Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Very Handy Halloween

The Kid and his Halloween inspiration.
We talk about costumes a lot around here. The Kid has recycled all of his past Halloween costumes into dress-up clothes, which he wears pretty darned frequently, along with the ones he's picked up as gifts along the way. (In fact, as we speak, he's wearing his pirate costume from two years ago, which fits him much better now. He's not being a pirate, he's just wearing the costume.)

A while ago, he told Jake and I that he wanted to be a construction worker for Halloween this year, which came as no surprise. But he already has a construction worker costume, and we wanted to get him something new. You know, ignoring our budget, for special-ness.

And so when he told me that what he really, really wanted to be was Handy Manny--a character he loves so much that he started calling my parents Abuela and Abuelito for no other reason--I jumped on it. "OK," I told him, "If that's what you want, we're Doing This Thing."

Handy Manny plays "pin the eye on the spider" at his nursery school Halloween party.
I set up a secret board on Pinterest (Did you know you could do that?? It's amazing for remembering things you don't want anyone to know your kid's Halloween costume...) and got to finding costume pieces. There are actual Handy Manny costumes for sale out there, but I'm a dramaturg, and my kid was only going to wear pieces the character would actually wear, god damn it. No one wears a shirt with their own face on it. The great thing about Handy Manny is that he's just a guy who wears regular clothes, which meant not only that we could source pieces from The Kid's actual wardrobe, but that most of what we bought could be worn again and again in non-costume ways.

The downside to dressing like a regular-cartoon-person is that when you add a puffy coat for a Michigan Halloween, your kid kind of looks like...a kid in a down jacket going door-to-door begging for candy. But there were definitely a few people who approached him and asked if her was Handy Manny, so that was really cool.

So, if you ever find yourself in possession of a three-and-a-half-year-old who wants to be Handy Manny more than anything else in the world, here is how you do it:

The foundation of the costume was jeans and a couple of shirts we already owned. No earth-shaking purchase there, but it gave us the darker-green sleeves and collar Manny had. And, really, I wasn't going out to buy a new pair of jeans.

Then, we had to add Manny's unique elements.
We bought these shoes from Target, which have paid for themselves several times over. The Kid calls them his "Manny shoes," and he's worn them so many times. They're already a little worn on the toe, but they're super-comfy and utilitarian.

I got Manny's hat on Amazon, being sure to follow the customer comments and buy the child-sized one, even though my kid has a huge head. :) Since Manny keeps a pencil behind his ear, I sewed a plastic one to the hat with embroidery floss, making sure my stitches were tight enough that the pencil wouldn't fall out, but loose enough that we could remove it in case a kid running around with a pencil behind his ear proved dangerous. I also made the artistic (read: safer) decision to point the eraser forward, even though Manny wears his the other way 'round.

(One person did think he was Ash from Pokemon because of the hat. Generational differences, I guess!)
Manny's tool belt came in the form of a $0.77 apron from Home Depot. (Seriously. $0.77. Also, I miss the "cents" key.)
Because Manny doesn't shill for Home Depot, I embroidered up a patch with our favorite tool and the slogan of Handy Manny's Repair Shop. I made it an iron-on, so no actual sewing was necessary.
And--of course--we stuck google eyes on all of his tools. :)

It was an incredibly successful day of trick-or-treating in downtown Ann Arbor, and evening spent with friends outside of Detroit. More importantly than the candy haul, The Kid loved his costume!

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