Boy has Halloween Changed Since My Childhood!

Halloween sign I made for by my front door.

Once again, I’m wondering. I don’t know why but this year, fall and Halloween really has me thinking. This month, I’m pondering how Halloween has grown and changed since I was a kid. You know, back in the stone age.

When I was a child, carving a Jack-O’-Lantern, my costume, and trick or treating were the big deals, but that was the extent of it. Now, according to research, Halloween has become big business, right behind Christmas. What I read said consumers will spend $10.14 billion on Halloween this year! That’s mind blowing. (Just so you know and can impress your friends at this years’ Halloween parties, that’s up over $2 billion from last year when COVID prevented a lot of festivities.) Each of us is predicted to spend over $100 on Halloween.

We spend the most on costumes–$3.32 billion. I’m imaging a heaping pile of costumes the size of Texas for that kind of money! What I read said that almost 2 million kids will be Spider-Man and over a million will be Batman. Adults favor witches, vampires, ghosts, and pirates. Not very imaginative considering all the ideas on the Internet. More people than I expected said they’d get a costume for their dog. I laughed. If I tried that, first of all, none of my dogs would let me dress them up. But say by some miracle I managed that Herculean task, they’d have the costume off and in shreds in five minutes tops.

Alex and Zachary Halloween
My oldest two boys, Zachary (left) and Alex.

I don’t remember my childhood costumes, except one. We took a green garbage bad, cut it like a Green Giant or Robin Hood tunic. I added a belt, tights, and boots and went as either the Jolly Green Giant or Robin Hood. I won a prize for that one! I loved sewing costumes for my boys. One ambitious year I made a firefighter’s coat for one son and a SWAT vest for the other. And yes, the firefighter’s coat was a bear to sew. Those days felt so hectic then, but I sure do miss them now!


We’ll spend darn near as much as we do on costumes, $3.17 billion, on decorations. When I was a kid, maybe one cool house decorated outside. Our neighborhood had a house like that. They had a strange little girl sitting on a swing, a huge spider on the roof, and I don’t remember what else. I was so bummed when they moved. Now almost everyone decorates at least a little outside. I started with a couple of cute signs and pumpkins, but I tend to decorate more on the whimsical side of Halloween. Every year I keep saying I’ll make more tombstones, (I bought this one when my kids were little) but I haven’t accomplished that goal yet. My favorite is the skeleton in the tree with the skeleton dog below like he’s chased the poor fellow up the tree.



I still decorate the house a little even though my children are grown. It helps put me in the holiday moods. I think what I enjoy most are my Jack-O’-Lantern light and the candles. I love lighting them every night after dinner, turning off the lights, and just sitting in the glow. Most of the items I’ve had for years. I picked them up when there used to craft mall in empty stores. I admit, I miss those places.

This is such a fun time of year. I love going from the Halloween decorations to fall/Thanksgiving to Christmas. The house feels more festive. More alive, even last year when we curtailed a lot of our celebrations. For me, that helped me focus on family, and it was refreshing to be released from some holiday commitments. Admit it. Did you really miss work holiday parties? But as usual, I digress. Whether you decorate or not, go to parties or don’t, I wish you a wonderful Halloween.

Giveaway:  To be entered for today’s random giveaway for the Mudpie eat, drink, & be scary dishtowel, leave a comment on your favorite Halloween costume or decoration.

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Julie Benson has written five novels for Harlequin American, and her Wishing, Texas series is available from Tule Publishing. Now that her three sons have left the nest in Dallas, when she isn't writing, Julie spends her time working on home improvement projects, rescuing dogs, and visiting Texas wineries with her husband. Visit her at

29 thoughts on “Boy has Halloween Changed Since My Childhood!”

  1. I have a large, dried gourd which is stained a rustic dark orange, and it has cutouts to make it look like a jack-o’-lantern. It has a huge mouth, so I put my three mini sock monkeys inside. They’re dressed like a witch, a ghost, and a vampire.

    • Denise, how cute! I love the idea of adding the sock monkeys. Where did you find witch, ghost, and vampire sock monkeys?

      Thanks for stopping by and have a fantastic day.

      • Many years ago at Cracker Barrel. And, there’s a story to go with it. I saw them, but my husband wouldn’t get them for me at the time–I probably didn’t have money on me. But, then, without me knowing, he tracked them down and made a special trip to a couple of locations to get all three. He learned his lesson–when you see something at Cracker Barrel, buy it then. Things go quickly, and they don’t replenish.


  2. When I was growing up (also in the Stone Age) my mother made very elaborate costumes for my sister and me: Little Bo Peep for me, complete with bonnet and crook, Little Red Riding Hood for my sister, complete with basket of cookies to give to neighbors we visited. My favorite costume had to be explained to me but I loved it. Carmen Miranda – bare midriff, bright red lipstick, and basket of fruit on my head!

