My kids have a sixth sense and seem to just know the moment the Halloween store at the mall has set up shop.
Every year they beg to wander through the store to scare themselves with the spooky displays they have set up and eye the packaged costumes that line the walls.
Inevitably my kids will declare their obsession with one of those packaged costumes that cost a fortune and that will be how they decide on their Halloween attire. It won’t be a unique costume. There may be half a dozen kids at their school or in our neighbourhood dressed the exact same. But my kids don’t seem to care about that.
As a kid, I remember half the fun of Halloween was figuring out what I was going to be and finding things around my house to make my costume. My mother was really good at putting costumes together out of items that lay around the house already and some make up. Sometimes I was able to recycle old dance recital costumes, but growing up in Canada where your costume often had to fit a snowsuit underneath made it tricky.
Every so often my parents would buy us the packaged costume that came with those awful plastic masks that barely let you breathe. To be honest I don’t know if packaged costumes were rare in my house because my parents couldn’t afford them, because they were super uncomfortable to wear or because we just wanted something more creative.
I remember being in awe of the little girl down the street whose mother was an excellent seamstress and would sew her these elaborate costumes. Rainbow Bright was my favourite.
Putting together a Halloween costume was one of the most exciting parts of Halloween.
My kids don’t seem to put any thought into their costume. They wander the store until something catches their eye; my daughter looks for something with a big dress that will allow her to wear makeup and my son looks for something that will creep people out. But they don’t often go in stuck on an idea of what they want to be.
I wish my kids were open to homemade Halloween costumes.
I remember my daughter’s kindergarten Halloween party with such pride. For weeks she spoke about wanting to be Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. But the weekend before Halloween we were cleaning out some old boxes and she came across a dance recital costume of mine that looked an awful lot like Wonder Woman. I could see her little eyes dance at the sight of it.
The night before the big day she stated that she had changed her mind and now wanted to be Wonder Woman. So I went at it, pinning stars to the shorts and finding pieces to add. My husband fastened a yellow rope to her side so that she had her trusty lasso with her. When we walked in to the party the next day she was the only Wonder Woman in a sea of Elsas. I loved that she had some originality.
I wish they kept some of that creativity.
When I suggest homemade costumes the kids scoff at me. I mentioned a zombie soccer player to my son, whose favourite thing in life is soccer and he rolled his eyes as I excitedly described ripping an old uniform and using make up to make him look like a zombie.
My daughter, who loves bows and arrows, wandered the store looking for a costume that could somehow incorporate that piece but didn’t seem impressed with my idea to create a Robin Hood costume.
Have we taken away that part of Halloween from our kids by always presenting them with a ready made option? I so desperately want my kids to use their imagination rather than wait for some corporation to show them what they can be.
In the end their costume needs to be about them and what they want to dress up as, not what I want them to dress up in. They only have a few short years of Trick or Treating left, I don’t want to take any of that away from them. But I will continue to give my suggestions in the hopes that one day something will stick. Until then, I’ll continue to wander the Halloween store until they find just what they’re looking for.
As long as they give me their peanut butter cups I’ll be happy.