Halloween Express Announces 2013 DIY Costume Contest

  • September 01, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

2013 DIY Halloween Costume ContestSeptember is here. And with it brings a plethora of good things, including a distinct mental shift from the easy going days of summer to the fun and excitement that goes along with the fall months!  It’s also time to roll out one of the most anticipated events of the year ... The 2013 Halloween Express D.I.Y. Halloween Costume Contest!  We know how excited you must be and trust us; we are very excited, too.  For all you creative geniuses out there in costume land, this is truly your time to shine. 

Here’s the basic lowdown so you can start today to make your official game plan (not to mention a pretty epic costume!)

First of all, come up with a really unique and creative costume idea.  The rules are pretty simple.  Your costume must be made at least 50% from a non-store bought costume.  We encourage (and applaud) your creative use of costume makeup, accessories, wigs, etc--but want you to have plenty of opportunity to let your costume creativity shine, so costume accoutrements aside, your costume idea must mostly come out of your head, not a package.  Take lots of pictures of your masterpiece, and send us the best three-- then we can truly see how glorious your costume idea is to behold!  (We really do love this part!)  Then we want all the gory (or not so gory) details.  We want you to tell us all about your costume idea and where it came from.  What made you think of it?  What did you use to create it?  What accessories did you use? What did your friends think of it? 

DIY ContestThere are six categories to which you can send your D.I.Y. Costume Contest Entry.  You will have to decide which category fits your costume idea the best! 

  • Maternity/Expectant mother
  • Adult Couples
  • Child/Tween/Teen
  • Adult Single
  • Pets
  • Groups

 

Submit your pictures and details about how you made the costume by following the step-by-step instructions to have your contest entry accepted appropriately.  Be sure to have your photos ready to upload when you start the process.  All contest entries must be submitted by midnight on November 10, 2013, EST.  The judging of contest entries will then take place and the winner and runners up will be selected for each category.  

2013 DIY Costume Contest

Now, folks here comes the good stuff.  One grand prizewinner for each D.I.Y.costume category will receive a cash prize of $1,000 dollars.  The second prizewinner in each category will receive a cash prize of $500 dollars.  Two third prizewinners for each category will receive $250 gift certificates good for use online at Halloween Express. 

We know you are going to be getting very creative for Halloween anyway.  Here’s your chance to finally up the ante a bit and possibly even get paid for all your time and trouble.  Please keep our lawyers happy and read the contest rules before entering the contest.  And by all means, be creative and have tons of fun! After all, that is what Halloween is all about.  We, of course, will be anxiously waiting to see the best D.I.Y. costumes ever. 


Cereal Monsters

  • August 28, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Cereal Monsters are Back!

Depending on how old you are, you may remember the General Mills family of cereals that were themed around various Halloween-style monsters.  Did you ever start off your day with a nice heaping bowl of Boo Berry or Count Chocula?  For you retro junkies, the re-launch of these monstrously delicious breakfast cereals is a great way to bring back a bit of your childhood that may have been lost.  Your own kids are sure to enjoy reliving a fun (and slightly spooky) part of your younger days, too!

General Mills intends to bring back all five of their monster-themed cereals just in time for this Halloween season, including, Count Chocula, Boo Berry, Fruity Yummy Mummy, Frute Brute and Frankenberry.  Although in some locales Count Chocula, Frankenberry and Boo Berry are still available in stores today, Fruit Brute was discontinued from the General Mills cereal line up back in 1988 and Fruity Yummy Mummy hasn’t been unwrapped since 1993.  This means there are entire generations of kids who may have missed out on all the ghoulish fun of eating a cereal monster for breakfast--truly a travesty that needed to be rectified.

The cereal’s monster images are being revamped a little bit by the good folks of General Mills, and in true Halloween style the cereals are also being appropriately labeled with horror movie poster style packaging.  There is nothing that will start your day off better than a little bit of scary cereal as part of your complete breakfast.  Your kids are going to love being introduced to these beloved cereal monsters that you thought had been left behind somewhere in the retired cereal graveyard.  Like monsters do at Halloween time, however, these particular spooks have come back to life just in time to haunt your cereal bowl.  All you have to do is add a little milk.


