Saturday, October 20, 2007

Wandering Thoughts

by Beth Andrews

I'm supposed to be thinking about my Work-In-Progress, my next proposal for Harlequin Superromance. Unfortunately, my thoughts keep wandering away from my tortured hero. And where are my thoughts wandering to?

Halloween Costumes.

I love Halloween, not so much for the scare factor but for the FUN factor. I love the decorations, the treats and especially dressing up. When I was little, most kids' costumes were plastic. Remember those? They were some sort of plastic cape-like thing complete with plastic mask. I believe I was even Barbie one year *g*

When my first child was born, I swore there would be no plastic costumes for him! His birthday is close to Halloween so when he turned one, we had a costume-themed party. I dressed him in the jester costume I'd spent hours behind my sewing machine making him.

He screamed. He cried. He HATED that costume.

But I was not to be deterred and the next year I made him the most adorable dinosaur costume. Again with the tears. When he was three I made him a scarecrow outfit. You can guess what happened. When he was four we went to the store and he bought a Power Rangers outfit complete with mask (I don't think it was plastic). That kid wore that outfit just about everyday for the next six months. Lesson learned. Costumes don't have to take enormous amounts of time or energy for kids to love them.

When my son was five and my daughter one and a half, I bought them matching blue sweat pants and sweatshirts, cut out a Superman S, sewed it on the shirt, made them each a red cape and voila! Superman and Supergirl! When my daughters were three and one, I raided my mother-in-law's dress up box, dressed the older daughter in frilly pantaloons, topped it with a ruffled dress, slapped a bonnet on her head and had her carry a wooden crook. My younger daughter had fuzzy, white, one-piece pajamas. I stuck a tail on her, my friend made her ears out of a headband and felt and we had Mary and her Little Lamb :-)

So while I might feel the pull of the sewing machine, I'll resist and encourage my kids (the ones still young enough to trick or treat) to use their imaginations when deciding on their costumes. After all, we all know how a little imagination goes a long way ;-)

What was your favorite or most memorable costume? Did it take you hours or days to put together? Do you still dress-up? Attend costume parties?


Helen said...

Halloween seems like a lot of fun from what I have seen in TV shows movies and read about we don't celebrate it here in Australia although over the last few years we have had a few children knocking on the door say trick or treat and I can usually find a lolly or biscuit for them and they look so cute. Over the years I have been to a few fancy dress parties but I haven't gone to too much trouble to dress up and when the children were young we would do all sorts of things with sheets and whatever we had at home to dress them up. I have just given my 21 month old grandson a spiderman and batman suit he loves the pants and shirts but will not have the head masks on. Just using the items you can find around the home can make the best dress up outfits and usually ensures fun is had by all.
Have Fun

AndreaW said...

My favorite Halloween costume of all time was when I was 4. My mom made me a Princess Leia costume and she even styled my hair into buns on each side of my head. Best. Costume. Ever!

Being a mom now, I let my kids look through catalogues and choose what they want. I used to want them to "coordinate" their costumes, but that can lead to tears and frustration, so now the choice is all theirs. :)


Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Beth -
I used to sew costumes as well. Ever the practical mom, I always chose costumes that could also be worn as PJs. They'd come right home from Trick or treating and could hop into bed.

My favorite costume "created" for one of my kida was for my son when he was in fifth grade. After that, he made his own costume - usually with a scary mask and a wig. Anyway, that year I made him dress all in black. I stuffed two black soccer socks so they'd be stiff and sewed them to the front of his shirt. He wore two more over his hands. I made a cardboard set of wings and put those on his back. To complete the look, he wore my daughter's fencing mask with the bulbous mesh face, and voila - he was a fly.

Anonymous said...

I love the IDEA of being creative and making costumes much more than the execution. I was such a failure with my own costumes that I never even bothered making anything for my kids. Our goal now is to end up with a costume for my son that isn't HORRIBLY violent, and something for my daughter that doesn't make her into a 4 year old tart. Neither is easy in today's marketplace.

Beth said...

Helen, I bet your grandson looks adorable in his outfits! Yes, sheets are always good for costumes - ghosts, togas, etc :-)

Andrea, I bet your princess Leia costume was a huge hit! And I tried to get my family to coordinate costumes one year (I wanted the older daughter to be Dorothy, the younger one to be a lion and my son to be the tin man) but no one was interested *g*

Donna, you are so smart to make costumes that can be used as PJs! And the fly sounds great! My girls wore costumes out - their favorite thing to play was dress up so I never worried about them not getting a lot of use out of a costume.

Beth said...

Kirsten, I wasn't that hot at thinking of costumes for myself as a youngster. Although my mom did make a Tweety Bird outfit that rocked *g*

I had the same problem with costumes for the kids. My son wasn't (and still isn't) into violent images/movies etc. When he got a bit older he went as a football player and Darth Mal from Star Wars. My 13 yo daughter just informed me she wants to make a fairy costume which should keep us in the PG zone :-)

Anna Campbell said...

Beth, lovely post. As Helen says, we don't really celebrate Halloween down here although as you can imagine, the shops are trying to get us keen so we spend money!

Helen, the golden, uh, brass, uh, plastic rooster for you this morning! Whoo-hoo!!! The Cup has returned Down Under!

Dianna said...

