My three year old daughter Mazie was very specific and unwavering in what she wanted our costumes to be this year: jellyfish for her, octopus for baby brother Julian, sting ray for mom and shark for daddy. No one can establish their opinion quite as firmly as a three year old. Perhaps we’ve been spending too much time at the National Aquarium.

Being the queen of time management, I wisely decided to start costume construction three days before Halloween. My evenings and nap times were consumed by chiffon, lamé, and only the occasional curse word.

Mazie’s Jellyfish costume required the most effort and time. I covered my straw hat with fabric, stuffed it with batting and then hot glued all the fabric and ribbon tentacles. My burnt and raw fingertips were glad that the rest of the costumes only required sewing, including her jelly fish pants and arm bands. Her pattern for the pants were made simply by tracing a pair of leggings she already owns. We had quite a few talks about how fun it is to wear (and keep on) a jellyfish hat, so luckily the hat stayed on through two parties and one vigorous round of trick or treating.

We won our church costume contest. Neighbors were genuinely surprised to see homemade costumes. A specific neighbor was so thrilled that she offered to give us all the costumes that she made for her now grown daughters.

Everyone loved the costumes, especially my daughter who didn’t even trip on the tentacles once. The tentacles did have the habit of scooping up fallen leaves when we were jumping in leaf piles. My mom loved the jellyfish costume too and she raised me in the truth that Halloween is the most important holiday of the year, and homemade costumes are the best way to show your family you care.