The things we (creative) parents do to our children at Halloween

Our little bee

It was the mid-1980’s.  Our firstborn couldn’t wait to go trick-or-treating.

But, first. 

“What do you want to be for Halloween this year?” we asked, thinking of buying a nice pre-made costume at the local store.

Our little one said excitedly, “I want to be a bee!”

“A bee?” we asked, shaking our heads. “Like a bumblebee?”

“Yes,” our boy said, “I want to be a bee for Halloween.”

Now, these modern days you might be able to find a bee costume in one of those giant Halloween stores. 

But, back in ancient times we had our choice of maybe twenty or thirty costumes, if we were lucky.  You could dress your children as a ghost, a witch, GI Joe or a monster.

Not a bee.

Unless you came up with your own clever costume.

Which, of course, creative and/or broke parents everywhere decided to attempt.

At their own peril–and the future peril of their children who might someday view themselves in a homemade bumblebee costume on the worldwide web.

(Disclosure:  Our bumblebee has agreed to the posting of this picture.  Didn’t he grow up to be a wonderful bee?)

In which second born lifts top off pumpkin's head. Pumpkin is reading our local newspaper. Clever, huh?

I swear my partner-in-costuming made the bumblebee suit.  I’m sure he created the nose–I mean stinger.  I may have cut out the wings, and surely bought the black boots at St. Vincent de Paul’s thrift store.  The bumblebee himself may have assisted in coloring the stripes on his wings.

I’m sure that his pre-school classmates adored his costume and begged their parents for bee costumes next Halloween.  (OK, I’m not sure about that at all.  Actually, I don’t recall exciting admiration of the Queen and King Bees’ creative skills in costuming Baby Bee.)

But Baby Bee loved it.  He adored it.  It was just what he had always dreamed.

The Queen Bee, however, still looks at the above photo and shakes her head.  She thinks, “What we parents do to our children at Halloween!” 

Still, it’s endearing to make a homemade costume out of bits and scraps.  It feels like a huge accomplishment.  It feels–

Well, it makes me feel glad that we don’t have to make any more Halloween costumes.   

It also makes me feel nostalgic for those days of innocence and creativity.

What is the most interesting homemade costume you’ve ever created?  For yourself or your child.  Come now, share with us all. 

And have a Happy Halloween weekend! 


The year we opted for a store-bought costume...


About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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45 Responses to The things we (creative) parents do to our children at Halloween

  1. Heather says:

    I loved making our own costumes! My parents probably wished we would just buy them (or perhaps they *were* too expensive), though. I was lots of cool, homemade things growing up: Oscar the Grouch when I was an infant, a Hershey kiss one year and Pippi Longstocking another year – with pipe-cleaners in my braids to make them curl just so. Ah. Good memories 🙂 PS – got the naming conflict resolved!

    • Kathy says:

      Hi, Heather! Yep, you got the naming conflict resolved. Glad to hear you were the recipient of many homemade things growing up. A Hershey kiss! Wow, that would really be creative!! And pipe-cleaner braids. I am in awe.

  2. holessence says:

    Christopher – You have a GREAT mom for consulting with you, first. I, on the other hand, would have done the deed (and then begged for mercy later, should it be necessary).

    Kathy – I adore your photos of yesteryear. As we are almost the exact same age, I recognize “the olden days” when I see them 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Laurie, I did have his permission last year to run the photo. However, I tried to get it again this year. Unfortunately, he did not answer his phone. I am assuming his permission from last year still stands! LOL! And I am glad you enjoyed the memories of yesteryear…

  3. susan says:

    Hi Laurie! OMG I’m glad this is over – the making of costumes. My daughter would pick out what she wanted to be and as soon as I whipped up the costume, she’d change her mind. I learned to wait until the day before to make anything! I think the cutest one I ever made was actually for my son – a panda bear costume out of fake fur. He sweat buckets and the fur gunked up my sewing machine! But dang, it was cute – and his favorite to this day (he’s 29).
    Nowadays I do my best to ignore Halloween. I bought some decorated cookies for my next door neighbor kiddies which I’ll give them the day before – otherwise this house is dark!

    • Kathy says:

      SuZen, you know Laurie, too? Oh my, it’s a small world! Oh how challenging to have turncoat costumers! I don’t think I would have lived through it. Smiling at the thought of your panda bear creation. Hey, our son is 29, too. He’ll be 30 in March. He’s our bumblebee. (And our house is dark on Halloween, too, but mostly cuz we live in the woods and no one has come for years.)

  4. Brenda Hardie says:

    Aww how cute! You did a fabulous job with the bumblebee costume! Your son looks so dang cute! I used to make all the costumes for my son Ben when he was little…let’s see, his first was a bunch of grapes, then he was a wizard, next came an Indian, followed by Captain Hook (from the movie “Hook” after that he simply wanted to be an ugly monster. Then he was old enough that he started designing his own costumes..he painted a skeleton mask in such detail it was almost too good to wear for Halloween! My youngest son, Alex was a court jester one year and another year he was Jack Sparrow (you know the pirate played by Johnny Depp, a handmade costume, nothing store bought except for the wig/hat) but for the most part he was not too interested in the fussiness of costumes. Good memories…fun times..♥

    • Kathy says:

      Didn’t he look cute, Brenda? Thank you for saying so! Wow, sounds like your sons had lots of good costumes. So cool that Ben made that skeleton mask with such detail. How incredible. Isn’t it fun to call back some of these memories? Glad you enjoyed. (I’ve waited three years to post this bee photo.)

