As a child, Nicole Eagleston enjoyed celebrating each holiday with her family. Holidays were something to anticipate and enjoy, and Halloween was no exception.
"My mom, she always got into every holiday," Eagleston said. "She just really got into it and made it really fun for her kids.
"Back when I was growing up in the '80s, the costumes were so funny. They were like plastic, basically rain-poncho kind of things with a character printed on the front. ... So she always just hand-made our costumes, sewed them, put them together herself, and they were always really good. I love looking back over the years. ... My mom would do my makeup and get the costume all ready, and my dad would make a homemade scar, so they really got into it."
Eagleston has chosen to carry on the tradition with her own family as a way to remember her mother, who died of breast cancer in 1997 when Eagleston was 20 years old.
Every Halloween, the Eagleston family chooses a theme that influences their individual costume choices.
"It's kind of a way to honor her and carry on her legacy," Eagleston said. "After all, she's really the reason behind all of this. Just trying to give the same kind of childhood to my children that she gave to us. It was perfect, and I have the best memories of the holidays in our home growing up, thanks to her."
When Eagleston met her husband, John, she was excited to learn that he enjoyed holiday traditions just as much.
"He has an older brother that just gets into everything and loves dressing up with masks and mustaches and costumes, and so I think John kind of took after his older brother, and when we got married we had, I want to say, four to five bins of costume stuff between the two of us as newlyweds," Nicole Eagleston said.
Ever since then, Nicole and John Eagleston have enjoyed creating costumes together. It started out simple — their first year of marriage the couple dressed up as witches — but over time it has become an impressive family tradition that even includes the family's dog, Dix-d.
Each year, the Eagleston children — Ruby, Asher and Jude — help pick out their family's costume theme.
"It's crazy because I keep thinking that my kids are not going to want to do it anymore, but every year they’re so excited, and they pitch in their ideas," Eagleston said. "A lot of years it’s just kind of funny because their friends will be superheroes or princesses, and my kids are Oompa Loompas.
"But they love it. We’ve never had to make them do it or be anything. I’ve always thought the day would come that they would choose the costume and then we would think, 'OK, how can we make this a family thing?' But every year we’ve kind of come up with something together and figured out who was going to be who, and they love it."
Each year as Halloween comes to an end, the Eaglestons begin brainstorming the next year's costumes.
"Usually we pick our idea a year in advance, so Halloween night or just right when Halloween ends we’ll be like, ‘What can we be for next year?' and we’ll kind of think of ideas," Eagleston said.
The best part of the tradition is that it allows the family to spend even more time with each other, working as a team.
"We go out together, and I don’t hand-sew everything," Eagleston said. "I’m not a seamstress at all. I’ll sew some things, but most of the time we’ll go to Goodwill or something together and just look for pieces that could potentially become something, like hey, this dress looks pretty good, or this fabric is good, maybe we could alter it or dye it or whatever so we can make it look like what it needs to be.
"So they’ll go out with me and be like, 'Hey, Mom, does this look like the right kind of boots?' ... We spend a ton of time doing it and it's fun."
When putting the costumes together, Eagleston pays attention to even the smallest of details in order to make the costumes authentic and yet also modest and appropriate.
"I’m super weird, kind of crazy, about the details," Eagleston said. "I love to look up images online and watch the movie and have every little detail and just kind of mimic it and make it as close as I can to the actual character.
"I hate those sexy costumes like 'sexy Dorothy.' I mean, Dorothy’s dress was not. I try to just make it exactly how the character is, and for the most part the themes we choose and the characters are all really modest. ...That’s important to me to stick to our values and be good examples. If they don't have sleeves, I try and add a little sleeve, and if it's too short, add some length. And that goes for me and John, too. ... I think it's important to be modest, and you can still have fun with it."
And most of all, the tradition is something Eagleston can use to teach her children about their grandma.
"We can tell our kids, 'Your grandma was so fun. She did this and that,' " Eagleston said. "So it's kind of fun to be able to follow her footsteps and do some of the things she did."
Check out the past seven years of themed Halloween costumes the Eagleston family has created.
