If you don’t already know it, Halloween is the second most celebrated holiday on the calendar; only Christmas outranks it. It steadily gained its popularity over the years, as more and more kids of all ages found out how much fun you can have pretending to be somebody you’re not, and eating candy until your stomach aches.
But celebrating Halloween wasn’t always such a happy occasion. The holiday actually began under some very different circumstances when the Celts first began commemorating it some 2,000 years ago. Back then, it was known as the festival of Samhain, and it was their version of New Year’s Eve. That’s because the Celts considered November 1st the first day of the new year, and the dividing line between the end of summer and the harvest, and the beginning of winter. The night before the new year began, ghosts of the dead supposedly came back to earth to cause damage and destruction. To keep their crops and animals from being destroyed, the Celts put on animal heads and skins to chase away the evil spirits, and that’s how the custom of wearing costumes on Halloween was born.
Today, since there isn’t a real need for evil spirit chasing, designing and wearing costumes is about having fun. But make no mistake, Halloween revelers of this century place just as much importance on the costumes they wear as the Celts did in their day. That’s why Cathie Filian and Steve Piacenza, Emmy-nominated co-hosts and creators of Creative Juice and Witch Crafts (HGTV, DIY Networks), have put together a survival guide for making last minute costumes for the kids.
The first thing they recommend is thinking outside the box when it comes to large cardboard boxes, because they can be turned into many different costumes. Just cut the tops and bottoms of the boxes and add straps across the shoulder area. You can decorate the boxes with paint, felt, glitter, ribbons, etc. Here’s a list of costumes you can make:
- Lego — Make a matching hat with real Legos.
- Recycle bin — Add empty juice bottles sticking out of the box.
- Gumball machine — Use rubber balls for gumballs.
- Robot — Spray the box silver and use dryer tubes for arms and legs.
- Gift box — Add a giant bow to the front of the box.
There are some other great alternatives, even if you can’t sew. Safety pins, hot glue, and paint are all you need to make a creative no-sew costume:
- Punk Mummy — Pin strips of torn fabric on a white sweat suit (or long underwear), hat, and gloves.
- Fairy — Hot glue silk flowers to a thrift shop dress.
- Skeleton — Use Folkart Fabric Paint in wicker white to paint bones all over a tight black sweat suit.
- Witch — Distress a thrift shop black dress by cutting and tearing the bottom and the sleeves. Fill a spray bottle with watered down silver Folkart Fabric Paint. Spray the paint over the tattered dress.
Your craft/hobby shop has products you may want to investigate if you find yourself under the gun. Sticky back felt is ideal for making a quick costume. It’s available in tons of colors, and the felt sheets can be cut into different shapes and applied to fabrics. Here’s some ways to use it:
- Queen of Hearts — Cut out hearts and apply them all over a dress. Add a crown to complete the look.
- Attack of the Spiders — Cut out spiders and apply them all over an outfit.
- Ladybug — Cut out black circles and attach them to a red sweat suit. Add a pair of tulle wings.
No costume would be complete without a mask. Cathie and Steve recommend that you make sure that the eye and mouth holes on the mask are large enough for your child. You can widen them if you have to with a pair of scissors.
You can also use makeup from the local drug store. However, when you purchase it, be sure that it is non-toxic and from a national brand. Cathie and Steve suggest “Wet and Wild” because it offers inexpensive “glam” colors that are perfect for creating witches, punkers, fairies, and zombies.
Even though Halloween is about having fun, parents need to be mindful of their children’s safety when they are out trick-or-treating. Cathie and Steve recommend adding “Glow Away” from Plaid Enterprises to a costume, candy bag, mask, etc. This is removable glow-in-the-dark paint that can be applied directly to fabrics. Your kids will love the effect it creates, and you can rest a little easier knowing they can be more easily seen in the dark. You can find a store that sells it at the company’s website.