Going Batty!

  • August 26, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Going Batty!“As she sleeps, a large bat flies into her room that transforms into Dracula.  He leans over her sleeping body to bite Lucy on the neck and drink her blood.” ~Bram Stoker (Dracula)

Everyone knows that bats go with Halloween like bacon goes with eggs, but do you know where this cryptic Bat-Halloween connection came from?  After all, what could be more adorable than a somewhat kooky looking, upside-down hanging varmint with webbed wings?  Whether you are able to see the inherent utter cuteness in bats or you (like most people) are scared to death of these potentially blood sucking creatures, you need to understand one thing.  The bat is largely misunderstood.

In order to understand the association with bats and Halloween, you have to go way back into history.  Way, way back to the time before the first millennium, when the Celtic people celebrated a holiday known as Samhain.  Samhain was the most important celebration of the year to the Celts and this festival held great cultural significance to these ancient people.   During the time of Samhain, people of old believed that ghosts of the dead were able to roam the earth freely and that their spirits would mingle with the living at this time.  During Samhain, a great deal of superstition and fear was mixed with the celebrating as it was also believed that evil or bad spirits could be about as well that may have had very malevolent intentions. 

A huge part of the Samhain celebration involved the building of giant bonfires.  The bonfires were built in honor of the dead as well as to ward off any evil spirits that may be lurking about.  When these giant bonfires were burning, a natural occurrence was for large quantities of insects to be attracted to the warmth and light surrounding the fire.  Bats primary source of food is insects, so it was natural for them to be attracted to the large swarms of insects that were flying around the burning bonfires.  Bats would then feed voraciously on the insects accordingly as these bonfires conveniently provided them with an optimal insect hunting ground!

As time went on, the stories and images of bats flying in and out of the firelight during the Samhain festival became the stuff that legends and folklore are made of.  Fast-forward to the 17th century and you have an even juicier chapter to add to the bat legend. 

Spanish explorers who journeyed to Central and South America made more than one stunning discovery during their explorations.  These early explorers were some of the first to note the presence of bats that did indeed feed on blood.   Although these bats (called Vampire bats) primarily fed on the blood of livestock, the explorers who were obviously already very superstitious were quick to draw a correlation between the vampires that were part of their homeland mythology and these newly discovered blood-sucking creatures.  Rumors of bats who could shape shift themselves into vampires were started and perpetuated.  These far-fetched Vampire tales were made most infamous in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”.  The innocent little bat has been in the Halloween Hall of Fame ever since.

Essentially a cute, flying, insect-eating mammal, the bat does have a bit of a notorious reputation, but this is largely due to superstitious people long ago starting some pretty bizarre rumors about this mostly innocuous, not to mention helpful, creature.    The bat’s association with Halloween is likely here to stay; but in spite of what you may have heard, there is little reason to ever be afraid of a bat.   Whether you have bats in your belfry or a few just hanging around in your trees, bats are likely just doing their part to keep the mosquito population under control, eating up to 1000 of those pesky flying insects in an hour.  Now that, my friends, is something to go batty about! 

Bats all, folks!


Hairy Situation: Using Crepe Wool to Create Realistic Beards and More

  • August 21, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Applying Crepe WoolWhen it comes to creating realistic costume characters for Halloween or any other dress up event, sometimes you just gotta have facial hair.  Can you imagine Jack Sparrow, The Wolverine, King Leonidas, Gandalf or even Santa Claus without their signature beards? (Neither can we.)  When it’s not possible or even practical to grow your own facial hair, there are some pretty nifty solutions out there that will quickly get your 5 o’clock shadow all the way to midnight, and in a hurry.  Using crepe wool to create realistic looking beards, mustaches and sideburns is a groovy alternative that isn’t nearly as difficult as it looks. Mastering the technique of applying crepe wool to create different facial hair styles will ultimately give you a much more realistic look that finishes off your costume look to perfection.

Crepe Wool:  Crepe wool generally comes in long braids of hair-like fibers. Crepe wool comes in a wide range of colors so you can get the perfect shade for your character, or even blend a couple of different colors together for a more realistic, natural hair-like appearance. 

