School Buzz

Halloween costume fails

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Aiden Buchman

Aiden Buchman was dressed as a Hershey's Kiss, but his dad says he wound up looking more like a silver Pope.

I’m guilty of it. Getting an idea into my head and pulling out every stop to make it happen, doable or not.

Perfect example: the Halloween costume. My youngest daughter came to me three years ago with the idea to dress up as a human candy corn. Of course I loved it and immediately took on the challenge. For an entire October our dining room table was covered in needles and orange, yellow and white fabric. I don’t sew. But somehow that costume came together and made us both proud. That’s my one success.

Others, as Carrie Vallone put it, were “epic fails.” Also not a seamstress, but creative in her own way (she owns Molasses Candy Paper Design Studio), Carrie decided her then-baby, now-12-year-old daughter Grace should dress up as Olive, the family beagle, for her first Halloween. “It was so pathetic,” she says. “We walked around the neighborhood, and everybody was like, ‘What a cute cow!’ I even made a little dog collar for Grace that said ‘Olive’ and took Olive to walk with us. But nobody got it.

“In the pictures, Grace looked confused and grumpy with this hat on with these floppy ears. She really did look like a cow.”

Later on, when Grace was 3, Carrie made her a Pebbles (the character from The Flintstones) costume. “That one actually was simple. I just jaggedly cut some fabric and tied a little bone in her hair. She went down the street in one of those little plastic ‘bubble’ cars and it looked like the Flintstones.”

Karen Edelman’s Pebbles costume wasn’t so well received. Same as Carrie and me, Karen “just had a vision in my head” for the costume. “Anya was about 3, and her hair was just so short and white and curly.” It seemed like a perfect fit, simple enough.

“I made the costume with bath rug-type fabric,” Karen says. She added a “real Nylabone dog bone” to Anya’s hair. Around the neighborhood, “I could tell people were saying to themselves, ‘That costume looks like my shower mat!” But the fuzzy cave-girl outfit wasn’t the problem.

“Every time Anya rang a doorbell and a dog came to the door, she was so low to the ground that the dogs would start sniffing her head. Then they’d try to take the bone out of her hair! What was I thinking? Who would have thought dogs would actually want a bone from her head?

“It was all Party City after that.”

Another vision: Kelly Evans’ quest to make her then-3-year-old daughter Abby a Belle princess costume. “I had just taken up sewing,” Kelly says of the time she and her family were living in Rochester, Minn. “I was going to be a crafty and frugal mom and make her a Belle costume, because what’s better than a homemade princess costume?

“I waited until Abby and our newborn twins were asleep and went to work on this costume, which was way above my skill level. I worked on that thing every night for two weeks, only to finish it and realize I had sewn it inside out and made a yellow satin nightmare!

“This was before Amazon Prime, so I had to drive 70 miles to the Mall of America in Minneapolis to buy a Belle costume at the Disney store.”

But store-bought doesn’t always equal victory. When Aiden Buchman was 2, his parents bought him an awesome-looking silver Hershey Kiss costume. “We thought it would be so great,” Jason says. “But it wound up looking like he was dressed as a silver Pope.”

There are those who have a little more skill – and a little more success – with costumes, both homemade and outsourced. “I made many Halloween costumes in my day, and I have the piles, bins and boxes of fabric scraps, pattern packages, thread spools, ribbons and buttons galore to prove it,” says Halloween superstar Tiffany Smith (whose decorations were featured in the October 2012 Buzz).

A few tips from Tiffany, based on experience: “Mario Bros. hats are harder to simulate than one might think. Face painting really IS an art and requires a level of talent I do not possess despite all my efforts and initial denial. Yes, you CAN turn your child into a three-headed Longhorn fan with UT stocking caps, pillow inserts, pantyhose and eyes and mouths cut out from a magazine!”

Worst-Costume Contest

Show off your “worst” Halloween costume. Send pictures of your failed costumes to The winner will receive a $50 gift card from Halloween Express. See contest details here.

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