This is definitely my favorite family photo of the year.
And to think, I almost didn’t participate!
Every year, I lose my head with giddy anticipation for the Halloween Costume Carnaval in West Hollywood. I get stupid-squealy-super excited, running all over the city piecing together a costume, gathering friends at my bestie Ian’s place for some drinks, and heading to Santa Monica Boulevard for the GREATEST! COSTUME PARTY! IN! THE WORLD!
This year was different. I currently live in a little city called Olympia, and I’m hard-pressed to find inspiration here. When I lived in LA, I was constantly surrounded – nearly suffocated – by creativity. Creative people, creative ideas, creative everything, anywhere and everywhere. I could be driving down Melrose, people-watching in Venice, dining al fresco on 3rd Street, or just going to my “industry” job – and inspiration was aplenty.
Although I booked a flight to LA for Halloween weekend this year, I had very little preparation/inspiration opportunities in the days leading up to it. Wandering the streets of Olympia isn’t particularly inspiring.
I think living here for the last year has sucked all the creative juices right outta me. I’m a sad and boring little dried-up small-town gal now, carrying the dead weight of my soul through the gray Olympia rigamarole, and fading into a black hole of lackluster nothingness.
Heh. Was that dramatic? Well, I am exaggerating, but only a little bit.
Anyway, this year was also different because instead of focusing all my energy on my own costume and my sister’s (it’s usually a fun sisterly effort for us), I was putting together costumes for the rest of my family: my mom, my dad and my brother! They’ve heard for years how much my sister and I just LOVE Halloween in LA, so they decided it was time to make a family vacay out of it!
So not only was I running around piecing together all their costumes, I was arranging several days worth of family activities in the beloved city I consider my real home. Halloween was only a small part of our trip, but I’ll tell you the rest of it later. In summary: Nguyen Family Vacay in LA was a hit!
I dressed up my parents as Jessie and Woody from Toy Story:
- From the Spirit Halloween store, I purchased the Toy Story Accessory Kits for both, which included the cowboy hats, cowskin vest and little doodads like the sheriff’s badge.
- I found the yellow Woody shirt for dad at Value Village (never been worn and on sale for half off!)
- The white shirt and denim skirt for mom, I dug up in the closet.
- And they wore whatever shoes made them comfortable!
My brother was the easiest. He was determined to be a monkey, and all I had to do was buy him the full furry monkey suit at Party City.
My sister was the hardest. She always goes full out, opting for classic characters with elaborate detail. And this year was Mary Poppins – the Jolly Holiday version. We hit up several shops to get all the pieces together:
- Lace hat from Halloweentown in Burbank.
- Lace bodice and gloves from one of those trashy lingerie shops on Hollywood Blvd.
- Tutu from Hollywood Toys and Costumes on Hollywood Blvd.
- The lace parasol was recycled from last year’s costume as the Morton Salt Girl.
- She DIY’d the waistband with thick red satin from the fabric store.
- Manually tied little red ribbons (from Michael’s) to the tutu.
- And always the performer, she was in character all night…”Practically perfect in every way!”
We had so much fun planning all this stuff, that plans for my own costume fell to the wayside. I was thiiiiiis close to not dressing up at all and designating myself the family chauffeur and photographer for Halloween. I would’ve been just as happy, to be honest.
But 1) my sister wasn’t having any of that (she nearly ripped my head off when I suggested it), and then, 2) enter FLAMINGO HEAD.
The night before Halloween, I saw this flamingo hat thingy at Halloweentown, a year-round costume shop in Burbank, and it was calling my name.
“Thyyyyyy you want me on your heaaaaad…buy me nowwwww!”
And so I did. (I’m very obedient.)
I DIY’d the rest of it:
- I wrapped two pink feather boas onto a tube top and fastened them using safety pins
- Threw on a pink tutu
- Added a pair of pink tights
- Painted the nails hot pink
- I even found a $1 pair of pink feather earrings
- And my sister pink’d up my eyes that night with sparkly pink eyeshadow
This year was different for sure, without my usual Halloween crew and the libations that are usually involved (it wasn’t the same without Ian!). But making it a family affair was an especially unique experience. I loved seeing my mom, my dad and my little brother wide-eyed at the incredible costumes and the creative energy that surrounded us. It was really neat to see the WeHo Carnaval through their eyes.
And go figure, in the midst of the California drought, we actually got showered on during the festival! Like a true Angeleno, I ran for cover like it was the end of the world. Haha. My parents – true Washingtonions – were like, rain? You call this rain?!
We had a good laugh and an all-around great time!
I didn’t take any pictures this year, but here are a few from my parents’ camera! Hope you had a happy Halloween!
And thank you JJ for taking these photos for my family and me!