Dressing Up: Tips for Playing it Safe in Costumes

C as johnny cash 2 Hallelujah Day

Early on, my brother and I dressed up as Bible characters and went to the "Hallelujah Festival" at our Christian school instead of trick-or-treating on Halloween. One of the best costumes was my brother's Lazarus costume. For all you "heathens", Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus. So, basically it's a Biblical mummy costume. It was a great costume. I still remember it. My mom cut white cloth into small strips and then tied them into a costume on my brother. I think he even got a prize for it.

It wasn't until junior high, after we had moved across the great state of Texas and started attending public school, that we celebrated Halloween. By that age, costumes are really not cool, and you are certainly just in it to be scared by the creepy decorations and haunted houses and get candy. Consequently, personally, I don't have heaps of Halloween costume or trick-or-treating experience. However, Darling 1 has already had some pretty creative costumes; all of his own choosing. At age 2, Darling 1 went as Johnny Cash; his idol. (see photo)

Safe Costumes

I'm sure as parents you are well aware of the potential hazards a costume can pose, but just in case you forgot a few in the midst of putting the finishing touches on Little Cinderella's ball gown or are still looking for just the right space helmet for your mini Buzz Lightyear, here are some tips:

  • Purchase or make costumes that are light and bright enough to be clearly visible to motorists.
  • For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car's headlights. Bags or sacks should also be light colored or decorated with reflective tape. Reflective tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle and sporting goods stores.
  • To easily see and be seen, children should also carry flashlights.
  • Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping and falling.
  • Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes. Mother's high heels are not a good idea for safe walking.
  • Hats and scarfs should be tied securely to prevent them from slipping over children's eyes.
  • Apply a natural mask of cosmetics rather than have a child wear a loose-fitting mask that might restrict breathing or obscure vision. If a mask is used, however, make sure it fits securely and has eyeholes large enough to allow full vision.
  • Swords, knives and similar costume accessories should be of soft and flexible material.

Source: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/hallow.html

The Elements

In planning a costume, remember to think about where it will be worn. If going trick-or-treating from door-to-door outside, consider the weather. At this moment, the Weather Channel is calling for chance of rain and some chilly temperatures in the Twin Cities on Halloween.

It's also important to think about the narrow walkways and porches that may be lined with luminaries or lit jack-o-lanterns. Costumes can easily catch on fire if not made of the proper materials or are too loose or billowy. The CPSC warns that when purchasing a costume, masks, beards and wigs, look for the label Flame Resistant. Although this label does not mean these items won't catch fire, it does indicate the items will resist burning and should extinguish quickly once removed from the ignition source.

Childhood Costumes

It doesn't have to be Halloween for a child to dress up. We regularly have singing cowboys (sometimes naked cowboys), roaring lions, Toy Story characters, very realistic astronauts, firemen and other interesting types roving our home.

My brother and I did construct many, many costumes over the years. They just weren't for Halloween. For instance, I once sewed pieces of burlap together into a dress to make a Sacagawea costume; my brother routinely put together Indiana Jones outfits, complete with a bullwhip, and his elaborate spaceman disguises were used for many adventures; we most certainly raided our parents' closet to dress as an "elegant lady and handsome gentleman"; I donned white robes and earmuff buns to do my best to look like Princess Leia; we also wore metal colanders on our heads and carried rolling pins and as we played out battle scenes from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (from the book); and the list goes on and on. We loved to design costumes and dress in character as we played.

The Scoop

Regardless of when your child dresses up whether it's for Halloween, a church or school play, a recital, or just horsing around at home, it's important to make sure the costume is above all safe.

What's your best costume memory? Did you help your kids decide on a costume? Do you buy a costume, make it from scratch or a little of both? Don't forget to find a few "questionable" pieces of your favorite variety when you check your kids' candy loot. On Friday, I'll post a bit of Motherly Advice. Over and out…


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