Thursday, October 28, 2010

Group Costumes -- Harry Potter First Years

My favorite group Halloween costume was Harry Potter First Years. We created the Book 1 scene  when Hagrid leads the new students by lamplight from the train to Hogwarts and then Professor McGonagall sorts them with the sorting hat. This scene allowed us create clothes for the kids that did not involve the more complicated Gryffindor uniforms. The first years march in with gray clothes and black ties. This was also the first Halloween after our eldest son started the gluten free diet and could not trick or treat. Dressing up as Harry Potter to do a magic "trick" at every door made the holiday special.

Now Here's How

Harry, Ron and Hermione all created their basic look with clothes from their closets: white shirts, gray slacks/skirt, gray sweaters, and black ties. (Well, we did need to provide a black tie to Hermione.) All of these items came from the closet and cost us nothing. Then they added graduation gowns. One came from my college graduation and two were bought at Goodwill for $2 each. Their wands all came from nature.  They each took sand paper and dulled down twigs (for free) to create their wands. All of them needed hair dye to match the characters ($3 total.)

Then each of them added personal character touches:

Harry carried a magic trick and a box of "Ever Flavored Beans" (made by Jelly Belly). The magic trick came from a simple magic kit he received for his birthday. The Ever Flavored Beans...okay, okay, they were the splurge! $7.00 at Barnes and Noble. Another great touch: he practiced various Harry poses and incantations.

Hermione carried a large old fashioned book from her mom's book shelf and a stuffed toy cat from her toy box. She did a great job with the Hermione attitude and had the eye rolling/foot stomping down pat.

Ron broke his wand and taped it together. He wore his shirt untucked. He carried a smaller bag of Ever Flavored Beans (again, splurge $4.50). He carried a toy rat. He could flip a switch, put it on the floor, and chase it yelling "Scabbers! Come back here!" (Again, splurge -- $6 at Walmart pet area.) He wore an old pair of shoes with holes in the toes. He also took some of the webbing from our Halloween decorations, draped it over his shoulders and placed spider rings from one of his school party bags through the webbing (all free.)

One thing I loved about these costumes was the way that the gowns blew around in the breeze and the fact that they were warm costumes.

For McGonagall's look, things got a tad pricey, but if I'd had more time I think I could have asked around to borrow certain pieces.  I bought an old black prom at Goodwill ($10) and a black blouse ($2) with poofy sleeves (since the prom dress didn't have the right top.)  Since the cape covered the waist, I didn't need to sew or alter the dress or blouse. I simply wore the blouse untucked over the dress. Then I used a broach from my own jewelry box to clasp my blouse at the neck and my own high heel black boots. Finally, I bought one yard of really pretty green fabric ($3 -- half price sale.)  To make it into a cape, I cut it up the middle lengthwise, but only halfway up the fabric. At the halfway mark, I cut a small circle for my neck. Then I sewed a seam at all the edges. (Incidentally, we've loaned different pieces of this for local plays and other kids costumes.)  I, too, needed dye hair spray ($1). The BEST part of my costume: the sorting hat! I bought a scarecrow hat at a second hand shop ($5, but major score!) and covered it with batting and brown fabric ($2). I pinned the fabric to the scarecrow hat from the inside with safety pins to make the "dimpled" look. I carried it as a puppet so that I could hold it over the kids' heads and yell, "Gryffindor!"

Hagrid used a shoe box, black paint, and battery powered touch lights from our hall closet to make his lamp for leading the first years. All the supplies came from our house. He wore boots and pants from his own closet and stuffed a Goodwill XL flannel shirt ($2) with pillows from our house. Then he borrowed that awesome coat, a real duster, from a friend of his. He did have to buy a black wig/beard at a costume shop ($7).  Finally, we bought scrap fur fabric from the odds and ends rack ($1). We tied them on a string and hung them around his neck as if he'd been hunting. 

We actually created this costume first for the Midnight Release Party for book 7 in July. We had a lot of fun since so many of the teens dressed up as various characters. Several people asked to get their picture taken with us and lots of kids and teens wanted to be sorted with the sorting hat. That night, we won for best costume and took home our prized poster autographed by the illustrator Mary Grandpre! We used it again at Halloween and won several prizes at various events. This will be a great costume for opening night this November...Hmmm, where did I put my sorting hat?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Group Costume -- S'mores Around A Campfire

This is by far our cheapest, most creative costume yet. I went as firewood (which also doubles as a dryad costume.) Our nieghbor girl went as the fire. Her mom came along as a graham cracker. Our eldest went as a chocolate bar while hubby went as a marshmallow on a stick. So far we've won "Silliest Costume Award" at the scout Halloween party and still have one more big event to go. (That's all the events we could squeeze in this year, since we're working extra jobs.) So here's the breakdown of how to make each element.

FIREWOOD: brown corduroys, brown shirt, hair braided with a few small braids, twigs stuck through the braids to fork out above my head, larger twigs held in hands and threaded out of belt loops.
TOTAL COST: Nothing. The clothes came from the closet and the twigs came from below the neighbor's tree.

FIRE: orange jumpsuit, flame fabric cut as a poncho but you could also cut out whimsical triangles of this fabric or of plain yellow fabric, hair sprayed down with glitter.
TOTAL COST: about $5 for the fire fabric and $1 for the bottle of glitter hair spray.

HERSEY BAR: brown pants, brown shirt, flat panel of cardboard spray painted brown and painted with black lines like a bar of chocolate, string stapled on the back to hold it up on his shoulders, and a hole cut out for his face.
TOTAL COST: $3 bucks because we didn't have any brown spray paint. The clothes came from his closet and we went dumpster diving at a trendy decor shop (which didn't have nasty trash) for the cardboard. $1 for a package of "design research."

GRAHAM CRACKER: Plain brown table cloth and cardboard painted with brown dots.
TOTAL COST: Nothing. Table cloth and cardboard were free. If she needed to put a hole in it to make a poncho, the cost would be about 3$ to buy another at, say, Goodwill or Walmart.

MARSHMALLOW ON A STICK: (Hubby lost weight, a lot of weight, this year so he really didn't want to be the marshmallow, but at the last minute our son decided he really wanted to be the chocolate bar, so a huge, HUGE kudos goes out to Dad for being the "bigger" man.)  Okay, the marshmallow was a giant box wrapped in white trash bags and old mattress pads. A layer of old sheets was stapled over the top. Then I covered a really long stick broken in half (again from the neighbors tree) with aluminum foil. I stuck one end through one side of the box pointed up. The other half I stuck into the other side pointed down.
TOTAL COST: Nothing! Dumpster diving for the cardboard and all the other supplies came from our bags of old stuff in the basement. If I didn't have a box of old sheets, etc, I could buy sheets at Goodwill for about $3 and Walmart (for one top sheet) for around $5. If you have to buy a mattress pad, I suggest you take an old one off a bed for the costume and replace it with a new one.

Show me your homemade creations with a list of ingredients and costs.  I'd love to feature your work of art in articles for next year.  The most creative, cheapest costume will win a spot on my Wall of Fame.