A Labor of Garbage Truck Love

Okay guys, I am going to take a moment to relish in the moment..for at least a few hours I have won at motherhood, at least in they eyes of my three year old! Not saying much, I am almost certain these moments are fleeting and at some point he will totally disown me for a angst fueled teenage world-ending reason. However, today, I'm not just his mom, I'm a cool mom.

Why you ask?

Because I have put my insomnia-filled nights to good use and created THE most trashiest garbage truck costume an obsessed three year old could ever want! When I say obsessed, I am not exaggerating. He has over ten of them and plays "up and down" with everything. Meaning he picks EVERYTHING up and then puts it down, as though he is the truck itself. He would watch video's of actual garbage trucks picking up trash, and every Monday we wait for the garbage truck man before we leave for therapy (I have actually changed his Monday session to allow for the first pick up of the day.

So for Halloween 2018 I had to make him a garbage truck costume.

Easier said than done. Especially since for the obsession a plethora of children, you can't just walk into a department store and get any attire related to garbage trucks. So I did what every motivated mom would do, I scoured Pinterest. Guess what, there is not much there, The few I saw barely had any useful instructions and as I soon found out, making it look relatively realistic was going to be cumbersome for him to walk around with. Originally, I had hoped to make it so he could wear it, but still walk around. About an hour in, I realized I had to scrap that plan. Especially since it had to be a working garbage truck (go big or go home, right?).

So I decided I would put the stroller I had sitting in storage (and used twice) to good use and everything just fell into place. About 9 hours of trouble shooting and work, help from DaGrandma, and $12 later, we had our costume. Most of the supplies we already had on hand, so as my mother points out emphatically, the actual cost was higher (around $20-$25).

Here is a list of supplies:

A stroller

A box big enough to fit over the stroller (I used box for a portable grill and turned it inside out so the shiny part was facing in and the paint adhered better)

1 and 1/2 cans of green spray paint (I used a Hunter green and a forest green, which is what we had on hand.

A cardboard piece, or green awning (like we ended up using) for the top.

2 short PVC pipe

2 long PVC pipe

4 "L" shaped PVC pipe

1 three way PVC pipe for the lever

1 short PVC pipe for lever

A shit ton of zip ties

2 mini Styrofoam ice chests

Green Duct Tape

Clear packing tape

A bucket (we used an old Folgers container)


Print outs of Waste Management logo and a vehicle caution sign (I in no way condone the use of the WM logo without permission, I am not liable)

Reflective tape (3 packages)


Reflective lights


1. Figure out you base. I used a stroller and found a box to fit over it. My stroller has swivel front wheels that lock. I originally put the box between the wheels and locked the front, however, I eventually cut out front wheel wells to allow for the front wheels to swivel and covered with green fabric because I'm a perfectionist.

2. I turned the box inside out,taped it back up with green duct tape, and painted it green (while off the stroller). I originally was going to use the two ice chests as his whole costume, painting the outside. I cut a hole in one to rest on the little's waist but the back drooped and he could not move the PVC pipe comfortably to put it over his head. So they ended up being the perfect front for the garbage truck. They were already taped and even though they weren't the nicest looking, I've never seen an immaculate garbage truck so I figured they would work. I cut out the hole of the ice chest completely and that ended up being his windshield. I utilized the holes we already made for the PVC pipe and it ended up working out great.

3. Cut out all holes (if needed). I wanted him to be able to dump his candy over his head so you'll need a space in the back so cut out a hole in the roof as well. You'll also need to cut the holes for PVC pipe (maybe even the pipe itself) and two holes in your bucket on either side.

4. Slip the box over the base. For ours, we used a stroller so I slipped on at an angle, being mindful of the handle. We ended up zip tying the box for a secure fit and attempted to raise the box a bit so it was not sitting directly on the wheels. Since my wheels turned I tried to take advantage of that feature to make it easier to move around little children and up to the doors. While considerate, this was a big point for DaGrandma. I on the other hand was of the belief that people would move out of my way and worse case scenario, it would be better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.

5. Attach the PVC piping in a square formation (don't forget to add your bucket before attaching completely). We also added a piece to work as the lever to the inside so my son could manually move the "grabber arm" himself. Added bonus: it also kept the whole grabber arm from dragging on the ground. Just make sure it is long enough to rest against the inside of the ice chests.

6. Adhere the reflective tape (I found some at Home Depot), reflective lights, and the print outs of the logos and sign. I used clear box tape and ended up having to do so with the reflective tape at the bottom (I left the costume outside and the morning dew curled up the signs). Attach any bag or candy catcher.

If I was to make it again it would probably take about two hours (not including the time it will take for the paint to dry). Even with all troubleshooting it was definitely worth it. The look on my sons face was priceless and it was the hit of Halloween! Strolling up to the doors people commented on its creativity and the hard work (#mompride), but once my son moved the grabber arm, people were calling their family out to come take a look and several people stopped to take video. DaGrandma was in her Grandma element and my son loved the attention too. Both of them were tired but didn't want to stop!

My favorite part? Driving down the street and my son shouted, "Look Mom! That garbage truck looks just like ours".

Check out the gallery below to see our costumes of Halloween past and please let me know in the comments if I missed any steps or have any questions. If you end up making one for your garbage truck loving kiddo please share a photo! We'd love to see them.

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