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What Happened to Creative, Original Halloween Costumes?

Halloween was always my favorite holiday as a child. Staying out late with friends, getting candy and pennies from strangers and dressing up? Nothing better for a little one. Sure, my dad always expected the annual toll of Milky Ways and Snickers, but we learned that hitting just an extra block or two would cover that expense.

I also loved the free reign I had in my mom’s bureau. Its drawers were hidden behind these wooden double doors and it always felt very grand to open them. The inside smelled of perfume and pearls and was chock full of Halloween potential.

RELATED: Inappropriate Halloween Costumes

The rules about costumes in our home growing up were simple: No plastic costumes and no sewing required. My folks didn’t have the money to spend on costumes, even the flimsy ones that were the norm in those days, and my mom didn’t have the inclination to spend a lot of time sewing something. Hence, the typical costume rotation of tired troves such as the gypsy, the hobo, the old lady. A scarf here, a bandana there, a string of pearls or an old flannel shirt of my dad’s and we were good to go.

And as un-PC and limited as those costumes might have been, I still have fantastic memories of the joy and fun of creating them.

The joy and beauty of dressing up as a child is about imagination and creativity and collaboration.

All of this leads to a couple of catalogs I got in the mail recently. They came from a few different vendors, but the idea was the same. Outfit your kiddo from head to toe, literally, in a Halloween costume meant to inspire envy in all their friends and your neighbors, for the low, low price of anywhere from $100 to $250.

Um, no. No thank you.

I reject the premise of Halloween as just another place to flaunt better and more than and excess. The joy and beauty of dressing up as a child is about imagination and creativity and collaboration. How much creativity is involved by flipping through a catalog and pulling out a credit card? Not much, it turns out.

Some of the offerings in this year’s collection include:

  • Dragon Princess, approximately $140
  • Vampiress of Versailles, approximately $250
  • Flying skeleton, approximately $160
  • Bat Queen, approximately $178
  • Voodoo Doll, a bargain at $100
  • Valkyrie Warrior, $175
  • Blue Monarch Butterfly, approximately $190
  • Eastern Indian Princess, approximately $230

I think my head just exploded typing that out.

And do not get me started on the matchy-matchy family costumes. Or the matchy-matchy girl and doll costumes. Pffft. Who am I kidding? Of course I am going to fill you in on this nonsense because it is hilarious and a wee bit insane.

Picture this. You’ve just sat down to a family dinner you’ve spent the day preparing, no doubt after going to the gym and volunteering at the local children’s hospital. There is a slight chill in the air and you are cozy as four bugs in a rug, happy to be surrounded by your loving husband, and boy and girl smiling twins, eating your nutritious and meticulously prepared meal. All is right in the world.

I can pretty much guarantee that no 6-year-old has ever spontaneously requested to be a Vampiress of Versailles or the Earl of Grantham.

The dinner discussion turns to the question of what ever shall we be for Halloween this year? Your young son gleefully shouts out the obvious answer, “Why, of course, the Earl of Grantham, the Countess of Grantham, Servant Jimmy and Lady’s Maid Anna from Downton Abbey!”

Yes, just what every child imagines for Halloween. And for $500 this dream could be yours.

Come on, people.

It’s time to say enough is enough. The only reason this stuff is peddled is because it sells. I can pretty much guarantee that no 6-year-old in the history of 6-year-olds has ever spontaneously requested to be a Vampiress of Versailles or the Earl of Grantham (yes, the Earl and Countess costumes come in kid sizes, too).

When we as parents start inserting our wishes and our need to shine and be seen as whatever these costumes are meant to convey, well, we’ve got some things to look at and consider that have way more to do with us than our children.

RELATED: The Sexualization of Halloween

Halloween is about the wonder of potential, the magic of imagination, the possibility of creativity. Have at it. If, as a parent, you want to knock yourselves out, do that, but let your children be your guide. Spend your effort and money at a fabric shop or in a hot glue gun. Or better yet, open up your dresser drawers and see what your kiddos come up with.

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