Applying Crepe Wool:  Before you can apply crepe wool to the face, you must cut off a piece of the braid and unravel it.  A small piece of twine is mixed in with the fibers; this should be discarded when you begin to pull apart the braid.  Using a pair of scissors cut off the appropriate length of crepe wool and fluff it apart, unraveling the fibers and pulling apart the braid.  Curly crepe wool can be ironed with a steam iron for a straighter look, or it can be used in its natural wavy state for a frizzier appearance. 

Crepe wool is adhered to the face using spirit gum.  To avoid irritation, do not apply spirit gum to freshly shaven skin!  Using a small brush apply spirit gum to the area where you will begin to apply the crepe wool.  Tapping on the spirit gum with your finger after it begins to dry will make it tacky and ready for the crepe wool to be applied. Always start underneath the jaw line and build up from there, as if you are shingling a roof.  Your crepe wool segments should be quite thin and only about 1 ½” wide.  If little pieces to not stick when pressed into the spirit gum you can pull them off.  Continue to apply layers of the crepe wool onto sticky spirit gum as you build up your beard, sideburns, or mustache.  Add more spirit gum in the tight spots as necessary.

Crepe Wool Application Tips Straight From the Pros:

  • For the most realistic, natural looking result, use a slightly darker shade underneath a lighter shade, which you can use to blend in on the top/final layer.  This will give the look of natural highlights or you can also add grey/white hair for a salt and pepper effect.
  • Always apply crepe wool in small, layered segments. Never apply a giant wad of hair all at once. 
  • Cut your crepe wool pieces much longer than you want your end result to be.  Trimming your beard to the appropriate and desired length is the final application step and you want to always make sure your beard is long enough.
  • Trimming of your beard should be done with very sharp scissors while using extreme caution, particularly if your beard is to be cropped very close to the skin.  If you have created a mustache, use very small scissors to carefully trim it.  Point the scissor blades upward while trimming for the most natural effect.
  • Spirit gum remover should be used to remove the beard.  Soaking the spirit gum with the remover will dissolve it, at which point the beard and spirit gum can be gently wiped away.  Once the beard is removed, wash the face with a gentle soap and water to remove any remaining residue.

Need more help or ideas for crepe wool application?  Check out our collection of How-To Videos where we feature several costume looks that use crepe wool facial hair application techniques.


D23 Expo: The Ultimate Disney Fan Experience

  • August 19, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Disney Fan ExpoThis past weekend wound up the largest ever Disney Fan Convention held once again in Anaheim, California.  The good news for die-hard Disney fans is that the biennial convention will be back in all its glory during the summer of 2015!  This year’s convention was largely sold out, with over 45,000 people in attendance at the expo, which was held over the course of three excitement-filled days.  Fully costumed Disney fans could be seen traipsing about the Anaheim Convention Center, with cosplay clearly being the order of the special event and proving quite definitively, that even big kids love to play dress up.

Aside from thousands of enthusiastic fans costumed up as various Disney characters, there were a number of noted highlights at the event, including:

  • Disney Animation Studios announced a 2015 movie “Zootopia”.
  • The cast and storyline of upcoming Pixar movies, including “Inside Out” was revealed.
  • A “Monsters University” short film also debuted at the event.
  • Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins were among several celebrities that made surprise appearances at the Walt Disney Studios presentation. 
  • Actors B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman hit the stage with songwriter Richard Sherman to perform a “Mary Poppins” song as part of the 50th Anniversary of Mary Poppins celebration.
  • Special showcasing of all the very newest Disney characters.
  • The Disney Legends award went to Disney Imagineer, Tony Baxter.

Disney fans of all ages were in attendance at the D23 Expo, the convention duly named D23 in reference to 1923, the year the Disney Company was formed.  Clearly the best part of the event was having the opportunity to dress up and to feel a little bit of the legendary Disney magic, which was apparently flowing in rich abundance throughout the entire event.  We thought you might enjoy seeing some of the best Disney-themed costumes that were seen at this year’s D23 Expo!

