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Last-Minute Survival Guide for Parents

Need a kid’s costume, pronto? Desperate to find a replacement babysitter for your dinner reservation? Help is on the way.

By Ingela Ratledge
Child dressed as a ghostCheryl Zibisky

You Need: A Halloween Costume
The bad news first: A white sheet and a kid do not a ghost maketh. To cobble together a costume, read on.
The quick fix:

  • For girls: Her closet probably has the makings of a fairy princess―a leotard, a wand, a tutu. Just add glitter gel to her face and hands. “Whether the costume is accurate to a character doesn’t matter. Kids will go for it,” says Laurel Burke, co-owner of the Spook Shop costume store, in Bellingham, Washington, and a film production designer. For a crown, cut points into a sparkly or colored translucent school folder and glue the ends together, says Burke.
  • For boys: Got a big cardboard box? Cut off the flaps and cut holes for arms and a head. Spray-paint it silver or decorate it with markers and you have a robot. To make feet, cut a hole into the bottoms of two shoe boxes for him to put his ankles through, then have him put on his shoes underneath.
  • For both: Superheroes fly with everyone. To make this costume, all you need is a cape, an eye mask, and a logo. If you can’t find an eye mask, draw one on with face paint; you can make a logo out of construction paper according to your child’s whim. “Suddenly, he’s Super-Pickle!” says Burke.
  • For more quick and easy ideas, see Easy Costume Ideas

You Need: A Gift for a Teacher
If you had planned ahead, you might have bought a thoughtful, pampering gift. Or, at the very least, a "World's Best Teacher" mug.
The quick fix: Gift cards are a slam dunk, provided they’re not too specific (such as one for a clothing store that might not suit someone’s taste), says Fran Shea, a kindergarten teacher in Putnam County, New York, who has been an educator for 18 years. Stick to spa treatments, dinner at a local restaurant (pick one that is on the way to school to save more time), department stores, or bookstores. “I love those,” Shea adds, “because I can buy books for myself or the classroom.” As for the amount, anything from $5 to $50 is fair game―but $100 is too much.


Read More About:Kids & Parenting

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