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The Globe and Mail

Aw, she's a sushi! Plus 11 other homemade Halloween costumes

Sure, it’s easy and convenient to buy Buzz Lightyear or Power Ranger costumes from a drugstore. But this year, we’re honouring the parents who cater to those truly unique kid requests, the parents who stay up all night or dedicate full days to sewing, gluing, sparkling, stuffing – whatever it takes to get the job done.

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Hayden Potapinski, 4, as a tractor: Hayden is a city kid with a farmer’s heart. When asked what he wanted to be for Halloween, there was really only one option: a John Deere tractor. We searched for some ideas online and Hayden’s Grandpa Miazga designed and created the entire thing (which took about 30 hours and cost $30). There was no swaying Hayden on his costume choice, so even though it was a daunting task, Grandpa was up to the challenge. His little sister donated diaper boxes for the main frame. Hayden is thrilled to pieces with his tractor costume. He was there every step of the way as a consultant on the project. – Amanda Potapinski, Calgary

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Hayden, 3 weeks, as a pine cone: The pine cone is a play on words of a nickname my father had for me when I was little (a dimunitive from a Czech word – long story). As a sleep-deprived new mom I was somewhat delusional and I saw no problem getting it done – which I was able to accomplish between the feeds and the changes of a newborn! Actual fabrication probably took an hour, but it was spread out across a really long day. The cost was $5 five dollars or less. I think his expression in the photo sums up his indifference to it. He didn’t cry, so I took that as a positive thing. – Andrea Macecek, Toronto

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Neveah, 2, as a blue bird: My daughter decided she was going to be a blue bird for Halloween and nothing else. I searched and searched for blue craft feathers, when I stumbled across a blue boa. I hand plucked two boas to get the feathers, and glue-gunned them on a blue hoodie. The challenge clearly was to pluck, glue and stick without getting totally covered myself. Our cats went nuts. When I showed Neveah the costume her big blue eyes grew large and she laughed – mission accomplished. The neighbours loved it – but many had feathers in their front hallways for months to come. – Angila Clow, Ingersoll, Ont.

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Bridget, 8, and Emily, 10, as King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn: My sister Bridget and I were fascinated with the spooky historical tale of Henry VIII and his many dead wives, particularly Anne Boleyn. My dad worked on Anne Boleyn for several days – he built the wooden frame out of scrap lumber, then we had to go through several experiments and fittings to get the stuffing to look realistic. My mother put together the Henry VIII costume, creatively padding it with throw pillows, and painstakingly making the beard from handmade pipe cleaners and wool. This costume was slightly uncomfortable (a bulky frame on my shoulders, and no arms! Henry had to carry my treat bag) but really fun. I loved this costume – the perfect combination of being a queen and spooky! – Emily Antze, Toronto

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Braden, 6, as NASA space shuttle: We were in Florida in May, 2011, and watched the launch of the second-last shuttle. We visited the Kennedy Space Centre where Braden, upon seeing the life-sized replica of a Saturn V rocket, proclaimed that was what he wanted to be for Halloween. I didn’t have any doubt his grandma could pull it off. She had created some extraordinary costumes for my brother and I in our youth (and, um, even through university). The biggest challenge? There was no clear design to follow for a rocket ship costume. It’s fabric, with some orange boa feathers for the thrusters and some painted recycled plastic food containers. – Glen Flint, Toronto

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Amber, 4 months, as an owl: A friend knitted Amber the toque as a gift, which inspired me to create an entire owl costume. I couldn’t resist making my baby’s first Halloween costume – I’m a crafty mom. I don’t think Amber is old enough to have an opinion but everyone else loved it. It’s so fulfilling to be able to share pictures of your baby to put a smile on other people’s faces. The biggest challenge was trying to take a picture of her without her trying to put it in her mouth. The costume took about 4 hours – I used scraps of old fabric lying around the house, so it didn’t cost a penny. (The felt is actually made from recycled pop bottles!) – Kim Hunt , Whistler, B.C

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Jonathan Demmer, 8, as a toilet: The idea came straight out of left field – it was totally my son’s idea. His excitement turned to embarrassment when we went shopping for training potties – he wouldn’t stand with me at the check out! The night of Halloween, though, he loved it. People often held him up at the door while they summoned people hiding out watching TV or something, with a “you gotta see this one.” Everyone was keen to open the lid and put the candy in the bowl. – David Demmer, Toronto

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Katie, 11, as a mailbox: Months before Halloween, Katie told us she wanted to be a mailbox. At first I thought it would be no problem to make. But then I got really into it and it became challenging – if it was supposed to be a mailbox, then it was going to look exactly like a mailbox! Creating the costume took about two weeks and the only thing I spent money on was red wrapping paper and spray glue. When she first put the mailbox on, it tilted backward and was difficult for her to walk in. I made some straps that attached to the inside of the box and went around her waist to keep the box in place. I also had to attach the candy bag to the inside of the mailbox so that when you opened the mailbox door, treats went into the bag and not out the bottom of the costume. – Janine Stener, Saskatoon

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Our daughter, 3, decided she wanted to be a "piece of toast" for Halloween. After some hesitation, my mother and I decided to take on the challenge. With foam, brown spray paint, paste (tinted red as the strawberry jam) and blanched almonds (as the sesame seeds) we managed to pull off this unique costume. - Karen Jungjohann, Toronto

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Zoe, 8 months, as shrimp sushi roll: “The idea came from a friend who said she looked like a little sushi roll as a baby. It took me one evening to cut up some felt into the right shapes and use iron-on adhesive to affix them to a plain onesie. I hand sewed the ginger and wasabi headband. Zoe was super happy to be a little shrimp sushi roll – it was super comfortable, since it was a plain onesie and I layered a pair of plain white leggings underneath to stay warm. Everyone thought she was so adorable! – Leslie Ng, Mississauga, Ont.

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Nina Gholizadeh, 4 months, as a lion: A few years back I saw a little boy dressed up as a lion and I thought it was the cutest thing. It worked out great because Nina’s first word was “cat!” I was definitely hesitant that I could pull it off since, at the time, I was a very sleep-deprived first time mom. But I was determined to start the tradition of making home-made Halloween costumes. The costume took me one full day: I spent the morning hunting down all the supplies and the afternoon sewing and putting it all together. – Michelle Gholizadeh, Toronto

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Sam Lyon, 9, as a headless chef: He got a chef’s jacket and hat for his birthday. It took a day of labour and $50 – I was gung-ho of course, but had to recruit my husband to help me make the torso. The biggest challenge was making sure it was light enough that Sam could manage the night without getting tired, and I was a bit worried that he’d get dizzy since you could still smell the seal-and-peel I used to glue the fruit on the tray! Trick or treating, everyone he met on the street loved it – he was stopped for photos, and a few younger kids were actually scared of him. – Ruth Hartanto, Ottawa

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