  5. First I have got to admit that since I was thirteen, I disliked Halloween, except on a few occasions, except I loved my kids participating and their friends too….my kids have been Buzz Lightyear, cats, ninja’s, worn their pajamas, been Belle, Snowwhite, pirates, and even angels….Their friends have been Mother Teresa, Power Rangers, Dorothy…..and the list is never ending……

    My favorite costume was dress myself as the TinMan and going to my kids preschool classes…..the daycare, you see, was in the parking lot at the laboratory I worked at. A large day care where all the parents worked and played together, a true community.

    during this time the parents also would get in the act, we would have costume contests, pumpkin contests, and department decorating contests…..needless to say ours was usually the best ones, as we always had a theme. One year was Peanuts, no problem, I was SNOOPY, a handmade costume of my friend.
    another year we did the Wizard of Oz…complete with me, as the TinMan again, Dorothy, ToTo, scarecrow, Auntie Em, and we even had the witches and gargoyles. then the last year together there was a slumber party, oh and one year was sports, I wore a Vikings outfit…go figure.

    Well after all this I guess I don’t mind Halloween after all!!
    now I love a nice night to sit out and see all the costumes… hubby was usually late coming home and I usually had candy duty after the kids would go out with friends.

    I also like a good scare once in a while!… little Joe was the best one to hide in the house and scare me at the weirdest moments, what a joy.

    Happy Haunting…..


    • Kathy says:

      Isn’t it funny, Kim, how we can both like and not like Halloween at the same time? It sounds like you and your kids had some pretty fabulous costumes. Smiling at the thought of Joe hiding and scaring you. Hoping that this Halloween brings you some smiles & quiet remembrance.

  6. Kiah says:

    Why didn’t you post any of the creative costumes you and Dad made for yourselves during the years? There is one photo in particular that I’m sure everyone would love to see!!

    • Elisa's Spot says:


    • Dawn says:

      Hmmm….I think turn about is fair play! Having no children myself I can only recount that when we were kids many many years ago we had to figure out costumes from Mom and/or Dad’s old clothes. I think we were hobos most years!

      • Kathy says:

        “Turn about is fair play” sounds like an idiom, Dawn. **smile** See today’s post about that one. Yep, Barry and I dressed up for Halloween parties for years. Me screamin’ and kickin’ half the time. I like the idea of being a hobo. That sounds like a do-able costume.

  7. Elisa's Spot says:

    Hmmm…I was broke/creative and had matching school gym uniforms. I got antler headbands complete with bells for a dollar at the dollar store. Put, little Z in a snow hat, and made signs for them all around their necks. Donner and Blitzen and Z the elven reindeer flight trainer! They were really upset with me, until everyone LOVED the costume and gave them first prize! PHEW!!!!

    • Elisa's Spot says:

      OOO Oh yeah, one year I had NO funds… I dressed them in their jammies, thefluffy footed ones? gave them pillow cases and their stuffies, I covered the pizza pan in foil for extra shine, tied yarn thru the holes, put it round my neck. We were Winkin, Blinkin, and Nod……I was the light of the silvery moon 🙂

      • Kathy says:

        Elisa, your beb got first prize?? Wow! What a creative/broke costume-mother YOU were. And that Light of the Silvery Moon costume trio–fabulous. Way to go, girlfriend!

  8. Sybil says:

    I pretty much remember being a witch every year 😉 Oh, maybe a cowgirl once or twice.

    • Kathy says:

      You know, Sybil, for some strange reason I can’t recall a single costume from my childhood. Probably was a witch and a cowgirl, too. Hmmm…now that’s something to think about.

  9. Karma says:

    I LOVE homemade costumes! I will buy various accessories for costumes in a store, but always prefer to put together our own costumes. As for some of my favorites, this blog post from last year would be an easier answer:
    I also have a favorite that I made for my older daughter when she was about 4 years old. There was a show on PBS years ago called “The Big Comfy Couch” and Meghan was a fan. I made her a costume of the lead chararcter, Loonette, that was one of the cutest things I’ve seen.

    • Kathy says:

      Your blog post from last Halloween shows some really wonderful homemade costumes. You have the skills, girlfriend. (Unlike yours truly who has no Halloween costuming skills.) What are you going to be this year?

      • Karma says:

        I think hubby & I are going to repeat our costumes from last year – we wore those to a different friend’s party, but our usual group of friends hasn’t seen them (two characters from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”) We are allowed to dress up at school too, so I will wear something to school on Monday (not that costume – the kids wouldn’t get it, and I don’t think short-shorts would be a good plan for work). I might steal hubby’s uniform and be a police officer!

