Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Costumes - DIY or Not?

I remember trick-or-treating in the same costume year after year that my mother had made me as a kid. I longed to be a princess, a witch, anything but that dreaded clown. But each year I stepped into that oh so colorful jumpsuit, slapped on that loud and CrAzY wig, and headed out into the night in search of cavity-ridden goodies!!

Fast forward 30 years and now I have two kids who want to be something different every year and it's always something I can't find in stores. Btw, why do costumes have to cost so dang much?? We're big Disney fans and just had to have Disney costumes for the kiddies when they were little. So for the first 5 or so years my kids grew into and then out of Rolie Polie Olie & Zowie Olie costumes and Lightning McQueen & Sally costumes.  As expensive as they were, getting a number of years out of those costumes was worth it.

So now the question remains... do you make your own costumes or put the money out hoping to get a few years out of them? It would be nice if kids didn't grow so fast or their favorite things of today didn't change with the wind. But I've found the best way to keep up with my kids is to put together costumes from reusing old clothes or adding embellishments here and there. Like adding a simple Woody hat and sheriff badge to a plaid shirt or Mickey Ears to a Minnie Mouse dress we found at a thrift store....

One year my kids decided to be Nick Jr.'s Max and Ruby. For Max I just found some overalls and a striped shirt at the local Goodwill. For Ruby a yellow dress and purple blouse, also from the Goodwill, painted with orange and green fabric paint did the trick. Adding finishing touches with some face paint and headband bunny ears I bought at the Target $1 spot over Easter and violla! ...

My son was becoming a HUGE video game expert and would be Mario or Luigi every year if he could, but I thought back to my own "clown" years and tried to steer him in another direction. But the following Halloween he insisted he had to be Mario, which turned out to be super easy to make.  I just reused the overalls from his Max costume (thank goodness they still fit!!), found a red t-shirt from his dresser, attached white felt cut out in the M shape to a red 50 cent baseball cap, and cut out a wavy mustache from black felt and stuck it on his upper lip.... Mama Mia!! It's me Mario!!..

The year after that I gave in and purchased $40 a piece costumes (OUCH!!). My son wanted to be Mario again, but settled for Toad.  My daughter was thrilled to find a Princess Peach costume to match. 

As fun as it is to dress up, it's way too expensive to purchase new costumes every year so I hoped they could get some mileage out of these costumes like they did with the Disney ones.  No such luck!! Halloween night my daughter stepped on the front of her dress as she was trick-or-treating and ripped the ENTIRE bottom half of the dress right off! (Crappy craftsmanship!!) And my son grew faster than a weed and had out grown his costume before summer even came around. 

So now I was back to stirring up my creative juices to make one-of-a-kind costumes for my kids. Problem is, it seems each year my kids keep coming up with characters that aren't that simple to make!!  Last year my daughter wanted to be Sharon Osbourne from America's Got Talent.  Are you kidding me??? A black jacket from the Goodwill, the America's Got Talent logo ironed onto a white tank top, a colorful wig, and some jewels were the best I could do. She loved it!!

And for my son.. who better to be than Justin Bieber? A kid who sings.. how hard can that be to create a costume for? Well, let me tell ya... it was HARD!! I couldn't find an affordable white denim jacket to save my life and it took 4 trips to several Goodwill's to find white jeans. It was easier to find Waldo than it was finding a purple hoodie. Just when I was about to give up I found one at Walmart. They also had a brown wig I combed over to have the 'Bieber do' in his face (which drove him crazy all night). The kids' toy box already had a plastic echo microphone and some play sunglasses. Now I just needed purple shoes - the most difficult item to find!! On my final trip to the Goodwill I somehow managed to find a pair of hightop sneakers that actually fit my son!! I stopped at Lowes on the way home to get some purple spray paint and sprayed the heck out of those bad boys!!  Although it was a pain trying to find every detail for this costume, the reaction my son got from other trick-or-treaters was amazing and well worth the effort!!

This year I asked my kids months in advance what they wanted to be for Halloween so I could get a jump on costume creating.  Considering how difficult it was to find all the pieces last year I didn't want to repeat the chaos of running around from store to store trying to find the perfect parts.  But weeks before Halloween neither one of my kids had decided who they wanted to be yet.  UGH!!

We went to Halloween Costume shops for inspiration.  Nothing.  We looked online and in junk mail catalogs for ideas.  Nothing.  About a week before the big night they finally decided upon the Evil Queen from Snow White and Donkey Kong.  REALLY?.. I quit!!  There's no way I'm going to be able to create an Evil Queen dress in less than a week!! And by that time all the decent costumes were gone from the stores and the only ones that were left fit a 2 year old or a dog!!  But then I found a "Gothic Maiden Vampiress" dress shoved all the way in the back of the rack. It was a little too big for my daughter, but when you have days to come up with something you just go with it.  I picked up a red apple from the craft & hobby section for $1 and was going to make "Mirror Mirror" for her to carry as well, but figured it was a safety hazard if she were to accidentally drop it.  She already had a tiara in her 'dress up' closet so her costume was as done as it was going to get.  Now I had to come up with Donkey Kong.

A brown t-shirt and felt hat from the 99 cent store, some 25 cent yellow felt and $2.99 craft fur from Hobby Lobby, a red necktie I already had in my stash, some printed online images, and craft paint completed the supplies needed to create this too cool costume.

First I painted the chest on the t-shirt with ivory craft paint. Then I cut out the DK logo from yellow felt and sewed it onto the red necktie.  Then I stitched the craft fur to the sleeves of the t-shirt, pinned the Donkey Kong printout to the felt hat and shazam!.. Donkey Kong at your service..

My son didn't like wearing the hat, so he decided to go without it, but it didn't take away from the overall look of the costume.  He even met up with some 'friends' while out trick-or-treating who recognized him right away!!

Even though I did buy my daughters dress (for $20), it was another successful Halloween creating original, fun costumes for my kids that didn't break the bank.  It might seem easier and less stressful to just buy costumes from the store each year rather than save a few bucks by making your own, but the ones that get remembered the most are the ones I create for my kids. They enjoy seeing that nobody else has the same costume as them and the reactions and comments from others about how creative or what great ideas their costumes are is priceless in my book.