2008 Eagleston family costumes
Ruby: Tin Man
"That was our first year we kind of did it, and now if I redid that year, I would be way more in to the details," Eagleston said. "I look back and think, ‘Oh man, that was silly. I could have done the scarecrow so much better,’ but that was just kind of us starting out with our little themes."
"I don’t think that (year) was really hard," Eagleston added. "I borrowed my Dorothy dress from a friend. I made the shoes. I just got some red pumps at Goodwill, and I sprayed them and did red glitter, but that was easy and it was fun. I love doing projects like that, so it’s always been fun for me to put it together."
"Asher was just little, he was only 2 months old, and I didn’t know if it would be kind of cold and so I started looking at the baby costumes that they have online and just wanted to find a cute one," Eagleston said.
"I ended up finding the most adorable little lion costume and I thought, 'Oh my gosh, that is so cute, that’d be so cute on our baby,' and then I thought, 'What can we do?'
"I think it all started with that lion costume because then I thought we should do 'The Wizard of Oz' and he could be the lion."
"Ruby was two and a half, and we said, 'Do you want to be the Tin Man?' And that was a year that really all of her little friends were like Cinderella and Belle, and she was the Tin Man," Eagleston said.
"But we made it really cute and she loved it. She was excited."
"I couldn’t find silver shoes, so I spray painting some. I think I ordered a hat online, and it ended up being really cheap, and so I ended up going to Auto Zone and getting one of those oil funnels for her hat, and I painted that silver.
"Spray paint is my good friend at Halloween. I use a lot of spray paint just to change the colors of things."
"I’ve made the mistake of seeing something online and thinking that’s pretty authentic and good and then I get it at home and it’s really cheesy or cheap, so I’ve tried to make our costumes look authentic and good," Eagleston said.
"And so some times I’ll end up sending things back and making them up on my own."
2009 Eagleston family costumes
John: Captain Hook
Ruby: Tinker Bell
Asher: Peter Pan
"Sometimes we like to look at our kids and think, ‘OK, we’ve got two kids. What could we do?’ And we try to pick maybe the four main characters, so that year we did Wendy and Captain Hook and Tinker Bell and Peter Pan," Eagleston said.
"The thing is, we haven’t gotten rid of any of those costumes. We keep each year in its own bin and label it in hopes that someone — not that we’d ever go back and do the same thing — I mean maybe years down the road we can pull one out and revamp it, but we just kind of hold on to them in hopes that somebody will borrow them. People don’t usually. This year I’ve had a couple requests for things, but people don’t usually borrow them. We’ll have to get the word out. Hey, I have all these costumes. Call me."
"(John) is such a good sport. I have so many people that say, ‘How do you convince him to do this?’ ... He’ll do any idea. He just says, Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do it,' " Eagleston said.
"I remember we were all out on a family night on a Monday night, and we were at Goodwill, and we found that perfect red coat. We couldn’t believe it. It was like, 'Ah, this is meant to be.' I think it was in the women's section at Goodwill or Savers. It fit him perfectly. It was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so meant to be,’ and then we just added some ruffles to it and did some things.
"I have to make him try on things a million times because I have to alter them and get them just right. But he’s always good about it. That year, we went and got him a mustache, a realistic one at a costume shop, so he was excited about wearing that, and the wig was perfect. I thought he was a good Captain Hook."
"Ruby was thrilled with that one because she could be Tinker Bell, and I thought she kind of looked like Tinker Bell," Eagleston said. "She had a little hairdo with her swooped bangs."
"That one was another fun one to do and make her feel pretty. ... My sister-in-law does makeup, and she glittered-up her eyes and put on some pretty eyeshadow. I just remember Ruby was feeling really pretty."
"Asher was just learning to walk, so I just thought his legs looked cute in the little tights with his chubby legs," Eagleston said.
"He was just barely over a year, so he didn’t really know, but he was cute. I was so surprised he kept the hat on, he was so good. He went along with it just fine as a 1-year-old, so that was fun. That was a fun year."
"That was the first year I attempted to sew something from scratch and actually use a pattern. I couldn’t find anything. I hunted around thrift stores trying to find like a nightgown or something that could work for Wendy, and I could not find anything. So I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m not a seamstress, but I’m going to have to attempt this,' " Eagleston said.
