It's right around this time of year when kids' minds turn to the sugar-fueled Halloween holiday. Not only do they begin rubbing their hands together anticipating how much loot they'll acquire in the time-honored extortionist trip around the neighborhood, they'll start clamoring for costumes.
They may not care what kind of candy they get as long as it's sweet, although there is certainly an informal caste system when it comes to candy. (Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, M&Ms, KitKats and anything chocolate: good. Anything with raisins: bad.) When you get right down to it, Halloween is all about the costumes.
Build or Buy?
So the dilemma is, do you, the parent, buy a costume or do you make one? And if you deign to ditch your sewing kit and glue gun for a different tool of choice--a handy dandy credit card, do you opt for the expensive costume or the "inexpensive" one, "on sale now" for a mere $30? This is a tricky question in Mommydom.
I think that if I read one more article or see yet another "helpful" television segment demonstrating just how easy it is to make a kid's costume I'm going to commit hari-kiri with a Twizzler. (But, um, they're everywhere.) Inevitably, you're shown what seems like simple directions, told to buy a few items, cut several things out with kitchen scissors, fire up the glue gun, and you're in business. And of course, your child will be overcome with enthusiastic gratitude once you present her with the finished product.
Yeah, and I'm the Easter Bunny.
Let's take something like a "simple" lion costume. Directions might go something like this: Buy brown pants and turtle neck shirt, along with a matching hooded sweatshirt, a black face-paint crayon and some brown or tan felt. Cut the felt into strips. Roll the strips and steam-iron them so they make ringlets. Sew or glue the ringlets to the hood. Once the child dons all the brown clothes, pulls the hood onto his head and the parent smears on the face paint (in the form of whiskers and a lion-like nose), voila, you have a darling little lion.
One of my lovable, very clever friends, Mandy--whose creativity and natural artistic ease always makes me absolutely verdant with jealousy--actually made a version of this one year for her toddler. She stayed up late on many evenings, cutting, steam-ironing, and gluing, her heart filled with anticipation.
But there was a hitch. Once her son put on the sweet ensemble, he refused to permit the hood to come anywhere near his head. It was too heavy. So at his Halloween party, Mandy had to spend the whole time explaining to other mothers that her son was dressed as a lion, even if you couldn't tell, because the lion's head was drooping down his back.
After Mandy's experience, I determined that I would be hard pressed ever to contemplate making a Halloween costume, particularly considering how absolutely pathetic a sewer and crafter I am. I was convinced that even if I invested all the time this task would require (which would be double Mandy's because I have not a drop of clever costuming talent circulating in my blood), the results would be lousy and despised by my kids, anyway.