DIY Barbie in a Box Costume

Well, ladies and gentlemen, the Halloween Costume Countdown has finally counted down to 0 days until Halloween!!! 🎉🎉🎉 I hope you seized the day (okay if we’re honest, it’s just the night we all seized because it’s a Tuesday and you likely had to go to school or work just like me. Lame!) and check out another costume tutorial for under $30. Ready? Let’s do this, one last time for the year. (And then the Christmas countdown begins eh? You can listen to Christmas music tomorrow, I won’t tell anyone.)

Our final costume is one of my all-time favorites, the one my whole family says was my greatest of all time… Barbie in a Box! It’s an adorable costume for those times you don’t want to go to scary but you also want a touch of creepy and a million compliments. And if you like getting into your character in an acting sense as well, Barbie is a pretty fun one to imitate. “Girls just want to have fun, lol!” (Something along those lines in a valley-girl voice. You feel me?) 

Source: This Map is Right

Now give me some grace on the pictures, because just like with the Bunch o’ Grapes costume, back then I suppose my family didn’t take many pictures, and we didn’t do a good job of saving them on a device that wouldn’t break one day. So alas, this costume was probably 8 years ago, and I only have the one picture to show for it. Bummer! But not to worry, the internet is full of other wonderfully talented and creative people to add in some other ideas to build off of my own, so you will still have a full tutorial! Plus, feel free to reach out any time in the comments for more explanation if you want additional help. 

The great thing about this costume is, the body doesn’t need much, you will just need to give your box some attention. Here’s what you’ll need to look store-bought and perfect:

  • A long cardboard box (I believe mine was from a new golf bag my Dad bought? FREE)
  • Bubblegum pink spray paint ($3)
  • Light pink paint ($1)
  • White paint ($1)
  • Paint brush (or a couple of sizes) ($1)
  • Mattel logo printout (FREE, link below)
  • Thick black sharpie ($1)
  • Clear plastic wrap ($1)
  • Duck tape ($2, get the strong kind. Avoid the Dollar Store for the tape, trust me)
  • A girly over-the-top pink dress ($5)
  • Pink heels ($5-10)
  • White rubber mouth guard ($5)
  • Bright red/pink lipstick 💄 ($1)
  • False lashes or lots of dark mascara and eye shadow (you probably already have, but cheap makeup would be $5)
  • Jewelry and accessories (already have, free)
  • Hair spray ($1)
  • OR Blonde Wig (optional, $5)

Alright, let me walk you through it!


You may want to get started on the box well before you don the costume so you can take your time and make it look the way you want. I would recommend giving yourself a week if you will only have an hour or two per day to devote to it, but I think you could knock it all out in 3-4 hours if you really committed to it. 

First, find that long Box. This may take some searching in all honesty. It may even take two large boxes that are exactly the same size and combining them into one long box to get the right shape. The most important thing is to make sure that the box will fit around you width-wise. (you do NOT want to feel too crammed and claustrophobic inside of that box– more than already necessary, that is) So make sure that when you put the box over your head you have some room to move your shoulders, arms and head around. 

If it is one long box, the key is to make sure that the length goes down  around your knees. If two boxes, make sure that when they are attached to each other their combined length reaches your knees (or a little farther down your shin so that we can overlap the two boxes using duck tape.) The knee length will be the perfect illusion that you are inside of the box, but still allows you to walk around like you are an actual human being on Halloween night. 

After you have found your perfect box(es), it’s time to cut off the small side that will be your leg hole. Cut off the entire square from the end so that you will be able to move freely, and extremely importantly, be able to take it off and on when it gets a little too steamy or uncomfortable in your box. I would not recommend individual leg holes at all because no one will see this side of the box anyway, so there is little to no need to torture yourself like that. 
Next, you will cut a hole with a box cutter in one long flat side of the box. For all intents and purposes we will call this the screen hole, where you admire Barbie from when you are pondering whether you want to take her off of the shelf. Leave about 2 feet of cardboard at the bottom of the screen hole towards the foot hole for the Barbie and Mattel logos. Leave only one foot of cardboard above the screen hole for some smaller words such as “125th limited edition.” Here is an example of a very well done box. Pay attention to the detail of the cutting and decorating especially:

