Simple Halloween Costumes

Halloween costumes for the grandchildren somehow became my domain and it’s not a simple get the kids dressed and out the door event around my son’s house. With a combined family of five children and two not-quite grown-up adults, figuring out what everyone wants to wear can take some time. The oldest boy favors store-bought costumes, the oldest girl needs something dramatic, the two youngest will wear whatever we put on them, but the second girl challenges my creativity every year.

Three years ago, when she was eight, was the year to be a cheerleader. Cool. What do you have for the costume so far? Borrowed red and white pom-poms. Well, that gives us a place to start. I went several times to Goodwill to search for red and white clothes in her size. Never knowing about Indiana weather at the end of October, I decided a long sleeve white sweater and white tights would be a good plan. I lucked out on another trip with a sleeveless red hooded velour sweatshirt to go over the sweater. She wanted a red pleated skirt that was not to be found. I did locate a light green plaid skirt with a small buckle, cute as could be. She was dismayed; it wasn’t red. The skirt color was pale enough that with a bottle of red liquid dye, she had the skirt she wanted. White tennis shoes and red ribbons in her hair completed the outfit to perfection.

Two years ago she was a princess, a fairly easy costume to put together. When I browse second-hand shops, I always look at the fancy dresses for the girls to use for dress-up. I had just found a gorgeous cobalt prom dress, strapless with tiered ruffles along the bottom for about $5.00. We pinned it snug along the back zipper so it wouldn’t fall off when she held out her bag for candy. I insisted that she wear some sort of shawl because she needed some covering and, fortunately, it was a cool night so she didn’t fuss about it. I had a large piece of light blue sparkly fabric that we trimmed to a suitable size and draped around her shoulders as an elegant shawl. A dollar store tiara crowned her hair and she insisted on wearing heels to complete her princess attire.

Last year was a challenge because she couldn’t make a decision, then decided, then changed her mind. It was the day of the Halloween party and no costume. And no sympathy from Mom and Dad because of her indecisiveness. Okay, her older step-sister and I had to do some quick thinking. A Bratz doll. She had considered this during her period of indecision but made no steps to pull it together, so her sister and I went to work. A pair of embroidered flare jeans, a light blue top, and strappy shoes with stacked heels were the basic outfit. We printed Bratz on the front and back of the shirt with glitter glue. A heavy dose of make up, a bracelet, a star shaped pin at the bottom of the shirt, and a newsboy cap finished the costume. She didn’t seem overjoyed with what her sister, brother, and I thought was a terrific costume and she was surprised, and pleased, when she won first place in her age group at the party.

Help your children make their costume decisions early to give you plenty of time. Once the kids have decided what they want to be for Halloween, plan out what articles of clothing will work for their costume. Make several trips to second hand stores because the inventory changes constantly. Don’t limit your browsing to just your child’s size; larger sizes can be modified to fit. Keep the weather in mind if your children will be outside and have a plan for keeping them warm without hiding the costume you’ve worked so hard to put together.

Any good plan can go awry, however. One year when my son was small he wanted to dress as Han Solo on the ice planet Hoth. Easy and warm, perfect for a fall evening in Indiana. A heavy blue coat with a fur trimmed hood, a rakish white silk scarf wrapped around his neck, goggles to shield his eyes from the blowing snow, and knee high boots. The temperature that evening was, of course, well into the high 60’s.

The last time I saw my son in costume was two years ago. He likes to dress up when he takes the kids around the neighborhood. Any brave father can copy his unique hippie costume. Find a long wildly patterned broomstick skirt, pull on a tie-dyed t-shirt that’s long enough to hang over the skirt a bit, wear boots with high socks on your feet, tug a knit cap over your head, and add a few beads or a bear claw necklace as a finishing touch. This look works best if you have long hair trailing down your back. It’s original and your kids will love it.

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