"So I found kind of a pattern that would work. I don’t think it was for a Wendy dress. It was just a gown. So that was the first year I actually sewed something from scratch. So that one, it turned out cute. I was worried it was going to fall apart that night, but it held up and actually a few people have borrowed it since. Someone is borrowing it this year, so hopefully it holds up."
2010 Eagleston family costumes
Nicole: Red Queen
John: Mad Hatter
Ruby: White Queen
"We started working on (the 2010 theme) early, and that was the most detailed of all of them. I definitely put in the most hours on that year," Eagleston said.
"The year before, when we talked about what we wanted to do, we talked about wanting to do the original 'Alice in Wonderland' where Ruby would be Alice, and just the cartoon version," Eagleston said.
"But then, in the mean time, the Tim Burton version came out with Johnny Depp, and my kids saw it, and Ruby fell in love with the White Queen."
"I had already bought the Tweedledee and Tweedledum hats with the propellers on top from the little Disney cartoon version, so this was a lot more intricate than I had planned on doing," Eagleston said. "It was really detailed."
"I started ordering and putting stuff together in June or July, just piecing things together, and since (Ruby) wanted to be the White Queen so bad, I thought I wouldn’t make a good Alice, my hair was dark, and she said, 'I want you to be the Red Queen,' so I was the Red Queen," Eagleston said.
"I'm not a makeup artist, so I had to just watch tutorials. ... For the most part, I can figure out how to do something, but there are tutorials for everything online, so the Internet is a good source for ideas."
"We didn’t even end up having an Alice, so I just ordered a 6-inch-tall figurine of Alice, and we ended up wiring it to John’s hat because there is a scene in the movie where she’s small and she rides on his hat, so we put it there on his hat, so that’s how we incorporated Alice," Eagleston said.
"He has that thread spool bandolier, and I made that for him so I had to buy a bunch of thread and put that around him, and we painted his nails black. And I remember I ordered a hat from the Disney store, and I did not like it when it came ... so I just made his Mad Hatter hat out of cardboard and different materials and covered it with fabric."
"I even ordered him green contacts to wear, and he has never worn contacts before, so it was really tricky. I had to have him wear them a few days in advance to kind of get used to that feeling of having something in his eye."
"I always watch the movie a bunch. I’ll fast-forward through different scenes, but that year was crazy because I wanted to get everything down to the shoes and the socks of the Mad Hatter," Eagleston said.
"There’s not very many scenes that show his shoes and socks, so I watched the whole movie until I could see. There’s one scene where he’s up on the table and he’s kind of running along the table and it shows his socks, so I pause it at that spot and just study what his socks look like. And so his socks are mismatched, at least in that scene, so I tried to find the perfect mismatched socks. I think that one of them was striped and one was, I don’t even remember, but I’m kind of weird about the details. I really want it to be right."
"It’s so fun. The attention is really fun. People make comments: ‘Oh we’ve been waiting all year to see you guys.’ The attention is really fun," Eagleston said.
"Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of things we go to. We’ve never entered a costume contest or had family costume parties. It’s just the one night on Halloween because we have a community trunk-or-treat that night, and so it’s all that work for that one night, but it’s worth it."
2011 Eagleston family costumes
Nicole: Violet Beauregarde
John: Willy Wonka
Ruby: Oompa Loompa
Asher: Oompa Loompa
Dix-d: Oompa Loompa
"I feel a lot of pressure every year," Eagleston said.
"I thought, I’m just going to take it back a notch because after the 'Alice in Wonderland' year, I thought how can I ever top this, so the next year I stepped back. I took it back a notch, but it was still good. It was still fun."
"We figured it would be funny to have our kids be Oompa Loompas, and we didn’t know if they would go for it, but we showed them what a Oompa Loompa looked like and they were like, ‘Yeah, we’ll do that.’ So they went along with the orange paint and the big white eyebrows, and everything, the green wigs," Eagleston said.
"They really went along with it, and they were good sports."
"That year it was kind of fun because I was six months pregnant, and I was just hot and uncomfortable, and in Arizona it’s still really warm on Halloween a lot of years," Eagleston said.
"I didn’t know how I was going to pull off Violet to make her look like a big, giant blueberry, and so I had this idea: You know those inflatable costumes you can buy, like a personal trainer or a sumo (wrestler)? I found an inflatable costume online.
