Happy and Blessed All Saints' Day!
Long before I had children...before I was married....before I knew I was called to the vocation of marriage, I was in love with homeschooling. Why? For many reasons, but when a friend of mine who was homeschooling her children told me about their All Saints' Day party and how the children all dressed up and spoke about who they were, etc, I just went head-over-heels in love with the idea of homeschooling. I had never heard of such a thing, I was fairly new into my re-version to Our Faith, and it made my heart swell with love to think of something so adorable. Now I realize that lots of people do this, but I didn't know it then....it's a memory very dear to me and so celebrating this Feast day with my own children is something I look forward to every year...and simultaneously dread.
Because I'm un-crafty (I think that's my new word for it; it works). When I first started trying to figure out how to make a saint costume, I was more than intimidated and friends (crafty friends) would tell me "oh, it's so simple! You just......" I would smile and nod and feel even sicker. They didn't understand how ill-equipped I felt to do anything they just told me; the whole thing was intimidating.
Yet, love for my children and this beautiful feast drove me to figure it out. It has taken at least 3 years (considering our oldest is 7 - she wasn't dressed up when she was REALLY little) for me to get a grip on the situation.
The key? A hot glue gun.
Yup. If you are uncrafty like me and things like this terrify you, you need to conquer the hot glue gun. ...and know that felt and fleece require no sewing! Those bits of information and skill have gotten me through the last two years without tears of frustration. Oh - and have a sharpie on hand! Sharpie can make roses on a felt heart for the Immaculate Heart of Mary or draw other details onto the fabric - and if it's not perfect, NO ONE CARES! I PROMISE!!!!
Your child will love their costume, see past the flaws, and know in their heart that there is love in that costume that you put together. Isn't that the best part? The love? The memories of the love? Especially when they're older and look back, knowing that their mom saved the crafting energy for an entire year for that special occasion...for them and this Feast for our Friends in Heaven.
So here's the detail on how it worked for us this year... We have a celebration every year where teenagers dress up as certain saints at a local Schoenstatt retreat center (thank-you, Sisters) and give little talks about their saint to groups of younger children and parents all around the property...giving little tolkiens to them in their treat bags (things like lollipops with paper roses from St. Therese, and so on). It's amazing. It's a highlight of our year. So a week before the event, I realized I was running low on time to figure out costumes.
Our oldest son has wanted to dress up as St. Patrick since he took off his St. Michael costume last year. Our daughter has wanted to be St. Elizabeth of Hungary since she saw the beautiful picture of St. Elizabeth of Hungary in our 2016 children's calendar, and our 2-year-old was up for whatever I wanted to put on him :) St. Patrick was clearly going to be my challenge.
I went to Hobby Lobby and asked my guardian angel and Our Lady to help me. I often do this when facing a challenging shopping experience. You need to do this if you don't already. Seriously.
My first stop was the bridal area, where I found a tiara and a broach for St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Our daughter has had other crowns, but they've broken or hurt her head, so I thought this would be more comfortable, hold up better, and get more use. The broach was to pin her cape with (it's cold here in WI and part of this event was outside). Her cape was a piece of white fleece from last year's costume as the Immaculate Heart of Mary (used a Cinderella nightgown for that and pinned the Immaculate Heart felt pieces over the character). Our daughter had a beautiful velvet dress that she could wear to be "royal." One costume done, and thank-you, Hobby Lobby for having them on sale 50% off :)
Next was to figure out St. Patrick. I ended up using one of my husband's white dressy shirts for the alb (lots of rolling on those sleeves for my 5-yo). Now I needed a big piece of green felt for the outer part and some embellishments...and to figure out the mitre (scary part). I got a yard and a half of green felt; later I found that they have large pieces of pre-cut felt in another area I could've used. Oh well, it's big enough to be used another year or for another child. They had iron-on gold crosses; I got two of those for the vestments and mitre. ...and green foam board for the mitre - two big pieces...and some gold ribbon.
Hours before the event, I pulled out the hot glue gun and got to work...while trying to figure out what to do for our littlest one (because there's more adrenaline rush if you wait until the last minute like this). I trimmed out the felt - cut the head-hole way too big and had to pin it, but no big deal (3 years ago, I would've cried and figured it was ruined - good friends have shown me that you can move on and no one will notice). Hot glued the ribbon and cross...and faced the mitre. Scary. I cut out two pieces to glue together for front and back and almost started to panic over how I was going to get it to fit my son and stay on his head. ...and my husband walked in the door, home from work.
My brilliant, engineering-minded husband! A-HA! I asked him to help me with his skill at solving problems and he - wonderful man that he is - took over! I went off to finish dinner and he finished the mitre. Tip for hot-gluing foam board: it will not instantly stick together, so you need clothes pins or something to "clamp" it together. That mitre held up beautifully!
...and our littlest one? I remembered that a friend of ours had made costumes for the kids years ago - she is on a seamstress level with sewing (I can do a button or seam). The brown costume was perfect for him. I found our doll that we use for Baby Jesus on Christmas morning (he sleeps with it, so it was easy to find) and viola! St. Joseph! ....and St. Joseph is so "him" anyway.
Yay! We ran out the door and had a fantastic time - it was so worthwhile!