Photo Credit: Jewish Press

This year, we have been blessed with an exciting simcha, my niece got married. We were lucky enough to be able to attend the beautiful event in Israel, which took place right before Rosh Chodesh Adar. With all the excitement and planning, we did not have that much time to think about Purim.

Once we came home, we needed to focus on Purim, fast! My mishloach monos is the same ever year: a box of wafers and a bar of chocolate, wrapped in a pretty ribbon. For the mishloach manos my kids give out, a let them buy whatever nosh is on sale. The seudah will be done as a pot-luck with my two sisters, and I will bring challah freshly baked that day. The only thing remaining to worry about is costumes.

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One could always run to the specialty Purim store and buy overpriced costumes – or you can look around your house and see what costumes could be conjured up from regular items you have lying around.

A clown costume can be made by simply piling on a bunch of clashing clothes, adding mismatched socks and shoes, tying on a few ties, and putting on a lot of makeup. Use red lipstick for a red nose, eye liner for freckles, and every eye shadow color possible. The biggest advantage of this costume is that the whole family can do the same thing and you have a theme. Themes are important because they make everything cuter.

Another option is a very fancy lady or gentleman. This costume is best for small boys and girls. Have the girls wear their fanciest outfit, or perhaps a gown worn to a wedding, paired with mom’s highest heels. Add a bunch of cheap beaded necklaces, an oversized hat if possible, and a snazzy open umbrella to protect sensitive complexions. For the gentleman, you need a suit with a tie, black hat and a closed umbrella to use as a walking stick. He or she will be the talk of the town!

If you are comfortable utilizing movie characters, we can do the classic Men In Black theme, although some people might need you to explain who you are. All you need are dark suits, white shirts, and sunglasses – if you happen to have slim flashlights, even better.

Then there is the classic bubby/zaidy – old grown up clothing, creating a hunchback underneath the shirts with a towel, using baby powder to whiten hair, big glasses, and umbrellas as a cane. As this is the time to exaggerate gender differences, Bubby can wear an apron and carry a jar of cookies, and Zaidy can be holding a sefer or newspaper to keep track of the stocks.

A yummy costume is a baker. All you need is a white oversized shirt, an apron, a spatula and/or a rolling pin, and a liberal sprinkling of flour everywhere. You can write the baker’s name in black marker by the shirt pocket. This costume pairs nicely with baked goods with a sticker saying, “Baked by Our Little Chefs.”

Another classic costume is the janitor – matching blue shirt and pants/skirt, along with a baseball cap, with a broom and shovel or a rolling garbage can if you have one.

Finally, you can dress up as each other – mom as dad, dad as mom, sister as brother, etc. It’s as simple as wearing the other person’s clothes and holding his or her most iconic possessions, which will not work if it is a cellphone. If it is, use the next beloved item, i.e. if mom loves to bike, carry a helmet. If Dad loves to find cheap flights, carry around a huge stack of fake credit cards, made from cut up cardboard boxes.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to have fun. That is the point of Purim, after all.

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Pnina Baim is the author of the Young Adult novels, Choices, A Life Worth Living (featured on Dansdeals and Jew In The City) and a how-to book for the Orthodox homemaker, Sing While You Work. The books are available at amazon.com. Pnina is available for speaking engagements and personal consulting. Contact her at pninabaim@gmail.com.