Why would anyone MAKE their child's Halloween costume? | Kids Out and About Vancouver

Why would anyone MAKE their child's Halloween costume?

Felt. Glue. Google.

by Anne Siller

Last week, on the first day of October, we sat our 5-year-old son down for a chat.

"October is here, and it’s time to start planning your Halloween costume. This year, we are going to make it."

His eyes widened, and he tilted his head to the side in a sign of disbelief. 

"When Dad and I were little, we made our costumes every year.  Everyone did. The ones for sale were usually itchy, and smelly. And flammable."

He nodded knowingly, having recently learned first-hand what the word flammable means. 

"So, anyway, choose an idea and we will all work on it together. We’ll make it from scratch. What’s it gonna be?"

"A Minotaur," he replied. Of course he does. He didn’t ask to be a ghost, or a mummy, or Harry Potter.  For our first homemade costume, we are making a Minotaur.
For the last several years, since the above-mentioned boy was born, we have had store-bought costumes. Last year, all three of my kids were Spiderman, even 3-year-old Stella. They got all dressed up in these nice, warm, blue and red costumes and instantly became muscle-bound super heroes. It was worth every penny in convenience alone. 

But when I took them all to school for the Halloween Carnival last year, I looked around and thought: Where are the bums, the mummies, the gypsies? Where is the kid wearing his parent’s best sheet, with two eye holes cut out?

I missed all the homemades. The store-boughts looked great but were somewhat, well, uniform. I missed the haphazard look of felt and glue, of Dad’s old hat and baggy blazer, of plastic fangs and fake blood.  Plus, most of all, I missed the CLEVER. Sure, Halloween is supposed to be scary, but it’s also a great time to flash the clever, especially if you have been holding it in all year.

Back in the day, there would be scores of bums and ghosts walking the neighborhood but each year, there would be a few kids who had ingenious ideas for costumes and wore them proudly. We all talked about them the next day in school, applauded their ingenuity...how cool. But today, with time constraints being what they are, homemade costumes are on the back burner. And the store bought options, we can agree, are fabulous, accessible and (nowadays) non-flammable.

But given that our schedule is a little easier this year, my husband and I thought we would dust off our creativity and maybe the hot glue gun and give it a try. It seems to me there are a lot of great reasons, other than nostalgia, to make handmade Halloween costumes with the kids:

  1. There’s a deadline. And any project on a deadline has inherent lessons about the evils of procrastination. Those are always good lessons.
  2. It will fit. Because I can make it fit. So regardless of what sort of get-up it is, it can be built it to scale. No more lunging for the last 4T on the costume rack at Costco.
  3. There are no limits. Actually, there are some limits, some significant limits when you consider our crafting abilities. But what we have now that we did not have back then is Google. Right now, I have no idea how to construct a Minotaur head, but I bet if I type it in to Google, I will. So what their little minds can conjure, we can probably (partially, somewhat) create.
  4. There will be pride: Pride for a job well done. Unless it turns out really, really poorly. Then there will be a store bought costume. Or a mummy. Or a ghost. 

So as a family, we will Google, we will build, Ed and I will probably share a few whispered expletives, and then we’ll all take lots of pictures of the finished product. It will be fun, I think. After all, it’s Halloween, possibly the most imaginative time of the whole year. Children and adults have full permission to take some creative license with their décor, their front lawns and their dress. I say, let it rip. 

Zombies, Gypsies, I am calling you. No pressure, but if you happen to have the time: Whisper in some previously craft-challenged parents’ ear, and take back the night!

© 2019, KidsOutAndAbout.com

Anne Siller, mother of four, is editor of KidsOutAndAbout.com's Hudson Valley site.