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Paolo’s PaRRRot Costume

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I need to brag a little. This amazing costume made with recycled materials was created by my nephew, Marvin, and his brilliant son, Paolo who won Best Costume in the 4th grade! Below is their write up with fantastic photos. I chuckled when I read Marvin, the engineer’s, copy doc. It’s written so thoroughly – like an engineering report. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they managed to make this costume an actual flying machine. Enjoy!


This tutorial covers making a Parrrot Costume out of generally available recycled materials. Last Halloween my son asked me to help him make a costume rather than buying one that was store bought. The costume we came up with was “Steve” from Minecraft®. We made it out of a single box with eye cutouts. We traced a grid pattern on the box and had him color in the “pixels” to match the Minecraft® color palette. This year we got a little more ambitious and decided to do this Parrrot Costume. The original plan is not ours. We took guidance from a Makedo® costume that we found on the Instructables Web Site. That particular set of plans required purchasing a set of tools and plastic rivets to make it; we deviated from that plan by using materials we found at home or discarded at the office. In the end we constructed a costume that represented the three “R’s”: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Hence, a paRRRot.


Materials for this project can be easily sourced from around the home or office.

Material Source Purpose Comment
Recycled Packaging Home or Office Feathers (wings) The more colorful and greater variety the better.
Used File Folders Home or Office Feathers (wings and head dress) Used this in the head dress since it was easier to work with and could easily be curled.
Large Cardboard Box Home, Office, Costco dumpster Wing Base and Head dress base material Any sturdy cardboard box will do.
Plastic Reinforced Tape Home or Garage Construction Otherwise known as “Duct Tape”.
Brass Round Head Fasteners Home, Office or Staples Construction You can also use a stapler for this.
Mr. McGroovey’s Rivets Amazon.com Structural Reinforcement Optional

The rivets are optional, but could add to the life span of the costume. Alternatives to purchasing these rivets are using spare nuts and bolts with cardboard washers to spread the load.

Other items you will need are a utility knife or scissors, a straight edge, powered drill and a stapler.


A Basis for Flight

1. Cut the cardboard box into strips that are about 6 inches wide and a bit bigger than the kid. Cut three strips that are successively smaller than the last. Round the edges to give them a natural curvature.

2. Line up the cardboard slats and attach with tape. Join them at the edges so that the tape itself forms the joint. This will allow for movement in the wings.

Feathering the Bird

1. Trace a rough outline of the feathers into a sturdy material to create a template. A template will create a systematic way of replicating a large number of feathers.

2. Using the template, trace the feathers into a substrate that you plan on using (recycled material or file folders).

3. Using utility scissors, cut the feathers out carefully.

4. For the wings, start at the bottom and work your way to the top. Do a test layout to check the patterns and overall look.

5. Again starting from the bottom, secure the feathers to the wings using duct tape. Place tape on the top surface first to secure the feathers in place, and the flip the feathers up so that you can attach the bottom surface as well.

Hang on Tight

1. Cut strips of cardboard to form the straps for the hands and shoulders.

2. Layer duct tape on the straps to reinforce the straps and to make them more comfortable to use.

3. Place the feathered surface of the wings down and have the wearer of the costume lay down on the wings.

4. Measure for the placement of the shoulder and hand straps.

5. Tape the straps to the mounting locations.

6. Use more tape to secure the mounting locations.

7. Cut a cardboard reinforcement plate to place between the shoulder straps to spread the load of the wings.

8. Use more tape to secure the reinforcement plate.

(Optional) Use reinforcement rivets in at the shoulders and straps. Drill the area where they are needed and slide the rivets through to secure them.

Time to crown a recycling king!

1. Cut some 1.5 inch wide strips of cardboard to construct the headpiece.

2. Carefully measure the circumference of the wearer’s head or use their baseball hat as a template.

3. Make a circle with one strip and a ½ circle strip for vertical support.

4. Cut a triangle for the front of the crown.

5. Figure below indicates the different areas of attachment. During our first attempt we didn’t make the triangle large enough and had to add the support areas after the initial construction. A and B marks the zone of where the feathers will be attached and C will be where the beak will be attached.

6. After thinking about the way we put it together, I would suggest that the beak be enlarged to cover the A and B areas so that the attachment points can be hidden.

7. Wrap the crown area where it will intersect with the head with layers of duct tape. This will reinforce the area, make it more comfortable to wear and make it sweat proof.

Speak of the Beak

1. We used the template for the beak available on the Instructables site.

2. Print the template and trace it onto the substrate. The substrate should be study but thin material. We used a discarded donut box (the wax liner made for rigid yet light material to build with).

3. Cut and fold according to the template.

4. Drill very small holes to the areas that you will attach the small brass round head fasteners. Alternatively you can staple to beak together.

5. Attach the beak to the crown now or later depending on what layer you would like the beak to be. I would suggest moving on to the feathers at this point and saving the beak for last (although this is not the way we did it)

Feathers in your cap

1. Start layering the feathers from the bottom up.

2. Tape the beginning of the feather layer at the bottom and wrap it around the lower crown, secure the end with tape.

3. Drill small holes around the circumference of the crown through the feather layer and the crown substrate.

4. Pierce all the layers with the small brass round head fasteners and secure the layers together.

5. Continue up until you complete the crown.

Finishing touches

1. Drill small holes to attach the beak to the crown substrate.

2. Use the small brass round fasteners to attach the beak.

3. Using your finger tips curl the edges of the file folder feathers to give them a slight curve.

4. Take pictures!



This is a great project that requires very little capital investment. Time and planning is all it really takes, both of which we were in short supply of. We managed to put this all together the weekend before Halloween. After getting everything together we cut out more file folders to layer in between all the feathers that we originally placed. We did this to break up the corporate branding a bit. Kid participation can be as high as you are comfortable with. Ours cut out all the feathers and helped with the measurements. Good luck and happy recycling. Oh and if you plan on writing it up, take pictures along the way, not after the fact like we did. We were after all just winging it.