Remember that Target commercial last year that poked fun at homemade Halloween costumes? Some people, including me, were not too fond of the message it sent. This year at New York Comic Con, the GeekDads and GeekMoms hosted a discussion panel and my topic was “five reasons you should build your kid’s costume.”
Here are the reasons I presented to a packed room of Comic-Con-style parents.
Reason 5: Making something with your kids sends a positive message.
When you make something practical with your kids, you are helping them become self-sufficient. Consumerism is the norm for kids these days, but I want my children to realize they are not reliant on commercial products for everything; that’s why it is important to let the kids participate in some aspect of the build process. This activity will help foster creativity and teach problem-solving. It’s also a chance to teach the lessons of reuse, recycle and remake.
Reason 4: You can integrate safety into the costume.
Safety is important: Trick-or-treating involves walking around in areas that may not be well-lit. That’s why you want your kids to have some kind of reflective or illuminating aspect to their costumes to help make them visible to drivers. Nothing ruins a cool costume faster than hanging a bike reflector around a kids neck — or worse, an orange vest.
Instead try adding LEDs, EL wire or some luminescent paint to the costume. These items can be used to light up buttons on a robot, illuminate a weapon or give a ghost an eerie glow. The Boogie Bot 5000 costume pictured above uses blue LEDs for the eyes. Check out instructions for making the Boogie Bot 5000 over at Craftzine.com.
Unless your kid is going as my uncle doing his court-ordered community service, leave the orange vest at home.
Reason 3: You’ll be able to find other geeks in the neighborhood.
When you make your kid’s costume, they can go as characters commercial costumes don’t cover. That’s when you can find out who the real geeks in the neighborhood are. Most people will say, “How cute” and give the kid some candy, but there will be that one guy who says, “Nice Boromir costume…. Wait, let me get my Horn of Gondor!” He’s one of ours — invite him to your next D&D night.
Reason 2: You can educate the non-geeks in the neighborhood.
Just because the neighbors aren’t geeks does not mean you can’t spread the geek knowledge. Take a moment and explain to the nice lady with the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that the the “curvy sword thing” is called a bat’leth and it is a traditional Klingon weapon. Who knows, next year she may come to the door as one of the Duras sisters and give out gummy gagh.
And the Number 1 reason you should make your kid’s costume for Halloween is: Those pictures will be embarrassment gold when they are teenagers!
The teenage years. Embarrassment awaits them behind every corner, so why not break out those pictures of your daughter dressed as a Dalek or the twins as Ewoks?
All kidding aside about this, the memories you create will be priceless. After I presented this list at New York Comic Con, we opened the floor for comments; great stories of handmade costumes abound. One person’s grandmother made a devil costume that was worn by three generations of kids and is still going strong. One woman fondly remembered that despite a lack of funds, her mom was able to make her a great costume. One guy shared the simple, creative and punny costume his dad came up with: dark sunglasses and an Italian suit…. He was a “Venetian blind.”
Spending time with your kids, teaching them valuable lessons and making great memories. You can’t buy that anywhere … but you can make it.
[This article, by Dave Giancaspro, was originally published on Wednesday. Please leave any comments you may have on the original.]