    • Sally, your mom imagination was as fantastic as her sewing skills! Dresses and sleeves are hard! I still hate doing sewing sleeves! I loved making my kids costumes. My youngest Nathan was tough, though. He had too much imagination for my sewing skills. He would see a character and ask me to make a costume–without a pattern! Not my strength! He’s now my actor. He also does a lot of Cos Play (spelling?) and makes his costumes. It’s amazing. He learned to sew a bit when he took a skill for living class. He also learned how to make fabulous pies in that class. Now every Mothers and Fathers Day and my husband and my birthday, he bakes our favorite pies.

      Thanks for stopping by today. Take care and stay safe.

      • I tried to be creative like my mom with costumes for my children, but my sister inherited that sewing skill, not me. I was better at helping them put things together until they were satisfied with the look.
        Your son has some amazing talents! Makes you smile, doesn’t it?
        Have a great day. Take care and stay safe, too.

  3. When my now adult son was about ten years old he came to me and said ‘Mom, I know what I wanna be…a chef!’ I was thrilled and started telling him about all the culinary schools etc. that he could go to when he got out of high school…so you can imagine how crestfallen I was when he said ‘I mean for Halloween’… hahaha…

    • Rachel, what a great story! What did your son decide to pursue as a career? Does he still like to cook?

      My youngest son liked to help me cook when he was younger. We often watched Iron Chef America and he would pretend we were filming an episode. He’d even pick out a mystery ingredient from the ones in our recipe. I miss those days!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your cute story. Stay safe and take care.

  4. My mom always made my costumes, too. One year, I became a witch. Rubber masks had just come out in the stores, and my witch-face looked very real. Mom was an expert seamstress, and she made me a broom out of a small tree branch and broom go with my black dress and pointy hat. We visited my cousins and went to a Halloween event at their school. I entered the Halloween costume contest and paraded around the gym with the other children for the judges (and audience) to view. I won! Mother said I walked astride the broom part of the time, but I never remembered doing that, However, that night is a fun memory.

    • Janice, what a special memory! When I was teaching, I saw so many parents who didn’t realize kids wanted their time and attention way more than stuff. They didn’t realize how working with a child to make a Halloween costume was making memories like yours. It’s sad. When my grown boys reminisce it’s always about things we did together or stuff like your costume story. Thanks for stopping by today. Take care and stay safe.

    • Eye lights? I Googled them. I was thinking eyes as in your lights. Lol! I don’t feel too silly!

      Those are so cool. I need to get some for my windows. I also need to hang my purple vampire lights and my Jack-O’-Lantern ones. I also have a cute vampire bat windsock. As usual, I’m running behind schedule on getting the decorating done. I was much better about getting them up when the kids were younger.

      Thanks for stopping by today. Have a fabulous day and stay safe.

  5. I put a few decorations out at Halloween but not a lot. My neighbor across the street has a couple of metal witches and a pumpkin that is awesome. Then I have another neighbor that goes all out with decoration. She has the skeletons and skeleton dog and her whole yard is decorated.

    • I don’t know how the people who go all out do it. First there’s coming up with the idea and not having it look like a hodgepodge mess. Then there’s finding the time to get it all put up, and afterwards, taken down. We do more Christmas lights, but that has always been a family event. The kids helped us. Then we made something special for dinner and watched a Christmas movie together. But no one’s ever been interested in doing much for Halloween.

      Take care, stay safe, and thanks for stopping by today.

  6. When I was about 6 years old I was a cat for Halloween. I had a cat mask and mom made me a tail, an long stuffed sock and pinned it to the back of my pants. I had fun crawling around meowing and acting like a cat. Very tame Halloween costume compared to today’s.

    • Connie, thanks for stopping by today, and you’re right, a cat is a tame costume for today. But how sad, because you had a wonderful time with it and it made a special memory! I think our kids often miss out on the simple things in life. They grow up so fast, and schools expect so much of them these days. We also don’t encourage imagination (like really pretending to be a cat) like we did when we were younger. Thanks for sharing your cute story.

  7. I loved shopping for Halloween costumes for my boys at garage sales. Their favorite costumes were a pirate and Power Rangers. My mom made costumes for us when we were kids too. I still love carving pumpkins.

    • Margaret, thanks for stopping by the corral today. I never thought to look for costumes at garage sales! How smart you were! I love all the creative things people can do with pumpkin carving now. I need to get on Pinterest and find something super cool but relatively simple to do this year. I have trouble thinking of an idea, but I can copy someone else really well!

      Take care and stay safe.

