Making Halloween Happen

Kind of.

My four-year olds are totally enthralled with costumes, and I have had occasion to dine with a unicorn, giraffe, lion, or Captain America. Batman helps me pick out tampons at the drug store (complete with drawn out and loud discussions about female anatomy), and a jellyfish has had a fit about buying pancake mix for some indeterminate point in the future instead of setting up shop in the homewares section like some insane Top Chef challenge and making them RIGHT NOW. This is just our every day life. When it comes to Halloween, I feel like we have to up the ante a little.

It turns out that one aspect of parenting I am not terrible at is costumes. I discovered this when the boys had a recital at daycare. The kids had to dress up as various animals, making costumes out of “inexpensive household items”. I made this instead:

They were supposed to sing a song about animals, but they mostly just stood staring out at the sea of iPhones recording them. The Unicorn yawned throughout.

They were supposed to sing a song but they mostly just stood staring out at the sea of iPhones recording them. The Unicorn yawned throughout.

To be fair, a lot of other parents went kind of over the top too, but I can safely say that I went the most over the top by a wide margin. A lot of glue was involved while I cracked the whip over Mr. Giraffe to custom paint the costume while I fiddled around getting the eyes right. I am still not satisfied with them. I am still finding bits of foam everywhere in our house.

Halloween prep started shortly after this. Angry Birds are the order of the day here, so Angry Birds it would be. The Engineer wanted to be Chewbacca Bird and the Unicorn wanted to be a Slingshot.

*scratches head*

Uhhh… ok, let’s roll with that.

Plans changed when we found amazing Yellow Angry Bird and King Pig masks at good ol’ Wallyworld. Mr. Giraffe was tired and I think vaguely optimistic that we’d just achieved a somewhat easy holiday.

It should come as no surprise at all to you that a month later I found myself finding Angry Birds templates for pumpkins, buying eavestrough joints, and hoarding boxes and cardboard to “just add a little something” to Halloween festivities.

I am a busy woman, so I left the eavestrough at my dad’s house with instructions to turn it into a slingshot for Yellow Bird. I think he thought I was insane, but he totally made that shit happen, and made me completely envious of the fact that he 1) owns tools, 2) knows how to use the tools, and 3) is retired. The final product was better than I would have ever been able to achieve and happened with very little input from me. It worked out so well I am going to see if I can outsource a lot of things now (See: aforementioned tampon and pancake mix purchasing).

In retrospect, I wish we’d stuck with his original vision and just gone with the slingshot. That thing is a work of art.

Two days before Halloween, Mr. Giraffe excitedly messaged me to ask: “Are we making Halloween costumes tonight?” I was confused by his enthusiasm and participation until I realized the subtext was “Are you going to be knee-deep in cardboard shavings, hot gluing your fingers together for the next two days?”

Indeed, I was.

King Pig needed a TNT box.  Parents out there can attest to the fact that diaper boxes are the most useful byproduct of child-rearing, and they proved their worth again here. As my dear friend Sara noted later, I was going balls out. I couldn’t half-ass this with markers. No, I was going to make a 3D textured TNT box that looks just like real life. Except, you know, the 2D cartoon version of real life. Or something. I think I have my dimensions confused. Anyway, it was going to be epic.

The first night I thought really hard about how I wanted to achieve the box. I even cut 3 strips of cardboard and a head hole. Feeling really good about my progress, I rewarded myself with as many rounds of Candy Crush as I could manage (5. DAMN YOU CANDY CRUSH, I WILL NOT SPEND MONEY ON YOU) and went to bed, confident that I would be able to complete my project before bedtime on the 30th.

I did, in fact, complete the costume before going to bed on the 30th. Or rather, four hours past my bedtime at 3 am on the 31st. At 6 pm on the 30th, my parents came to deliver the slingshot. At 7:30 pm, the groupthink and yelling about how to attach the slingshot to the Unicorn’s body was accomplished, as was the total and complete defraying of all of my nerves. At 7:35, Mr. Giraffe had delivered the kids to bed, and wisely disappeared, not to be seen by the rest of the night. At 9 pm, I had a bloodied hand and 3 Angry Bird themed pumpkins that had to have various parts of them hot glued back together.

