Kids Costumes for Halloween: How Scary is Too Scary?

Zombies are all the rage this year. I was browsing rings for men online, considering gift ideas for my husband, when he told me the only thing he wanted for Christmas was season one of “The Walking Dead” on Blu-ray. But his taste for the undead is part-time compared to the younger boys in the house. When discussing costume ideas for trick-or-treating, all I hear is the Z-word. What about pirates, or bank robbers, or Captain America? Nope. They want to be zombies.

Zombies don’t particularly bother me, but my kids have impressively detailed imaginations that are sure to show themselves once they put together their outfits. I’m picturing some gray and green makeup smears mixed with some shabby clothes and rehearsed groans, but let them do what they want and you could mistaken their efforts for those of a Hollywood makeup artist. Just the other day my youngest was showing me a “cool” way to make a fake gaping head wound with oatmeal, red dye, and egg.

The problem is that…while zombies don’t bother me and they do nothing but endlessly entertain my children, they probably bother other people. While other parents may just be put-off, it’ll be because they’ll be worried that their own children might be genuinely scared. And chances are, several other kids who encounter my two will be truly scared by the work my little effects artists have come up with. No doubt this would be the desired effect of my kids’ choice in costumes, and would make for a great Halloween experience they’d likely never forget

But it would be at the expense of others who look to Halloween as a day of happiness, not a day of horror. As much as my boys have the right to a fantastic Halloween, they don’t have the right to ruin the night for others in the process. The shockingly realistic get-ups my boys are anxious to create are reflective of their maturing understanding of the holiday. But for most children their ages and younger, Halloween is a time to dress up like an idol and get candy for it, not to walk around paranoid that something is going to get you.

It’ll be hard for them to understand why they can’t go all-out on their zombie costumes. I’m sure to be met with some hostility. That’s okay – I have a plan. My nearly-as-addicted-to-zombies husband is going to put that gaping wound recipe to use this week some night and scare the pants off our boys when they least expect it. Maybe when they feel that chill up their spines, they’ll understand that celebrating holidays isn’t just about being happy, but making sure others have a good time too.

I disclose


  1. Janet W. says:

    I think once kids get to be midway through elementary, like 3rd/4th grades, that’s ok to get a little scary with the costumes. I think scary costumes for little kids would give them nightmares!!

  2. Haha! Scaring kids is so much fun! LOL. I LOVE “The Walking Dead” too! The new season is really good so far!

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