As a mom with young kids, it seems like it’s never too early to start plotting Halloween costumes. This year’s costumes have already been a topic of discussion at my house for at least a month. I tend to hold my breath for a bit when I hear, “Hey mom, guess what I want to be for Halloween?” I always hope it won’t involve being begged to purchase an over-priced trade marked character costume from the store. I learned that lesson the hard way the first few Halloweens. I’ve seen muscle-filled super hero jumpsuits and fancy princess costumes get ripped, torn and snagged in the first few minutes of wear. It’s like watching your dollars disappear in a puff of smoke.
Luckily, with some creative practice, we’ve stuck to homemade costumes over the last several years. The kids have a lot of fun coming up with ideas and are usually OK when our ideas or execution fail. I may have learned the hard way that you can’t just wrap your kid up with torn fabric when he wants to be a mummy. He looks great standing still for a quick pre-trick-or-treat photo but will quickly come unwrapped in more than one sense of the word. An occasional mishap aside, things turn out and I make some great memories with the littles.
Think your littles won’t go for a homemade costume? You might be surprised. The minute your tell your daughter you’re taking a trip to the craft store or your son that no one will have a costume exactly like his, they’re usually on board.
Figuring out how to create kid-approved costumes has been a bit of a learning experience. I haven’t always been the craftiest person, but most of the time I’m willing to give my kids’ costume wishes a go. One of my biggest lessons learned is that my kids' expectations are usually pretty easy to meet. My expectation of a suitable costume started out as something that’s worthy of a Hollywood movie set. My kids’ expectations are that it’s passable and won’t fall apart in one night. I’ve learned to err on the side of my kids and enjoy the process of creating with them.
Not being the craftiest person when we start this tradition, I’ve found online resources that can usually walk me through creating costumes. It’s pretty surprising what you can come up with using a few dollars in fabric and ribbon from the craft store. Garage sales and flea markets are also a good place to look. I’ve found some really fantastic items for less than $10. I can usually add some tulle or a crown or a plastic sword to create a fun costume that the kids love, and those dated long formal dresses can be cut to length.
My kids love designing their costumes, but we have a few places where we draw a line in the sand. Having a daughter that gets her sense of balance, or lack thereof, from her momma, and a son who gets super charged to be out and about in the excitement of Halloween night, I’ve tried to minimize the opportunity for bumps and bruises.
- I try to give myself at least a few days before the festivities to try costumes with long dresses or skirts on my daughter. This gives me time to do any last minute shortening of dresses. No one likes to see a princess take a dive and scrape her adorable rosy cheeks because she’s tripped on her dress between houses.
- A pre-Halloween fitting also gives me a chance to make sure my kids can fit warm clothes under their costumes those years that it’s chilly on the night of trick-or-treating. Frozen is a great name for a princess movie but not a fun state to be in when your kids are trying to have a fun night on Halloween.
- Sparkles and shiny fabrics are a must for my girl and do double duty in making it easier for others, especially drivers, to see her when we’re crossing the super busy neighborhood streets.
- We’ve ditched masks for face paint, tiaras, and a vintage veil over the years. We even used white face paint the year my son was a mummy instead of wrapping up his face. It’s not easy for my kids to see where they’re going when they can barely see out of those tiny eye slits in masks. Face paint or fun accessories also let them have fun instead of fussing with a mask that keeps slipping all night.
- One last thing we nixed from the start was wearing oversized boots and those click-clackity plastic dress up shoes while we’re outside. Did I mention my kids can be a bit clumsy? Kids can have a tough enough time getting around without those boots that weren’t meant for walkin’.
"It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt" is not lost on my household. Why add to the chances for a princess with road rash and a son with yet another fractured bone? I’d rather spend time designing more dress up clothes and digging through the kids’ candy stash. Ah, the bonus of being the mom of a trick-or-treater.
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