It occurs to me that Halloween pumpkins are sort of like those Buddhist sand drawings, except that I don't achieve any sort of spiritual ascension and no one dresses up as a sexy hot dog to celebrate sand drawings.

It occurs to me that Halloween pumpkins are sort of like those Buddhist sand drawings, except that I don’t achieve any sort of spiritual ascension and no one dresses up as a sexy hot dog to celebrate sand drawings.

Pumpkins achieved, I turned my attention to the TNT box. At 11 pm, I ran out of hot glue, and narrowly avoided impaling myself with a box cutter, then remembered there was a bottle of wine in the freezer. At 11:01 the top of that bottle shattered while I was trying to reef the cork out with all my might. At 11:03, I strained the glass shards out of that wine and drank the hell out of it.

True story

True story

Without the benefit of hot glue, I had to hold the pieces together while watching nine episodes of Duck Dynasty. Those dudes are really wholesome. I think I would get along with Uncle Si. I had a long time to think about this. Finally, I had the genius idea to hold the glued pieces together with my hair band, and called it a night. It was 3 am.

At 3:04, I discovered that the Unicorn had an ear infection. At 7:30 am, I had a complete mental break where I believed that “just ten minutes” of sleep would carry me through the day, and I was at risk of murdering anyone who told me otherwise. At 7:42 am, the Engineer declared that he wasn’t going to wear the TNT box because it hurt, and I had an aneurism, while I simultaneously wondered if I could somehow squeeze my middle-aged carcass into it instead.

YES. YES. YES! My vision come to life! Brought down to earth moments later by kiddo shenanigans. I am not enough of a narcissist to force him to wear a costume just because I made it. Just to be clear.

YES. YES. YES! My vision come to life! Brought down to earth moments later by kiddo shenanigans. I am not enough of a narcissist to force him to wear a costume just because I made it. Just to be clear. He wore it later entirely of his own volition, and promises that his candy haul would be improved if he had a really good costume.

At 9 am, I was at the walk-in clinic with the Unicorn where he was crying so loud and so hard that they let him in ahead of a lady with a spurting head wound.

The Unicorn would have gotten into the doctor faster than this guy. (image from

At .. oh fuck, I don’t even know. Later in the day, we found ourselves wandering around the drug store. The Unicorn laid down in the aisle. He was curled around a discounted stuffed Angry Bird, and it appeared to be the only thing keeping him alive. We purchased that bird: who was I to say no? I lamented that Angry Birds came into our lives only during moments of weakness; like when we hand over the iPad because we’re tired. This had delivered me directly to this moment, scarred up by Angry Bird costumes, undone by my own weakness There were a lot of surprisingly complicated thoughts going through my head given the fact that I could not form complete sentences and had to have a nap in the van before I trusted myself to drive home.

At 6:30 pm, everyone was properly propped up on ibuprofen, and we were out trick or treating with the neighbors. I made hot chocolate and Baileys for the adults. When Mr. Giraffe inadvertently spilled my drink all over me, I made lemonade out of lemons.. or rather, skipped the hot chocolate, poured whisky out of the bottle, and drank an entire mug, and made excuses twice to run back to our house to refill it. The boys had a grand time, and I am pretty sure I was unfit to parent by that point, so thank the Great Pumpkin Mr. Giraffe was out too. Maeby dressed up as a bee.

This was not at Halloween; this was at a Meadery.

This was not at Halloween; this was at a Meadery.

The End.




  1. Holy crap, you took Halloween to a whole other level with those costumes. You’ve definitely got to be nominated as mother of the year, right? If I had kids I would dress them up in regular clothes and tell them they’re dressed up as kids whose mom didn’t care enough to make a costume.

