This costume will look best with a muted solid-colored shirt and solid-colored long pants underneath, NOT the hot-pink top and tie-dye T that Kimmie and Essie were wearing the day they modeled their lab coats for these pics.
  • Want to make this costume for a toddler, but worried about having them put a plastic bag over their head? Just find an old white button-down shirt from a thrift store or Daddy’s closet, roll up the sleeves enough to work, and use that as your “lab coat” instead.


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So that’s it! What is YOUR fastest/easiest/lowest-cost DIY costume ever? Or can you think of even more inexpensive costumes to create with this basic white coat idea?

If you enjoyed this step-by-step vet/doctor/scientist costume tutorial, why not share it with others by pinning this image?



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36 thoughts on “Halloween DIY: 15-Minute Scientist/Doctor/Vet Costume (Cost=Free!)”

    1. Agreed! My kids will ONLY be doing our church’s trunk-or-treat this year because I’m on the committee ensuring the safety protocols, so they will still need costumes – just not for door-to-door 🙁 .

  1. i am going to save this for my daughter for next time.. she loves making/putting together her own costumes and has one already for this time

  2. how simple and easy! I refuse to buy a store bought costume unless it’s something my kids will wear all day and even at that, won’t buy new. I love fun ideas like this. Makes it more personalized and creates memories for our little ones!

  3. These are a great idea for last minute costumes or anyone that loves DIY! I could see my son wanting to be a vet with all his stuffed animals lol. Great ideas! Thank you!

    1. You’re more than welcome, Darcy – here’s to an easy vet getup for you if you can convince your son to go that route 😉

    1. *thanks* so much, Mary Leigh – they look even better when your kiddo isn’t wearing hot pink or tie dye underneath (oops!), but this is one of the good things about trick-or-treating generally taking place after dark 😉 …

  4. this is so stinking cute!
    i love how easy it is, and cheap! but also still adorable and definitely not hard to understand!

  5. Do it yourself Halloween costumes are the best, in my humble opinion. They are always more original and creative (and frugal, too!)

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