How To Choose a Halloween Costume

Wearing vampire costumes

Halloween costumes are fun for kids and adults, alike. Since Halloween comes only once a year, most people put quite a bit of thought into their costumes. Here are a few tips for choosing, making, and buying Halloween costumes:

  1. When deciding on a costume, there are several factors to consider. Safety matters most. Be sure that the costume or mask doesn't impair vision or mobility. Comfort matters, too. Be sure to choose a costume that leaves room for warm clothes underneath if the weather will be chilly, and try not to choose thick, furry costumes in warm climates.
  2. If you are choosing a costume to wear to a Halloween party, consider the guest list. If it is a grown-up get together, feel free to wear whatever you like. If there will be children in attendance, keep it G-rated!
  3. A costume that corresponds to some current news event is often interesting and conversation-provoking, and a good excuse to procrastinate if you have that tendency anyway.
  4. When selecting a costume for a child, try to allow the child to buy or create a costume that they really love. What you think is cute and what your child wants may be two very different things. Enjoy dressing up your baby for the first two or three years--after that, they will have strong opinions of their own!
  5. If you decide to make a costume yourself, be sure to take into account your budget, sewing ability, artistic talent, and overall creativity level. There are a number of great costumes that are very inexpensive and easy to create:
    • Scarecrow: Start with old jeans or denim overalls and a flannel shirt. Using clear packing tape, attach straw, raffia, or shredded burlap to the inside of the cuffs and bottom hems of pants so the material sticks out. Add a straw hat and a bit of simple face paint and you are set to go!
    • Bunch of Grapes: Buy a sweat suit in either green or purple and a bunch of balloons in the same color. Blow up the balloons and attach then to the sweats using small safety pins. This is a great costume for trick-or-treating, but it doesn't allow the wearer to sit down, so keep that in mind!
    • Dalmatian: Begin with a white hooded sweat suit. Cut black felt into assorted "spots" and iron them onto the sweats using fusible backing material (available at fabric and craft stores). Paint the face with a white base topped with a black nose, a few whiskers, and a few black spots. If desired, you can fashion black or white fabric ears to sew onto the hood of the sweatshirt.
    • Skunk: Created in much the same manner as the Dalmatian, only this time, begin with a black hooded sweat suit and attach a long, white strip of felt up the back and onto the hood.
    • Skeleton: Again, begin with a black sweat suit. Fashion "bones" from strips of white felt and iron on.
    • Pair of dice: This is a great "couple" costume. For each die, start with a large, bottomless cardboard box with holes cut to accommodate the head and arms. Cover the box with white paper and then glue black construction paper dots to the box.
    • Television: Begin with a box similar to the one used for the dice. Cover the box in a black or wood grain look contact paper. Using a large piece of poster board, design a scene for your "screen" and glue it securely to the front of the box. Attach some old knobs (check at a resale store), use Velcro to attach an old remote control to the top of the box next to the opening for your head, and you are cable ready!
    • Wrapped gift: Again, begin with a similar box as in the previous two costume ideas. Using colorful gift wrap, thoroughly cover the box and add festive ribbon or bows. If you want to dress up as "God's gift to women," attach a tag that reads, "To: Women, From: God."
  6. If you decide to purchase a ready-made costume, try to shop early while the selection is the best. By mid-October, many of the more popular costumes are already sold out.
  7. Looking for an easy way to buy your costume? Simply choose a mask that, when combined with something from your existing wardrobe, will make a great costume. For example, purchase a mask of one of the Presidents (readily available at costume shops) and then wear a business suit. Instant costume!
  8. Resale stores typically carry a nice selection of costumes in the fall, and the prices are dirt cheap. They also get quite a few donations of costumes after Halloween, too, so if you are willing to plan ahead for the next year, you'll probably get the best bargains of all.
  9. While discount stores often offer the best prices, many Halloween specialty stores carry unusual costumes that you won't see everywhere. If you are trying to find a unique selection, it may be worth a bit more money.
  10. Many online merchants offer Halloween costumes and supplies year round. If you know in advance what you'd like to buy, you'd be wise to make your purchase early. Prices may be better off season, too.


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