An Ode to American Halloween + 6 Last Minute Costume Ideas

Our first North American holiday abroad…Halloween! Read on to learn why we’re missing it so much this year and to see a few photos of our most memorable costumes throughout the years!

My family loves Halloween. It’s a big “holiday” in our house and in our neighborhood back home. We love to dress up, hand out candy, get scared and scare others all night long. I once decorated our door like it was a creepy tree. We take the holiday so seriously that we set out our pumpkins and take them in every night so they don’t get smashed or stolen before the actual night. The kids run around the neighborhood with their empty pillowcases and periodically run home to check out their loot. And then, of course, there is the grand finale of the night: the reveal and sorting of the candy when their frozen cheeks can’t take the elements anymore. We will miss it this year.

Although more people, specifically, kids, are recognizing the awesome holiday of Halloween over here in Europe, it is nothing like it is at home. There is no trick-or-treating and no passing out of candy per se. And for that, my kids’ teeth are grateful! In Spain, the celebration is more about honoring the dead and celebrating life.  

I have set out to lower our expectations, but we all want to dress up and celebrate nonetheless. Over the years, we have pulled off some pretty magical costumes and have loved every second of the day and night that literally takes over our world back in the States. Many of our greatest costumes were pulled together in the last second. Hanz and Franzette, a rubix cube, and a life sized s’more, just to name a few. I love making - or more like throwing together - our costumes from things we have on hand. So this post is dedicated to one of our favorite days back home and to some of our favorite kind of people: Halloween and the Last-Minute-Costume-Maker!

My Top 6 “In-A-Pinch” Costumes

  1. Rubik’s Cube. I wish I could take credit for this one, but, I can’t. I found it on Pinterest and followed the directions. But it wasn’t hard, and for that reason, it is my #1. (Plus, Spider wore it two years in a row - #score.)

  2. Hanz and Franzette. This was a classic. It was during the time when Aaron Rodgers had those “Discount Double-Check” commercials on TV. I can’t even remember who it was for, but I remember that they brought back Hanz and Franz and that made my day! And our Halloween. We thought we were so funny!

  3. Your Favorite Athlete. This can be for any kid and is super easy. Not super comfortable if you love Katie Ledecky and you live in Park City, UT, but for both of these outfits, a Buffalo Bills football player and the legendary Payne Stewart, we were able to pull them together with stuff we already had.

  4. The Recycler. Don’t be afraid to reuse and repurpose your costumes. I love the fact that Harry Potter is still a thing. They have an entire Harry Potter section of costumes over here in Spain. LOVE it!! I bought a scarf, hat, and glasses set and paired it with a striped polo shirt that I had in my closet (Lord knows why) and found a weird looking, crooked stick. I wore it one year and Spider wore it the other.

  5. The Ol’ Scarecrow. We found this one to be super easy, especially if you have an old random fishing hat laying around and a glue gun. Grab some fake hay, your old hat, an old flannel shirt. First thing’s first, gather the hay and get to gluing (on the fishing hat)! If you have a little more time, we also bought some burlap and made a sort of bib out of it to really make Erik look like a scarecrow. Face makeup helps here, too.

  6. The Classic Witch. If you are the mom or dad of an almost teenage girl and they can’t decide what to be, I have always and will forever think that being a witch, even though it is extremely easy, is a very valid and respectable Halloween costume. We tend to have at least four witches hats on hand all night long. And keep in mind, a little face makeup can transform a plain old witch into an award winning witch in seconds. Think big moles, dark under-eyes, and black lips - you get the picture!

And, When All Else Fails: TGFA (Thank God For Amazon)

Halloween in Spain, although different, is generally a three-day celebration. Everything culminates on Nov 1st, known as El Dia de Todos Los Santos, which is a national holiday.

Good luck everyone and Happy, Happy Halloween! Stay safe, scare yourself a little, eat lots of candy, and don’t forget to brush your teeth!