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Tips for a Fun DIY Halloween Costumes

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It may be Columbus Day for many of us, but it's also time to start thinking about another thing: Halloween costumes.

We actually started discussing our son's costume with him months ago. It's not because we’re crazy for Halloween (it’s probably our least favorite, aside from the fun dressing up part). We talk about it for awhile because it’s a lot like the proverbial spaghetti on the wall: the more costumes we discuss, the greater chance that one will come up several times (and "stick"). Right now, a made-up superhero is in running for first place. So, “Super Hadley” it is. Every year, I make and/or compile the elements of his costume. While sometimes this involves sewing or other intricate craftwork, my ultimate goal is to A) achieve a general idea of what our son (and, soon, our daughter...when she can talk) requests, and B) keep it as simple as possible. DIY "TRICKS" After a few years of making our son's (and now daughter's) costumes and a lifetime with a mother who did the same for my family, I've picked up a few tips on how to do it simply, practically, and relatively inexpensively. *Analyze the costume. First things first. I’ve made the mistake of starting to buy elements of the costume before thinking it through first (let’s blame Mom Brain, m’kay?). It can be wasteful and you’ll be stuck with random clothes or craft items you never end up using. So, pick it apart and write down the elements. Then write whether it’s something you already have, and if not what you can use to make it work. * Some store-bought isn’t bad. Let me just put it this way: unless you’re growing the cotton and raising the sheep for wool to weave your own clothes, don’t stress about the fact that the costume has store-bought elements. It’s still DIY. You can still be proud of the fact that, yes, you made it. You are Super Mom (or Dad). (Not that it’s a competition, but when your child loves the costume you’ve assembled for them, it feels pretty rad.) * Sweats are king. A lot of times, the foundation of our costumes are sweats (sweatpants and a sweatshirt). There are a couple of reasons. First, we live in an area where, more likely than not, we’d need coats during trick or treat. Using sweats adds an extra layer of warmth (especially compared to the thin, store-bought costumes) and you can put layers underneath to help out further. Secondly, the range of colors work for so many different types of costumes (or good ol’ black provides a great blank canvas). Thirdly, they’re SO reusable. Who doesn’t rely on sweats for those comfy play days? * Think double-duty. I hate spending money on a one-time costume item. Sometimes it’s totally necessary (a pair of striped tights last year MADE our son’s classic ghost costume - and he actually asked to wear them, for the record ;-)), but whenever possible, I’ll look for double purpose. If we need to buy new sneakers anyway, I’ll make sure they match the theme. If we have to buy a costume element, I’ll ask myself if it’ll have a second life in our costume box after Halloween. You get the idea.   * Be a reuser! A great way to cut down on the cost is to check out a thrift store for costume elements, or look at household items to help complete the look. A box with some bottle tops and a funnel can make an awesome robot. (Actually, a box can also make a cute Christmas gift - complete with a bow on your little one’s head and a “Do Not Open ‘Til Christmas” tag - but make sure they’ll fit through the door. I still remember a friend who had to get out of her costume in 1st grade to get into the classroom. Embarrassing moment!) So, last year’s ghost costume? The fluffy element that he requested was actually super cheap (like, a dollar) sheer curtains from Goodwill layered and cut to fit over the whole shebang. I cut up one of my husband’s old white T-shirts to provide an extra layer of white underneath and one of the sleeves made his pointed white cap. I bought one piece of black felt to make his mask (which is now in our dress-up bin). He loved it and I loved how simple -yet cool - it was.    

Now, if only we could figure out what to put our 11-month-old daughter in this year! ;-) What are you guys planning for Halloween? Any cool dress-up ideas to share? We’d love to hear!


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