Long Live The Homemade Halloween Costume!

17 October 2013

In the sixth grade, I had my first dance with a boy, Kokomo by the Beach Boys was playing over the speakers in our school gym. I was dressed as a present… a costume that I had thrown together that morning.  It consisted of a box with arm holes cut out, wrapped in wrapping paper and a ridiculous amount of curling ribbon in my hair. 

It was totally hot, as you can imagine.  My other choice was to be Madonna.  I’m pretty sure the Catholic school chaperones and my parents were thankful that there was a box between me and my dance partner, who was dressed as a werewolf.

Maybe that’s why I was team Jacob until I quit the Twilight books half way through?

What was my point?  Oh yeah, Halloween. 

I’m sick of kids these days and their $30 crappy costumes made by Polly and Esther.  I’ll be the old lady over there in the corner shaking her fist in your general direction, kid with the Scream mask on, who is too big to be trick-or-treating.  As a Halloween fan who passes out candy to roughly three hundred kids on Halloween night, I’m calling for a stop to the endless stream of yet another {insert whatever the popular costume of the year might be this year} coming up the walk. 

Help me out, parents.  Don’t you want your own kids to have ridiculous pictures to show their kids of Halloweens gone by?

I would like to make a motion that we return to the homemade Halloween costume as the norm.


There.  I said it.  Before you start crafting a dummy in my likeness to burn in effigy, hear me out.

I get it.  There is a whole rack of shiny new polyester costumes just waiting to be thrown in the cart.  Halloween, done.  It’s easy.  But, it’s not really difficult to pull together a few things or borrow items and do something creative for Halloween either.  Lyndsey and I managed to have awesome costumes every year and my mom isn’t a crafty person by nature.  I’m pretty sure those cheer skirts up there were felt that we used safety pins to keep closed. 

I’m also not sure how Lyndsey managed to carry that giant bag of candy through the neighborhood, but it looks like she isn’t messing around.

You don’t have to sew.  You don’t have to be ridiculously creative or crafty either.  You don’t even have to spend a lot of money or time.  We did it when we were kids, didn’t we? 

In kindergarten, tights, a leotard, boots and a baton.  BAM.  Majorette. 

In first grade, that hideous paint that came on a stick that you’d wet and rub all over your skin and probably dyed my skin blue for days, plus a blue turtleneck, plus a white hat and dress… Smurfette. 

Oh, I’ll let you see for yourselves. 


It could have been worse, I could have been the skunk.  Glued on cotton balls, for the win. 

She had a tail made out of panty hose too. 

In fifth grade, I borrowed my friend Jeff’s shoulder pads and went as a football player.  There was the year of footie pajamas and a pacifier around my neck.  And the one where I borrowed a lab coat and scrubs.  My mom still laughs about the time when I was three and she dressed me as a Hershey Kiss and some drunk people passing out candy thought I was a Conehead. 

Lyndsey was a clown, a Crayola crayon, a vampire and an m&m.  My friend Tara went as a Christmas tree one year, complete with an angel stuck to her head and garland and ornaments hanging off of her leotard.  Dave was a robot, a mummy, and a PacMan video game, also crafted out of a box.  My favorite, because my mother in law is a crafty badass that can sew, a Star Trek dude with the whole uniform.

He is now going to divorce me.  You are welcome…

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There is a glimmer of hope though.  I saw it last year in the form of a s’mores made out of a cardboard ‘graham crackers’, over the shoulders, sandwich board-style with marshmallow and chocolate paper that I had to remove so Finn’s buddy could actually sit down at the class party.  It was glorious. 

When I am passing out candy to three hundred kids, and I see yours looking like that geeky dude I married in his homemade Halloween costume, I’ll be mentally high fiving the shit out of you.  Plus, I’ll be sure to throw in a handful of extra Snickers or Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup or those gross Almond Joys that Dave loves because I know you’ll be raiding your kids’ candy stash when they go to bed, and you deserve it.

Are you team homemade costume, or do you buy?  What was your best costume as a kid?


Anonymous said...

Team Homemade! I've been making my kids costumes for years! They expect it now! :)

cindy said...

Team second hand or hand me down or wear what you wore last year I am sure it will fit you still... see I am not crafty at all. I have zero imagination. When I see a box I don't see a costume I see a box. Hmmm maybe one of the kids can go as a box of diapers. I have great intentions of being prepared and doing the fun thing but it doesn't happen. And we go to grandmas neighborhood to trick or treat so I don't have to hand out candy. There, I said it... don't judge me. :) please??

Jill said...

My brother was a table one year. Mom put a big piece of cardboard on his shoulders, covered it with a white tablecloth and then glued plastic glasses, plates and silverware to it. It was pretty awesome. She had cut out a hole in the cardboard for his head to get through. :) Then there was the year we had an excess of ace bangages and he was a mummy. A good one, too! :) I love homemade costumes. I almost bought the cute little cat costume from Carter's this year but decided instead to make a Little Red Riding hood cape for my 16 month old who probably won't even wear it...but at least I tried!

Yostee said...

I buy my kids costumes ... It's easier for me at this point. I'm not home at night to get it all figured out. However,when I was little, I had a lot of thrown together costumes. I am pretty sure my 4th grade teacher was questioning my parent's when I showed up as a rollerblading grandma. I had on my grandmothers wig, boobs stuffed to at least a GGG and a leotard rollerblading all around the hallways. Bah hah hah!!! I am still trying to convince my 3 to go as a rock, paper, and scissors this year.... we shall see!!!

Michelle said...

HA! Cindy, no judgement here, though no candy handing out... Blasphemy!

Michelle said...

ERIN! I need a picture of the rollerblading granny! I went as an old lady one year too, I forgot all about that!

Renee Anne said...

