I never knew you could buy Halloween costumes in a store because my mother would never consider buying one. Halloween was the one time of year her creativity would shine.
My mom was resourceful and like many other moms of the era, she could sew. Sometimes she’d plan our costumes well in advance, making sure we had the most convincing one in our class but there were times when the holiday snuck up on her and she’d scour the house for anything she could find to make a costume. I can still see my brother dressed as a scarecrow with straw stuffing falling out of an old, raggedy shirt, scarecrow eyebrows painted on his face, and a hat on his head.
If she didn’t have it, my mom would get on the phone calling neighbors who were just as obsessed as she was to find that perfect accessory so the costumes looked better than any you’d find in a store. Halloween brought neighbors together because we relied on each other for small things like that.
When I got to college, Halloween was growing in popularity and my roommates and I would start thinking about our costumes right after Labor Day. Maybe because all our moms made our costumes we never thought to buy them. One year two of my roommates and I went to the Goodwill and bought old lady dresses and wigs. We stuffed ourselves with pillows and went to a frat party as old, fat ladies. While all the other girls fluttered by us in store-bought cat and bunny costumes, we sat on a couch talking with each other and wondering why the boys didn’t speak to us. It turned out to be a great social experiment and that night left me with a memory that still makes me laugh out loud today.
My mother’s influence stayed with me when I had my own children. Every Halloween, I’d rummage through my house trying to find things to make their costumes. One year I dressed both girls in black leotards and tights. I found two headbands and attached ears made from foil and covered them in black paper. I stuffed black opaque tights with some filler and connected them to their leotards to make tails and my little girls went off to school as little, black cats.
My daughter asked why we couldn’t buy our costumes and I told her part of Halloween was to get creative and make your own costume so everyone looked unique. When she got to school and saw ten kids dressed exactly alike, she realized what I was talking about.
I challenge all of you to make your costumes every Halloween. With Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook, there are plenty of places to find inspiration and even directions on how to MAKE a great costume.
Homemade costumes are a less expensive and environmentally friendly way to enjoy Halloween and making them is incredibly rewarding. Start small and as the years go on, you’ll get better and better at it. Most importantly, all those plastic masks and paper thin clothes just contribute to the landfill and we all know how scary that can be.
– Germaine Caprio, MAJAMAS EARTH Company Owner & Designer