Ideas for grown-ups
For pop-culture vultures: If you spend most of your time at the megaplex, in front of the TV or perusing the tabloids, these options are right up your alley.
* Aldous Snow: He stole the show in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” and now you, too, can croon ridiculously cheesy lyrics to the ladies. If you don?t already have scraggly brown hair, you?ll need a wig. Other than that, all that?s required are the makings of a beard; tight, black leather pants, and a frilly pink shirt unbuttoned enough to show your budding chest forest. Spend some time in front of the mirror practicing your hip gyrations. (Tovin Lapan)
* Po’ polar: Scientists say at the rate we’re going polar bears will exist only on the sides of holiday Coca-Cola cans within the next 100 years or so. If you’re going to dress up like a fool, do it with reason. Do it for the people of the world who still drive SUVs and actually go out of their way to ask for plastic instead of paper at the grocery store. Do it for China and India. Do it for your great-great grandchildren, even if you have to scour eBay for an ape costume and soak it in bleach. Why? When they come across photos of you blurring the line between protest and party, they’ll know it’s not your fault that they must rub two sticks together every evening so that mother may put the gruel on. (Derrik Chinn)
* Hockey Mom in Lipstick: You know which one. Go to the Crowning Glory Wig Salon and demand the Sarah Palin auburn with subtle Northern highlights, which may not be an actual wig model yet, because beauty suppliers have always lagged behind the optical industry. (The latter, you may have heard, has been doing brisk business in the Palin frame, the rimless designer glasses she?s been sporting on the stump. For your costume, we?d recommend getting the snazziest specs on the Rite-Aid display.) Find a feminine pantsuit at Goodwill (save the masculine one for your friend playing Hillary). Make sure it has a slight shoulder pad (for resting your shotgun). A shrunken moosehead on a keychain is recommended. This costume works if you?re a supporter; otherwise, say you?re doing a meta-costume: Palin interpreted by Tina Fey. (Keli Dailey)
* Carrot Top: Come on, what?s scarier than a “ginger” on ‘roids? All you need is a red wig, one of those muscle shirts and a tie-dye T-shirt. Act like you could snap at any moment, tell some stupid jokes and voila! (Tovin Lapan)
For couples and groups: Make your date or your friends part of your costume.
* PC and Mac guys: This one is for the two guys who waited until the last minute to think of a costume. One portly (or pillow-stuffed) guy wears a grey, bland suit with black glasses, and the other sports a 5 o’clock shadow, T-shirt and jeans with an “I?m better than you” smirk. (Tovin Lapan)
* Attached at the Hip: The two-headed purple people eater, no matter how cheesy supposed friends might embarrassingly assert, is about as good an idea as world peace or espresso over ice. But if you can?t find somebody?s willing mother around to sew such a get-up, we recommend you do the next best thing and be something with somebody else: peanut butter and jelly, Petri dish and bacteria, Skymall magazine and barf bag, two front teeth, lint and lint roller, soap and dirt, beard and mustache, apple and banana, dark and light, sound and silence. We suggest you talk the logistics out before hand, like which of you will cover yourself in peanut goo and which in grape goo. (Erin Glass)
* ‘Sex and the City’ (men only): With the release of the culminating movie, this may be the last year for this. Grab three guy friends (the hairier and beefier the better), and one lady who actually watched the show (as an adviser). Go to town on her closet, trying your best to replicate Samantha (blonde, tall and slutty), Carrie (curly hair, wild hats and fabulous shoes), Miranda (conservatively dressed with bobbed red hair) and Charlotte (petite, brunette and innocent). (Tovin Lapan)
* Gang green: It’s like “gangrene” only less infectious. Round up four or five of your closest friends and tell them to dress in all green. To really make yourselves look like a “gang,” create some sort of symbol (how about an ulcer) that each of you will wear on the front of your shirt. Travel around together and gross out those who actually get the little play on words. (Nicole Reino)
For the abstract: Why be a living, breathing person when you can be a dead-still object? Here are a few ways to show off your vast creativity.
