Cheryl ZibiskyNeed a kid's costume, pronto? Desperate to find a replacement babysitter hours before your dinner reservation? Help is on the way.
You Need: A Halloween Costume
The bad news first: A white sheet and a kid do not a ghost maketh. To cobble together a costume, read on.
The Quick Fix:
For Girls: Her closet probably has the makings of a fairy princess -- a leotard, a wand, a tutu. Just add glitter gel to her face and hands. "Whether the costume is accurate to a character doesn't matter. Kids will go for it," says Laurel Burke, co-owner of the Spook Shop costume store, in Bellingham, Washington, and a film production designer. For a crown, cut points into a sparkly or colored translucent school folder and glue the ends together, says Burke.
For Boys: Got a big cardboard box? Cut off the flaps and cut holes for arms and a head. Spray-paint it silver or decorate it with markers and you have a robot. To make feet, cut a hole into the bottoms of two shoe boxes for him to put his ankles through, then have him put on his shoes underneath.
For Both: Superheroes fly with everyone. To make this costume, all you need is a cape, an eye mask, and a logo. If you can't find an eye mask, draw one on with face paint; you can make a logo out of construction paper according to your child's whim. "Suddenly, he's Super-Pickle!" says Burke.
For more quick and easy ideas, see Quick, Easy Halloween Costumes
You Need: A Gift for a Teacher
If you had planned ahead, you might have bought a thoughtful, pampering gift. Or, at the very least, a "World's Best Teacher" mug.
The Quick Fix: Gift cards are a slam dunk, provided they're not too specific (such as one for a clothing store that might not suit someone's taste), says Fran Shea, a kindergarten teacher in Putnam County, New York, who has been an educator for 18 years. Stick to spa treatments, dinner at a local restaurant (pick one that is on the way to school to save more time), department stores, or bookstores. "I love those," Shea adds, "because I can buy books for myself or the classroom." As for the amount, anything from $5 to $50 is fair game -- but $100 is too much. (See Real Simple's Tips for Parent-Teacher Conferences)
You Need: A Birthday Card
Construction paper and markers can be cute, but they also say, "We forgot!"
The Quick Fix: For a less harried alternative, download and print this card on heavy stock paper. Or try www.yahoo americangreetings.com/printables for card downloads (registration gets you free access for a month). For the future, consider ordering a set of personalized gift tags to keep handy. The styles at www.roseberrycreekdesigns.com have all kinds of kid-friendly pics -- ladybugs, trains, baseball gear--to go alongside your name ($16 for 30 tags). The site www.wittydoodles.com has tags with cute stick figures ($29.50 for 30 tags).
You Need: A Birthday Present
What, your closet of generic go-to gifts for this type of emergency is empty? Oh, right. You remember to stock it only when Target is closing in four minutes and you have zero time to shop.
The Quick Fix: For this emergency, hit the Internet. The website www.gifts.com lets you select a participating store from hundreds of options (including KB Toys and Nickelodeon), choose a dollar amount, and print out cute, personalized gift certificates. (The certificates can also be e-mailed directly to the recipient.) Know any young movie buffs? They'll give two thumbs-up to Fandango Bucks -- illustrated, brightly colored movie passes from www.fandango.com.
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