Confessions (of a crazy costume mom)

I love Halloween. No. I. Love. Halloween. Maybe it’s the actress in me. Maybe it’s the girl who loves a good horror movie. Maybe it’s the insane ADD/OCD/COC (crazily over-creative) mom in me that can’t believe she gets a chance to use her powers for good and not the evil it usually inspires. I LOVE to make costumes for my kids. The entire process is exhilarating for me. I love sitting down with them and deciding what they want to be. I love drawing up the design. I love figuring out how to execute it (it’s like a big puzzle). And I even love putting it all together. When my kids ask for a store-bought costume. I actually get upset. Why? Because I’m crazy.

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My husband and others do not like me at Halloween because I become something that borders on psychotic. My kids often won’t decide on what they want until a couple of weeks before the big event and then I drop everything to get those damn costumes ready. My kids can eat later. Who cares if we’re out of toilet paper and they didn’t brush their teeth for a week. I have to make a Rancor with cardboard and dental floss, dammit! They can wait.

I think my first costume for one of my kids that I actually made, was an octopus. Yes, an Octopus. Couldn’t have been a ghost. It had to be a cephalopod– 8 freakin’ legs! And I’m not a seamstress. Did I mention that part? My mom is a brilliant seamstress. She offered to teach me several times when I was a teenager, but I was like all, “No, Mom. I don’t need that crap. I’m not having any kids. Now, leave me alone so I can go sneak some Purple Passion into the movies with my friends.” But everything changed. I have 3 kids (and I only go to movie houses that serve liquor instead of carrying an inconspicuous, clinking beach bag into a show). Now, back to the octopus. I somehow figured out how to make an octopus out of two bed sheets, some stuffing and metal coat hangers. AND I sewed it together with a second-hand machine I bought off a neighbor. There was some crying involved as well as many creative uses of the “F” word, but I did it. Once I made that one, I was hooked and determined to make all of the costumes.

And I’ve made a lot. Unfortunately I don’t have most of the pictures, but I’ll share a few that I have on my computer from the last few years.

Ash Ketchum and Mr. Mummy from 2010. I had to sew parts of the mummy on him and cut him out of it.

Ash Ketchum and Mr. Mummy from 2010. I had to sew parts of the mummy on him and cut him out of it at the end of the night.

An old white leotard left over from a play I directed and some strips of an old white sheet tea-dyed was all I needed for the body. I used paper towels and makeup method from Marth Stewart to do the face. He got lots of compliments all night especially since he stayed in character, moaning and walking stiffly. Ash Ketchum was very excited when a neighborhood dad yelled out, “Ash Ketchum, catch ’em all” to him.

Freddy and Darth Maul of 2009.

Freddy and Darth Maul of 2009.

My son had no idea who Freddy Krueger is, but once he saw this in the store, any hopes of making him a costume was dashed. Freddy is a fun killer in more than one way, but, honestly who can resist a knife-glove? For a 6-year-old, little Darth sat incredibly still for that makeup job I did on him.

Jack Sparrow. I can’t tell you how excited I was that my theatrical child chose Jack. I was determined not to buy a single Jack costume piece and I didn’t. All of the clothing was bought at the thrift store and then altered to fit him (I’ve gotten a little better at sewing but don’t look real close or you’ll see the fabric glue). The wig was a Wal-Mart reggae wig that I cut, braided, and wrapped with beads I strung myself. The bone is made from this amazing stuff called Model Magic by Crayola. It is incredibly light weight. I had the synthetic hair from some theatre thing I did. I used eyelash glue instead of spirit gum because that stuff is rough on skin and stinky (I know). The boots are my old barn boots (probably added to the pirate smell), and the sash is an old bedsheet I drew lines on with a marker and yardstick. The only costume piece is the plastic gun that I paid over $10 for and broke in about 4.5 seconds.

Jack Sparrow-- saavy?

Jack Sparrow– saavy?

Why are we out of rum?

Why are we out of rum?

Because I took so much time on Jack, my oldest son got ripped off. He agreed to a store-bought costume to save mommy’s sanity. I had to pay him back and let him chose a complicated costume for the next year. I was thinking maybe he’d pick something from a video game or a Teen Titan or something. Nope. He decided to make up for the years he’d chosen bought costumes and he chose an alien. Not just any alien– THE alien. Ridley Scott’s alien (another movie he hadn’t been allowed to see yet). But I didn’t panic. I got excited, because, once again, I’M FREAKIN’ CRAZY. And I was determined not to puss-out and buy anything. But since I apparently love to torture myself, I decided to give myself a $40 budget. Yep. And I did it.

The beginning. A bicycle helmet, two dollar store pitchers, glue and paint.

The beginning. A bicycle helmet, two dollar store pitchers, glue and paint.

Cheap, fake nails trimmed a painted silver. Hot glue alien gums. Pool noodle lips.

Cheap, fake nails trimmed a painted silver. Hot glue alien gums. Pool noodle lips.

I can’t keep my house clean or remember parent-teacher conferences but I can make an entire alien out of hot glue, recycled Tupperware, cardboard, pool noodles and paint.Then there was more hot glue than is probably legal to use on one item. I used it to hold shit together and make glistening, drool and ligament. There were strings of hot glue on everything in my house. I burned my fingers. I even sat on the damn gun once. How many people can say they’ve burned their ASS with a hot glue gun? Yep, I’m that kind of special.

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Not a great picture but you get the idea.

Not a great picture but you get the idea.

My son has sensory issues from his autism so he won’t let me put makeup on him. It would have looked better if I could have blacked-out his face but no big deal. Everyone wanted pictures with him but some of the really excited kids tugged on his pipe insulation-tail and popped some of the staples holding the chest plates together (I was still putting it together as he ran out the door. It’s not perfect but it’s not bad for something I made for less than $40. My other son had to take on less complicated costumes. Max went as Ace Ventura. I bought all of the clothes at the thrift store and altered them with safety pins and fabric glue. The hair took the longest. He stayed in character and actually got recognized by some of the parents. My youngest son wore a costume I’d made for his older brother when he was younger– a rattlesnake, with a tail made with tiny plastic maracas to rattle as he walked.

Ace Ventura-- pet detective (and hairspray hog).

Ace Ventura– pet detective (and hairspray hog).

I had to dig up my old '80's hair teasing skills for this.

I had to dig up my old ’80’s hair teasing skills for this.

And that’s just a glimpse into my craziness. Another confession. Another reason to keep your kids from playing with mine. Are any of you crazy costume parents? What’s the craziest costume you’ve made? Come to the dark side and share.

My bloated rattlesnake. I got a little carried away with the stuffing so we just pretended he'd eaten the neighbor kid dressed like Mickey Mouse.

My bloated rattlesnake. I got a little carried away with the stuffing so we just pretended he’d eaten the neighbor kid dressed like Mickey Mouse.

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