As a kid I dressed up but it was never "store bought", I have dressed in my dad's, mother's, and granddmother's clothes many times...LOL I made all of my daughter's costumes starting when she was 1 year old, I put red tights, red shirt on her then made her harem pants and headress from a pair of sheer white drapes. I made her a carebear costume that she could use as a sleeper later. She was Strawberry Shortcake, Raggedy Ann and I can't remember the rest....I am soooo getting old. I made some of my son's costumes, he has been a ghost, a ghoul (I don't know the diff, I just made what he said), Harry Potter, that was an easy one, Darth Vader, not so easy (that helmet thing was a killer), and a zombie. I died cheese cloth this funky greenish brown color and ripped it and put layer after layer on a former halloween costume. He seemed to think it was cool.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Beth! Needless to say, I adore Halloween. Then again I married an Ad(d)ams, so he had no choice but to carry on w/ my annual celebration of the Dress UP delight of the year. I loved it as a kid too, of course. Went as raggedy Ann one year, a costume my mother made. LOVED it. We did a lot of costume making because my mother loved to sew. Wish I still had some of those costumes. :> My boys are pretty predicatble. My older son has been his "current favorite" baseball player each year for the last three, while the baby has had little choice in the matter. He's been a pumpkin, yoda, and a skelly-bones. :> He's going to have more say this year - skeleton again or a Dalmatian. I had to laugh at Kirsten's assertion about the "not too tart-like" for the girls. I can't believe some of the costume choices for even the littlest. VERY tartlike. Ha! I'm going to be a crow this year. Have my wings, black paint, etc. The best though will be pumpkin carving... Bruw-ha-ha!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

BTW, Beth, the best adult costume I did was a year that my DH and I paired up and went as a Highlander and his lass. I wore a tartan sash and a long red wig and an attitude. Snork. Some of my best friends didn't recognize me w/ red hair. It was priceless. (And my DH looked great in a kilt too!)

Kate Carlisle said...

Beth, one of my favorite topics! I love dressing up for Halloween and my office has a party every year. I usually dream up the costume the night before the party, and here are some of my favorites:

- The Invisible Secretary (gauze wrapped around my head, black trench coat, hat, gloves and dark glasses)

- Barefoot and pregnant

- Dominatrix nun (the usual nun's habit with fishnets and a whip)

- pregnant bride

- busy beaver (homemade beaver tail, hard hat, tool belt, buck teeth, etc.)

....and so on! The best part about the office party is that anyone who wears a costume wins a prize. My favorite prize one year was a five-pound block of cheese. Hey, I like cheese! LOL

Christine Wells said...

We don't tend to celebrate Halloween in Australia, Beth, but my favourite costume would have to be the Wonder Woman costume that came in an Exhibition show bag. How I longed for those red boots to complete my outfit!

I'm in awe of your skill, making those outfits. I'm afraid it will have to be improvised stuff for my kids because I don't own a sewing machine!

Beth said...

Yes, Anna, Halloween seems to be big business in the US. Some of the houses I see are more elaborately decorated for Halloween than Christmas *g*

Dianna, I love the harem girl outfit and the zombie! Makes me wish my son could be a zombie but he's too old for trick or treating :-)

Jeanne, the theme song from the Adams Family is going through my head now - how appropriate! Wish I could've seen you as a Highland Lass ;-) I bet your crow costume is awesome!

Kate you are so clever! The dominatrix nun had me LOL! What are you going to be this year?

Christine, my older daughter went as Wonder Woman last year and looked so cute! No real boots though, just the slip on ones that came with the outfit *g* I admit, I do love sewing - but I love writing more which means no more long trips to the fabric store!

Joan said...

Fun post, Beth!

My very first costume at the tender age of 4 was a Tweety one...complete with plastic mask. Over the years Cinderella, and Paul McCarty (plastic mask again, don't ask)

My Mom made me a Raggedy Ann one when I was an adult. Best wig ever...she crocheted it!

Years ago went as a Southern Belle complete with wig and half mask. I was trying to wear contacts at the time so the mask worked. Nobody knew who I was. I started talking to a guy who'd dressed as a modern streetwalker. I fell into this weird alter ego Southern belle...madame complete with drawl and naughty talk.

Kind of liberating :-)

This year for the first time in a long while I've been invited to TWO costume parties. Thanks to the internet I'm going as a Roman goddess (a modest...goddess). Though I am contemplating taking an empty leash and saying "I've lost my pet gladiator" VBG

doglady said...

You need a spiked collar on the end of that leash for effect, Joan. Photos please!! I love Halloween. As I live in the country in the middle of nowhere I try to decorate my driveway and the area around my house to scare the local kids. Lots of fun! My favorite costume would have to be the year my two brothers and I went as pirates. We were ages nine(me)six(Jim) and three(Brian)I was a female pirate and my Mom made this great costume. My Dad made cutlasses from car parts. We all three had an eye patch and a hook. We have great pictures of it and I think that is why I like it so much. Great memories. Even our dog Fritz had an eyepatch and a vest on. It is just one of those memories that stick with you.

Keira Soleore said...

We buy our costumes. I have zero skills with the needle. This year, our Wee one is going to be a blue and yellow macaw. When she first conceived of the idea, I thought I would have do a lot of work. Then a friend and eBay saild to the rescue.

Caren Crane said...

I am one of those people who does not enjoy costumes. I have no idea why, I just don't. So, my costumes as a youngster were generally whatever was available at K-Mart and fit. I remember a cat. *yawn*

My own kids had store bought until they got too grown-up and they were all hootchie. Now, they design their own. My older daughter was a ninja last year and the younger was some sort of vampire. I think this year will be more of the same. *g*

Beth said...

Jaon, I would love to see you in your Roman Goddess attire! I bet you're going to look stunning *g*

Doglady, my older daughter wants to be a pirate this year! I think we're going more for a cross between a gypsy and a pirate so no eye patch or hook :-)

Keira, I think eBay has saved many a Halloween *g* Your little one's outfit sounds adorable!

Caren, as I noted in my post, my son isn't crazy about costumes either - hence the tears for his first 3 - 4 Halloweens *g*

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