The Terror of Handmade Halloween Costumes

Like many people, fall is my most favorite time of year. However, my reason might be different from most other people (changing leaves, cooler weather, holidays). My birthday is in October, and it is my theory that people most love the season in which they were born. Is this true for you?

Regardless, fall IS my favorite season, and, yes, for some of those same, standard reasons: changing leaves, cooler weather, yadda yadda. However, it's also a season of great stress for me. October through December is so busy for my family. Here's a sampling of what our life is like in the fall

-Football watching every weekend - my husband is a rabid Philadelphia Eagles fan (which I don't mind because it's the only vice he has!) -Maryland Renaissance Festival - I look forward to this every year! -Fall festival at our local orchard - hay rides, pumpkin picking, corn mazes, and the like

-Decorating the house for fall and Halloween

-Boo at the Zoo - a fabulous trick-or-treat experience at night at the National Zoo

-Pumpkin carving

-Costume deciding and wearing

It's the last, the whole costume deciding and wearing, that sends me into back spasms, literally. For the first six years, I made my children's costumes. I'm a quilter, but not a seamstress, and I see a huge difference between the two. Quilting is geometric: you put two triangles together, and they make a square. Very easy to see the pattern emerge. Clothes-making, on the other hand, does not come intuitively to me. I don't understand how this weird shape eventually becomes a sleeve. I feel like the fairy Flora in Disney's Sleeping Beauty who just cuts holes in the fabric for the head and arms and declares it done.

So, making costumes has always been a huge stress for me. I start in September, and invariably I'm still working on costumes up to the minute before the costume needs to be worn. Seriously, we were walking out the door to Boo at the Zoo, and I was pinning the Sleeping Beauty costume (which has SIXTEEN panels of fabric for the skirt alone and a yoke. What the heck is a yoke, and what is it doing in a kid's COSTUME?). Stress abounds for me around making costumes.

It's landed me in the hospital two years in a row on Halloween: once with a sprained ankle and once with severe back pain. The third year, no handmade Halloween costumes. I actually bought costumes. It was so liberating!!!!

My point of this whole diatribe on stress and Halloween costumes is that sometimes we mothers (and dads out there, too) bring this stress on ourselves because we have this perception that to be a good parent, the costumes must be handmade. If we're not sweating and toiling over handmade costumes, then we must not love our kids as much as the parent who does, right?

Absolutely not!!!! What about all the times that you read to your son? What about all the ballet classes you took your daughter to and STAYED and watched? What about all the times that you were there to kiss a boo-boo and wipe away the tears? Don't those things count for something? They should, and, in my not-so-humble and loud opinion, they should be even more important than whether a costume is handmade or store-bought.

Join the revolution and buy those Halloween costumes!!! Seriously, whether you make or buy your children's Halloween costumes, be gentle on yourself and acknowledge the good parent that you are.

Happy Halloween!

Copyright 2005 Dawn Goldberg. You are welcome to use this article online in electronic newsletters and e-zines as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the "about the author" information).
About the Author

Dawn Goldberg is a Certified Virtual Assistant, COO of Assist University, mother, community leader, and former teacher. Her vision is to create a resource that helps parents find ways to enjoy valuable, constructive time with their children every day. Contact her at or visit

Dawn Goldberg