Source: Jeanine Rechtman

The other edges of our screen hole will only be 2-3 inches wide. Cut in as straight of a line as you possibly can and try to make both sides of the screen hole the same width (unlike what I did when I was as little teenager with no experience with box cutters. Not like I’m good with them now but I need some excuse. 😜)

You can have some creative liberty with the screen hole or window as you see in these other examples below. They decided to leave a diagonal bar going across the middle of the window to put the word Barbie across. It’s more difficult this way, but it sure looks professional! 👌

Source: Coolest Homemade Costumes

Source: Jen Lyons

Now that you have cut your box up into a nice display for your life-size Barbie Doll (that’s you!) you now need to get out the bubblegum pink hair spray. Spray the whole box up and down until it is just covered in pink paint tip to toe. Don’t forget the inside of the box as well because now that you put a window into the back inside wall of the box, it can’t be ugly. So paint, paint, paint!

Now, you need to decorate your box to have the iconic Barbie logo and the Mattel logo, as well as the tagline for your particular Barbie model. (i.e 125th Limited Edition, etc.) Get your light pink and white paint out. First, pencil the Barbie logo as best as you can on the bottom section of your box. You also have some creative liberty here to write the type of Barbie that you are, such as Superstar Barbie, Malibu Barbie, hungover Barbie (not for children of course!), so write that word in capital bold letters above the Barbie logo. Outline them with a thick black sharpie. 

Now, paint the light pink paint over the inside pencil lines of the Barbie logo. It doesn’t have to be perfectly within the lines, because once you’re done with that, you will outline all of the cursive letters with white paint to make it really pop. 

I painted the Mattel logo myself, but I would now recommend just printing and cutting out this logo starburst shape and gluing it to the correct spot on your box. You can print out a large version (about 6″ wide) of the logo here

The last step for the front of your box is to write “Limited Edition” at the top section of the front of the box. 

Other options you can include for your box are limitless! For your own ideas I recommend looking at a real Barbie box and making the text boxes your own! Here are a few ideas to get you started, such as a warning label, summary blurb, other suggested Barbies, etc…

Source: Jeanine Rechtman

To make your box functional, the last step is to add handles inside so that you can hold it above and off of your head. Simply place a piece of duck tape with the sticky side down on the edges but the sticky side facing outward in the middle. In other words, it should be a half circle sticking to the cardboard on the ends but with the sticky part in between facing inside the box. Next, put another piece with the sticky side on top of the other piece so that the sticky sides are now sticking together. Put a few more pieces over the ends of your handles going in a couple of different directions so that it is extra secure and sturdy for you to hold all night. 
Now for the easier part, your body costume! Your main goal should be to find the perfect pink dress, unless you are going for a different type of Barbie. (evening gown, swimsuit, etc.) If you want to be a classic Barbie like I was, search a few Goodwills for an obnoxiously pink dress. No need to alter it, it’s probably just Barbie enough as it is!

If you don’t have blonde hair like me, it will just be a little bit more effort to secure a big blonde wig, but totally doable! Here is a wig option I found on Amazon which will do nicely. Just wear it down, blonde and proud!

Wear plenty of makeup. This means blue eye shadow, thick black eyeliner and maybe even some false lashes. Don’t hold back, ’cause Barbie never does! And of course, wear some dark pink roses lipstick like Barbie usually has. 

Source: Daniel Azwan

The more extreme parts of your face include the eyebrows and teeth. To look like her, make your eyebrows big and bold with some brown eyeliner. Make them dark and thick and wide but make sure they stay a nice and even shape!

One piece that most people forget about is the teeth! Life in plastic is fantastic, but for some reason you don’t have individual teeth. A white rubber mouth guard is perfect for the finishing touch to her rubber face! You can find the perfect one here for only $5.

Finish your look off with some pink heels. Can’t find any at Goodwill? I bet you can find some white heels and spray paint them with the pink paint you already have or some different pink paint! Try to get some heels that are more of a silk or cloth material, because if they are hard and plastic they will not hold the paint as well and chip throughout the night. 

And there you have it. You are a walking, talking (don’t forget to use a girly Barbie voice!), breathing doll come to life. You may not have a scary costume, but it has the perfect touch of creepy. Bend slowly and robotically like Barbie herself and say things like “Get your sparkle on!” and make your eyes wide and your smile huge. People won’t know what hit them. 

Your turn! Have you tried Barbie in a Box before, or even a different version of Barbie? Let me know in the comments!

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