    1. Like the American Flag eagle in our previous discussion, I often work to the exclusion of my own personal safety, which is dumb. If only I could get that kind of focus for things that actually would gain reward; like, say, work.

  2. Everybody down to Maeby! This was hilarious, RG, and I’m hoping you’re rested up by now! Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! And I think ALL of Halloween is like sandpaintings, except for the wine and whiskey and Candy Crush and staying up all night…

    1. The trouble is, they’d have just as many great memories if I just stuck with the Walmart costumes and carried on my way. The main thing for them was running around with their pals, hoarding mass quantities of high fructose corn syrup. This will be an ongoing lesson that my brain will refuse to learn though; I think it’s because I actually enjoy the costume making.

  3. Martha Stewart’s got NOTHING on you. I bet you could even take her in arm wrestling! I’m amazed that not only did you have the imagination to come up with such coolness — you actually execute beyond belief. Even the dog got dressed up! You are the Costume Commander-ess.

  4. I laughed about you drinking shards of glass. I’m sorry!!! It was just so funny. My favorite part. The costumes are awesome. Hey, I think next year you have time to come to my house and do up some costumes for us. You’re so stinkin’ good at it! Please, please. I’ll have wine or whisky or whatever you need. Just ask. Deal?

    1. I’ll remember that you laughed about me almost causing my own demise, Honeybee. Oh boy, will I remember. Just kidding.. I am totally on my way to your house next year. It would be a treat to design something that didn’t need to be worn over top of a snow suit.

  5. I do stuff like this too, going totally overboard in birthday party themes, school dress up theme days, homemade Christmas gifts, Halloween costumes…it has kind of come back to bite me in the ass because I now have 5 kids and the expectation (from myself, my kids and sometimes people we know) that I do this type of thing for all of them (and the reality that I barely have the time to do the basic life things or them like cooking, cleaning and laundry). I also have my guilt and feelings of inadequacy when I don’t go all out or when I go the more mainstream route with purchased costumes or party games. I think my need to go overboard on these types if things has to do with always being a very creative person and not having the time to be creative on my own, this being the outlet for my creativity now.

    1. I think you have a point about it being a creative outlet. The fact that I am doing it for the kids somehow makes it a more worthwhile use of my time, when the reality is that I should be focusing on more mundane stuff that would make life easier for everyone. Still, I just hope that it’s fun memories for everyone, and even if it wasn’t, it was totally worth doing because it was FUN.

      1. It is so fun:) I enjoy it and enjoy the results of my work and hope it does create good memories. The only part I don’t enjoy is the fact that there is not a lot of time to do this while my kids are awake so I end up staying up all hours of the night to get it done and am a walking zombie the next day so I sometimes miss out on really enjoying the result because I am so tired.

          1. P.s. and I had to laugh at you enlisting the help of your dad and how you envy that he owns tools, knows how to use them and is retired. I could have written that about my dad and I:)

  6. I’m embarrassed to admit that I do not own a glue gun…staples, safety pins and scotch tape make my life stick together. Your family makes AWESOME costumes and please let me take your child with us the next time we go to urgent care….

    My kid’s costume was gotten at a 2nd hand store (top & bottom – white things), a roll of red duct tape and a DEVO energy dome. Crafty I am not.

    1. AND I AM HAPPY TO SEE YOU HERE! I am totally taking you up on the urgent care thing. I hate that place. And your kid’s costume sounds like it was perfectly executed. Remember the ultimate goal is to fill up a bag with high fructose corn syrup products. It’s pretty hard to screw that up!

      1. I’ve learned, with costumes, to keep expectations low, that way I won’t disappoint. Last year, D was Adam Savage from Mythbusters – it was BRILLIANT! We used red/orange face crayons for a ‘stache and beard, got him a hat and sunglasses (from the $1 store) and then went to the SAME thrift store and found a black tee shirt that said “FAA – We’re Not Happy Until You’re Not Happy” – PERFECT!

        We did well with the high fructose corn syrup products.

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