Saturday, October 25, 2008

Compact Challenge: Halloween

You all may recall that Kid's birthday is on Halloween. This can make all things Halloween a bit more pressure filled around here. I really feel pressure to live up to both special days in a way that is fun for Kid. Her costumes have, up until this point, been a big deal. The first couple of years I bought nice, and fairly pricey, store bought costumes. Then I went on a spree of making some pretty freaking fantastic costumes. Well making costumes can be pricey too... and time consuming. And since I'm running out of time I've been thinking a lot about Kid's "dressing room" full of costumes. Who says that we have to have an all new costume every year? It's not too late to change her ideas about that... or is it?

Like many kids out there Kid has a tendency to change her mind about what she wants to be for Halloween every time you ask her. Almost every year I have to just make a decision and convince her to wear it on the day of anyway. So I've been thinking about that and about how at the end of it I'm not sure she really cares what she is. The fun is in the production of the day and that all her friends are dressed up too. The thought occurred to me that having a new Halloween rule that we "make" our costumes out of things we have around the house would be just as fun and creative (if not more so) than setting out to come up with a costume a month in advance. So when Kid came back from birthday party #2 I pitched the idea.

I wasn't sure how she'd take it. And honestly I was prepared for a big fat NO.... but she took it hook, line, and sinker. She is not one little bit disappointed. I gave her the options of my making her a sunflower costume (which we had quasi settled on last week) or her making a costume out of her dress up clothes. She was thrilled. In fact she said "That way I can decide what I want to be and just put it on." Exactly.

That's money that stays in our pockets... and... a new tradition is born. Halloween shall now be known as a day we dress up and not a day when we get a new costume. From this year forward we will make "costumes" from what we have. Now considering that we have quite a large cache of costumes, face make up, and fabric... making a costume shouldn't really be that hard. And I should say that I am not opposed to buying a specific accessory needed to change those Medusa wings into angel wings if necessary. That seems reasonable enough.

Birthday party/gifting update:

Kid attended her 2nd party this morning. She gave our 7 year old neighbor a craft kit ($5) and a book ($3). She came home thrilled to report that her friend opened her gift first. So clearly Kid was happy with what she gave and that is all that matters.

Also instead of a gift bag Kid brought home a single solitary plastic bracelet. And was THRILLED. Just goes to show you that less really is more. Thanks to that mom for leading the way in the very minimal party favor category!


Staci said...

That is terrific news!

I think that is the biggest reward...seeing how happy your kid is to GIVE a gift. :)

Thankfully my 9yo son decided, on his own, this year he was making his costume. :P
He announced that he would be "Death". My reaction? "COOL! How will you do it?"
(Death=Grim Reaper) ;P

He explained he will wear all black. Black pants, black hoodie and put the hood up. But, he was concerned about the problem...DAD to the rescue. They went out to the garage and came back in with a HUGE ASS sickle that they are both proud of. Boys. :)

I will say I did cave and at the store the other day bought him a "Death hood"(just a black hood with black mesh covering the face) for $2.49...I thought this would be less trouble than face paint, which I would have had to buy anyway. So in all...a costume he's excited about for less than $3. :)

I totally think this compact thing can work. I'm going to keep working at it.

Thank you for Christmas gift ideas too. We do exactly like you do for Christmas/Santa. One from us, one from each other and the rest Santa.
Yes, my 11 year old still believes. :) I really thought last year would be the last year but I'm happy to have one more. :)

Renee said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Mrs. Furious...growing up, my Mom ALWAYS made our costumes (she's a much better sewer than I though!) and when we were older, we made our own....for me, this is what Halloween should be all about and I've tried to follow the same traditions w/ my children although, I have failed a few years and bought costumes (from ebay though) and it hasn't come with a little stress (like when my son was three and I was literally still trying to 'sew' his Raggedy Andy costume together as he's putting it on-did I mention that I'm a terrible seamstress?!?!) Halloween has become another marketed holiday where the pressure is on to by the expensive costume, etc and basically, spend!spend!spend! Did they even have Halloween cards when we were little...I don't know but now there's a huge section from Hallmark, etc. I find that succumbing to the peer pressure and marketing actually only ends up taking the fun out of it...Halloween should be about fun and perhaps a little more sugar than normally allowed..not how much money went into it. Kudos to you for bucking the trend of commercialism!!!

Mrs Furious said...

As far as costumes goes if Kid had a very specific idea and she wanted to make it (w/help at this age) I'd be totally supportive and buy what we needed for it. I think, though, I've probably got a good couple years before she reaches that point. I'd be willing to fork over a $10 a costume materials fee.

Now I'm thinking about Santa a lot. Up until now Santa has brought the majority of gifts and whatever the "big" gift is Santa leaves out unwrapped near her stocking. Her idea of Santa is that he and the elves make toys... ie plastic mass market toys. I'd like to switch to some homemade toys but I think (or fear) that she will realize that I made them and it would ruin the idea of Santa. Damn it. I'm going to really think on this.

Also I typically get a couple of hundred dollars from my parents and grandparents. In years past I typically don't buy myself anything with it but it just goes in the bank and goes out to bills. This year I am going to (starting now) make a list of things I really want (especially since I won't be buying myself anything). I think this will help me control some of my impulse spending at xmas and help me to really make thoughtful choices. I know I want some new boots & pants and some sewing kits so I can start back into some kind of creative hobby. I'm hoping Mr F will start doing the same. Then instead of us buying each other gifts we will fulfill the list with the xmas money for each other. Buying things the week after xmas when they are on sale. The kids really aren't going to notice if we have things for each other on the day or not since there is always stuff shipped in from our families. We do exchange stockings with each other and our Santa gifts will have to be things that fit.

