As a casual cosplayer, sewer, and crafter, nothing makes me sadder than seeing kids in store bought Halloween costumes. Let me explain.
I realize Halloween costumes have come a long way from the old highly-flammable printed plastic with coordinating mask. The quality has, admittedly, improved. But with branding all over the costumes, and, quite frankly, costumes marketed for kids that are carbon copies of the adult “sexy” version, there’s something about store bought costumes that says “easy way out.”
With the advent of sites like Pinterest, Craftey, etc. even non-sewers can easily make their kids cute Halloween costumes. Sure, it won’t be as fancy as what you find say, in the Disney Store, but isn’t the bonding time more important? See, working on a costume with your kids is a great way to push your creativity…and theirs! It’s a great time for you to get to know your children better. And, it’s also a great time for kids to learn about making mistakes.
What’s that? Making a costume with my kid will be a lesson in making mistakes? YES. See, even the most experienced costume designers and cosplayers make mistakes on EVERY SINGLE COSTUME. This is a great chance to teach your children that it’s okay to make a mistake, it’s okay to get frustrated, and it’s okay to walk away and come back to something. An added bonus? It’s a great exercise in problem solving!
Alright, so what if you don’t have time to make a costume or your child is insisting on the screen-accurate Cinderella gown? Well, there are some alternatives to store bought.
FIND A COSPLAYER
That’s right. Find a cosplayer. Many cosplayers will take commissions to make children’s Halloween costumes. Why? It’s fun for us! Hop on Facebook or Etsy and search for cosplayers or costumers. Contact a few and ask what their rates are, if they have openings, etc. You’ll find they run a gambit price-wise. The average rate seems to be $25/hour plus materials. So expect to pay more than you would at the store.
If you’re paying more, why is this a better alternative than just buying one from the Halloween pop-up store?
You see, with a commissioned costume you get what you pay for. You may be able to negotiate a little here and there to cut costs, but for the most part you’re looking at least $100 for a costume.
A quick browse of the Disney Store shows that their live-action Cinderella costume usually costs $99.95. Now, I admit, the Disney Store does have some lovely costumes and their quality certainly surpasses the stuff you find at Target. But we’re still talking about costumes made of cheap polyester and nylon. Not to mention, not being made to fit your child’s specific measurements. I won’t say that the Disney Store costume isn’t beautiful, but when you add up the dress, plus any accessories, you’re looking at spending a lot of money on branded merchandise.
Of course there’s a caveat to all of this. If you wait until the last minute you might be out of luck.
Custom commissions are generally booked one to two months in advance. Some costumers request allowing eight to ten weeks for delivery. Some will charge extra for a rush order. Some will close orders as of September 1st.
So now what?
Hop on Etsy!
Etsy is a great place to look for ready-made and custom costumes. A search for “Cinderella Costume Kids” gives 24 pages of results. Prices, quality, availability, and design varies, but isn’t it worth it for your child not to have the same costume as several other kids in their class?
The argument I hear most is that parents don’t have time to make a Halloween costume for their children and they don’t have time to research having one made either. I get it. You’re busy. But is whatever it is that’s making you busy really more important than spending quality time with your child? One of my fondest memories is the costumes my mother made me for Halloween. Having a homemade costume makes your child feel special. Now, as an aunt, I make my niece’s Halloween costume each year. Why? Because I want her to feel just as special as I did.
So if you absolutely must buy your child’s Halloween costume, look into the alternatives to Party City first. You may be surprised with what you find.