Enjoy choosing costumes now - while you can

If you're lucky, you have a great pic of your kids in their Halloween costumes taken by Jim Slonoff at one of Hinsdale's Fall Family Fests.

My favorite one of Ainsley is from 2009, when she was just 10 months old and dressed as an adorable pink bunny. She's sitting by a pint-sized pumpkin with her cloth carrot resting in her lap and one of her silly little half smiles on her face.

She's had some great costumes over the years - Minnie Mouse, a witch, Cinderella and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Then she got older and the costumes became a little less adorable. Three years ago, she dressed as a mummy bride complete with a creepy white face, black lips and a long gray wig. Last year she was a devil, and this year she told me she wanted to be a haunted doll (after I nixed her creepy clown suggestion).

So when she and Dan headed to the Spirit store one night last week, I wasn't sure what they would come back with. I gave him two directives: No clowns. And don't spend more than $40 on a costume.

He complied - mostly.

Ainsley's "Flower Power" hippie costume rang in at $39.99. The problem was with the accessories - fringed boot covers, a sunflower headband and temporary tattoos - that brought the total to $69.30, not including tax.

Unfortunately, I don't think this is Ainsley's most expensive costume. Her "official" Disney Cinderella costume was pricey to begin with, before we added the shoes with heels that light up. But we got some good mileage out of that costume, which she wore for two consecutive Halloweens and for dinner at Cinderella's castle at Disney World.

The made-to-order "Little House on the Prairie" dress was no bargain, either. But we amortized the cost over three occasions, seeing as she earned extra points for wearing it to Pioneer Days at school and donned it again the following Halloween.

Two years ago we dropped some cash on her Sarah Sanderson costume, due in part to our weakness for accessories (think sparkly witch hat and long velvet cape). As huge fans of "Hocus Pocus," we had a hard time not supporting that one.

Of course, this is not how Halloween worked when I was a kid. Most of my costumes were homemade - and not by a mom who also happened to be a talented seamstress. I made them myself, transforming old sheets and sport coats and luggage boxes into ghosts, hobos and - the pièce de résistance - an award-winning (according to the Homewood Fire Department) deck of cards. (My best friend dressed as a die.)

I still enjoy wearing costumes but can't remember the last time I did. I fear my dream of having us all dress up in a Harry Potter theme - Ainsley as Hermione, Dan as Snape and yours truly as reporter Rita Skeeter - will never come true. As time marches on, Harry Potter is less current and Ainsley is much less likely to want to be seen with us, much less dressed like us.

And I suppose it's time to let go of my hopes to see her dressed as a ladybug (runner-up to the bunny costume her first Halloween.)

I guess I should be grateful she chose to be a regular hippie this year and not a zombie hippie. Yes, zombie hippies are a thing. Who knew?

- Pamela Lannom is editor

of The Hinsdalean.

Readers can email her

at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean