The Delicate Art of Costume Negotiation

For the modern mother, Halloween can be a mixed bag. Costumes, carving pumpkins, cider and candy:  its all so much fun! As October 31st approaches, she may envision her children trick-or-treating in home made costumes, flushed with excitement, felt totes dangling from their hands as they shuffle through fallen leaves on the sidewalks of their neighborhood.

But then, as costumes are discussed, reality sets in. Her pre-schooler rejects her offer to make him the hilarious chicken costume. He hates her idea of going as his favorite food: sushi. He doesn’t even want to talk about a hand-me-down shark costume. Instead, he insists on being Batman like every other boy in his preschool class. For a another modern mother, it might be a daughter insisting on Sleeping Beauty for the pink dress. For a mother of older children, it might be the rock star diva costume, or the bleeding scream costume. Different costumes, same problem: child craves commercial and tacky, mother envisions charming, original, home made.

Perhaps the conflict results from creeping expectations for the holiday now known as “the other Christmas” among retailers. Whatever the reason, the modern mother and her child must reach a detente. So, in the delicate art of costume negotiation, what is a mother to do?

She could wheedle, connive, convince her child that he really does want to dress as an egg salad sandwich, or whatever her choice would be. But she risks taking all the fun out of it by imposing her own taste. Not to mention stamping out the very independence and creativity she so craves.

Conversely, she could shrug it off and let her child choose, however much she may shudder at the thought of the over-priced and cheaply made costume. The well mannered mother should never consider herself defeated if she lets her child parade around in some chintzy piece of raw-edged rayon for which she overpaid.

Finally, she could collaborate with her child on a costume they both deem worthy. With luck, she and her child will create something fun and original and have a wonderful time doing it. This collaborative mother may even reach some state of maternal nirvana, or at the very least, achieve the status of apparently perfect mother.

Whatever the process (though we lean toward options 2 and 3), there's always next year. Without a doubt, costume negotiations will be different every year, and with each child.  She may even find her child's passion and enthusiasm for his costume (cheesy scrap of fabric, or not) more than adequate compensation for relaxing her standards of taste.

*image from


Kate said...

So true! My son wore highly flammable costumes from KMart the last 2 years. This year we made a lego brick costume out of a box with the use of his sister's hot glue gun and some spray paint! I was in crafting heaven. Sometimes we mothers get lucky!

New Lisa said...

In the spirit of "pick your battles", costume choice isn't even in the top 100 list of "must battles" - unless the outfit is too violent or too trampy. Then I would have to say no.

Elizabeth Hammond Pyle said...

Well, I must be picking my battles this year since I just bought a batman costume. And yes the only real objection there is boring -- not trampy or violent.

And Kate, sounds fun! I think you might be close to crafty mom nirvana.

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