May I offer a suggestion?
Never go to Party City on Halloween Eve.
Wenxin wanted to be something cool this year. I think cool actually means "scary." We've never let the kids dress up as anything scary before, but when he got a free pair of vampire teeth at one of Nathan's Boy Scout events, we decided it would be OK. All we needed was a cape and some white face paint. How hard could that be?
Which is how we ended up at Party City on Halloween Eve.
However, somewhere between the throngs of frantic last-minute costume shoppers and the empty shelf where the child's vampire cape should have been and the endless wall of costumes, Wenxin changed his mind.
He didn't want to be a vampire anymore.
He didn't know what he wanted to be.
He liked all the gruesome horror movie characters, and I kept saying "no," because we were way out of my comfort zone.
Driving home empty-handed on Halloween Eve, I began to go through the list of costumes that would be acceptable to me and Mike. When I said "ninja," Wenxin piped up, "Yea, I could be a ninja."
Mike reminded me that Wenxin's friend down the street was a ninja last year. A quick text to the mom, and Wenxin had the coolest ninja costume ever. Cost to me: Zero.
As for the other kids, we were just as last minute.
Julia's beautiful mask stole the show, even though it was an unplanned purchase just two days earlier. Originally selling for $30, it was marked down to $11. The only one left, it was cracked under the chin.
"This is damaged. Can you mark it down any more?" I asked, because it never hurts to ask.
Final price: $5.50. Julia added a long dress from our dress-up box, and she was good to go.
Katherine went as an injured person -- arm in a bloody sling, foot in a boot, head wrapped in bloody gauze. Even though I'm sad that the days of sweet costumes are over, I think I can live with a little red Sharpie blood. (Katherine's costume was so last minute that she missed the photo shoot. Mike arrived home with the gauze after it was already dark, and Katherine was convinced she was going to miss Halloween.)
Lastly, Nathan, age 13, opted out this year because he just got braces, and if you can't eat the candy, then really, what's the point? Anyway, at 13, it was time.
The other three pillaged the neighborhood and come back with close to 700 pieces of candy. It weighed over 15 pounds. And yes, before bed that night they counted it, sorted it, traded it, and even weighed it.
Don't let the gorgeous photos fool you. We totally winged Halloween this year. And everyone said it was the best Halloween ever.
OK, maybe not everyone. Pretty sure Nathan didn't say that.
Last minute Halloween costumes for everyone for under $10. Works for me.