My mother always made elaborate costumes until I was in middle school then I think I threw things together. But you are right the culture of it has changed. And the Halloween cards has become a bigger and bigger section at Hallmark every year! I can't remember exactly but I think people spend about as much (or more?) at Halloween on decorations than for Christmas.

hicktowndiva said...

I did not know that you had a Halloween baby, too! My daughter was born on Halloween last year.

wootini said...

I find the whole idea of Compacting so compelling. We are in the midst of making (ie, cutting eye holes in) Lydia's 'ghost' costume - which is what she has wanted to be for Halloween since September. She decided to be a purple ghost, so a couple of yards of purple fabric and voila! Martin (age 7) decided to wear a nice Star Wars costume that we bought a few years back that really fits him well now. They are perfectly happy without buying new, expensive costumes.

The constant push to buy is really exhausting and so unnecessary. The influx of catalogs with perfectly decorated rooms, masses of decorations for sale for EVERY single holiday... ugh. Last night I went to and opted out of a bunch of direct marketing lists and catalog mailing lists. Less waste of paper and if I don't see it, I won't want it.

wootini said...

Oh, I meant to add, Mrs F, that my mom made Santa gifts to go along with purchased Santa gifts - for example, one year she would make all my dolls matching nightgowns, the next matching buntings, etc. Granted, a lot of time and effort and far better sewing skills than mine, but I never had a clue that these things weren't 'made by elves'. And I still have and treasure them today, and my daughter has them for her dolls. I couldn't begin to tell you what happened to a lot of the other presents, I'm sure.

My kids also believe that Santa's elves make all the toys. It's becoming a bit of a challenge with my son with expensive Legos. When I explain how much the big sets are (ok, thanks alot Lego for making a $500 Millenium Falcon), he says, "Well, that is ok, I will ask Santa for one this year." And I have to say "Well... That is a pretty big gift, even for Santa."

Mrs Furious said...

That's funny because when Kid was deciding she wanted a certain Playmobile set and I was checking where/or if I could get it she said "I know where we can get one and we don't even have to go to a store." "Where?" I asked innocently. "Santa can make it!" She replied. So.. um... you know what she'll be getting this year ;)
Okay I'm encouraged to maybe make some clothes for her dolls... good idea.

Also wouldn't you know the day after I decide I'm doing the compact I started getting toy catalogs in the mail. It hasn't been too bad since we moved... but they've found me!

Indeed. It's fun. She is really proud of her birthday and her school friends are mightily impressed by it!

Haley said...

Love, love, LOVE the new Halloween mindset (ahem...around here, we call it Haleyween, but whatev...) :)

It's so great that she gets the fun of creatively owning her costume, and you get the joy of watching her come up with something awesome and wacky and totally her own (and all the while keeping your wallet in your pocket).

This is going into the mental file of "Things I've Learned from Mrs. F to Apply to My Own Children."

Staci said...

This Santa deal is getting harder as the years go on. Our boys want a Wii, laptop, video games and legos...EACH!

I tried explaining that there was NO WAY Santa was going to be able to get them all that. It wouldn't be fair to the other children of the world. :P

I'm trying to get them to pick ONE big gift to share...I'm pushing the Wii. I think that, a few games & a couple of smaller lego sets should be MORE than enough.

Their bedrooms really can't house much more in the way of toys.

Shirls said...

I think that is so fab!! to be honest I often think that kids get overwhelmed when they are given so many different things at one time, its hard to appreciate one or two things when there are 10 other "gifts" taking over, way to go Kid!

Kiki said...

My best costume ever??? A gypsy, that my mom pulled together out of dress up clothes and tons of fabulous costume jewelry, gaudy fun and a great memory!!!

I think I might love the compact,I'm keeping it in mind, not sure I'm ready to commit, the spirit is willing but the flesh is WEAK!!!!

Missives From Suburbia said...

I love the Halloween costume idea! I'm going to keep that in mind for when I have a cooperative child (it could happen -- the next one might be!) who wants to wear a costume.

I've noticed some surprised looks at our birthday parties the past two years when I haven't given away goodie bags. WHY do parents do that to themselves? Ugh.

Mon said...

I'm so glad for you that Kid was on board with the costume idea. Not living in America means we are spared the (what it seems to me) enormous pressures (and often un-green ones) for Halloween. In the UK, the day is mostly ignored, or pagans celebrate it differently. Somewhere, the 'let's get drssed up' idea mutated to 'let's compete for the best costume'. Seems a prevailing attitude in our day and age.

Mrs Furious said...

she's even more on board tonight after we talked about how she could change her costume all day long if she wanted!

Yeah thank God the kids are still into simple stuff. Once you got the whole electronic component going it's got to be nearly impossible to keep the cost down.

Yes! Old school homemade Gypsy= awesome. You must find some pics of that and post them for Halloween!

Hey thanks.

Pretty ballsy not giving out goodie bags! I'd love to follow suit but I'm scared ;)

You are 100% right. Kid has had parties and we've immediately boxed up 1/2 the toys to give back to her later and she's never even noticed things were gone.

Kiki said...

Excavating family photos is a major project, but I know that there is a pic of me in that get up...I'll start looking for it!!! In the meantime I am encouraging Heather to post her pics of her homemade costumes that she made for her kids, especially the year Chantz was a robot in Brooklyn!!! You would have loved it!!!

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