Creative Costuming: Where Creativity Meets Parenting

Halloween has long been my favorite holiday. Since I was old enough to aim a glue gun, I’ve been creating my own costumes and, much to their chagrin, siblings’ costumes here or there along the way. I once made my little brother a dragon costume out of a football helmet covered with chicken wire and Great Stuff insulation spray. It looked amazing, but we ended up reinforcing it to his body with bailing twine….you get the idea….

But isn’t Halloween just about pure FUN and RAW creativity?!! Okay, and maybe fear, a good vintage horror movie is always good company while fabricating your (and your family’s) costumes.

One year my husband and I challenged each other to obtain all our costume materials at Big Lots for under $10 each. We went in with no preconceived ideas, and soon found all kinds of things that could be altered, deconstructed, and fabricated into wearables. I think the title was “Domestic Duo.”

Becoming a parent of children who can now speak has provided a new complexity to this creative opportunity. I have two girls who live for trick-or-treat night and literally plan their costumes all year long. “Mama, I want to be that!” my three-year-old will demand on nearly a daily basis as she points her chubby finger at storybook characters.  Being an “idea” person, I get very caught up in the project and my own vision, and find it harder to let my kid take the creative lead. When costume-making time hits, my kids will often come down to the popular ideas of princess, fairy, mermaid, or the inevitable fairy-princess-mermaid. Though I really want my kids to reach beyond the commercialized images they see, I realize this is delicate territory. If empowering them to have confidence in their ideas (and having fun for both kids and parents) is the end goal, I do think I must act more as costume assistant/facilitator/design consultant instead of creative director.

This year the beloved go-to idea of “fairy” is back on the table. I gently suggested tooth fairy since she is on the brink of losing her first tooth and the idea was a hit. So I’ll assist my little artist and see what we can create from the stuff around our house. And if I really get carried away I can focus on making and dressing up in my OWN costume .. such as this great toothpaste costume … or maybe I could be a sweet tooth … hmmmm.

I was really inspired by this awesome father/daughter team I captured on film last year. Their costume was one of the most creative costumes I saw the whole night. This is Jason and his little girl Charlotte. Sometimes the best costumes are from the simplest materials.

So this Halloween I am going to enjoy some mulled cider and keep in mind that at the end of the day my kids will remember their parents getting down in the felt and velcro scrap pile to go all out for their ideas. And I will continue to feel a kinship to my fellow parents who aren’t afraid of silliness and fun and taking this opportunity to play and create ….

Over the past 18 months, in preparation for opening CMA’s new Center for Creativity (on Jan. 1, 2011), the entire education staff immersed ourselves in research on creativity, particularly what is necessary to cultivate creativity.  Musings from the Center for Creativity is an opportunity for us to share our thoughts on this topic.  Please share your views and resources with us, as well.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Emily Reiser, Educator for Family Programs