Arielbelle and cinderella ghostly gentleman jasmine peter pan and tinkerbell robin hood


Kick-Ass 2. Get Ready to Punt Some Serious Booty

  • August 14, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

“They may wear costumes but it isn’t Halloween.  They’re real life superheroes!”  If you are experiencing a bad case of the end-of-summer blahs, here is a rather rambunctious solution you may want to consider.  Kick-Ass 2 hits theatres this weekend, picking up the story of the costumed teenage crime-fighters where it left off in 2010.  This isn’t just another little superhero movie, however.  Although there is a clear comic book theme that rings true throughout the film, there are a few things that will differentiate Kick-Ass 2 from all the other superhero films you’ve seen this summer.  First of all, although the teenagers from the original film have grown up some since the last installment, they are still struggling with a heavy dose of teenage angst while they try to find their place in the world.  Mindy and Dave have been trying to assimilate themselves into a normal high school existence, which actually might be one of the bigger challenges either of them has ever faced. Much of Kick-Ass 2 promises to feature the tug-o-war Mindy (Chloe Grace Moratz) herself faces as she tries to discover her truest identity--is she Hit-Girl?  Or just Mindy? Or something in-between?

In the original film, Red-Mist (played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse) was the overindulged son of New York City’s notorious crime boss, Frank D’Amico.  In this latest Kick-Ass adventure, Red-Mist has now re-invented himself as a super villain named Mother F%&*^r, gathering together an army-like posse of henchmen to perpetuate his vengeful agenda against Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit-Girl. 

Kick-Ass 2 also introduces Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes--a quirky ex-mobster who now tries to help the downtrodden members of society who the system has completely failed.  Dressed in a mask and fully decked out in camo, Colonel Stars and Stripes now relies heavily on his trusty German shepherd sidekick, duly named Eisenhower. 

Kick-Ass 2 promises to be a very humorous, action-filled and wild ride, taken to the absolute hilt in true superhero style.  Yes, it’s a bit ridiculous to have people running around in masks and stretchy suits in real life, but this isn’t real life, which is part of why we love superhero movies anyway. The quintessential battle of good vs. evil definitely takes a new hilarious twist in Kick-Ass 2 as a bunch of vigilante teenagers in costumes start acting like bona fide badasses.  Irreverent and potentially somewhat hokey, this film looks like it should be a fun ride. 

Take a look at the NSFW Extended Trailer for Kick-Ass 2:


Go Back To School Like a Superhero

  • August 12, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Back to School

When it’s time to send the kids back to school, there can be a lot of mixed emotions.  Sometimes kids are actually ready to go back to class. Oftentimes kids are anxious to see their friends and have something new to do, having already run out of things to fill up the long summer days.  Sometimes, however, the thought of going back to school creates some sadness and maybe even a little anxiety for your child.  Sending your child back to school like a superhero will not only make him more excited and help him look forward to the experience, but doing this is likely to make you somewhat of a superhero in his eyes as well!

Clothing:  Getting the superhero vibe is easy when it comes to clothing.  Superhero t-shirts, sweatshirts, and other clothing items are readily available with a wide variety of heroic insignias printed on them.  Make sure your child has his/her favorite superhero to wear on the first day back to school to not only empower him but to get him excited about getting ready for school.  Having something new to wear on the first day is always a great motivator!

Gear:  There is a huge variety of superhero gear available for back to school.  One of the most important items you will need to obtain for your child is a backpack.  Backpacks themed with your child’s favorite superhero will be easy to find.  A backpack is the perfect way for your child to tote all his school supplies as well as his lunch to school while staying organized which will make you happy. He will love his new backpack just because it’s superhero cool.

Lunch: Don’t miss out on keeping your superhero theme alive when it comes to packing your child’s lunch.  This goes way beyond having the appropriate superhero themed lunchbox, of course.  There are lots of fun ways to amp up what’s in your kid’s lunch that will make him that much more excited about eating it.  Inexpensive superhero rings or stickers are a great surprise to stash inside a lunchbox.  Buy some temporary tattoos with your child’s favorite superhero on them and apply these onto the outside of a banana peel.  He will be so excited!  Cut your child’s sandwich in the shape of a superman insignia, or using a bat-shaped cookie cutter, cut the sandwich in the shape of a bat, creating a sandwich made especially for Batman.  Add small stickers to the outside of Mini Babybell cheeses.  Be creative and have fun!