"So I ordered one of those. I think it was on clearance. I don’t even remember what it was, but I started off with that. It was kind of fun. You turn it on, and it just blows this air, so I felt really ventilated and cool all night with this cool air blowing through. And then I just put together a costume that would be big enough, that would still work over the inflated costume."
"I had a big pregnant belly underneath, and you couldn't even tell. ... So it was a good costume to be pregnant because I was comfortable," Eagleston said.
"You have to think about that if you're expecting. So I thought I would have to be a big person or something where I could incorporate my belly, but it worked out. I fit perfectly in that suit and had some nice cool air blowing through all night, so it was fun."
2012 Eagleston family costumes
Nicole: Mrs. Incredible
John: Mr. Incredible
"It was right after Halloween after we had just done the 'Willy Wonka' theme, and a friend sent me a text and she said, ‘Hey, I have the best idea for your family next year, but no pressure because you probably already know what you’re going to do, but I thought it would be so fun if you guys did 'The Incredibles' because you’re having a baby and he could be Jack-Jack, and it’s a boy, so it works out perfect.' She said, 'You have the perfect family members, and their gender and everything. It’s perfect to do Incredibles,' " Eagleston said.
"I thought, 'Hey, that would be fun!' So I ran it past my family, and they were all excited," Eagleston said. "John wasn’t so sure. He was like, ‘Really? I’m going to have to wear like a spandex unitard thing?’ He was a little nervous about his, but it ended up working out fine."
"I ordered unitards for everybody, except Jude. I found him just like a comfy — because Jack-Jack is more like a jammies — so I found him something online. I think it was a Chicago Bulls pair of fleece jammies, and I just ended up printing off 'Incredibles' logos and printed them on iron-on transfer paper, and I just put that Incredibles patch right over the Chicago Bulls," Eagleston said.
"And then the bottom of his feet they were white because it was the footed jammies, so I painted those black. I tried to make them really real."
"I started off with the red unitards, and then I sewed black collars into them because I watched the movie and they all have a black-strip top," Eagleston said. "So I got black spandex and sewed those in."
"It’s funny because I’m so crazy about the details. I was like Violet has black hair and it’s long, so even if we tried to spray-paint Ruby’s, it wouldn’t look very good," Eagleston said.
"So I ordered this long black wig, and it came and literally went down to like her knees. It was so long, and so a friend of mine who does hair, I had her cut it for us to make it a good length. Ruby was just loving wearing that wig. She loved it. The hair was really soft. It was a good wig, so she felt really pretty having long, thick hair, so that was fun."
"We had to color (John's) hair, and it was really hard because his hair is so dark," Eagleston said. "So what we ended up doing was using a white hair paint first to get it light and then we did yellow over the top. It turned out pretty good."
"We were considering going and bleaching his hair, but then we thought that would be so dumb for one night. He would have bleached, ugly hair he'd have to grow out. So we just did our best with the yellow hair paint."
2013 Eagleston family costumes
Nicole: Mary Poppins
Ruby: Jane Banks
Asher: Michael Banks
Jude: Chimney sweeper
"Last year, we had a different idea of what we were going to do, and I had started gathering pieces for it, and then we found out that my daughter Ruby was going to be dancing in Disneyland the day after Halloween, and we heard Halloween at Disneyland is just really fun," Eagleston said.
"But we thought, now that we are going to Disneyland and going to be there on Halloween night, we have to do a Disney theme. So about a month before (we left) we decided on 'Mary Poppins,' so we kind of put that together quick. ... We did it a little more simple, but it still turned out fun."
"My kids ran up ahead and one of the cast members, I heard one of them say, ‘Oh my gosh, we’ve got Jane and Michael Banks here,’ and I was back a ways with John, and I was so impressed that he recognized that they were Jane and Michael Banks without seeing the Mary Poppins and Bert with them," Eagleston said.
"He said, 'Where’s your mom and dad?' And we came and joined them, and he was like ‘Oh my gosh, there’s Mary Poppins and Bert! But I was impressed that he recognized the kids without seeing us first."
"Disneyland was really really fun because everyone gets into it. Everyone goes all out, and everyone is complementing each other, so it was fun to be there on Halloween night," Eagleston said.
