The summer when she was two, Kimmie became obsessed with bees. My in-laws brought her a book about bees when they came to visit, and that was it: Kimmie announced then and there, in early August, that she was going to be a bee for Halloween that year. From then until October 31st, whenever you asked Kimmie what she was going to be for Halloween, she was quick to respond, “A bee!” And at least once a week, she announced this fact to everyone she met: “Guess what? I’m going to be a BEE for Halloween!”
Fortunately, bee costumes are pretty easy to make. All you need is a box of black trashbags (preferably the kind with drawstrings at the top – “kitchen” or 13-gallon size), a roll of yellow duct tape, and some newspaper, plus a long-sleeved black shirt and pants to wear underneath. Black shoes or boots and a black hat (with antennae made out of a black pipe cleaner) are a nice finishing touch.
The tricky part of this costume is the fact that it’s easiest to make when the child is actually in the costume. First, I cut two half-moons along the bottom seam of the trashbag, to make leg holes. Then I cut two more (one on each side) along the side seams, near the top, to make arm holes. Meanwhile, Kimmie was on the floor, crumpling sheets of newspaper into balls. Next, I had Kimmie step into the costume – a perfect opportunity to discuss the fact that the costume was, in essence, a plastic bag, and we NEVER put plastic bags over our face, NEVER NEVER NEVER. (For this reason, I definitely wouldn’t try this costume on anyone younger than two, and suggest you use your own judgment on whether your two-year-old is mature enough to follow such instructions.)
Once Kimmie was wearing the bag, I dropped crumpled newspaper balls into the top until her bag was roughly pear-shaped. (I had to make the leg holes a little smaller with some clear packing tape, to keep the newspaper from falling out the bottom.) Once it was pear-shaped, I gently tightened the drawstring at the top, then tied the ends together over one shoulder. Next I rolled a few stripes of duct tape around her, starting in the back with each stripe, and aiming to make the ends on each stripe meet in the back again.
After we had the yellow stripes done, it took a little grownup help to get her into and out of the costume each time, between untying/retying the drawstrings and re-stuffing/rearranging the newspaper filling into the right shape. We found that having a large shopping bag handy to hold the costume when not in use was helpful. Kimmie liked being a bee so much that on November 1, she announced she was going to be a bee again the following year for Halloween – a commitment she stuck to. (We used that large shopping bag to store the costume in the basement until Halloween rolled around again.) The costume was so easy to make that when Kimmie wore it for her second Halloween, I made an adult-sized copy for my mother to wear while taking Kimmie around the neighborhood.
Best of all, though, were all the comments we got on the adorable bee costume. I try not to let myself get sucked into the arms race of one-ups(wo)manship that seems to exist among parents; but I will admit that my heart was bursting with pride at the preschool Halloween parade, when I overheard other parents commenting on how cute the little bumblebee (Kimmie) was. From a distance, her costume was indistinguishable from a store-bought one, and I couldn’t resist piping up after a few minutes. They were floored to learn that they were marveling over the aesthetics of a trash bag stuffed with newspaper and covered with duct tape.