Our first Halloween in Italy

– was a success!

Around early September, Leilani and I decided that a European inspired costume would be fitting since we were moving to Italy.

Ensemble in mind: The Mona Lisa.

Now, there were no Spirit stores, craft shops (oh, Michael’s how I miss you), or anything of the sort that would help me transform Leilani into Mona Lisa. I was discouraged and very close to giving up. But, the determined mother in me put my creative cap on and got to work on making her costume homemade – and I had 2 days to do it. Challenge accepted.

I picked up a tri fold display board, 5 cans of spray paint, a ruler, box cutter, gorilla glue, and a small bungee cord to make the frame that Leilani would be standing in. CJ and I measured all sides of the cardboard and took a box cutter to trim down the size and punctured holes in the center where the bungee cord would weave through, and where Leilani would hold the box up with her shoulders. We used the scraps as the frame and CJ spray painted the box in his Da Vinci best while I went on a hunt to find an outfit that resembled The Mona Lisa’s. The base thrift store was just the place I’d find what I was looking for. They had bins of old costumes that were impossible to dig through. But, I was desperate and had a vision of exactly what I needed. Then behold! A long, black, crushed velvet fabric vampiress dress was finally in my hands. I ceased my search for a black wig and was forced to come to terms with having a blonde haired Mona Lisa until upon checking out, I saw a black net collecting dust on a hanger behind the counter. Inspiration struck and this would become part of Leilani’s “wig”. Our thrift store experience was everything I needed on my steps to materializing our kid into the famed painting. The dress and net together came out to be only $3! Oh, and I managed to grab a fabulous red dress for myself as well ($3). Score!

I have never studied a painting [online] as much as I have as The Mona Lisa. I wanted to make The Mona Lisa come to life in Leilani as much as possible. So, wearing just a black dress wasn’t going to cut it. In the painting, you can see a brownish-gold fabric as her sleeves and silk draping over her left shoulder. I bought some leg warmers for Leilani’s arms and a black scarf to drape over her shoulder to recreate this look. Of course the leg warmers and scarf are something I can use in the winter; parts of this costume aren’t a complete waste! After frantically searching and shopping with one day left, Leilani’s costume was finally coming together. Except her wig. I ended up knitting the net to a headband but it wasn’t dark enough, so I added black tissue paper and tucked it under the headband to keep it in place. Now her costume was complete.

While Leilani and I studied The Mona Lisa, we also learned quite a few facts about Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece. Leilani read some interesting things about the painting and we thought it would be a neat idea to be a walking history lesson and give “fun facts” to those who liked her costume. At first, we thought it would be funny to use these facts as a means to get an extra piece of candy out of our neighbors by saying, “Yes! I am the Mona Lisa. If you share an extra piece of candy, I’ll share a fun fact about me!” But, everyone was so generous she never had the chance to do it. When she was done treating around base, she passed out candy and was able to recite her 5 fun facts to people who gaped at her costume.

Here is a quick video we made this morning of Leilani sharing her ‘five fun facts’. She isn’t in full costume but decided to throw on her “wig” and sit in the boxed frame to become The Mona Lisa one last time.

Leilani’s costume ended up being a hit and everyone loved it. We received many compliments and several people took photos of our walking Mona Lisa. CJ and I have a bet that there will probably be 1 or 2 Mona Lisa costumes next Halloween. We are happy to be an inspiration to families to use their creativity and stop spending 50 or more bucks on a costume your kids will wear for one night. Luckily, Leilani had the chance to wear her costume twice. Last Friday was the base’s annual Spooktacular where 2,000 service members and Italian contractors and their families got to trick-or-treat at booths, go on hay rides, enter in contests, and eat carnival food. This is where Leilani debuted her costume for the first time. Several of the Italians took a particular liking to her costume and would say things like “bellisima!” or “que bella!” among other things that we couldn’t understand. This costume might have helped us become a little more accepted by the Italians. Whew!

Here are photo’s of her makeup and outfit. I pasted the outer parts of her eyebrows down with a glue stick, went over them with concealer, and powdered the heck out of them with foundation to make the hair less visible. Up close, you can see her eyebrows. But from a short distance and in photos, they are barely noticeable – just like in the painting. I powdered Leilani’s face and lips, contoured her nose and darkened her eyes to bring The Mona Lisa to life. I also used a black eyeliner pen on her forehead to create the thin veil that Lisa Gheradini wore over her hair. The transformation was in full effect!


Here are photo’s of my little walking painting –

Leilani in full character!

Leilani in full character!

This was such a fun project to put together and a great first Halloween in Italy. We were sad to have to retire the costume so I had the idea of sticking the box to her bedroom wall where friends can use it to play and take pictures in.

We missed the haunted houses, smoke machines, fully decorated neighborhood houses, and pumpkins back in the states. But, we were so thankful to have spent our first Halloween together as a family in 3 years. I hope you had a BOOtiful Hallow’s eve as well and a night with less tricks and more treats!

Now, excuse me while I go ravage through my little candy fetcher’s pillow-case-full of sweets. Mwaaahahahhh!


3 thoughts on “Our first Halloween in Italy

  1. Wow! That’s amazing and you are so creative and resourceful. I can’t believe you accomplished it in just two days. I’m glad you had a wonderful Halloween. Love ya and miss you all.

  2. That is amazing! Glad to see that at least there it’s caught on a bit more than up here in the North. My thoughts on this are that at the end of November there is what it called the “feast of St. Martin”, where children also go door to door.

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