Surveys show Halloween spending will be down this year
I heard a story on the radio this morning about a consumer survey asking about spending plans for Halloween. Overall, about 55 percent of respondents plan to trim their spending this year on Halloween costumes, decorations and candy. A third said they will spend less on store-bought costumes, and 12 percent said they will make their own costumes this year.
I remember the fun of making our own outfits. It was a project that took an evening or two as the holiday approached. And it was like a state secret; we never told our friends how we planned to dress up.
I recall two Halloweens in particular where the costume was memorable. One year, I dressed as a girl, with my Mom's help. My parents had a children's clothing store at the time, and Mom brought home a wig from one of the window mannequins. She plopped the wig on my head, put on makeup and lipstick and put a bra under the blouse she had loaned me, and filled it with two oranges. None of my friends had a clue it was me, until I opened my mouth to say "Trick or Treat."
The other home-made outfit that I remember was a robot. I got an empty carton from the local hardware store and decorated it with all sorts of dials and knobs. I covered the whole thing with tin foil, and I cut out holes for my head, arms and legs. I decorated a paper bag for my head with foil, and had cut-outs so I could see.
It was spectacular.
But on Halloween night, I ran into a problem. I hadn't thought to measure the carton, and when I tried to get out the apartment door, I got stuck. I had to get out of the outfit, pull it through the door and get back in. But I couldn't go through that every time I had to go through another doorway in the apartment complex where I lived. I ended up going home, putting on a tattered shirt and rubbing some shoe polish on my face to look like a hobo.
When my kids were little, we got away with home-made outfits. But once they were in school, they had to have store-bought outfits like all their classmates.
Halloween costumes are a very big business these days -- about $6 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. But to me, it's not about the $20 or $30 (or a lot more) that the costume costs, but rather the fun and creativity and family togetherness of making it yourself from scratch. That's priceless.
Have a happy and safe Halloween.