Comics:  Who said that comic books didn’t count as reading material?  If you are having difficulty getting your child excited about reading, perhaps a comic book is an easier way to get him feeling a little more motivated.  Find the comic books that are most age-appropriate for your child that are also filled with the heroes he loves the most.  You will be amazed at how suddenly your child is anxious to read!

School Supplies:  The little things can mean a lot and this holds true for school supplies, too.  Most kids will relish the idea of using a pencil with their favorite superhero emblazoned on it rather than an ordinary one.  Look for superhero themed erasers, binders, notebooks, etc. 

Leave a Note:  Writing your child a note and leaving it inside his backpack or in his lunch is a great way to bring a smile to your child’s face while he is away from you during the day.  Stick with the superhero theme by writing something like “You are a school hero!  Have a super day!”  Check your local novelty store for small notepads or sticky notes with a superhero theme; these are the perfect size for leaving notes for your child and he will love them!

Adding some of your child’s favorite superheroes to his back to school experience can make it not only more fun, but will also ease the transition from the lazy days of summer into the more structured routine found during the school year.  Your child is going to love going off to school feeling like a miniature hero, but the truth is, the real superhero at the heart of this scenario is you!


Take a Bite Out of Shark Week

  • August 07, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Shark Week!What’s up to twenty-five feet long, weighing approximately 5,000 pounds and is nicknamed the “Great White Death”?  Sounds like your worst nightmare, right?  Actually what we are describing here is a Great White Shark.  This elusive and occasionally man-eating creature has quite the reputation, and now thanks largely to the Discovery Channel, it even has it’s own celebratory week honoring itself and many other shark species.  It’s at this time of the year that we begin to wonder again if it is actually safe to go in the water, especially as we also turn our attention to the mesmerizing images of sharks featured in the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week special programming.

At this time every year, one of the most popular cable TV channels, does it’s darndest to scare the living crap out of us with up-close and personal images, videos and documentaries about some pretty voracious looking sharks, while still trying to convince us simultaneously that sharks are just super cool and really have little interest at all in making us humans part of their evening meal.  Shark Week has gotten so popular that it has gone way beyond just what’s actually seen on the Discovery Channel, the entire week now having dove into it’s rightful place as a swimmingly celebrated pop culture phenomenon.  During Shark Week, you will likely see oceans full of references to sharks and anything shark-related, and trust me, it’s no accident.  There is something quite fascinating about these toothy creatures.  They are mesmerizing and elegant while at the same time having the ability to be pretty darn terrifying.

Because around these parts we love to celebrate all things scary, real or imagined, we’ve come up with a few ways you can add a little bit of a fishy-style fear factor to the last remaining days of your summer by getting into the exciting vibe that is found during Shark Week.   

Movies:  There are some pretty epic shark-themed films out there for your viewing pleasure that are sure to get you pumped up about all things “shark”. Dun-dun, dun-dun, dun-dun, dun-dun…our favorite shark movies include: 

  • Jaws
  • Jaws 2
  • Jaws 3-D
  • Open Water
  • Deep Blue Sea
  • Bait
  • Shark Night 3-D

 

 

Dress Like a Shark:  This probably is a very bad idea if you are going anywhere near a beach, but if you are just looking for a fun/entertaining way to really feel the whole shark vibe, head to toe, a hilarious shark costume is a great way to go. 

Eat Shark-Themed Snacks:  Cut mozzarella cheese into triangle shapes, and call them “shark-teeth”.  This snack idea is super fun for kids while also being perfect for busy moms who want to perpetuate all things “shark”.  Another quick idea is to pour Goldfish crackers into a large bowl, adding a plastic toy shark as a garnish.  Quick, easy and so fun!

Drink Grown-Up Shark-Themed Drinks:  I’m down! 

  • The Great White Vodka: Vodka, Ruby Red cocktail, splash of Blue Curacao. 
  • Shark-a-rita’s: 1 splash raspberry liqueur, 1-1/2 oz. white tequila, ½ oz. triple sec, 1 oz. lemon juice.
  • Blood in the Water:  2 pts. Citrus vodka, 2 pts. Club soda, 1 pt. fresh grapefruit, a drizzle of grenadine.

