This year marks the first time I’ve ever thought about Hallowe’en in relation to personal finance. My daughter informed us way back in July that she wanted to be a fairy mermaid this year. Our conversation went something like this:
What’s a fairy mermaid?
You know, a mermaid who lives in the big lake but can fly.
Oh, so a mermaid with wings?
Yeah, that’s it.
The first three Hallowe’ens of her life required very little effort on our part, but this year she is old enough to tell us about her preferences. Endlessly. So, the question becomes, should we make it or should we save ourselves the trouble and just buy it?
A quick scroll through the many local buy and sell groups tells us that the personal finance answer to this question is to buy a gently used, but not particularly unique, costume for $10-$25. No fairy mermaids have been spotted.
As an older kid and teenager, I was never that crazy about Hallowe’en myself, but when I was really young, my parents put a great deal of effort and energy into my costumes. Back then, everything was handmade. Or at least it was in my family, since the pennies didn’t come by us easily. When I was four, I was this cool sort of wizard / princess character (decades ahead of Harry Potter – had only Mom written a bestselling book to go along with the costume!) with makeup straight out of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Looking back at that picture, it was a no brainer. We are definitely going to make her costume. We visited a few fabric stores before we found what could work. Quite shockingly, the total for the fabric, needles, bobbin, batten and felt came to $66. Almost six times the cost of picking one up from a buy and sell group.
DIY is not cheap. The art of handmade is long forgotten in our throw-away world where cheap consumer goods clog up the landfills and our Facebook feeds. Fabric stores’ days are numbered, and as most (apart from, say, Fabricland) are mom and pop shops, the prices they need to charge to stay in business are high.
I want for my daughter some of the same experiences I had. I want for her to see creativity, craft, and handiness as an everyday part of life. I want the holidays to be about joy and family, and for her to look back at pictures 35 from years from today and say, wow, that was an awesome Hallowe’en. The higher cost is definitely worth it to us. Plus, she should get much use out of it when it goes into her tickle trunk for dress-up afterwards. When she grows out of it, who knows, maybe we’ll get 10 bucks for it on Facebook!
We’ve got a little less than three weeks to get this fairy mermaid costume done. Come back on Hallowe’en to see how we’ve done!
Do you have any Hallowe’en-related costume memories from days of old? What were / are your traditions?