Getting ready for Halloween

Oct 23, 2008 at 4:13 p.m. ET

Halloween is days away, and costumes are done. Phew. While Alfs has decided he is not going to dress up this year (he says he's too old), I pulled together costumes for Woody (garden gnome) and Sunshine (Batman) with a minimum of stress. Relatively speaking.

Homemade Lamb CostumeI used to go all out for Halloween costumes. Seriously. I'd start planning in early September and start sewing shortly thereafter. I made some great costumes over the years.

Who's first Halloween?

The first Halloween costume I made for Alfs was not particularly extravagant. He was a bee. I painted a yellow turtleneck and attached painted Styrofoam balls to one of my old headbands. He looked adorable. Even more adorable was his reaction when we took him to doors and neighbors put these colorful blocks in his bag; he had no idea that they were candy. He carted them around the living room in his dump truck, wondering aloud each morning, what happened to the brown bean bag, the orange and brown block, and so on. Somehow that first Halloween hooked me.

After that first Halloween -- maybe it was just seeing the joy in Alfs' face -- I decided I would always make my kids' costumes, and no scrimping. I was a classic Halloween costume overachiever! I made a fireman, a knight, a cow, a pea pod, a bat, a fairy, M&Ms, and many others. I figured the kids would use them for dress-up, but my kids weren't really into that at home. Once I started on this costume trend, however, I felt like I had to do it. Then it started to feel like pressure and I had to ask: Who was I making these extravagant costumes for?

Letting Go

Then last year, I suddenly had no interest making Halloween costumes. None. zero. Zip. And it was okay. All the expectation I place on myself for the previous ten years suddenly evaporated. The kids decided what they wanted to be and I procrastinated and procrastinated and procrastinated...until it was October 30 and we had almost nothing. After a somewhat frantic day that included many hot glue gun burns (using glue sticks borrowed from a neighbor at 4:15PM on Halloween itself) while I attached leaves to Woody's costume (he was a tree to Alfs' lumberjack), we left the house for our neighborhood trick-or-treating. I suddenly felt a pang of guilt that I procrastinated so much and didn't make a better effort - and promised myself I would make up for it next time with my traditional effort.

Mid-way through our candy gorge, however, I realized that the kids were having just as much fun in their thrown together at the last minute costumes as they had had in their extravagant costumes in previous years. Better, I wasn't worried about them ruining some portion of the costume. It was such a relief!

As much fun as it was to make fabulous Halloween costumes, as our lives became busier and busier it became more of a burden. While I clearly let go too much last year, there's little reason to go to such extravagant lengths unless *I* am really enjoying it and my kids are really going to appreciate it. The kids have just as much fun - more, perhaps! - with the costumes quickly and creatively put together from bits we have and bits we can get inexpensively.

As this Halloween approaches, I am looking forward to it more than I have in a long time. And fun is what it's supposed to be, right?

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