As this October approached we brainstormed ideas for Halloween costumes. We wanted to do something that reflected what the kids were into and, as of late, that is The Berenstain Bears! When the idea came to me I was over the moon. I mentioned it to Georgia and she was immediately on board!
Chad & I both grew up reading the Berenstain Bears and when Georgia started showing an interest in them we were so excited. It started last Christmas when her MaMa (Chad’s mom) introduced her to “The Spooky Old Tree.” Georgia loved the repetition and the way MaMa would emphasize when each bear would get “the shivers!” We loved that book so much we brought it back to Brooklyn with us. After that we have steadily increased our Berenstain Bear book collection, picking up one each time we visit Greenlight Bookstore and checking out multiple books from the Brooklyn Public Library. The books are slightly longer than what we had been reading, but Georgia’s attention span has lengthened and we love cuddling on the couch or on a park bench to read for a while.
The Bear Family is our type of people. They have good manners, follow the rules, and talk respectfully to their parents. Each book has a great lesson and is easily relatable to events in our lives. We’ve had some great conversations after reading these books.
What better way to remember our love for The Berenstain Bears than be them for Halloween! So I got to work.
(pink overalls, polka-dot shirt, and hair bow)
The light pink color was key to making this outfit look perfect. While visiting my parents, we took a trip to Wal-mart and found the perfect pair of sweatpants! I bought two pairs so I could cut the straps out of the second pair. I picked up a long sleeve white shirt and a white hair bow with pink polka-dots.
When I got back to Brooklyn, I cut a scalloped shape strap out of each pant leg. I machine-sewed it shut on the outside. Typically when you make a strap, you will turn it inside out when you sew it so that your seam isn’t seen. Since I wanted the scalloped shape to be very clear I just used a light pink thread and followed the shape of the fabric. I then sewed the strap onto the pants. This time I did turn the pants inside out so that the extra fabric would be hidden inside.
For the shirt, we used a round sponge brush and stamped on the polka-dots. I did the front by myself, eye-balling the dots so they were equally spaced. One of the main reasons I love DIYing Halloween costumes is the sense of pride you get from doing it yourself! I really wanted Georgia to have some ownership of her costume as well, so together we did the back. Now – if you’ve ever done a craft project with a child it’s important to give up a little control…try your hardest not to be a perfectionist. Remember the point of all this is to have them involved and create an experience and not to have a perfect polka-dotted shirt. This isn’t the easiest thing to do, but I took some deep breaths and was okay with the dots being right on top of each other and some lines mixed in there too. She insisted on using an actual brush to fill in the dots so I took another deep breath and watched her beam with happiness.
(red long-sleeved polo shirt and blue pants)
Brother Bear was by far the easiest. We didn’t even have to buy anything. We simply layered our red short-sleeved polo shirt over a red long-sleeved onesie and paired it with blue pants. Not gonna lie – I did go into every store on Fulton Mall that sold children’s clothes looking for an actual long-sleeved red polo, but could never find it in Conroy’s size.
(blue dress with white polka-dots & yellow hat)
Mama Bear’s costume was fairly easy – once I found a solid long-sleeved blue dress. Thanks, Forever 21. I made a stencil using cardboard and a round hole-punch and used white fabric paint to sponge on the polka-dots. I cut the collar out of white felt and hand-stitched it onto the dress.
Mama Bear wears two different hats: a blue polka-dot shower cap-looking hat and a stylish yellow and red hat with a flower. I chose to make the latter.
Luckily, I had a similarly shaped hat already. I wore it for many summers – so I did not feel bad sacrificing it in honor of Halloween fun! The kids and I painted the majority of it yellow. Georgia really enjoyed an afternoon craft of painting. I covered the bottom part of the hat with red felt using hot glue. (My original hat has a black bottom). To finish it off, I made a quick flower out of felt and a green pipe cleaner!
(yellow shirt, overalls, and a brown floppy hat)
Papa Bear’s outfit was also very simple. We bought a yellow button down shirt at Banana Republic Factory Outlet and, thankfully, my mom had a pair of men’s overalls from an old Halloween costume that she let us borrow.
The tricky part was the hat. After going to numerous stores on what seemed to be a scavenger hunt for a hat similar to Papa Bear’s, it finally occurred to me that I could buy two brown winter beanie hats and make Papa Bear’s hat fairly easily. Since we live in Downtown Brooklyn where there are many street vendors selling hats, I was able to buy the hats moments after I had this epiphany! I cut the bottom off of one hat and inserted some thin cardboard I had cut into a ring shape to make the brim. I then hand-stitched the brim to the bottom of the other hat. To hide the seam and finish off the hat, I hot glued a light brown ribbon. In order to allow the hat to stretch when put on – I cut the ribbon twice so that it wasn’t one continuous loop. I disguised the cuts with loose ribbon. This enabled it to conform to Chad’s head. It was still a little snug, but it looked good!
The final touch was a simple black circle on each of our noses drawn with eyeliner. Conroy surprisingly sat completely still while I drew on his nose. Love that kid! To replicate some bear feet, we wore shoes that most resembled bear paws…my Ugg’s, Chad’s Tims, Georgia’s brown boots, and Conroy wore a pair of Georgia’s Ugg’s (yes they were big, but that kid loves shoes so he didn’t mind.)
We truly enjoy making our Halloween costumes. We attended a Halloween party in our building that we helped organize. It was a lot of fun and was the perfect end to our Halloween weekend!
We must give an extra shout-out to my amazing husband & the best Papa Bear around! This picture might illustrate his true feeling about dressing up on Halloween, but besides this one snapshot - you couldn't tell. When someone asked Georgia if Chad was going to dress up she confidently replied, "Of course he will!" We all want to make sure he knows how much we appreciate his participation!