There's just something about a DIY costume that makes Hallowe'en so much better.

It is the Saturday before Hallowe'en, and time is running out.  Call me a Hallowe'en snob, but I just don't like buying completely pre-made costumes.  I'm ok with using a few purchased things to really complete a costume, but I just think that part of the magic of Hallowe'en is in doing it yourself.


To dress, is to express who you are, and Hallowe’en is no different. I think I know why I feel this way.  One of my fondest memories was when my mom had completely forgotten about Hallowe’en (YES THAT CAN ACTUALLY HAPPEN).  You see, my mom and dad are Italian immigrants, who immigrated to Canada when they were young, but never quite got the hang of all of the North American traditions.  In Italy Hallowe’en doesn’t really exist….that is until now, but I’ll get to that later.


Back to the story. So, I remember at some point coming home from school, when I was maybe 6 or 7, and the doorbell rang just as the sun was setting. A trick-or-treater! Heartbreak is when you are 6 and realize that today is Halloween and you don’t have a costume.


No costumes. No candy.


We were those immigrants.  Just thinking about it, makes me sad and sensitive to how new immigrant families might feel here in Italy, or anywhere that isn’t “home”.  The children who are raised in the new culture want to be just like the other kids, and their parents don’t want to make them different,  they just don’t really know how to make them the same either.


I don’t remember all of the details (that’s probably part of some psychological strategy my mind is using to help me forget the more traumatizing parts of my childhood), but I do remember my mom whipping together a VERY make-shift costume in under five minutes.  It involved an apron, some of my dolls’ clothes, a pillow case……  You get my drift.  Then,  she had to dress my two sisters and brother…all of us in found objects, we looked like a post-modern art exhibit.


And you know what?  That was fine by us.  We ventured out into the “night” to collect candy and have the time of our lives like the other kids.


We never really had enough money growing up to have those amazing pre-made and perfect Hallowe’en costumes that all the other kids had.  We just couldn’t compete with the “real Canadians”.  And that was also ok, there was something magical about our homemade costumes,  our projects created along with our mom,  all of the energy and enthusiasm to do it ourselves. To invent and create and use our imaginations.


I still remember my older sister gluing plastic fruit onto a box covered with aluminum foil, with a hole cut-through it. What was she making?  Well, my HEAD ON A PLATTER costume, of course!  Hilarious.  We made, a head-on-a-platter costume, all by ourselves.  That was creativity.  No one even came close to guessing what I was!  Was I a Christmas present?  Was  I a robot?  A fruit Robot? A t.v.? I don’t even know where we got the idea to do a head-on-a-platter costume.  Perhaps this was connected to the fact that the ONLY children’s book we had while growing up was a children’s Bible that my uncle Leo had given to us.  We read, and re-read those stories.  Hmmmm, Saint John the Baptist’s head on a round silver platter at Salome’s request anyone? Yeah,  I think I’ll save “going there” for a therapy session in the distant future.


We invented all kinds of costumes, the “scary fairy”, the “cooking witch”, the “bad baby”. Then the years went by, and we caught on! Our yard became spookier, our costumes became guessable,  but they always remained DIY.


The Reason to Dress

Hallowe’en is one of the BEST reasons to dress.  What other day in the year can you wear that platinum blond wig that you’ve had stored in your closet since November 1st the year before?  You know the wig I’m talking about.  You bought it on-sale during the post-Hallowe’en 90% off days?


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