I’m Done with Halloween DIY.
I remember two Halloween costumes from my childhood. The first was a witch, complete with a pointed hat made from a small megaphone. My mama made the black dress, and I’m sure I carried a broom from our kitchen. I loved that costume so much I would sneak into the closet during the year and play with the black hat she handcrafted from polyester material and black duct tape.
As I got older mama started sending “keepsakes” home with her adult children. I remember my disappointment when it wasn’t in any of the boxes. In all honesty, I probably played with it so hard the plastic crumbled.
The witch costume was one of many my mama made for her three children. We lived in a small town, miles away from a store that would have (gasp) sold costumes. Besides, we just weren’t the type family that spent money on Halloween costumes.
We were a DIY family before it was cool.
I don’t remember ever complaining or wanting anything other than homemade until I turned nine. I just wanted to be C-3PO from The Empire Strikes Back. But the costume came in a box.
Mama probably offered to help me make the costume out of materials we had on hand: duct tape, cardboard, gold spray paint. I don’t remember a fight, but there must have been one. And I eventually won. We drove to the nearest 80s mega-store and I walked out with my box, and I was happy.
The costume split down the side and the rubber band that held the mask on my face popped before I made it to the first house Halloween night. But I didn’t care. I had a costume out of a box, and that meant something to me.
We’ve made costumes and had family themes with our own five boys for years. There was the year we all went as Greek gods (and one goddess) and the year we had baseball and football uniforms. When the twins arrived we dressed as Dr. Seuss characters complete with “Thing 1” and “Thing 2.”
I became a master at stretching a dollar and using household items to make costumes for the boys. Brown sheets became Jedi Knight costumes. One yard of black cloth became two batman capes. I made a Ben 10 costume out of sewing tape and a green t-shirt. And when the middle child asked to be a video game character named Foxy, we bought fur and I stapled and stitched until he was happy.
We were DIY before it was cool.
But none of the costumes are in a closet. In fact, most were so worn by the end of Halloween night they were quietly put in a trash can while the tired children slept.
Last year Halloween fell in the middle of an especially hectic time in our life. I was talking with another mother who casually told me how her entire family was dressing up as characters from Harry Potter. I panicked and mentally planned how I was going to make seven costumes during the night, because there were no other hours during the day left.
One by one the boys told me what they wanted to be for Halloween. The costumes were as different as each boys’ personality, and there were a few that I definitely could not make. Then it dawned on me – they each wanted a costume in a box.
And then I let go. I decided then that I would never DIY Halloween costumes again, unless a child asked me to do it. And if they wanted a costume in a box, I’d let them have it.
The years of duct tape, spray paint and glue will balance the years we have left of Amazon boxes and Dollar Tree trips.
They will be C-3PO.
This afternoon I was hanging the new red Power Ranger costume from a box in the closet – making sure it’s ready for Baby B on the big day. I looked down in the costume bin and saw the Batman cape I made years ago for one of the older boys. I guess some costumes actually do survive, along with the memories.