“the best Halloween!”

Halloween is pretty important in our house. The kids get super excited. But with excitement comes stress. Otis was really bummed when his school had a positive COVID case and went into emergency lockdown mode, cancelling the in-school celebration. It as all down to trick-or-treating and even that was looking grim with not very many decorated houses in the neighborhood.

There was also a lot of indecision about what to be. Ideas included: witch, “scary monster,” goblin, and spider-in-a-box (inspired by a genuinely scary toy that we have where a realistically frightening spider on a wire “jumps” out at you when you slide the top off this wooden box). In the end, though, Otis settled on being a spider and Juniper decided to be a scary bird.

Otis’s costume came first since we were still assuming he’d need it for school the Thursday before Halloween. We did some initial sketches over dinner:

From top, clockwise: idea for button/loop system to attach leg strings, googly eye, piece of foam, foam rolled up and inserted into cloth tube for legs, assembled costume with googly eye hat, Juniper contribution: “I CAN DRAW AN EYE TOO!!!”

The decision to be a spider, by the way, is in keeping with a longer spider-themed Halloween tradition. Here’s Otis’s spider web costume from 2016:

(We had to correct a lot of people that year who complimented his Spiderman costume.)

I braved Walmart to pick up some supplies and we got to work. The legs are long sleeves sewn from a big sheet of black cloth, stuffed with pipe insulation sections and sewn onto a black hoodie. They’re attached with paracord to the kids arms. (Little hook and loop tabs make them removeable for school.) The hat is a black watch cap with large googly eyes glued on.

Here’s the end result:

Juniper’s costume was a little more involved. We brainstormed scary birds and settled on the seagull being the most terrifying. Here’s the schematics (with scary teeth for effect):

Most of the costume was pretty easy. For the wings, I sewed a big doubled-up semicircle out of white cloth and turned it inside out to hide the seams. I found some packets of feathers in Walmart and we glued them on in rows. Then I hand-sewed the wings to the top of the sleeves on a white thermal shirt. We got some orange tights and put a pair of tighty whities on top.

The hat was the biggest challenge. The first approach was to tape a cardboard beak onto a baseball cap and paint the whole thing. This was a bust. I used shitty paint and also the hat ended up being a little too small. The next plan was to make the hat from scratch out of foam sheets. This took a bit of experimentation, but ended up much better. I built the main hat from a single sheet, cutting slits and hot-gluing the overlapping slats. The beak is glued on the front and the (ridiculous) eyes beside it. There’s a headband inside to keep the whole apparatus centered on the kid’s head.

Here are both finished costumes, about ready for a prowl around the neighborhood:

And a better view of the feathers:

There weren’t nearly as many T-o-T friendly houses as there usually are, but the kids are bigger now and have a lot more stamina. (Also, the last two Halloweens featured non-stop pouring rain!) We ended up doing a respectable trek and filled the buckets anyway:

People were keeping their distance and houses employed a variety of social-distancing strategies (including a family around the block who sat on their roof with a candy chute that put ours to shame!).

As we were about to head home, I pointed out that you could see Mars and Otis said, “No, that’s the Moon!” I was about to correct him, when I saw the huge yellow circle coming up over the high school too. It was so bright I must’ve assumed it was a streetlight. I tried to get a picture once we got home, but it was behind a bunch of branches (pictured above). Otis declared the night the “best Halloween” (ever?).