  10. Claire says:

    I loved making the costumes for my two when they were at play group. My daughter was a dormouse one time made from some fluffy fabric got at the scrap store which covered the carpet in fluff. She did look sweet. My son was a pierrot a much easier costume just an old sheet and buttons. Love your bumble bee. 🙂

  11. flandrumhill says:

    Kathy, you and your son both look so cute in that last photo.

    The most challenging costume I ever had to sew was a lizard one for my oldest son.
    No pattern to go by, just what he imagined it should look like.

    We finally got all the stuff together for my grandson’s Darth Vader costume this year. He’s so excited but disappointed that his teacher has a no-weapons (no-light sabres) rule for the class party.

    • Kathy says:

      Thanks, Amy-Lynn. A lizard sounds like an icredibly complicated costume–much worse than a bee. Sorry to hear about your grandson’s disappointment. I can see the teacher’s point though!

  12. Carol says:

    I made my son a clown costume one year – full on, from a pattern, clown costume. Somewhere there is a picture. Then there was the year I went to work (we dressed for Halloween where I worked) as seaweed. Dyed a sheet and a pillowcase yuch green and shredded them – pillowcase went on head, sheet on body with brown tights (the stems). Now we ignore Halloween. No kids in our neighborhood and not enough houses to justify trucking them in.

    • Kathy says:

      Carol, we are sisters and never knew it! Once Barry and I went to a party dressed as “Flotsam and Jetsam”. We were covered with seaweed and various debris and–believe it or not–we are still remembered for this costume. We drenched ourselves with water before going in to the party.

  13. I only remember making one costume over the years… a ghost (from a pillow case) for my younger son when he was about 2 years old. He was the cutest ghost I’ve ever seen! 😉

  14. What great costumes!! That last one looks like one of the costumes that used to come in a box – the plastic jumpsuit and plastic mask with elastic string. Those were pretty popular when I was a kid! My favorite costume was probably Princess Leia (Kindergarten). My mom made me a white dress from a pattern, and she rolled the braids on the sides of my head, and I actually got to wear red lipstick. I loved it!!

    My last costume I ever wore was probably around 1995-1996, I was the tooth fairy. White dress, fairy wings, a star wand, hair curled (with glitter), and a silk purse for the teeth (Chicklets).

    • Kathy says:

      Yep, I’m sure that last one came in a box, Holly. I am smiling thinking of you as a kindergartener dressed at Princess Leia. The fairy sounds cute, too. Thank you for sharing your stories.

  15. bearyweather says:

    Once kids grow up, halloween costume loving adults turn to their pets as their next victims. Someone sent me this in an email this week … amazing and slightly crazy how people dress up their dogs:

  16. Barb says:

    You’re little Bee brought a smile to my face (and memories of the little ghosts and hobos that set out to trick or treat from my house). My daughters-in-law are more creative with costumes. Last year, my seven year old Granddaughter made an awesome Mother Nature costume with the help of her Mom. This year, she’s a cupcake.

    • Kathy says:

      I’ve had to check in with my little Bee twice this week to see if he’s at all upset that Mama posted his pic. He’s not. Perhaps he’ll be making a little Bee costume of his own some year? That’s fun that you have creative daughters-in-law. You have the best of both worlds, then!

  17. KathUsitalo says:

    I love the bee and the clever jack-o-lantern. We have a history of making costumes, thanks to mom. I don’t believe anyone in my family—siblings or kids—have had a store bought costume. There were some real doozies over the years. Thanks for stirring up memories!

    • Kathy says:

      Kath, I am glad you enjoyed. It would be fun to see some of the costumes you’ve created over the years. I always love seeing what people make, even though I am not-so-fond of making them myself…

  18. Val says:

    Aw, he looked so sweet! 🙂

    I can’t bring to mind ever having worn a costume, though surely I must have done at least once as a child? We didn’t ‘have’ halloween trick or treating in the UK til just two or three decades ago, so it wouldn’t have been for that.

    I do recall having to recite an A.A. Milne poem in school when I was a tiny wee thing, but can’t remember if I had a costume for it. (And I’ve no kids. And I’ve never tried dressing up any of the sparrows or blackbirds, which I for which they’re probably quite grateful!)

    • Kathy says:

      Val, thank you. I think he looked so sweet, too! That is so interesting that trick or treating didn’t come to the UK until two to three decades ago. Thank you for sharing that. I’ll bet your birds are thrilled that you haven’t tried dressing them up! Our kids used to try dressing up our cats. Yikes!

  19. Colleen says:

    This was fun Kathy! I loved making costumes for Halloween and yes, lots of memories, many of them involving pouring rain, which seemed to be a given for October 31st on the west coast.

    • Kathy says:

      I’ll bet Halloween memories on the West Coast do involve rain–just like ours in the U.P. often involve snow. So often it’s so cold that you have to bundle your little bees or Cinderella’s in layers of jackets. Kind of defeats the intent, doesn’t it?

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