I was once like your children: blissfully unaware of the fact that my parents had very little concern, if any, for the quality of my Halloween costume (and thereby me). Yes, back in what I consider the dark days of my youth, I once happily skipped from house to house in a shoddy, unfortunate STORE-BOUGHT costume. I shudder at the thought.
I remember my last store-bought costume vividly. It was 1991, and I was seven years old. Though contrary to my memories, my mom was clearly an uncaring and neglectful parent who decided her children weren’t worth the time or effort of constructing decent Halloween costumes. Or maybe she was working full-time, had a new house and had never been a particularly crafty person. Whatever. The point is that she very obviously did not love us, as evidenced below:
Luckily, my grandma, probably out of embarrassment, intervened. A former seamstress by trade, she took over where — I don’t know, a Kmart clearance bin, by the looks of it? — had left off. From 1992 on, my brother and I were homemade costume kids. And once you’ve escaped the hell of store-bought costumes, you’ll never go back or allow the same ill fate for your children.
OK, maybe I’m exaggerating just a little bit. I see the advantages of store-bought costumes. They’re convenient! You just grab something off a shelf, and you’re done. Your kid is happy, you’re happy, and you’ve saved a lot of very valuable time and frustration. Certainly, homemade costumes aren’t for everyone. I understand. I’m only here to explain some of the advantages of homemade costumes that you may not have considered.
- Skill is not necessary. Unlike my grandma, I am no seamstress. I borrow my mom’s cheap 90’s sewing machine that I was only vaguely taught how to operate, and I figure it out. I don’t use patterns or take proper measurements. I’m impatient and aim for speed over precision. Consider that you really only need something that will hold up for a little while. If my costume can get through several parties and trick-or-treating with only a few glue gun repairs, I call it a success. I don’t need to make a costume that lasts. On November 1, it gets thrown into the dress-up chest (which is less a chest and more a pile on the floor). They hold up better than store-bought stuff anyway!
- Fix your kids’ terrible costume ideas. Last year, my daughter had a grand idea for Halloween. She wanted to be Tinker Bell, who, as everyone knows, is the harlot of the Disney universe. Making my own costume, I was able to do an authentic Tinker Bell (unlike store-bought) while keeping her 4 years old and weather appropriate (unlike actual Tinker Bell).
- Lock in your costumes. Kids are notoriously fickle and I’ve heard the concern that you might begin making an elaborate costume only for your child to change his/her mind. Nonsense! Show your kid some flashy fabric, or better yet, have her help pick it out, and you’re set. My 5-year-old wanted to be Ariel this year. Ugh, but fine. Then she changed her mind to Flash, the SLOTH from Zootopia. Then she changed it again to Ariel with legs (casual Ariel, or girl with red wig). I quickly remedied the situation by getting some sparkly, sequined green fin fabric, and it was back to a manageable mermaid costume. She’s been excited about it for months. I’ll always wonder what I could have done with a sloth, though…
- It doesn’t have to be expensive or made from scratch. Most of my costumes involve something store-bought. It still counts! Sometimes they’re kind of lazy, but practical. I bought a decent Royals jersey that my son could wear for two baseball seasons in addition to it being an integral part of his Halloween costume. I consider his brow penciled goatee to be the pièce de résistance, anyway. My daughter’s siamese cat costume is entirely made from cheap clothing from Walmart that I took apart and sewed together. Just be creative and use what you have at home or can find at a thrift store. Or don’t be creative. That’s what Pinterest is for!
So put down that bagged costume and get out your sewing machine! Or glue gun. You’d be amazed by what you can make with some felt and a glue gun. There’s still plenty of time.
But if you want to make things easier on yourself, I understand. While we all know that homemade costumes are objectively superior, we won’t judge. Just remember that 25 years from now, it could be your children looking back at their impoverished princess and Hershey kiss/baked potato costumes (It was actually a bat! A BAT!!!) and wondering if their parents ever loved them.
**Note to my parents: I’m just kidding! Except about the bat costume.**