My costumes of Halloweens past include Andy Warhol’s tomato soup can, a dinner table with my head as the roast, and a puppet show. Needless to say, I take Halloween seriously. I similarly realize that, come university, forget trick-or-treating and costume parades—Halloween is about house parties, eating whole boxes of mini KitKats in the comfort of your dorm room, or not celebrating whatsoever. That said, none of those situations means you can’t dress up. In fact, I’d argue that consuming obscene amounts of either alcohol or candy is far more fun in disguise (and probably better for your reputation). Think of me as your Halloween fairy godmother here to provide you with several budget-friendly and easily sourced costumes for the occasion. (Although I won’t tell anyone if you choose to dress up “just ’cause” and for every occasion other than Halloween).
MY, WHAT BIG EARS YOU HAVE…
In the wise words of Karen Smith from Tina Fey’s 2004 film Mean Girls: “I’m a mouse. Duh.” Karen has a point—animal costumes never fail to disappoint and are some of the easiest to throw together. Go to any trustworthy dollar store, or Walmart, or (if you’re feeling sorry for them still) Target, and you’re sure to find yourself a wide selection. If you’d rather not leave your house, head to your nearest recycling box or fridge and get your hands on an egg carton (preferably an empty one). Cut two of the egg cups out. Make yourself a headband out of two (or more if necessary) strips of paper stapled together to fit around the top of your head and attach your egg-ears. Throw on a set of neutral pants, a shirt, and bam, you’re transformed! And even if you aren’t, bring your attitude and you can explain your outfit. People are so stupid sometimes…
Clothes are a form of expression, even if your outfit only consists of the T-shirt you slept in last night and a pair of ripped jeans. Halloween is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of it. Got a friend close to your size? Go dressed as them. Even if they’re a size or several bigger or smaller, who cares? Go dressed as them anyway. Trade your signature outfits and you have yourself a zero-dollar costume. If you’re feeling particularly committed, consider adopting their mannerisms, voice, and the stupid way they always insist on deciding when and where you hang out… How come you never get to choose?! (Sorry. Maybe everything except that last part.) If you go with this choice, though, don’t make the rookie mistake of not getting your clothes back—particularly if you’re the better dressed of the two. Don’t let your friend take advantage of your wardrobe.
REMEMBER SPIRIT DAYS?
Am I the only one whose elementary and high schools held “spirit days” each year? For a week, students and staff were invited to dress according to that week’s chosen themes: PJ Day, Crazy Hat Day, Backwards Day… you get my drift? It was all the rage in elementary school, although admittedly their popularity dropped in high school. Whether you participated or not, they can certainly be a source of inspiration. Throw on your favourite pyjama bottoms and call it a day. Or sport your mop bucket as a hat. If kids think these get-ups are cool, then you’ve got to be on to something, right? I mean Halloween is their national holiday: eating a ton of candy, wearing whatever they want, and staying up past their eight o’clock bedtime. They know their costumes.
GET THE GANG TOGETHER
If you don’t want to struggle at it alone, your final option is to round up a team of friends and tough it out together. That way, even if you each put in a minimal effort, it’ll be just as impressive as a single amazing costume because you managed to organize a whole group of people. As with any costume, as long as you have a solid explanation, you’ll win over any tough critics. Choose your favourite set of characters from a television or book series. Friends? Round up three gals and three guys, and each grab a pair of faded denim jeans and a trusty white t-shirt. Harry Potter? You can go as hardcore as you want, but bare minimum requirements are a girl and two boys with a few twigs and some garbage bag capes. Fairy tales are welcome too, including popular combos like the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, the Three Blind Mice, or Little Red Riding Hood and her hopeless grandmother. Just make sure that wherever you spend your Halloween, you go as a group—it’s sort of the whole point of the costume.
As you build your costume-making muscles you’ll develop the ability to create more elaborate ideas. Whatever you do, never forget the real meaning of Halloween: rushing out on November 1 and buying as many discounted boxes of candy as humanly possible.