Creative Halloween Ideas

Extracted from commonsensemedia

For the last few years, elementary school Halloween parades have been more about mass marketing than inspiration. Here are tips to take control back from marketers and retailers and have fun in the process

If we want to steer kids away from commercialism, branded Halloween costumes are part of the slippery slope that can lead to the backpack, the pencil case, and the pajamas. Branded costumes also tend to squeeze kids into strict gender roles — like sexy girls and violent boys — which can send problematic messages to impressionable minds. Before you know it, this year’s Ariel will want to be Nicki Minaj in a rainbow wig.

But there is a way to take control back from marketers and retailers and have fun in the process. It doesn’t need to take more time than grabbing something off the rack, and it’s a chance to get kids’ creative juices flowing, save some money, and maybe even express your own values.

1. Foster creativity. If kids want to dress up like a character from a TV show or movie, ask them to create the costume out of stuff in the house. My Big Bird costume was no more than a paper grocery bag and some leftover yellow party streamers.

2. Shop your closet. You’ll be amazed at what kids can construct themselves (Ramona the Pest, Daddy Warbucks, even Cinderella!) if you avoid the costume aisles at big-box stores.

3. Think thrift. Thrift stores are great resources for costumes and a way to sidestep consumerism in a quick and easy way. Many shops are filled with almost-new costumes you can buy off the rack or embellish with a few special touches. What used to be a giant yellow M&M becomes a cute bumblebee with some black stripes and fairy wings.

4. Let go. Halloween is about letting kids experiment with dressing up. Kids don’t need to look perfect — if they like their costume, that’s all that matters.

5. Be brainy. Here’s something you won’t see at the costume store: puns. Two people tied together = A PEAR. A big “P” on a shirt and a blackened eye = A BLACK-EYED PEA. Kids love the looks on people’s face when they reveal their puns — and this approach challenges kids’ imagination more than your wallet.

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