Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and it always has been. I love the falling, crunching leaves, flickering jack-o-lanterns, hot apple cider, and even those October thunderstorms that make the days so dreary. I enjoy preparing for Halloween as much as I love getting ready for Christmas, and if we have a weird year where fall passes us by, I get very grumpy. I love watching scary (not gory!) movies, reading scary novels, and watching A Haunting or Most Haunted Places on television. I figure that if I’m able to walk up to bed without feeling the need to glance behind me, I haven’t scared myself appropriately!
But mostly, I love dressing up, and I’ve never bought a costume. When I was a kid, my mom made my costumes, and now I make them myself. My husband and I sometimes do a theme, like Anakin and Padme, or Back to the Future. Whatever we do, it’s always very elaborate, very expensive, and very time-consuming.
We spend most of the year brainstorming about what we’re going to be for Halloween, and we spend about two months planning and making the costumes. We hit all the local fabric stores, sometimes take a trip to the giant warehouse an hour away, or order swatches online to find the best fabric. We alter patterns so that our costumes are as screen-accurate as possible. While we spend the rest of the year fretting over every dollar spent, when it comes to Halloween costumes, we throw caution to the wind and spend hundreds of dollars so that we get our costumes right.
We don’t just wear our costumes once, we’re usually able to reuse them for something. We’ve been to the Star Wars Celebration III convention, and we wore our Anakin and Padme costumes there. I have two different Padme dresses, so I wore a different outfit each day. We used to volunteer for The Hogwarts Express, an event that the park district used to host where the kids board the train, get sorted, and thirty minutes later get off at “Hogwarts,” a banquet hall in the train station at the end of the line. It was always an unbelievably good time, and we dressed as Hermione Granger and Oliver Wood and stayed in character all day. Next year we’ll be going to Dragon*Con, and we plan to take three different costumes with us for that. And, while we’re not into LARPing (Live-Action-Role-Playing), I do enjoy wearing my elf dress and cape when I’m shooting the bow and arrow at my farm.
Most of our costumes are extremely elaborate. The year that we went as Luthien and Beren (characters from Middle Earth that appear in The Silmarillion,) we spent the entire baseball season making hand-made chain maille out of thousands of little key chains. I’d make chains and my husband would attach them to each other. We ended up with a very good, if heavy, shirt of chain maille.
When we start sewing our costumes, it usually eats up every spare bit of time for us, and sometimes we even work well into the night. I estimate that I spent over 100 hours working on my costume this year, and many times I spent full eight-hour days working on it.
While people are always extremely impressed by our costumes and look forward to what we’re going to be every year, some of them still ask us why we spend so much time on them. The answer to that is simple: we love making the costumes. My husband is very much into propmaking. He’s made several screen-accurate light sabers (even hunting down the exact materials that the originals were made from) and is currently working on an R2D2. We’re artists. We enjoy making things. We find it very fulfilling to make props or costumes. We feel that the amount of money we spend on our costumes is justified because it’s something we really love to do.
If we had kids, there’s no way we’d be making elaborate costumes. There would be no time or money for costuming or propmaking. In fact, I couldn’t imagine having the time or money to do anything really creative. So when people ask, “don’t you want a kid to take trick-or-treating?”, my answer is always NO. Some people argue that children make the holidays more fulfilling, but I disagree. If I had a child, I wouldn’t be able to do half the things I do in preparation for Halloween. I certainly wouldn’t be able to lounge around reading Stephen King novels. I couldn’t plop in front of the television for two hours to watch a bunch of scary shows.
And I definitely wouldn’t be able to make elaborate costumes.