"Ruby, she didn’t have bangs, and Jane Banks has bangs, so I got her a little clip-on extension that we just trimmed and made it in to a little clip-on bang," Eagleston said. "So she had little bangs and everything, and we did our best to make the dress and the coat and everything look real."
"We were seriously stopped like 50 times for photos by people, and a lot of people thought we were cast members, that we worked at Disneyland," Eagleston said.
"It was so fun to be at Disneyland, so this year we’re going to Disneyland again, and so we chose another Disney theme."
2014 Eagleston family costumes
"We had so much fun at Disneyland when we did the Mary Poppins theme, that we knew we needed to go again the next Halloween," Eagleston said. "We immediately started exploring different Disney themes, and came up with the idea of Aladdin. We decided a whole year in advance who was going to be what, and started making plans pretty early on."
"The Genie costume was by far the most intricate. John wore a muscle suit underneath a blue spandex body suit," Eagleston said. "His bald cap was secured using liquid latex, which also helped hide the seam. We then used rubber mask grease to paint it blue so that it would blend perfectly with his blue face paint, both of which had to match the color of the body suit. His latex elf ears wouldn’t stay on his head with spirit gum alone, so we ended up using super glue and stuck them directly to his skin — which did the trick!"
"He was such a hit at Disneyland! Everywhere we went, people wanted to stop and pose for a photo with Genie," Eagleston said.
"I took one for the team and played the villain – a male villain, nonetheless," Eagleston said. "I was seven and a half months pregnant and played a male villain with a beard. It was amazing!"
"Ruby was thrilled to be the princess. When putting these costumes together, I typically do my best to replicate every detail," Eagleston said. "I took some liberties with hers, though, because I wanted it to be modest. She felt so beautiful wearing the elegant outfit I made for her, not to mention her long dark wig, gold high heels, earrings, makeup, and false eyelashes."
"Asher made the perfect Aladdin," Eagleston said. "His costume was easy to make, and all we had to do to make him look more authentic was spray his hair black."
"For Abu, I ordered a generic monkey costume online and added my own details, like the fur around the wrists and ankles and his fez hat," Eagleston said. "I think he was most excited about the suede moccasins I bought for him to wear."
"We were so excited to be able to have the kids’ grandma come with us," Eagleston said. "She was such a great sport and agreed to be the magic carpet. She hadn’t been to Disneyland in 30 years, so it was such a privilege for us to be able to take her back. She loved posing for photos with us and exuded excitement as we walked up Main Street and from ride to ride. The magic carpet costume was the perfect accessory to complete the whole 'Aladdin' ensemble."
"There is nothing like being in Disneyland for Halloween," Eagleston said. "Especially if you love the holiday as much as we do. You’ll see most everyone dressed up and really getting into his or her character. It’s nice meeting and talking with people who really appreciate the time and effort that goes into making the costumes.
"We were stopped by people all night long and literally posed for hundreds of photos. At the end of the night, John commented that he could never be a celebrity. All that attention was fun for a day, but it would definitely lose its appeal fast."
2015 Eagleston family costumes
John: Han Solo
Ruby: Princess Leia
Asher: Darth Vader
Jude: Luke Skywalker
Jonas- Master Yoda
“Although we like ‘Star Wars,’ we’re definitely not die-hards, and didn’t even know when we decided on our theme, that a new movie was set to come out at the end of the year,” Eagleston said. “Needless to say, we were definitely not the only family dressed up as ‘Star Wars’ characters for Halloween.”
John- Han Solo
“This costume was fairly easy to put together,” Eagleston said. “I found the pants and shirt at a thrift store. I hot glued the signature red stripes that go down the side of the pants, and tweaked the shirt just a bit. I made his black vest; and I constructed the holster from some scrap leather purchased from the craft store.”
“I honestly didn’t know how this one was going to come together,” Eagleston said. “ I was literally putting the finishing touches on it just minutes before we were heading out for the evening. I ended up ordering a gold morph suit, and just putting shin guards, tupperware lids, anything I thought might work, underneath the suit, and then zipped it up. I ordered a gold C3P0 mask, sprayed my shoes gold, and even put some battery operated lights inside the mask so my eyes glowed. I was super uncomfortable the entire night, but it was totally worth it.”
