Halloween is big business. Once only a "niche market" Halloween has grown to be a billion-dollar industry, surpassed only by Christmas in the world of retail craziness. In August you can now buy candy corn, scarecrows appear, and pumpkins have been for sale since early September.
Every year we've done up Halloween big around the ole Moore/Gordon household. We have homemade scarecrows, carved pumpkins, decorations everywhere. This year I put a ban on spider webbing, because, seriously, that crap gets EVERYWHERE and I'm still picking spider webbing out of the chains of my porch swing to this day. We've got fake gravestones in the front yard and candy corn lights. And, for the first time, we've got serious competition going on from the neighbors on both sides. Suffice it to say, we like Halloween.
Most years we've thrown a big Halloween bash. People come in costume and we've even awarded prizes. This year it didn't quite work out with our schedules, but the kids, nonetheless, are still all about costumes and what they are going to "be".
I'll admit I'm not too excited about Halloween this year. I've been extra-busy and pulling together a party or decorating the house to the nines just hasn't been my priority. I did buy my candy early, when it was on sale, but my husband has seriously depleted my stock over the past few weeks (he will hotly dispute this).
So, this year Harrison decided he wanted to be a "psycho clown", toting a chainsaw. Um. There's no way I'm letting my 12-year-old run around with a chainsaw. So, he suggested I just buy one of the many "fake chainsaws" for sale. And herein lies the problem. The budget is tight (when is it NOT?) and I decided this year we simply do not need to spend money on costumes. We have an entire dresser full of dress-up clothes, tons of makeup, and pretty much everything we need to pull together a costume or two right in this house.
I'll admit that year after year, I have spent $30-40 per kid on a costume from the party store. Add that up times four kids, or six if you include the adults, and that's a hefty sum to spend on a cheap costume that will be worn once. When I was a kid, I don't remember EVER buying costumes. I do remember my mom once made me a kitty costume. After that, I'm pretty sure I was a "hobo" or "cowgirl" year after year. Whatever was lying around the house, we turned into a costume that would suffice for one night of candy hauling.
But the kids always have specific requests. Arlie wants to be Alice in Wonderland. I put out a plea on Facebook hoping someone would have a costume we could borrow. No dice. I looked on Craig's List. And that's when I realized that unless we spend $40 at the party store for the "cute" Alice in Wonderland costume, the only thing out there is the "sexy" version. And I don't think my 13-year-old needs to be wearing fishnets and lacy panties under her Alice in Wonderland costume. When did costumes for children's book and movie characters become "sexy"? There's sexy Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, sexy vampires, and every sexy Disney Princess under the sun. All of the costumes involve a very short dress, long stockings, and lots of lacy underlayers.
Hayley decided she wanted to be the Cheshire Cat for Halloween. Guess what her costume turned out to be? Sexy Cheshire Cat!! Since when is the Cheshire Cat sexy? For one thing, he's a fat dude smoking a hookah. How do you sexify that? But someone did, because she bought a sexy little dress, petticoat, cat ears and striped tail. And then she had buyer's remorse. Because she spent nearly $90 on it. So, she decided to put it on Craig's List hoping to recoup some of the money and went with a more reasonable black cat ensemble. But that still involved a leotard, booty shorts, cat ears and makeup. Sexy black cat.
Not wanting to spend money OR promote teen sex, I decided I would make Arlie a costume. What. A. Joke. My sewing skills are pretty much non-existent so to think I could a.) make a pattern out of paper using only an old dress of hers as a guide and b.) actually piece together a dress with bodice, sleeves and skirt, and matching apron, turned out to be a huge disaster. I did manage to piece together a bodice and sleeves which turned out to be too tight and crooked, and the skirt I sewed up looked more like Santa's sack than a Disney beauty's flowing skirt. So, I can't sew. Call Martha Stewart and report me.
Harrison was easier. I found a multi-colored clown wig on sale for $3. Found some white face paint and fake blood for about the same. And he found a pair of work coveralls of Jeff's that were sitting around needing to be sewn up. Now, I just have to sew them (and I CAN sew a straight line, so we're good) and figure out how to "splatter" them with blood that will wash out, and we're good to go. Arlie scraped around and came up with a flapper costume from Hayley's 17th birthday party, complete with fishnet stockings, long pearls and a feather boa. It's cute and it's free.
While I've never understood the retail frenzy that fuels holidays like Halloween and Christmas, I get that people want to celebrate. I'm as taken in as the next person when I see a giant orange and black display and all the various themed accessories that pull the whole "look" together. I, myself, purchased a few new decorations this year. What I don't understand is why we need to spend dozens of dollars on costumes and why they all need to be sexy or naughty. What ever happened to putting on a flannel shirt, smearing your face with ashes from the fireplace, tying a bundled bandanna around a stick and going as a hobo? It used to be about the candy haul. Now it's about seeing and being seen.
I've already made my caramel apples this season. Ate one on the way to work the other day. That was messy. I've refrained from stuffing myself with bite-sized candy bars or handfuls of candy corn, although I've snuck a few Reese's from the stash. This year Halloween is more about handing out the candy. For the first time, I won't be needed to escort children around for trick-or-treating so I can enjoy watching the little ones come to my doorstep dressed like ladybugs and Buzz Lightyear and put a Snickers into their pudgy little hands.
Until 9 p.m. when the sexy Cinderellas, naughty nurses and psycho serial killers come calling. And those are just the junior high kids. I'll fill their pillowcases with fun-sized snacks, too, because despite the abundance of lace-up bodices and Charlie Sheen costumes (one of this year's best sellers, btw), I understand that Halloween is about one night of being someone or something else. And who knows? I might just scrounge around and come up with a costume of my own. Let's see.....harried mother? Nah, I do that one every day. Witch? Do that one, too. Medusa? That's how I look every morning. I know! I'll dress up as a woman who has it all, including enough time. I wonder what she looks like?