DIY bookshelf costume – perfect for Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner. While you could go to the store and buy a costume, why not try making your own? This DIY bookshelf costume with a TBR hat is the perfect costume for book lovers. Wear your books with pride with this homemade costume. Of course, it also acts as a reminder for all those books you have on your shelves but have yet to read. Take some time to put this costume together and you may just be the talk of the party.

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DIY bookshelf costume

What you will need

Putting the bookshelf together

The first step is to mark where the sides and shelves will be on the foam board. For mine, I made the shelves 1/2 inch thick with about 9 1/2 inches in between the shelves. Once all of the lines are made on both boards, it’s time to paint the shelves. Pick whichever color you wish for the shelves. I went with a standard brown. You may need to do more than one coat of paint. Once you are satisfied with how the shelves look, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Using your paper cutter, cut the paper strips 1 or 2 inches wide. Because books vary in width and height, I made the strips various heights as well, going 6, 7, and 8 inches tall. Use as many colors as you like as books come in a wide range of colors.

Make sure you have enough strips of paper to fill all of the shelves with books. I found that it took 10 strips per shelf. So that means you will need 60 strips – more if you are using thinner strips. Lay the strips out to get the perfect combination. Now glue them down. Be careful to avoid getting any wrinkles in the paper.

Once the glue is dry, it’s time to add titles to all of those books. Use your own bookshelf as inspiration on what titles to add. For this, you can use a black Sharpie or colored Sharpies. I found it was easiest to use a black Sharpie for most titles. However, if you use some black strips of paper, you will want to use gold or silver paint sharpies to make the titles stand out.

The final step is to add the straps that will hold your bookshelves together and make it possible to wear them. Cut long lengths of ribbon or twill tape and glue one end to the back of one of the boards. This next step may require two people. Hold the board with the straps on your back with the straps over your shoulder. Have another person hold the other board in front of you and see where the straps need to be in order to sit properly. Once you know the length needed, simply glue the other end of the strap to the other board – ensuring you don’t have it upside down.

The first part of your DIY bookshelf costume is done. Now, let’s add something more to the costume with a TBR hat to bring it all together.

Putting the TBR hat together

For the TBR hat, you will need one cereal box and 2-3 cracker-sized boxes.

Hold the cereal box on top of your head and with a marker, trace around your head. Using a knife, cut out the hole and test to ensure it sits well on your head. You want it to be a snug fit, otherwise, you will need to add a chinstrap to the hat and it won’t look as good but will still work in a pinch.

Tape the open end of the box shut. Then cut strips of white paper to cover three of the narrow sides of the box. I found it best to use cardstock for this, as the regular white paper will show the color of the box. Carefully glue these strips onto the sides of the box. You will want them to wrap around the corners so that it looks seamless. This may require additional strips to make it look just right.

Measure the top, remaining side, and bottom of the box. Cut a colored piece of paper that will fit this to use as the cover of the book. Unless you have oversized pieces of paper, you will likely need to cut two or three different pieces to completely cover this portion.

Repeat this step until each of the boxes is covered and looks like a book. For the cereal box, you will need to cut the paper free from the hole you cut earlier. This is easily done using a knife and running it along the edge of the existing hole.

Next, you will need to add titles to your book spines. Take inspiration for this from your own TBR. Bonus points are given if you can choose book titles that have the same color of the spine as what your TBR hat uses.

Once all of the book titles have been added. It’s time to glue them together. Make sure all of the spines are facing the same direction. Apply a general amount of glue to the bottom of one box and stick it to the cereal box. You can line then up straight or have them sitting on a slight angle.

Repeat for the other boxes.

Your DIY bookshelf costume is now complete. Wear it with pride. Perhaps seeing all those book titles will inspire your friends and family to read. At the very minimum, it will remind you of all of the unread books you have in your home.


  1. Ohhh, I love this so much! Fabulous outfit, would love to make this one, but no one but my hubby would see since we cannot have parties or anything here. 🙁 But maybe next year, I will definitely save it to my bookmarks~

    1. Thank you. I totally understand that, as only my husband and son will see it this year, but it will be ready for next year.

  2. This is such a creative idea for a costume! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you. It’s certainly my new favorite costume.

  3. I love this!! Such a great costume and sounds so easy to make. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. Thank you. Yes, very easy to make. The only hard part is deciding which book titles to use.

  4. What a fab idea! I haven’t seen this as a costume before either, so has a unique touch to it too. Great job, looks great! Helen 🙂

    1. Thank you. I don’t think I have ever seen a bookshelf costume before either, so it was fun to put together.

    1. Thank you. Yes, this costume will be good for years, as long as it stays dry.

    1. Thank you. It was quite fun to make.

  5. Just in time!! Was looking around for costumes and my friends and I were talking about this last weekend! Thanks for the cool suggestion! 😀

    1. Glad it gave you some inspiration. It’s a fun costume to make and show off.

  6. This is a great and unique costume. So easy and simple for us adults.

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