Everything is bigger in Texas when it comes to Homecoming mums.
We’re not talking about chrysanthemums here but the giant plastic, ribbon festooned arrangements that girls - and some boys - wear around their necks during the season. Boys also wear armbands.
Texas Highways said the mums first appeared in the state in the 1930s although there are reports of people wearing flower mums earlier.
For those who grew up in Texas, the massive mums of today are not a mystery.
“It was a tradition at Klein High School,” said Amy McCormick. “It was like a right of passage.”
“I can't remember ever not knowing about them!” added Bianca Williams.
For others, though, there is a learning curve.
“I was born and raised in Louisiana and later became a florist in Houston,” said Ann Brock. “The first time I learned of these mums was when a customer ordered one. I had to ask someone at the wholesale what it was.”
“At a middle school soccer game I overheard moms with older children say the word mum over and over again,” said Karen Bordas. “I asked why the girls all get the same type of flower for homecoming. After they stopped laughing, I was shown some pics.”
Jennifer Scogin was indoctrinated early.
“My mom was the cheer coach and a high school teacher at my high school,” she said. “They did a fundraiser every year and sold mums. My mom and other moms would spend weeks making them. My house would be covered in glue guns, ribbons, stuffed animals, trinkets, letter stickers, and more. I learned at a very young age how to make them.”
Jo Dunham said she first learned about mums when she saw girls wearing them in high school.
“I couldn’t wait to get my hands on supplies to make some,” she said. “As my years of high school progressed, I got to where I made mums for many of my friends. I would think about them all year to try to add something new.”
This year she made one for her son’s homecoming date.
“Give me a hot glue gun and a stapler and I can make a pile of crap look beautiful,” Dunham jokes.
For those interested in making their own, Dunham said that it is all about texture.
“You need to have all different widths and styles of shades of color in your ribbons,” she said. “Maybe add some lace, lights, feathers, tulle, glitter ribbon, or something else to give texture. Listen to the sounds and the jingle jangles and find things with different tones. Add something personal that would be sentimental to the person receiving them.”
Dunham says that finding supplies is sometimes hard.
“Not a lot of places sell parts to build mums,” she said. “Locally there was only one Michaels in the city of Houston that carried a handful of parts, otherwise I shop at Arne's Warehouse. Don’t just shop on the mum aisle. Look everywhere.”
Go Big or Go Home
The consensus seems to be that the bigger the better when it comes to mums.
“A triple mum is the most popular,” Brock said. “It’s still balanced and doesn’t require chicken wire and a waist belt to hold it up.”
The most ornate mum Brock ever made included Christmas lights and a mini TV that played a slide show of the couple's pictures.
Bianca Williams said there’s no such thing as too big: “If you can dream it, you can have it.”
Dunham said she’s not above using pipe cleaners and wiring the mum to a bra for support.
“You can’t tell me a girl is not so proud walking around wearing a huge uncomfortable mum for the day,” she said. “She feels special and loved!”
Still, not everyone is a mum super fan.
“I was a senior and dating someone out of high school,” said Gretchen Frauenberger. “He brought me roses, [and] no mum, I was so excited to not get one!”