I won't lie: I buy costumes off the rack. It's mostly because Little Man tells me what he wants to be and if I don't, he throws a tantrum of epic proportions. This will be his 3rd Halloween...so that's not too surprising. As he gets older, I expect I'll be making more of his costumes :)

Noelle said...

We're getting more into making a costume. Sometimes with actual costume pieces or say the fluffy old navy cuties...but it is more special to come up with something the kids really want to be not something they just choose becuase it's there in the store. Wyatt's inspiration this year is a shield and sword we got from targets dollar spot. He wants to be a knight. In thinking grey sweatsuit and some sort of helmet and the nerf vest covered in heavy duty tin foil. Tillie wants to be a kangaroo...I was stuck on the tail so thanks for the pantyhose reminder! The jury is still out on the other two. I think this is likely Hannah's last year. What's the cut off for trick or treating? At what point are they too old?

Jessica @ Wanting Adventure said...

I think we did a lot of purchased costumes as a kid but I do love the idea of homemade! I'm not really one for dressing up but I'm hoping pinterest will come to my rescue when we have kids and need to figure out a homemade version for the dress up holiday.

AnotherDreamer said...

Both. I bought some years, threw stuff together others, bought used at thrift stores. and sometimes made my costume. I got a sewing machine this year and going crazy making costumes for my son, husband, and self :) I love the idea of homemade, and I think there would be a lot more originality if it were more common.

Laura said...

Homemade all the way, baby! My favorite kid costume was Steve Irkle in the 4th grade (everyone already called me "Laaaaaaura") and as an adult, Joe and I went as the Griswold's from Christmas Vacation. It. Was. Epic.

Jen said...

Team Homemade except for this year because K's still too young to go ToTing and isn't allowed to wear a costume to daycare, so there's no point in spending time making a costume solely for the purpose of taking pictures. I got her a cheap costume from a consignment sale. I'm sad about it because I love Halloween, but I'm consoling myself by making pettiskirts and elaborate dresses and collecting dress-up clothes patterns for when she's older.

Emily W. said...

I'm totally on Team Homemade. EXCEPT, I got a 50% off coupon for youth costumes at Target. So, I bought my son (16 months) the most adorable lion costume for $10!!!! I think I would have spent more than that on a homemade costume. But frankly, money is a bit tight at the moment and so the couponer in me just couldn't pass up such a great deal!!

April S. said...

I love this post and am high-fiving you right now! I will confess that I have bought a few costumes over the years - mostly for my son the past couple of years because he wants to be superheros and I have not had the time to do all the sewing. But my own costumes always come out of my closet or something I make from thrift shop clothes (Maid Marion emerged from a $1 burgundy long-sleeved velvet dress with a $1 black lace SOOO '80s dress and a length of gold drapery cord one year). And my daughter prefers the handmade and actually decided on her own to recycle last year's witch costume into a wizard with just a few accessories and some good acting - high-five for the year they take over their own costumes too!

Katrina said...

I was team homemade costumes when I was a kid. Man, that was the good old days! I was a clown, a witch, a baby, a dog, a roller derby girl. I was other things but I'm not remembering them all right now. I have some kids who don't care and will let me make their costumes and then I have some kids who insist on buying something they see online. My oldest son once wore an old sombrero (that I got when I was young from my trip to Mexico) and we drew a big moustache on his face and draped a mexican blanket over his shoulders and we called him "Pancho" all night long. He was six and thought his costume was the coolest thing ever.

Just A Normal Mom said...

Amen! (Especially that one who is too old to be trick or treating and wearing the Scream mask!)
One year I was an "accident victim" - all wrapped up in bandages and makeup bruises. A martian with green paint to rival your blue. And a bag of McDonald's fries as part of a group that went as a McD's meal - all homemade. I have picture proof :) I did lots of homemade costumes for my son, too, usually put together with things we already had around the house. Though he did a few store bought, I didn't much like them.

Emily said...

Team Homemade over here. My mom made all of my costumes when I was a kid, and I absolutely loved it. I started making the boys' last year, and plan to do it again this year (though I'm thinking the Spiderman costume might end up being store-bought).

Girl of Cardigan said...

I have been sitting on my floor cutting fleece strips for the last two hours for my daughter's first Halloween costume, and I had just reached the "Curses, why didn't I just buy a ladybug outfit like everyone else?" phase of my crafting. But you and your lovely blog post have swooped in and inspired me. I have re-acquired the fire. So thank you. Let's do this thing. ;)

Unknown said...

I'm "homemade" all the way!! I laughed out loud at the "Hershey's kiss" memory. I too was a Hershey's kiss (grade 4 - made by me). People guessed.. Rocket ship? Princess? Funnel?!? I just started agreeing with them, it was easier and less awkward!

Anonymous said...

I don't have children and havne't been into costumes for years... but my hands down favorite costume ever as a child was homemade. My dad took an orange table cloth my mom bought and turned me into a Roadkill Pumpkin, complete with tire tracks and all. It was AWESOME. He was so funny and creative. I only hope I am that funny and creative when I have children and that they will want homemade costumes.

Anonymous said...

I see myself as a costume buyer, but then my daughter wants to be something quite obscure every year and i am forced to become crafty. After doing Firestar and a rainbow princess fairy i am beginning to enjoy it!

Meaghan A said...

My mom used to make the most amazing costumes for me. Rainbow bright, an awesome cat, a dairy princess with a huge cone hat thingy. It was great. My oldest is four and this is th first time we've trid a homemade costume. She's going to be a pirate princess, and thanks to pinterest I was able to make a no see tutu. I don't think we really saved any money on he costume but my daughter and I had fun choosing specific colors for her tutu and other aspects of her consume so I think t will be worth it. I'm hoping next ear she can wear the awesome car costume my mom made me. :)

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