DIY Halloween: Haunted by shortages, fans invent their own costumes


Elizabeth Davis and Geoffrey Cagle usually start planning their ghoulish Halloween decor in the middle of summer. This year, they found the shelves completely bare three months before their favorite vacation.

Home deposit‘s

The 12-foot skeleton sold out almost immediately when it was released in July of this year. Ms Davis and Mr Cagle, a self-proclaimed goth couple, finally pivoted after weeks of unsuccessful attempts to get their hands on the big box of bones.

“We just thought, you know what?” A lot of people have a 12-foot skeleton, ”Ms. Davis says. “But no one has a moving sarcophagus with my husband’s last name on it. So let’s build it.

Halloween decorations and costumes have been haunted by a backlog of container ships in US ports, causing delays and shortages. This year, many consumers are turning to do-it-yourself alternatives. They often need additional backup plans, as even the raw materials for their homemade costumes become scarce.

Hilary Wilkes’ daughter, Annie, 6, poses in a hybrid Halloween costume meant to evoke Willa the werewolf.


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Hilary wilkes

Hilary Wilkes, a 43-year-old mother of two in Highlands, North Carolina, had to think quickly to please her 6-year-old daughter, Annie. Ms. Wilkes waited until recently to buy her children’s costumes because “like most children, they change their minds frequently,” she says.

By the time Annie had set her sights on Willa the Werewolf, a character from the Disney Channel’s “Zombies 2” movie, her costume was exhausted everywhere Ms. Wilkes looked. The same was true for a stand-alone Willa wig.

Determined to find a solution, Ms Wilkes and her daughter developed a hybrid costume that combines a generic zombie cheerleader with a pair of high shoes, her brother’s old football socks (soaked in fake blood), from silver spray paint for the hairpin and a smoky eye thanks to Ms. Wilkes’ eyeshadow palette.

“She wasn’t thrilled, but she did well,” Mrs. Wilkes said. “And it will be unique for her.”

Stephanie Zoran, a 37-year-old nurse in Oswego, Ill., Gathered boxes of neighbors to make a costume for her toddler, Max, who wanted to be some sort of construction vehicle. The store-bought tractor-excavator costume he loved was sold out online and at his local stores.

“The hardest part was that my kids wanted to help, and I just wanted to do it,” Ms. Zoran said. “I’m like, you’re three, you can’t use a cutter, sorry.”

Max, Stéphanie Zoran’s toddler, showing up for work.


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Stephanie Zoran

Isaac Vargas found himself overwhelmed when he started building his own Halloween decorations to distract himself from the pandemic. While trying to create a 4.5ft tall pumpkin from styrofoam blocks, he struggled to make the ridges well. He tried various knives for carving lines before getting advice from another handyman that a curry comb, used to remove debris from horses’ coats, might do the trick.

“I was just flying it,” says Vargas, who works in airport operations in Mount Holly, North Carolina. “Between July and October, I had no social life. ”

Halloween spending is expected to hit a record high this year of $ 10.1 billion, from $ 8.1 billion in 2020, according to the National Retail Federation. Those who patiently wait for Halloween costumes and decorations to come back in stock may be unlucky or face higher prices, says Craig Austin, professor of logistics and supply chain management at Florida. International University.

“The supply chain capacity is at maximum 100%, whether it’s costumes or candy corn. Said Mr. Austin.

Raw materials are also not immune to supply chain delays. Ms Davis and Mr Vargas have struggled to find insulation and expansive foam, often used to seal gaps in walls and windows, which are popular for homemade accessories. Mr Vargas also stepped away from building scarecrows when he noticed the high prices for lumber this year.

Arlene’s Costumes, a family-owned store in Rochester, NY, quickly sold out licensed products like costumes for Star Wars characters and the Scream mask, says marketing director Terry Sinopoli. The store also saw more orders for components like fake mustaches and hats this year, signaling that more and more people are assembling their own versions of costumes.

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Matt Milano, a history teacher in West Haven, Connecticut, was eager to celebrate his little girl and nephew’s first Halloween with a Rugrats-themed family costume. He was hoping to find a pair of baby-sized costumes for the TV show’s twin characters Lil and Phil DeVille, but was blown away by the prices.

“It was $ 90 for the cheapest I’ve seen, and others were even more than that,” Mr. Milano said. “So I looked at what was done and said, ‘I can do it’. “

He plans to piece together a Lil costume from felt, staples and glue. “Giving my daughter the experience of making something homemade, something that is a lasting memory, is something that really excites me,” he says.

In Orlando, Florida, Ms Davis, 43, and Mr Cagle, 40, were determined, despite their limited construction experience, to create a handcrafted crypt using their combined skills. She is an artist and he is a software engineer.

Mr. Cagle used a computer program to map the dimensions and layout of the casket, while Ms. Davis planned the paint colors and font lettering. Six weeks, several coats of waterproof paint, and a misplaced plastic sword later, the crypt of their imaginary vampire character, Count Von Cagle, was almost ready for display.

“Every time we take it, we actually say, ‘Wow. I can’t believe we did this, ”she said. “It’s not perfect, but it’s almost better because it’s ours.”

Write to Alex Janin at [email protected]

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