Making Halloween Costumes Work for You

A decade ago, at this time of year, you would have found me putting the final touches on our haunted house. It was a serious production. We had room after room of scares. People were led through the house, into the backyard, and finally through a dark tunnel running down the side that brought them back to the front.

Our first year with the haunted house and I am a spook.

Costuming for such an event was easy. You could mix and match your darkest apparel or go with the grungiest of the lot, then add a mask or prosthetic scars, horns, etc. By the time you were done you would be a one-of-a-kind creation. Everyone likes being unique on Halloween, don’t they?

This year I currently have a twelve-year-old looking over my shoulder every time I turn around, checking on his costume order. I remember when costumes were simple. I was either a pirate, a gypsy, or a witch. Relatively simple requests to ask your mom to help with.

Vintage Halloween
An angel, a witch, and an Indian. Photo on an old Polaroid! My kids may sometimes think I’m still that witch today.

Halloween has always been a time when people felt free to explore an unrealized fantasy or live out a bit of whimsy.

When I was younger it seemed there was more emphasis on what you wanted to be, rather than the who when dressing up  in costume. The streets were filled with pirates, goblins, princesses, and so much more. In more recent decades the best sellers have shifted toward the who. Maybe this is due to the rise in popularity of movies and television, but it could be the result of a number of things.

Whether the changes can be attributed to the focus Hollywood has taken in our daily lives, or a shift in American pastimes and values, Halloween has evolved. And so our costuming challenge has become…well…more of a challenge. 😉 When purchasing your design from the stock of a themed store, all the costumes look the same. You risk running into another “you” at a party or on the street trick-or-treating. It’s as humiliating as showing up at the prom in the same dress as four other girls. Heavens, no! The horror!

How do you avoid such a disaster? I say, “Mix it up and blend bits and pieces.”

Take my Mad Hatter costume, for instance. I could have gone with the outfit sold in the store, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, I took an outfit that was much more alive with color than the one the store was selling and incorporated a lot of finishing touches.

  • A vibrant hat.
  • A fun bow tie.
  • Long unique gloves.
  • A vest with scarf.
  • Rhinestone teapot earrings.
  • Small collection of other jewels and sparkles.

The end result = a Mad Hatter like none other. 🙂

Whimsical Wonderland1
Here I am as a mad hatter with the beautiful Tameri Etherton, Sheri Fink, and August McLaughlin.

My kids have decided to play a mixture of hard and not so hard on me this year. I have a mini “Doctor.” As in Doctor Who. It has to be the eleventh Doctor. It turned out being easier than I thought it would be. Thanks the heavens for small miracles. I found my girl a small tweed jacket, shirt, and bow tie. We paired them with dark pants and shoes and all I have to do is add a pocket inside the coat for her sonic screw driver. If I feel like it when I’m done, I’ll hunt down or make suspenders. We’ll have a mini Matt Smith!

How many little Doctors do you think we’ll see this side of the pond? I’m guess she’ll be rather unique in our neighborhood.


The other one—my son! Oh lordy. He wants to be a cyberman. I should have started this insane costume weeks ago. Keep your fingers crossed I get the thing completed in time. There is very little available on-line as far as tutorials go, so we are sailing in uncharted territory. It’s pretty exciting. Wish us luck.

Cyberman stage one

Make it from scratch. That’s one way to get the odds in your favor few to none will have a costume like yours.

Is it worth it? The jury’s still out on that one, folks. 😉

 Do you dress up for Halloween? If so, do you buy your costume or make it? Do you get into the make-believe of it all?


In Other News:

THOR: Thor is over at Jansen Schmidt’s blog. Pop over and pay them a visit.

A Visit From Thor – Let’s Cowboy Up!


Supernatural_Season_8_title_card Supernatural Giveaway!!!!

I still have a Burbank Preferred Convention ticket I can’t use. Doesn’t that just make your heart sink?

J2LA ~ November 24th

Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel • Burbank, California

Want a chance to win it?

Start compiling your Supernatural picture board. It can be of Sam, Dean, Castiel, any and all—it’s up to you. Compose a letter explaining in 350 words or less why you are the fan most worthy of this ticket.

Send them to: Debra Kristi (at) gmail (dot) com without the spaces.

You have until midnight on the 30th of this month to get them to me. Put “Supernatural Giveaway” in the email title. Let’s make sure we have time to get through the process so that I have time to mail them out. You need to act fast!


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14 thoughts on “Making Halloween Costumes Work for You”

  1. Kristy K. JamesKristy K. James

    My mother used to make the coolest costumes sometimes. A beautiful, sparkly princess costume for me when I was in kindergarten, Red Riding Hood and lion costumes (complete a with complicated yarn mane) for my oldest daughter, and a dinosaur costume shared between my son and a niece (which had a huge, stuffed tail).

    I prefer NOT to be that creative. In fact, my costume every year is a female version of the Incredible Hulk if I happen to be at the grocery store and too many people are rude enough to annoy me. Oh wait. That’s me 365 days a year. EVERY day is Halloween! 😉

    Very cool and creative costumes, Debra! Your kids are lucky to have you for a mom. They might not realize it right now, but someday they’ll look back and understand the work you put into making moments like this special for them. 🙂

  2. Aunt LorraineAunt Lorraine

    You are soooo unique !!!!! It’ s amazing what creativity you have …… Your kids are very blessed… !!!!!

  3. August McLaughlinAugust McLaughlin

    Great post, Debra! We must be sipping the same whimsical wine. 😉 I included a photo of us in my post for tomorrow! I’m loving Halloween season this year, more than I have since kid-hood, much thanks to sparkly gal pals like you.

    I love your suggestion of making costumes from scratch. They always seem to turn out best, and are far more fun to make and show off. (If I had your talents, even better! ;))

  4. Tracey LivesayTracey Livesay

    You are so creative! You’re right: when I was little, we couldn’t AFFORD to buy costumes, so we made our costumes. I’m not very crafty, so it’s easier for me to just buy the costume. We generally go online to buy, so my kids have been lucky to be pretty unique in our neighborhood. Last year they were Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach. LOL

  5. PatriciaPatricia

    My goodness. That’s a lot of work for one night of mischief. Great creativity though. I love your ideas and the final result.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  6. Tameri EthertonTameri Etherton

    I absolutely love your Mad Hatter costume! And your little Monkey is going to look super cute on Halloween. I’m sure you’ll get the cyberman done. You’re amazing, so I know it’ll happen!

    When I was a kid we had three choices, bum, gypsy, or something involving this awesome red lace dress my mom had. It could work as a call girl, a dancer, a western themed something or another. I only found out recently that my mom made the dress herself to go dancing in. When neither of her two husbands would take her dancing, she put it in the costume box out of spite. It was the best costume ever! She doesn’t agree. :0

    I used to make my kid’s costumes, too. The last one I made was a Minecraft extravaganza for my son. I think that was two years ago. Now he’s into the ‘look in the costume tubs and make something up’ phase, which I love. They get so wild and creative!

    Have fun making the cyberman. Your son will be the hit of the neighborhood.

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