I've lots of lovely memories of Halloween when my step son and daughter were youngsters. Both are in their twenties now. But starting from when they were about old enough to really get into making their own costumes, we'd spend days before hand on this project.
It is so much more fun to make your own, and costs a lot less too! Plus, if your kids aren't sold on the idea, mine always found they got a lot more sweets from the houses we visited when people saw their fantastic, home made outfits. The best year was the one when, just as they were getting too old for the whole thing my 2 year old niece came to stay for the weekend. So they made a costume for her and went out. So adorable! She won the heart of everyone whose door we knocked on.
And if you're hosting your own party this year, take a look at these fab ideas for making your own haunted house from PlayPennies Tamsin.
Each year, just before Halloween, we'd go out on a shopping trip. Both kids were allowed to spend a certain amount on accessories. My step son would always go for the goriest, most horrible mask he could find. One year he found some excellent werewolf gloves. My step daughter would wisely spend her money on as many accessories as she could instead of just blowing it all on one expensive item. A little plastic cauldron, a witches hat, and a pitchfork. for example.
Then on the day we'd start early, pulling out all the crafty stuff I had. Plus a can of that spray on cobweb stuff. Black bin liners formed the base - or white ones, or green garden refuse sacks. These were the staple of all costumes when I was a child too. They work jolly well.And have the added bonus of fitting over warm outdoor clothes and keeping your child dry if it starts to rain (or more likely, is rather drizzly).
At the most basic, another bin bag can be cut open to turn into a cape. Two can be taped together to make a poncho-style ghoulish outfit. Or stuck out with old coathangers to make bats wings. Then just let the kids go nuts, making stencils of bats, pumpkins, or whatever and glueing them on to the bin liners. One year we made a costume that was meant to have been something slimey from the deep, covering everything in masses of green coloured seaweed - painted green newspaper cut into strips.
My top tip is to splurge out on a can of spray mount glue, which means you'll need to do the glueing as you can't let a child use the stuff, but it does mean that you'll get a better finish and that items stuck down will stay stuck. Also, use glue glitter if you can. Or go for PVA glue for stuff like glitter and other little bits. Oh and put down LOTS of newspaper to work on.
If you're sticking paper cutouts on the costume, spray-mount, glue or tap some cling film over the top. As well as giving it a shiny, sparkly finish it'll keep the artwork from getting soggy if it rains.
Work with what you've got
Bin liners not your thing? At the Activity Village they've lots of ideas for using clothes and items your kids are already likely to have around the house. Personally I feel these lack imagination, but they're a great starting point for you to add your own inspiration too.
Pictured here is a friend's son wearing a home made pirate costume, which looks great, and anyone can do if you're willing to sacrifice a few clothes!
Here's three top tips for finding your own inspiration for Halloween Costumes. PlayPennies mum Dee makes the most fabulous outfits for her two children every year. She told me that "the best place to get ideas from is Google image search. Honestly, just enter what you're looking for, and see what other people have done. " I love that idea! Of course whatever you can think of, someone else is sure to have done it AND posted pictures on Flickr or video on YouTube.
Karen is particularly handy with a sewing needle, and gets her inspriation looking through the websites of companies that sell fancy dress costumes. That sounded great to me, so I gave it a go but only got slightly depressed. I haven't the foggiest idea how to do more than sew a button so all that is utterly beyond me!
And my final top tip comes from dad Patrick. "Children's books. These are much less complicated than trying to put together yourself a character from a TV show, you get to have fun picking through the books with your child, and if you might strike it lucky and have your child pick out something really easy, say, Charlie or Lola."
Parents everywhere, whatever you do, when you put together that costume I beg you to really think it through. I am still traumatised by the outfit my mum made for me when I was 5. Admittedly it was for a Xmas fancy dress rather than Halloween, but the principle stays the same. She had the fab idea of making me up like a Christmas cracker and so she wrapped cardboard around me, then covered that in crepe paper making frills for the top and bottom. Fantastic. Except. She made it below the knees so I could only shuffle and couldn't sit down. But that wasn't the worst bit. There was no way to take it off, and because of the length, I couldn't go to the loo!