The typical scenario goes something like this: I arrive home tired and slightly cranky. My kids are waiting for me, just inside the door. They pounce … the argument started long before I got there about who gets to be the monster du jour this year, and apparently I'm supposed to settle it as they drag me out the door and back into my car. It's our annual trip to all of the costume stores around town because I, once again, put off Halloween for as long as I possibly could and the selection is down to a few broken, discarded masks, some off-brand face paint, and a couple of capes. It's like an expensive, macabre scavenger hunt.
This year, I'm going to try and convince my kids to try something different: homemade costumes. Perhaps we'll have a Halloween competition: whoever creates the best homemade costume will win a prize. Or, I could convince them that being one of hundreds of Batmans roaming the streets is boring, and making a costume of their own will make them stand out among the crowd.
If you are taking a child trick-or-treating this year, or you have a costume party to attend yourself, consider a homemade costume. You can use recycled items, which saves money and cuts down on waste. And, it is a guarantee that nobody else will show up in the exact same costume. You might even win the "best costume" contest.
You don't have to be able to sew to make a great costume. All you need is some creativity to create fun, simple costumes. A box painted red with a giant gold "M" and some cut up strips of thick foam, for example, becomes fast-food French fries. Blow up some colorful balloons and attach them to a red sweatsuit for a gumball machine. Cut some large wings out of cardboard and decorate them with glitter, attach them to the back of a black sweatshirt, and your child becomes a butterfly.
Looking back, I don't remember the store-bought costumes at all. The costumes that were the most fun and the most memorable were all homemade. I was Pippi Longstocking once as a young child -- I remember my mother using wire and red yarn to make my braids. My sister once went as a robot, her costume made out of different-sized boxes all painted silver. And my oldest son dressed up as King Tut when he was five and going through his mummy phase. I used gold and royal blue fabric to make his outfit and he was a neighborhood sensation.
Whether you plan to make a costume this year or purchase one, be sure the costume you select meets safety standards. Your child should be easily visible -- you may even want to add reflective tape to his costume. Kids should be able to walk without tripping -- avoid long skirts and scarves that might slip and get tangled around their feet. Don't let your kids carry anything sharp or pointed. Also, make sure the costume isn't too free-flowing. Long, dangling sleeves can be dangerous, especially around lit Jack-O-Lanterns. Don't allow your child to wear ill-fitting or uncomfortable shoes -- the high heels may say "princess," but you could end up carrying her home when her feet start to hurt. Finally, be aware of the weather -- chances are, your child won't want to cover up his amazing costume with a coat, so if it is going to be chilly, make a costume out of a sweat suit.
Avoid my yearly scenario by planning your costumes now and save yourself the headache of rushing around and picking through the remnants left on near-empty store shelves. Have fun and stay safe!