Ruby- Princess Leia
“I sewed this costume, made the belt out of a piece of leather, and made the wig out of some inexpensive hair extensions I purchased from Sally Beauty,” Eagleston said. “I wasn’t impressed with any of the Princess Leia wigs online, so I had to take matters into my own hands to get those signature cinnamon roll buns!”
Asher- Darth Vader
“Again, I wasn’t thrilled about any of the store bought Darth costumes, although I did purchase a mask,” Eagleston said. “Everything else, however, was handmade. I even made his belt and chest piece with red and green LED lights just like Vader’s!”
Jude- Luke Skywalker
“This costume was simple to put together,” Eagleston said. “I made the top from a karate gi, purchased a tan pair of pants from the thrift store, constructed a utility belt with hand sewn leather pouches, and finally, wrapped his boots in suede fabric strips to create Luke’s iconic footwear. His favorite part of the entire costume, was of course, his green lightsaber! It’s all about the props and accessories!”
Jonas- Master Yoda
“I constructed this costume from linen and gauze,” Eagleston said. “I wanted his robe to look authentic and worn. We attempted to paint his face green, but that didn’t last more than a few minutes, as he was drooling and slobbering all night. He was still the cutest little Yoda ever!”
“Early in the spring of last year, our Yorkie dog- Dix-d, was in dire need of a haircut,” Eagleston said. “John, my husband, jokingly suggested that one year we do the ‘Star Wars’ theme for Halloween, just so Dix-d could be Chewbacca, and that’s how last year’s ‘Star Wars’ theme was born. With his hair grown out, he already had the look. All I did for this one was make the trademark bandolier out of leather and mini matchboxes, which I had painted silver.”
“When we were first deciding on who should be what, we thought it would be amazing to make an R2-D2 to use as a prop,” Eagleston said. “John actually took that idea a step further, and proposed we build an actual robot. I purchased a dome-lid trash can, and started working on painting the design; while John created the legs out of insulfoam and corrugated plastic, and then got to work on the lights and sounds.”
“We had a friend come over and help us build the actual robot that would eventually fit under the front leg, and serve as its motor,” Eagleston said. “We put a Bluetooth speaker inside, and had R2-D2 sounds going throughout the evening. We controlled the Robot using John’s iPhone, and it followed us around all night! It was definitely a hit with everyone!”
Grandpa Jerry- Obi Wan Kenobi
“Grandpa Jerry was such a good sport to join in on our family theme this year,” Eagleston said. “I made his robes and belt from scratch, and he even agreed to wear the fake beard which we applied with spirit gum. He made such a great Obi Wan!”
“I threw out a crazy idea to drive 4 hours to get some photos with the sand dunes as a backdrop,” Eagleston said. “John was happy to oblige, so after finishing our R2D2, and my C3P0 costume at 2:00 am Halloween morning, we loaded the kids in the car, and took off for the imperial dunes in California. We felt like we were literally on a movie set (that is in fact, where they filmed scenes from "Return of the Jedi"), as people were stopping us for photos right and left. That experience was definitely the highlight of our day; and totally worth the drive, as we ended up with some pretty fabulous photos.”
“In December we were asked by the UVU alumni chapter here in Arizona, to wear our costumes to their ‘Stars Wars’ movie premier event and pose for photos with the guests,” Eagleston said. “It was such a fun night to show off our costumes and once again be in our element. A little uncomfortable sitting through the entire movie in that C3P0 costume, but again, totally worth it!”
“We absolutely love Halloween and the tradition we have created to dress up with our children,” Eagleston told Deseret News. “The kids love it so much too, and even help us come up with the themes each year. We have so many ideas, I don’t think there will ever be enough Halloweens to do everything we want to do.”
"I think we’ve inspired a few other families. Some of our friends since we’ve been doing it have caught onto the family-theme idea. It’s just kind of fun, so I think we’ve inspired some other people to make it fun for their kids," Eagleston said in a previous interview.
"That’s the main thing. I mean I don’t do it for myself or for John. It’s really for the kids and to just create these memories, so they can take those with them and just remember every Halloween growing up and how much fun it was. It’s really, we do it for them to create fun family memories."