Picking out Halloween costumes here in south Texas isn’t an easy task. Most of the children’s costumes are designed to make long underwear unnecessary…and here that would be an open invitation to heatstroke. So I have to find costumes that a) fit my children, b) my children will agree to wear and c) are cool enough for our normal mid- to high-70s temperatures.
With Jeffrey, challenges b and c are most important–he’s picky–and with Lexie, it’s a and c–she’s young enough that I can put her in whatever I want, but there are fewer costumes to choose from in her size. This year, I actually found what I needed quite quickly, from Costume Express. For Lexie, there was a cute little butterfly costume that covered the torso only. And for Jeffrey, there was Diego. Go, Diego, Go! is Jeffrey’s second favorite cartoon (after only Dora the Explorer) so I knew if I played my cards right, he would be not only willing but eager to wear that costume.
The costumes arrived and Jeffrey was eventually persuaded to remove the costume after trying it on. The real difficulty was with Lexie: the costume tag said it was for 6-12 months, but it was so tiny it wouldn’t have fit a 6-month-old, let alone my 11-month-old daughter. So I called Costume Express to arrange for the next size up to be sent. In the meantime, Jeffrey and I discussed his and his sister’s costumes.
“What are you going to be for Halloween, Jeffrey?”
“And what is Lexie going to be?”
Then, on a whim: “And what is Mommy going to be?”
Without missing a beat, Jeffrey answered, “A cow!”
Don’t ask questions if you’re not sure you want to hear the answer.
I’m not sure where cow came from, but Jeffrey was adamant that I was going to be a cow for Halloween. So I started thinking about ways to make that happen. In the meantime, the replacement costume arrived for Lexie. The shipping label said 12-18 months. The tag on the costume said 12-24 months. And once again, it was too small for my just-over-average size daughter. I was already irritated when I called to arrange for the return of yet another costume–and since there weren’t any larger sizes available, I was out of luck–and learned that I would be charged a 15% restocking fee on both costumes. I was pretty ticked about that, since it was clear to me that the issue was with their sizing, not a mistake on my part, but the best they could offer was to cover the return shipping. That’ll be the end of my business relationship with Costume Express (and Celebrate Express, the parent company).
And now, I was out a costume for Lexie…it was getting close to Halloween…and I was not paying someone else $35 for a cheap costume. Durn it, I’m a relatively crafty woman–I was going to make one!
I mentioned my intention to make Lexie’s butterfly costume myself, starting with wings from a wire hanger, to Steve, who told me that he’d seen wings at Wal-Mart. So I headed over there with some vague ideas for a butterfly and a cow.
I found the wings, in a pretty purple and green, and then headed back to the crafts section to get some fabric puff paint (in greens, purples, and pinks). I could take one of her plain white onsies and paint it with designs that echoed the lines in the wings. There were also some iron on rhinestones that I added to the cart for the bling power. Then it was off to the woman’s clothing section for a couple of sweatsuits. I wanted one in white and one in black–my intent was to cut spots out of the black sweats and glue them on to the white sweats. I couldn’t find any white sweatpants, though, nor could I find what I really wanted in the woman’s section, so I headed over to men’s to pick up two white sweatshirts and two pairs of black sweatpants.
Cutting the spots out was extremely simple, and I simply attached them with spray-on adhesive. Then I got creative with a tail and ears, and when Jeffrey saw me, his reaction was a gratifying, “You’re a cow!”
Lexie’s costume didn’t go together as smoothly. My first attempt at freehanding the painted designs on the onsie went awry–mostly because I’d had to attach the rhinestones first and they ended up breaking up my desired lines–so I decided to just go with it and paint random lines of color. There wasn’t a lot of white visible when I was done–I got a little carried away–but I liked the look. I also had to make some modifications to the wings. They were intended to be worn with straps over the shoulder, but those elastic straps were intended for adults. I cut the straps off and added snaps, which I also sewed to the back of the onsie. She wore her (partially finished) costume to music class the Wednesday before, which is when I realized the wing tips had to be bent into a curve so she could move in them; although I’d attached them as high on the shirt as I could, they were still dragging on the ground. About that time Lexie’s costume morphed from a butterfly to a fairy, since she just didn’t look very butterfly-y. Obviously, a fairy needs a skirt, so that necessitated another trip to Wal-Mart for some appropriate fabric. I decided on a wispy lavender overlaid with a green mesh to match the wings, and I cut the hems of each with jagged edges both for looks and to minimize sewing–that was restricted to the side seams and the waist where I inserted elastic.
I think I did well with the cow…but I think I outdid myself with the fairy.
I also got a little more creative than usual with the jack o’lanters. I didn’t realize until we started that the new pumpkin carving kit I’d bought came with a booklet of stencils. Usually we go for the traditional triangle faces, but this time I got a little crazy and told Jeffrey he could pick one of the stencils. Of course, he flipped right to the back and selected the headless horseman. I swallowed hard and picked up the knife…but the stencil made it quite simple. For the other two pumpkins, Jeffrey requested J-E-F-F-R-E-Y (he’ll take any opportunity offered to spell his name) and a “real jack o’lantern”–which meant a regular face. This year Steve tackled all the cleaning and left the carving to me.
This was Jeffrey’s first experience with trick-or-treating, and he had a blast. It took a little while to get “Trick or treat!” down, but he was perfect with the “Thank you!” Both of our costumes proved popular, although mine was a bigger hit with the youngest set (I had one little girl actually pat me on the leg like you would a doggy; her face when I said “Mooooo!” was priceless) and the older adults who didn’t recognize “Diego.” Jeffrey had rock star status with the parents and his peers–I lost count of the number of times we heard a young child yell, “Look, Mommy! It’s Diego!”
After we made the rounds of our very small neighborhood, Jeffrey and I took the candy distribution watch from Steve and Lexie, who were camped out on the front porch (it’s so nice down here many people sit outside to hand out the candy so they can watch all the kids go by). He’ll tell you otherwise, but I’m pretty sure Jeffrey had more fun handing out candy than trick-or-treating himself. It was so cute hearing him say to a smaller child, “Say trick or treat!” the same way I prompted him. I got a couple pictures of him handing out candy, but the one I didn’t get will have me kicking myself for a long time. One little girl, about a year younger, came up in a costume I recognized immediately, but before I could say anything Jeffrey squealed, “Dora!” The little “Dora the Explorer” stared back wide-eyed before gasping, “Diego!”
All in all, quite a successful Halloween–and I’ve finally done what I’ve said I wanted to do every year, and made some costumes myself. Now I need to start planning for next year…