It’s that time of year again–the time when a young girl’s fancy turns to thoughts of witches, ghosts, and things that go bump in the night. With four kids, I feel a certain amount of dread mixed in with more delicious kinds of anticipation as October 31 approaches: the process of getting everyone happily prepared and costumed for Halloween night is usually a bumpy one. There have been many years when I was patting myself on the back for having taking care of the little ones early–ordering costumes online, or grabbing some at Costco–only to have one child or another burst out crying on October 30 because he hates his costume and wants to be something entirely different.
And then there’s the whole homemade versus boughten debate. (I know, no one uses the word “boughten” anymore, but don’t you think we should? I’m starting a movement to bring it back.) It feels wrong to me to hand over a wad of cash so I can walk out of a store with a bunch of polyester that will transform my child into Harry Potter or Shrek or whatever it is that year. I want to send my kids out every year in a costume that no one else has that’s instantly recognizable, wildly humorous, brilliantly creative, and shouts, “My mother is good with her hands.”
Sadly, that will never happen. I do know several women who are capable of making amazing homemade costumes–my sister’s one of them and I remember one year when she made her daughter into a tube of toothpaste and damn if that girl didn’t LOOK just like a tube of toothpaste only with a cute little face in the middle of it.
But for my poor kids, a homemade costume means that they can be
a) a cowboy (jeans, flannel shirt, bandana, cowboy hat)
b) a farmer (jeans or overalls, flannel shirt, any kind of hat)
c) a hobo, although I have to explain what a hobo is and once you have to resort to terms like “homeless person,” it becomes a lot less exotic and appealing as a costume (ragged jeans, patched up flannel shirt, one of those sticks with the bags at the end and if anyone can remember the word for those, please tell me)
d) athlete (use soccer or basketball uniform)
e) ninja (use karate uniform)
f) Mom or Dad (wear parents’ clothes)
Well, I could go on for a while, but you get the idea. Creativity and sewing skills both elude me.
The one costume I was really proud of is one that my son and I made together and part of it, in all honesty, WAS purchased. We found a headband that had a praying mantis head attached to it. He wore that (he’s always loved bugs) and then we figured out how to make several praying mantis arms and attached them to a big shirt. It didn’t look professional but he was undoubtedly a praying mantis–and the ONLY praying mantis at school that Halloween.
(Time out for a quick rant: I wish schools wouldn’t celebrate Halloween. A lot of my memories from my own childhood were about how hard it was to sit still through a normal day of school and how excited you were when the school day finally ended and you could go running home to change into your brand new, pristine costume and wait for the sky to turn dark so you could go trick or treating. All that anticipation was almost as much fun as the actual trick-or-treating. Now my kids put their costumes on early in the morning and head off to a day at school where there are parades and parties and tons of sweets–do they REALLY need cupcakes on a day when they’re going to be eating all the candy they want?. By the time they come home, they’re exhausted, their costumes are wrinkled and dirty, and they completely miss out on the fun of spending the whole afternoon getting ready. I do know some people who buy more than one costume for their kids so they can have a school costume and a trick-or-treating one but I can’t face the expense or bother. Okay, end of rant.)
So far this year, my two youngest kids seem to be in good shape and ready for the holiday to arrive. I took them and a couple of friends to a costume store, gritted my teeth, and handed over my charge card so my daughter could be a Pink Lady from “Grease,” and my son could be a gladiator. They both look great, and at least part of my daughter’s costume is her own clothing (the leggings, tee-shirt, and shoes). My oldest son isn’t planning on wearing a costume at all, so I don’t have to worry about him, but my fourteen-year-old needs to dress up for school and a friend’s party and is still in the “I have no idea what I’m going to be” phase of things. He wants to make it and he wants it to be funny, unique, and inventive. Good luck to him with that one.
Last night, my husband took the two youngest kids to an early Halloween party (yet another chance for their costumes to get destroyed–although I’m happy to report they didn’t!). He felt he should make some concession to the whole idea of dressing up, but he’s not the kind of guy who’s going to squeeze himself into a Mr. Incredible costume or anything (although he did dress up as Dumbledore for the release of the second-to-last Harry Potter book and got mentioned in an article in our local newspaper for it!). Anyway, he disappeared into our bathroom for a while and when he emerged, his left eye was blackened and he had a backwards “B” written in light red on his right cheek.
I have a feeling he’s not going to be the only adult made up like that for Halloween. After all, there’s nothing scarier than the right wing’s ability to throw their support behind some crazy, misguided person. Boo.
Oh, and the title of this piece? That was ironic. My apologies to anyone looking for a good suggestion. In face, if you know of any easy, funny, creative costume ideas, could you send them on to me, please?