Ponder Deep-Sea Mysteries:  Have you ever wondered what would happen if a flesh-eating zombie and a shark went at it one on one?  Who would come out the winner? Apparently some other great minds out there wondered the same thing, including Italian filmmaker, Lucio Fulci who was the mastermind behind this piece of zombie vs. shark brilliance.  (From Zombi 2-1979.)

 

 

Happy Shark Week from your friends at Halloween Express! 


The Great American Pastime: Top 10 Reasons Why We Love Baseball

  • August 05, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

We Love BaseballOver 76 million fans will attend baseball games this year.  What is it about this beloved game that fans seem to love?  Here’s our top ten list of why hitting a baseball game might be the perfect solution to solve a bad case of the end of the summer blahs. 

 Easy To Understand:  Diehard baseball fans love to know all the subtle innuendos and intricacies of baseball, and knowing all this info does give some fans great joy.  You don’t have to have all this vast knowledge to understand the basics of the game, however, and having even the most rudimentary understanding of baseball will give you quite enough to have a fun and enjoyable experience at a baseball game. 

 History: Baseball has some great history behind it, and if you are a history buff as well as a baseball fan, there are plenty of epic baseball stories to learn about and to pass along.  Take for example, Jackie Robinson being the first African-American to ever play major league baseball or the legendary Babe Ruth who led the Red Sox to three championships and still holds the standing record for pitching thirteen scoreless innings on the way to the 1916 championship. 

 Food:  As any good baseball fan will tell you, there is nothing better than a hotdog and an ice-cold beer while watching your boys play ball.  Other baseball food staples include of course, peanuts, Cracker Jacks and nachos.  By all means, get a soda, too because naturally you will want to take home that beautiful souvenir cup!

 Superstitions: Baseball players, managers and fans are some of the most superstitious people out there in all of sports.  If the team is winning, the players and sometimes the fans will do whatever it takes (or whatever seems to be working) in order to maintain the winning streak.  Players can be particular about a certain bat or other parts of their apparel, but even weirder superstitions have been heard of such as peeing on one’s own hands.  EW!

Great American Pasttime Legends:  Willie Mays, Lou Gehrig, Pete Rose, Hank Aaron, Richie Asburn, Nolan Ryan, Joe DiMaggio, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams for starters.  What more really needs to be said?

 Family:  Obviously going to a baseball game with your family is a fantastic bonding experience.  An interesting thing happens at baseball games, however.  When you are sitting in the fan section, sometimes it feels like everyone is one big family.  Even strangers can leave the game as friends.

 Fan Loyalty:  Baseball fans are incredibly loyal fans.   Even in the midst of a horrible losing streak, a good fan has not given up on his or her boys pulling it together.  Following a dreadful season in a prior year and at the start of a new one, all is forgiven as the past is left behind and the fresh season is started anew. 

 Souvenirs:  Obviously the most coveted of all baseball souvenirs is the one you will never ever get at a football or basketball game--and that is the errant foul ball that is hit into the stands.  Many a prepared smarty-pants fan will come to the game with a baseball glove in hand to make catching one of these balls that much easier.  There are plenty of other fantastic souvenirs to score as well.  Programs, t-shirts, caps, foam fingers, pennants and baseballs stamped with various players autographs.

 Opportunity For Input:  Part of the fun of a baseball game is yelling at the umpires.  Everyone has an opinion and although yours might not actually count, it’s fun to let your feelings be known.  Let’s face it; sometimes those umps just don’t know what they are looking at, right? <Wink, wink>

 Movies:  Some of the best movies out there are baseball themed.   These classic films have become favorites for a reason.  Check out these epic titles: The Sandlot, Major League, League of Their Own, The Natural, Bad News Bears, Bull Durham and Field of Dreams. 

 Whether it’s for the food, the fun, the souvenirs, the game, or all of the above, now is a great time to hit your local baseball stadium and find out for yourself why baseball will forever be considered the great American pastime.