Have an All Saints' celebration coming up? I love that we've chosen to keep the emphasis this time of year on the saints and the true feast. Our costumes and annual party are an attempt at that goal. This is my eleventh year dressing boy saints on the cheap and I've culminated some tricks and tips along the way! If you're not convinced you can pull off a good looking saint costume for your kiddo, I promise it isn't that hard. If I can do it, pretty much I bet you can, too. Beneath this list of tips are a round up of some of our saints over the years. Please let me know if you could use any behind the scenes notes or details and I'll be happy to answer in the comments. But overall, here are a few costume-making pointers I've picked up over the years:
They are your best costume find for the littlest ones, dear non-sewing friends. A standard one will fit about the three foot and under crowd. A king size one will fit a little bit taller than that. Get the color you need and then using a seam ripper or sharp scissors, just cut a head hole with a small perpendicular cut in the middle to open it and two arm holes. Cinched at the waist with rope or a belt and it becomes an alb, gown, cassock, habit, and more.
2. GRAB THAT GLUE GUN.
A glue gun will cover a multitude of sewing and in most cases, can replace sewing itself. Most of the embellishments on our costumes are simply hot glued right on to the fabric.
3. CARDBOARD ALL THE THINGS.
My boys have taken charge of lots of the little accessories to their costumes. Almost always, something is made of cardboard each year. They will use heavy cardboard leftover from a box and paint to make a crown, sword, shield, crosses, symbols, and more. I think it's good for them to be actively a part of making their costumes and learning about the saint and I think it's extra good when you can see that they had a hand in its creation. We're looking for perfect in virtue emulation not in costume decoration.
4. HIT THE DOLLAR STORE.
The dollar store almost always has a few cheap costume accessories this time of year for both boys and girls. We've gotten soldier breastplates, helmets, and swords there. They obviously aren't made to last but that's okay. They play hard with them at the party and then they get put in the costume hamper for normal play until they die their cheap plastic death. Things we can't find anywhere else can often be found at a thrift store. If you're really good, you may have remembered last year to hit up the after-Halloween sales at local stores and picked up some costume accessories for this year.
5. JUST PLAIN 'OL FABRIC.
A plain non-sewed, non messed around with length of fabric can be SO much. Tied or pinned at the neck, it's a cape. Put on your head, it's a veil. Cut a simple head hole out, overlap around the sides of the body and then cinch with a belt or rope and it can be a robe, cassock, or gown. Draped around the shoulders and it's a wrap or shawl. I recommend using a jersey, fleece, or other fabric that won't fray at the edges when cut.
6. SHOP THE CLOSET/TOYBOX.
Many of our accessories and costume pieces are from things we already had - t-shirts, sandals, costume jewelry, belts, ropes, dolls, curtain rods, already owned costumes, etc. Use what you have and make the things you have work for you.
7. STORE WELL AND REUSE.
Keep a box in storage that the kids can't get to of the things you've made that can be reused, especially the things that took more time or would get destroyed if you put them with the normal play dress up clothes. You'll be so happy in later years when you realize that half or most of the work is already done either for them or that it now fits a younger sibling. So far, my kids have chosen to repeat a lot of their saints and don't mind one bit. Once a year is still special enough for them, it seems, and keeping some of the things in storage keeps it that way, I think. And, of course, many of the pieces can be repurposed for a new saint. I also don't have an issue guiding them toward a saint that is more doable with my current energy level and the things we already have.
FINALLY, CHECK THE PERFECTIONISM.
Remember, it doesn't have to be perfect. Keep in mind that an actual real-life child will be wearing this and will stain/rip/remove part of the costume within 3.6 minutes of the actual event. Also, no one will be examining it up close and seeing the glue gun strings or misaligned seams or stains on the pillowcase. Much of the point of saint costumes is in the doing of it. The dressing as saints, the work of the party, the focus of the day on saints - all of that teaches our children that this time is about honoring the saints and that they're worth making a bit of a fuss over. Even if it's with the glue gun.
Here are a few of the saints we've done over the years:
St. Michael the Archangel
St. Edward the Confessor
St. Martin of Tours
St. David the Shepherd Boy/Patriarch
St. John Paul the Great
Here's some more boy ideas that we haven't done but would be fun and pretty easy to do:
St. Maximilian Kolbe
St. John the Baptist (you were looking to use that camel hair you have lying around, weren't you?)
St. Luke (physician or artist)
St. Isidore the Farmer
St. Longinus (another saint with a sword)
St. Ignatius Loyola
Servant of God Emil Kapaun (Army uniform)
And now our Hagio-History...
(and a younger version but same wings!)
(Yes, another St. Edward.)
May all the holy men and women pray for us!
Linking up with Kelly for 7 Quick Takes!