A Homemade Halloween, Part Two: Awkward Family Photo

As usual, the wheels for this year’s work Halloween costume started turning just as soon as we retired last year’s most creative winning design.  After the infamous Barbie & Ken costume of 2011, I have a reputation and a standard to uphold.  In the five years since, I have won Most Creative three times.  Twice I didn’t win because our Halloween was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy and the other was just not my best effort, but still fun.

The idea to be an Awkward Family Photo was inspired by a picture I saw on the site’s Instagram account.  The idea lived in my head until this past September when I started to make it happen.

Step One: Build the Base for the Frame

Of course I had to start with a frame, because we need to be a FRAMED family photo.  For those who follow my homemade Halloween costumes, you know I always have to go that extra mile and have some contraption that goes with it.

I started by taking apart a broken rack from my costume room and reassembling it so that it stood again.  I also had to rig a stablizing system so it wouldn’t topple over. This was accomplished with junk from the costume room: some wooden sticks and some rods from a broken shoe rack.  This was truly my Macgyver moment.


Once I was gone I reattached the wheels, and a frame was made.

Step Two: Cut and Paint the Frame

Next it was time to make the gold frame to surround the front of the rack.  I printed a frame picture and used it as a template.  I cut strips and corner pieces out of oaktag.


I was particular proud of how the corners came out.

Once the strips were cut, I needed to paint them gold.  I liked that the paint I used didn’t go on totally smoothly, giving it a tarnished look.

Step Three: Finish Assembling the Frame

I ended up purchasing a cheap photography backdrop on Amazon.  I taped it to the back of the rack.  Then, I taped the frame pieces around the front.

My last small touch was to add on the Awkward Family Photos Logo.

Step Four: Assemble the Costumes

There were four participants this year and we decided to be siblings: three sisters and a brother.  The theme was the 1980’s, and so everyone was instructed to get the 80’s outfit of their choice, and we bought a bunch of horrible perm wigs.  A fantastic sequined shirt was obtained on Rusty Zipper, and the dresses and Miami Vice t-shirt were found on ebay.  The blazer came from the costume room.

Here are some of the various pieces:

Step Five: Create a Back Story

At the last minute on Friday afternoon before leaving work, I decided we needed a story much like the website has descriptions under some of the photos to relive the awkwardness.  Our backstory involved our idiot brother who insisted on wearing his Miami Vice t-shirt and brining the family cat, Merv.

This is Merv:

Merv’s main purpose will be to simply appear in the photo.  After Halloween he will likely become one of my classrooom mascots (which is a collection of little stuffed animals my sutdents have bought me over the years).

I printed out the same template I used for the frame, but smaller.  This part was simple: print the frame, paint it gold, cut it out and then glue the backstory into it.

At this point, all that was left was putting ourselves together and figuring out how to fit into the frame!  The frame is only 4 feet wide, so we knew it would be tight, but we figured that would make it all the more awkward.

And here it is, in all it’s eyesore glory!


And the winners are… US!  We got Funniest Costume this year.  I must admit it’s a little sad to lose my Most Creative Title, but a win’s a win and it’s all in good fun no matter what.

What’s the plan for next year?  Well, I already have an idea going but that’s going to remain top secret for now.

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