Your one-stop shop for all Hallowe'en goodies
A good Hallowe'en outfit will get more than one use beyond the night itself, writes Caitriona Redmond
There's great value to be had in Hallowe'en costumes this year, but how do you decide what's the best choice for your family? When costumes can be bought for as low as €4.99 each, it might seem like an easy decision to make. However, cheap does not always mean good value in the world of children's costumes.
Dressing up in costumes is something to be encouraged no matter what the time of the year. Experiencing the transformative effect of role play and changing how they interact with the world by wearing a costume is part of a child's development. In this case, the more disposable costumes at a lower price may not be as suited to regular use. A decent (machine washable) costume is worth the investment, and you may like create a "dressing-up box" containing costumes, old clothes, and related items for use at anytime.
Here are a few questions worth considering before you buy:
Does it machine wash?
Between parties in school before the midterm break, to dressing up parties at clubs, and the night itself, you will want to get at least four wears from a Hallowe'en costume. Check the all-important care labels to make sure that you can easily restore a costume to near original state in the event of a mishap.
Do you need undergarments with the costume?
Some better quality kit may just be worth the investment, because if you have to buy a plain T-shirt, leggings or jumper to go underneath the purchase price increases. Many costumes are made of a thin material so you might like to consider going up one size so that your child can wear light clothing underneath anyway.
Is it easy to get on/off?
Hooray for velcro edges and pop-buttons when you're dressing small children, and indeed, when they're dressing themselves. If you have to sew a child into a costume, consider how they're going to use the bathroom, and how often you'll have to make running repairs.
Does the costume carry the CE mark and a flame-resistance mark?
This one is important, so don't be tempted to buy a costume without this reassurance. While the flame-resistance mark doesn't mean that the costume won't catch fire, it does mean that it will be slower to flame, will resist burning, and will be easier to extinguish once removed from the fire source. For further information, visit nsai.ie.
Is the costume age-appropriate?
Particularly for small children, you will want to make sure that there are no drawstrings or long cords attached, and that no parts of the costume can become a swallow/choking hazard.
Can your child move around?
There's no point in wearing a mask if your child can't see where they're going! Try on a mask before you buy, and consider carefully extending the eye-holes (and for that matter the nose/mouth area) with a craft knife. Check hemline lengths so that your children don't trip by getting caught with the wrong length.
Buy your face paint a few days beforehand and test it at least five days before using. This is just in case your child has an allergic skin reaction to the ingredients in the face paint. Always use clean sponges and brushes to apply the paint and remove it gently afterwards.
Bearing all of these tips in mind, I've rounded up my favourite costumes, available nationwide and suitable for all budgets and needs...
For a broad range of character costumes, Woodies Party Zone wins the race. There are hundreds of licensed dressing-up items to choose from, but this selection of baby costumes particularly caught my eye. All the baby costumes are in effect baby-gro/onesie format, with popper buttons for easy nappy changing, along with velcro attached accessories. At €35.99 the premium baby costumes aren't cheap, but they are made with parents and children in mind, and are high quality. If you can't find what you want in store, their website has a far wider offering. Visit woodiespartyzone.ie to find out more.
There's a lot to be said for sticking to the classics like Count Dracula, zombies and a skeleton. Heatons have you covered on a budget here with prices starting from €10 for a very cute "Spider Dracula" costume which includes hidden bat wings. There's also a large "Skeleton Onesie" which is aimed at older tweens/teens, priced at €20. For more information, visit heatons.ie
Littlewoods have a classic "Roping Cowboy" costume which includes trousers, shirt, waistcoat, neckscarf, and black hat with sheriff's badge for the budget price of €14. It is marked "sponge clean only" though. It's worth browsing through the customer reviews before you buy too. See littlewoods.ie for more information.
Spiderman and The Incredible Hulk continue to be popular amongst the 5-8-year-old age group. Penneys have value costumes starting at €13 which includes a headmask. For very small babies you can pick up a novelty Sherpa suit (effectively dressing your baby up as a fluffy teddy bear) which doubles as a light snowsuit priced at €9. For a wider variety of Marvel characters you can get these in Woodies Party Zone but expect to pay at least three times the price.
In case you've been living under a rock over the past year, brace yourself: you will get at least one Minion knocking on your door with a trick-or-treat bag this Hallowe'en. A girl's Minion costume will set you back €33 from Debenhams Ireland, and is available instore and online at www.debenhams.ie, which is far cheaper than Party Zone in this instance, where you can expect to pay €41.99 for the exact same costume. Littlewoods Ireland also have it in stock for €36. However, all of the stores are reporting low stock even this far out from Hallowe'en so it's worth shopping around to get the best price. Littlewoods also have an adult version of this costume priced at €50.
On A budget
From next Monday, October 12, Lidl will have their selection of budget Hallowe'en costumes on sale priced at €4.99 each for children. If a full-on costume doesn't take your fancy, you can pick and mix from tights, capes, hats, and accessories to combine your own costume. Each item is priced from €3.49.
Do you have scars/make up on the to-do list and don't feel confident enough to do it yourself/don't have the time? In this case make your way to Tiger Stores and buy a packet of temporary Hallowe'en tattoos. Each pack is priced at just €2 and contains a variety of gruesome scars and skin markings that will definitely pass muster. Available in Tiger Stores nationwide.