Growing up, my siblings and I had three options for Halloween costumes: witch, ghost or hobo. I was usually a witch. The thought of a burned cork smudged all over my face horrified me, but not my hobo brothers.
My kids have a plethora of costumes to choose from, and they look forward to planning their costume almost as much as they look forward to the candy they’ll collect.
A couple of years ago, I took the kids to a costume store. After a bout of sticker shock at the prices of costumes, not to mention cringing when my kids saw the racy costumes on display (“naughty nun?”), I decided we were done purchasing store-bought costumes.
My kids were going to DIY. (That’s do-it-yourself).
This year, my DIY trick-or-treaters chose costumes ranging from the 1870s to the 1970s.
My daughter wants to be a prairie girl. Not just any prairie girl, a zombie prairie girl. We’re pairing a peasant-type dress with a bonnet that we got as a souvenir at the Laura Ingalls Wilder festival last summer. I’ll braid her hair, and she can carry a tin pail for candy. Face paint will create the zombie look.
My younger daughter, an avid Scooby Doo fan, is going as Daphne (she’s the pretty one). Last year, my daughter was Velma (she’s the smart one).
The Daphne costume is $25 in stores. Instead, I found a purple shirt and purple mini skirt at Goodwill for $4 total. Bonus: she can wear them after Halloween. I cut a strip of fabric for Daphne’s scarf. We’ll spray her blonde hair orange. We’re going to nix the go-go boots though. My daughter is six, so she wouldn’t last long trick-or-treating in heels.
My 10-year-old son is going as Elvis (remember the 1970s pantsuit?). We’re gluing rhinestones—the kind with peel-off adhesive—on an old white shirt with a big collar. I transformed his karate pants into bell bottoms with scissors and a stapler. That’s right, a stapler. Someone who got a C-minus in Home Ec shouldn’t sew.
We don’t have blue suede shoes, so sneakers will do. I’ll draw sideburns in with face paint. Add gaudy glasses and a toy microphone, and you’ve got the King. When someone drops candy into his bag, maybe he’ll channel his inner Elvis and say, “Thank you, thank you very much.”
Despite the bad press surrounding Arnold Schwarzenegger, my oldest son wants to be the Terminator. I found a leather jacket at a consignment shop for $7. We cut the fingers off of a pair of gloves, and he’ll wear his own cargo pants and boots. He wants to wear his Air Soft gun slung over his shoulder to add to the tough guy—I mean tough cyborg—image. We are debating this. In the meantime, he’s practicing his accent for the big night: “I’ll be back … next year.”
My costume is always kept secret from the kids until Halloween. This year, I’ll be Cleopatra (ssssh!). I was inspired by a new biography on the Egyptian queen that was discussed on NPR.
My kids probably don’t have a clue who Cleopatra was. This is an opportunity for them to learn about a historical figure—one who apparently caused even more mayhem than the Terminator.
I'm cutting the sleeves off a white robe that was used for Princess Leia in Halloweens past. I'll staple some gold fabric around the neckline, and wear a gold fringey headband and lots of eyeliner. My husband refuses to dress up, so Cleopatra will be sans Marc Anthony.
Sure, DIY costumes are not as convenient as buying a manufactured costume.
But it’s worth it to us.
DIY costumes are limited only by your child’s imagination. A kid can put his own mark or add her own flair to a costume, and take pride in seeing it through from idea to one-of-a-kind creation.
For us, it has become a tradition we look forward to each fall.