* The Smart Car: They rolled into San Diego more than a year ago; since then you’ve been unable to keep a straight face whenever one passes you on the freeway. But honestly, they’re like the ultimate Micro Machine in the sense that they’re actually driveable. Someone in the neighborhood has to be the proud new owner of a TV or fridge, which means nearby lurks a large cardboard box that has your name all over it. From there on, it’s a mere paint-and-scissors job. Don’t forget the holes in the bottom a la Fred Flintstone. (Derrik Chinn)
* The overlooked object: Everyday objects get used so much they?re practically invisible and hardly ever appreciated. With some cardboard, masking tape, paint and a bit of determined imagination, one could amend this by creating 6-foot phones, laptops, milk cartons, wires, toothbrushes ? whatever object you feel could use a little more celebration. (Erin Glass)
* You’ll never be invited again: No budget for Halloween? No problem! Take two large, heavy-duty garbage bags and cut the bottom out of one, so that you can tape it to the other to make one really large bag. Cut out holes for your mouth, nose and eyes, and tape a translucent baggy under each eye. Crunch the whole thing up and stick it under something heavy for a few days so it gets really wrinkled, and you are ready to go as ? drum roll, please ? an old bag. (Warning: It gets very hot and sticky under the bag, so dress lightly.) (George Varga, who guarantees from personal experience you won’t be invited to another party for years to come)
* The literary genius: If you?re on a budget, you could be a book, like they do in the end of “Fahrenheit 451.” You don?t even really need to dress up, or bother with covers. Just memorize book of choice, preferably with page numbers, and recite parts when the spirit moves you. If you?re short on time, but still like the costume-as-mindset idea, just you know, pretend to be somebody completely different. (Erin Glass)
Ideas for kids
We’ve included some easy, do-it-yourself ideas to outfit the little ones on the big night.
# Bag of jelly beans: Not only is this easy, it’s super cheap! Cut two holes in the appropriate places for your legs and arms. Put the trash bag on and stuff a dozen or so inflated, colored balloons inside. Loosely tie a ribbon around the top of the bag. Now that’s a sweet costume! (Nicole Reino)
# Emo kids: Dressing up little ones in hoodies and Converse is not only easy, but you’ll be able to use the clothes long past Halloween. To get the emo rocker look, find a black T-shirt at home or head over to Hot Topic where they sell tot-sized versions of concert T-shirts. Also be on the lookout for super tight pants and a hoodie sweatshirt with either hearts or skeletons. And, of course, buy a pair of tiny black Converse sneakers. If your kid is old enough, make sure to apply heavy eyeliner and hair gel (this goes for boys, too). (Nina Garin)
# White trash (tee hee): Dress your child in white clothes and cover him or her in a white trash bag (cut out holes for arms and legs). Attach a few candy wrappers and other miscellaneous paper trash, and voila, you’re ready to deal with other parents’ double-takes and whispers. (Claire Madigan)
# From the costume shop: Little girls can find a lot of princesses, fairies, witches, angels and cats haunting the neighborhood costume shop. For the boys, pick up a costume that’ll transform them into a TV- or movie-inspired character like Spider-Man, Harry Potter, Shrek, a pirate or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
# Static cling: The cheese-ball factor is high, but this is one of the easiest costumes around. Dress all in black (or another solid color) and pin socks, underwear and other small clothing items to you. A few dryer sheets add authenticity.
# Tourist: Another super easy one. You need a Hawaiian shirt (the louder the better), sunglasses, a sun hat, map, camera, and a duffle bag or small tote. Stuff the map in your pocket, put the camera around your neck and keep your treats in the bag.
# Nerd: Don?t be embarrassed, everyone has this stuff at home. Wear regular pants and cuff them into floods. Look for a pocket-front shirt (preferably ill-fitting) and cram as many pens as possible into the pocket. Wear glasses with tape on the bridge. (Cheap drugstore shades with the lenses popped out work perfectly). Slick your hair back or make an exaggerated part. For added effect, tote a large textbook.
# Christmas tree: Wear a green sweatshirt and dark-colored pants. Wrap yourself in garland and hang ornaments from your shirt.
# “Cereal” killer: Pick out a cheap blazer at a thrift shop, then swing by the grocery store for a variety-pack of cereals and plastic forks and knives. Jam the plasticware into the cereal boxes, use red acrylic paint or nail polish to make “blood” on the boxes and fasten them to the blazer with safety pins once dry.