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Last-Minute Purim Costumes: A Guide for the Perplexed

Embrace your laziness! Repurpose the crap you already have at home!

Marjorie Ingall
March 03, 2015
William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy as Captain Kirk and Spock in the Star Trek episode City on the Edge of Forever.
William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy as Captain Kirk and Spock in the Star Trek episode City on the Edge of Forever.

If you are like me, and I dearly hope you are (because I don’t want to think of you as the kind of parent who makes elaborate plastic-surgery- and 50-Shades-of-Grey-themed mishloach manot baskets), you’ve left your children’s Purim costumes until the last second.

Our spiritual leader should be the mom who dressed her infant son as Ruth Bader Ginsburg for Halloween last year. Big glasses, ruffly collar (made from a dollar-store doily or one of those bobby-pinnable old-lady-head-covering thingies from the cheap yarmulke box in your shul), oversized black robe (a black dress from your wardrobe or a large black T-shirt, depending on size of kid, will do), plastic hammer from the toy bench as a gavel stand-in and boom, you dissenting goddess you. Ruth Baby Ginsburg, everyone.

This mom is my Patronus. Let’s share her clever yet low-labor approach to Purim costumes, shall we?

1. Why not pay tribute to the late, great, Jewishly inspiring Leonard Nimoy via Purim costume? Naturally, Vulcan ears are a pipe dream for the non-crafty procrastinating parent. Work-around: Dress your child as Spock in the second-to-last episode of original Trek, “City on the Edge of Forever.” You know, the one when they went back through a time portal to 1930s New York and Joan Collins has to die (but smack lips with Kirk first, natch) to prevent her starting a pacifist movement that delays the U.S. entry into World War II and allows Nazi Germany to take over the world? (Yes, I’m a nerd. #LLAP.)

In the episode, Spock disguises his Vulcan ears with a navy-blue watch cap and wears a grayish button-down shirt and high-waisted Mom Jeans. Easy costume! (If you don’t have a gray shirt, wash a white shirt with a cheap new black dishtowel.) If you’re really ambitious (but still lazy), have the kid make the time portal—an oversized posterboard donut he or she can cover with glittery wrapping paper.

2. If you have two kids to costume (really, we lazy folks should stop breeding at one), how about the Shining Twins? If you lack light blue dresses, pick up two adult-sized light blue T-shirts and belt them around the waist with pink ribbon. Add white knee socks and black mary janes. Splash with red food coloring if you’re feeling gory. The important thing is the hand-holding and blank expressions.

3. Oompa Loompa? Green hairspray from the drugstore. White pants. Red shirt. Make the overall straps out of a cut-up old T-shirt. Use bronzer or the hideous apricot blush you bought in 2007 on the kid’s face. Look, here’s a free printable template for a fake Wonka Bar wrapper with which to cover a Hershey Bar. The hardest thing will be insisting that the kid carry around a bar of chocolate without eating it.

4. An older kid may be amused by going as the Ice Bucket Challenge. All you need is a bucket, an ice cube tray, and blue crepe paper streamers to attach to the bucket if you’re feeling fancy.

5. The Dress. We are all sick of the farshtunkiner dress. But it is an easy and recognizable costume and we are lazy, remember? Duct tape is your friend. (But blue painter’s tape comes off more easily, for what it’s worth.) Put kid in a black t=T-shirt or dress and add blue tape stripes, or a blue T-shirt or dress and add black tape stripes. Then have the kid tell everyone he or she is a white and gold dress.

6. Grumpy Cat. Kitty ears and pin-on tail that you already have in the dress-up bin. Sign saying “NO.” Scowl. Done.

7. Pharrell. Zayde’s hat. Formal shorts. Red track jacket if you’ve got one. And we’re happy! Let’s go hear the megillah!

8. Gaga. White dress (dad’s T-shirt, covered with black Sharpie’d squiggles) with giant shoulders (use rolled-up socks), red dishwashing gloves, theatrical self-absorbed stare. Encourage child to sing “The Sound of Music” with lots of vibrato.

9. How about a crazy cat lady? (You know, just like mommy!) Take all the stuffed plush kitties that no doubt fill your home. Pin them to a bathrobe. Maybe put the kid’s hair in curlers (aka toilet paper rolls). Glasses. Lint roller in hand. Maybe some tissues if there’s a particularly emotional episode of The Bachelor on.

10. Or if your kid is capable of appreciating puns, the lowest form of humor, swap out the bathrobe for a windbreaker or cape, add some stuffed doggies to the kitties, put on a tiara and carry a scepter. The kid is reigning cats and dogs, get it? I stole that joke from New Girl on Fox. (You know what, just skip the pun and attach the stuffed animals to an umbrella, the way Real Simple did. Easier still. Now go drink until you can’t tell Haman from Mordecai.)

11. If you liked the pun concept, and God help you, take the cheerleading pompoms I’m guessing you also have, put a sign on the kid’s shirt that says “ceiling,” make a banner that says “go ceiling!” put “ceiling” on a baseball hat and oh look, he or she is a ceiling fan.

12. Have your kid dress in orange, use the orange face paint from the Halloween kit or the aforementioned ugly apricot blush from suggestion #3, paint a few Stars of David all over him- or herself, and voila, Orange Juice.

The Dearth Duo
The Dearth Duo

13. Is your kid a Harry Potter fanatic? Take the Hogwarts robe I KNOW you already have, put your kid’s hair in pigtails, add a rep tie (ideally blue and bronze, but let’s not get too crazy) and have her wear a (new, cheap, hardware store) toilet around her neck and whine (she does that really well, I’m sure). She’s Moaning Myrtle!

Are we good here? Grab your groggers and we’re out the door.

Marjorie Ingall is a former columnist for Tablet, the author of Mamaleh Knows Best, and a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review.