  8. oh my but we are so alike. I suppose I am from the stone age also. LOL There were five of us kids and mom would take each of us separately to the fabric store and let us pick out a costume pattern and the fabric for it. Some years one of us would use an already bought pattern. When mom died, I got all her patterns as I am the only one that sews. Wow the memories. I made most of our two kids costumes. One of my sister in law would hand down costumes she made for her two. I remember one year both our kids wanted to be an M&M (oh but that was challenging LOL)But I drew them out and our son was brown and our daughter was yellow (their choice). That was fun. I passed our costumes down to my sisters two kids who were a couple of years younger than mine. We had house parties and trick or treat in the neighborhood. Yes those were great times. Now it seems like the only thing the kids are out for is the candy. So many dont even put on costumes around here. I got to the point that I made a sign for the door that said, Costume = Candy I know mean, but it worked. A lot of the neighbors picked up the theme LOL

    • Lori, first of all thanks for chatting today. Second, saying they need a costume isn’t mean. Your candy. Your rules! 🙂 They should have to put some effort forth. Even if it’s a simple as putting on a baseball or football jersey.

      What a sweet story about your mom, and how special that she took each one of you separately to the fabric store. I bet it felt like you were king or queen for the day to have her to yourself! I love that you inherited all her patterns. I wish I had my grandmother’s sewing machine. I think my aunt has it, but she doesn’t sew. I’m amazed that the M&M costume was a challenge. Who’d have thunk it? It looks like it should be easy.

      We’ve had to start leaving out a bowl of candy because of our dogs. The doorbell makes them go wacko. We don’t have anywhere near as many children trick or treating as we did when my kids were little. We’re at that stage where the last wave of kids are grown and not enough houses have sold for us to have new families in the neighborhood.

      Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories, Lori. Take care, stay safe, and stick to your no costume, no candy rule!

  9. My mom made me a Tigger, from Winnie the Pooh, costume once when I was a kid. I really like that costume because it was fun but also warm. It seemed like it was always cold and icky whenever we went trick or treating as a kid.

    • Megan, who doesn’t love Tigger?! I can’t believe your mom made that costume. I bet that wasn’t easy. I had the opposite problem with my kids. Usually it was warm in Texas on Halloween and it was hard to make a costume that wouldn’t be too hot. I grew up in Iowa so we were often cold, like it was for you. Some years my costume had to be big enough to fit over my winter coat. Thanks for stopping by today and making me smile over those past trick or treat memories. Take care and stay safe.

    • Kellie, that does sound fun. You know, I don’t think I ever was a witch for Halloween. Hmmm. I wonder why. I may have to fix that issue. Thanks for stopping by today. Take care and stay safe.

  10. Talk about Stone Age! My favorite costumes were the year that our oldest daughter, who was blonde haired, dressed up like a fortune teller with lots of bangles, a colorful skirt, a black wig, and colorful scarf. Our younger daughter, who had darker brown hair, was Hollie-Hobbie, with a very blonde wig, and they were sooo adorable!!

    • Lana, I bet they were cute! With three boys, I never got to do girl costumes. One year before one of my kiddos were old enough to choose, I made a lady bug costume. I may have to find that picture and embarrass whichever son I made it for. I think he was maybe two. I’m so bad. You share a wonderful, sweet memory, and the next thing you know I’m looking for a photo to embarrass mine.

      Thanks for stopping by and making me chuckle today. Take care and stay safe.

  11. We now live 10 miles out in the country and in 25 years have only had 2 trick or treaters other than my grandson. We lived on military bases for years and it was such a great time seeing kids we knew and their parents. It was like one big party. I decorated more since we retired from the Air Force, mainly because I wouldn’t have to pack it up to move. I was a children’s librarian and was mostly in-charge of decorating the library. I bought decorations after the holiday when they went on sale and have a pretty good collection now. My favorite is the black spiderweb mantle drape that I put the bone candelabra and skeleton hand-stem goblets along with a new other odds and ends. I still have the black paper bats to hang from the ceiling in the hallway. I made them every year with the kids. They are easy and look so real.

    I have costumes I’ve made for both children and adults upstairs. I have a child’s and adult’s clown costumes I made when our oldest was in preschool (she is in her 40’s now), Indian outfits from the regular dress-up patterns and regalia to wear to powwows, witch outfits, a medieval dress, and a full kilt outfit. I miss having the trick or treaters come around and dressing up at work. Our town has a big trick or treat event and one of these years I might dress up and head in to participate. Sadly the one grandchild that is young enough to go trick or treating lives too far away for us to enjoy except by pictures.

  12. The hardest Halloween costume I ever sewed was a yellow furry Care Bear for my son when he was in kindergarten, back in the ’80s. He wore it for 2 years, and played in it, but now he says he hated it! Guess it wasn’t manly enough when he outgrew the last fringes of being a little kid.

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