Having had a father who was a Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I was well acquainted with the strange and fantastical creatures that existed in the world he brought to life for me as a child. I used to look through his books, admiring the various characters and fantasize about what it would be like to be one of them. I used to have make believe adventures in my backyard or with my Barbies (they spent a lot of time being gods and goddesses) if the weather was uncooperative.
Halloween was made better by my parents’ enthusiasm for costumes. In the beginning it was easy. I was a black cat for the majority of those first Halloweens, but for the Halloween that fell within my seventh year I wanted to be something else, something special. Turning to my father’s books I found my bright idea. I decided I wanted to be a halfling!
At this point many people are wondering what a halfling is and exactly how a child goes about making a costume to be one for Halloween. Firstly, I refer you to J.R.R. Tolken’s The Hobbit. Yep, a hobbit is a hafling, and I knew what one was by age seven. I’d even seen the cartoon version (It remains to this day one of my all time favorites). As if choosing to be an at-the-time obscure fictional being wasn’t enough, I wanted to be a hafling mage.
Making my costume that year was extra special because I was allowed to help. My brother wanted to be a knight. Between the two of us my mother had her hands full helping us along. No store bought costumes would do. My mother graciously sacrificed an old forest green dress to cut and sew it down to my size. We altered a sheer negligee robe to be my cloak, and covered a ruler sized piece of cardboard with aluminum foil to act as my wand. We even made cardboard jewels by cutting out the shapes, covering them with foil and then coloring them with markers.
My brother’s costume was also fun to help make. Aluminum foil covered cardboard shield and sword, and aluminum foil helmet with a blue satin and fleece cloak over a navy turtleneck. I think he got the better deal because as we went from door to door everyone loved the knight, but no one could figure me out. I was adamant about the fact that I was a hafling mage, not a magician, not a wizard. Sadly, NO ONE understood, but I did get extra candy because I’d get so upset trying to explain it.
Homemade costumes are the best. Every year I sit down to begin planning I think back to that Halloween and all the time and creative energy my family put into making our costumes. Even my parents would dress up. Now I celebrate the grand costume making tradition with my children. For my daughter’s first Halloween I created an Athena costume for me and an owl costume for her. I am nothing if not peculiarly accurate on my themes.
There doesn’t always have to be a theme, at least not a family theme. As my daughter has gotten older and with the addition of my son, I enjoy the challenge of helping them create costumes that interest them. I still make my own, too. I’m willing to buy elements in the interest of convenience, but I prefer to handcraft and sew.
I get into the creative process of bringing the ideas we have to life. I’m not as concerned that others can actually identify what we are, but I like that they can see that we made the costumes ourselves. Now it’s my daughter’s turn to be insistent, and her turn to get the extra candy.