Halloween is Around the Corner!
Halloween is around the corner and we still have not gotten the costumes for the boys. The seasonal stores are starting to pop up all over the place and the department stores (Target and Wal-Mart) opened their Halloween sections a month ago. The boys have not decided what they want to be and we have found ourselves in a rush. I’m of the idea that if you are going to do something you have to do it well, so if you are going to pretend to be somebody – or something, you have to do it as authentically as possible.
Being a kid, Halloween is about two things, looking exactly like the character you are pretending to be and getting as much candy as possible. The best costumes get more candy, and although little kids don’t quite understand that, it still makes for a good enough reason to teach attention to detail (funny a circumstance as that might be). Some people think that little kids don’t really care what they are dressed like as long as they go out and get some candy, and that may be true for very young kids, but for older kids it’s an important event. It’s not every day you get to “be” the superhero of your preference. And kids really know when they look the part or not. It is important that we make at least a basic effort to prepare a nice costume whether it be bought or made at home. Although nice doesn’t mean the most expensive, it means that the costume really represents something and it’s not just a bunch of random stuff that we put together at the last minute.
I would concede that the best time to purchase a Halloween costume is the day after Halloween. I’m sure my friend Angie would have all sorts of advice concerning saving money on costumes, since she’s the money saving expert. I also have a cousin who has a room full of costumes that she buys after Halloween. Her kids have literally dozens of costumes from which to choose for their dress-up games. But, when you don’t plan that far ahead, the best way to get the right costume is to do it yourself. It’s true that you can go to some stores (especially online) and purchase movie quality replicas that will also cost you an arm and a leg. It doesn’t have to be that way. We just need to be creative.
When putting the costume together, consider the weather. It wouldn’t do a kid any good to have a super cool get up if he has to hide it under a thick coat because it’s freezing outside. We made that mistake during our second year trick-or-treating. We waited until the very last minute, literally the day before, and we ended up with store costumes, the boys were 2 and 3. We only got to go out two blocks because it was freezing outside and they didn’t last long walking around in the cold. Fortunately, because they were that young, they didn’t mind not getting much candy. That ambivalence only lasted so long. The next year was different, and we prepared ahead for good costumes.
Whatever the character is, stick to the original. If a chosen character is human it is obviously easier to replicate an authentic look. For my own sanity I try to steer my kids into being humans at Halloween. If you are a handy seamstress (what’s the male equivalent for that word?) it shouldn’t be difficult. For two years in a row my sons have been Jedi’s. The first year they were Padowans and the second year, Jedi Knights. I am not good at making clothing, but I have a friend who is a Hollywood costume designer, so she made me the tunics and the tops. They were a bit big the first year they were used, and we made adjustments in anticipation for multiple year use. I understand there are some outfits that cannot be easily authentically reproduced (like Spiderman, for example). In those cases, I’m afraid the stores may be the only option. But if you can buy your costume ahead of time (like a year in advance) you should be able to get the costume for about 75% off.
In the end, what counts is originality. Kids will feel they have the coolest costumes if there is nobody else dressed up like them or, more importantly, as authentically as them. Have fun, Halloween is not just for kids, there is some fun in dressing up and pretending to be someone or something else at least once a year. Get lots of candy, and brush your teeth before going to bed. That’s’ all I have to say about that.
A note about the Jedi costumes. The Sabers are Force FX sabers; they were not cheap. The footwear are real leather riding boots. The tops were designed by my costume person and were also not cheap. The only part I couldn’t quite get right was the belt buckle. They are altered leather belts just without the clasp. The total cost was ridiculous, but totally fun. I wouldn’t do something like that again, but every kid deserves at least one moment of glory at Halloween!