Costumes. The mere word can strike fear and dread in the hearts of many SLOCA parents. After all, when it’s time to get costumes together, it is at the trimester’s end. We’ve just completed progress reports and handed them in (on time, of course!) and finished up our home projects. The glue, paint and paper mache has barely been scraped from our fingers when it’s time to think of costumes for History Day. It can definitely be a mad rush to find something suitable to wear.
Our History Days are one of SLO Classical Academy’s high points. To see history come alive and to experience it together as a community is a gift and is part of what makes our education so rich and multi-dimensional. Let’s not allow costumes to detract from that.
Even though it’s not necessary for parents to be in costume for our upcoming History Day in November, the following tips will be helpful in finding appropriate costumes for students. Also, keep these ideas on file for future use when parental dressing-up is encouraged.
Start early. We all know costumes will be needed. Get an early start and long before History Day has been mentioned, at least start thinking about what you may need to find, make, or buy to make a costume. It’s more fun if parents dress up, too, so try and include yourself. (Again, not this upcoming history day, but in the future.)
- Shop after Halloween sales. Many times, costumes are severely marked down to under $5. We know ahead of time the time period in history so that makes planning easier. Did you find the perfect Renaissance costume on sale but we’re studying ancient Greece? Well, with our four-year history cycle, you can easily calculate when the Renaissance will come around again. Estimate your child’s future size and buy the costume for the future. If it was only a $2 clearance costume you won’t feel badly if it ends up not fitting or she doesn’t want to wear it in 4 years.
- Accessorize. Halloween is also a great time to purchase accessories. If you’re not into dressing up completely, go for accessories. The proper accessories can often make a simple costume look even better.
- Go for the basics. A monk’s robe will work for a man in most time periods and is easy to wear. Black capes, peasant costumes, aprons and long skirts are also versatile costume items.
- Search ebay, etsy and the internet for already made items or easy home-made ideas.
- Bed sheets are a great starting point. Check out thrift stores or even Walmart sells sheets at reasonable prices. They come in a variety of colors and sizes and the edges are already finished.
- Suggest the era. As mentioned before, look for things in your closet that suggest the time period. Or perhaps you could style your hair appropriately. Sometimes modern clothing has a style or a fabric choice that is suggestive of an era.
- Search thrift stores. As mentioned earlier, thrift stores are a great place to find sheets with a low price tag. Also search for items that suggest the time period in style, fabric or other ways.
- Rent or make a full costume. There is always the option of renting a full costume from a rental shop. And, let’s not discount the fact that many people are brilliant under pressure and can create something from nothing in minutes. There is no one way to do this.
- Let go of perfectionism. This is supposed to be fun! And, if your toddler wants to be in costume as a super-hero, let him. Chances are he won't be the only Spider-Man wandering through the halls.
We hope these tips will serve as encouragement to costume your family and contribute to the magic that occurs on History Day. It really is worth it! Pictured below are various costumes from previous history days. The last photo was from the our Renaissance Tableaux four years ago.