Hairy, Scary, and Larry--5 Halloween costumes you can make from stuff you probably already own

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It's that dreaded time of year again. No, not tax time. Nope, not time for New Year's resolutions, either. It's Halloween costume time. As in, the time of year where you wonder if you should just turn down the invitation to your friend's party because you have no idea what to wear or how much you'll have to spend for something you'll never use again. But never fear. You can accept the invitation with pleasure, because there are many easy, inexpensive, fun costumes out there.

1. Go as a bunch of grapes. Find some bright purple balloons, attach them to a cheap black or purple T-shirt, find some black or purple shorts, and you're ready to go.

Bonus #1: Find a little green beanie and you've got a stem.

Bonus #2: Use dark baloons and make yourself a blackberry, red ones to make yourself a raspberry.

2. Go as a person from another country...where they wear robes. Pick your country. Many places in Africa, India, and the Middle East could be included here. Use old (or even current, if you're careful) bedsheets and wrap them around you until it looks right. Pin any areas you don't want to fly open. Voila...your'e a farmer/peasant/refugee from somewhere else.

Bonus #1: If helping out refugees is your kind of thing, this can give you a chance to connect for your cause at the party.

Bonus #2: Add some beaded jewelry or some extravagant earrings to make yourself even more exotic.

3. Make up a superhero. All you really need is a cape to be convincing, and that's easy to make from an old bedsheet or just about any piece of material you have lying around. After that, you can go as low maintence ("Hi there, littile girl, I'm Regular Guy!") or as high maintenance as you want.

Bonus #1: Do something funky with your hair. That will stand out at the party, as most of the people will know you with it in a particular way, and will go far to create a persona for your character.

Bonus #2: Wear bright colors and/or tights. This will distract people from the fact that they've never heard of your hero before.

4. Be a serial killer or a psycho stalker. Wear your normal clothes (after all, these people are virtually indistinguishable from everyone else on the outside). Act slightly strange all night: stare at people, refuse to answer when they ask you what you are, laugh at things that aren't funny.

Bonus #1: Carry a box of breakfast cereal and tell people it's a clue to what you are. Offer a prize to whoever guesses correctly. Give the winner the box of cereal.

Bonus #2: Pick a person and follow them around for the duration of the party. Hide behind corners, furniture, potted plants when they look your way. Be very obvious.

5. Go as a failed gymnast. Wear clothes that are identifiably sporty--sweats, track pants, yoga pants, etc.--and spend the night trying to touch your toes or other stretches. Turn somersaults and look like you expect applause. Limp. Lament loudly the loss of your career, the win that got away, how "if only" that 15-year old from China had eaten the day before, you would have your medal.

Bonus #1: If you have a swim cap and goggles, add them to the outfit and be a failed swimmer.

Bonus #2: Get someone to come as your coach. Dress them coachishly (sweats are great!) and give them a whistle. Have them come up to you repeatedly yelling coachish things. Ignore them unless they have food.

Clearly, a Halloween costume can be more about personality and less about what you wear. So think up a character, dress appropriately, then act your way through the night. More than anything, though, have a blast! And if any of these costumes win a prize, I want to know!!

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Guest's picture

#4 is brilliant! I'd be careful about #2, though; that could come across as fairly offensive.

Guest's picture

My most memorable costume yet: I was a picnic!

Wear all black for a neutral background, or all green, for grass. Make a skirt by folding a paper tablecloth lengthwise, then pleating until it's long enough to wrap around your waist. Staple the pleats, but don't put it on yet. Then, staple small paper plates and napkins onto the skirt. Use curling ribbon to tie together plastic silverware (or use compostable flatware, like that available here). Staple the ribbon to the tablecloth. You can also use the ribbon+staple combination to attach plastic wineglasses (the reusable kind, of course). Once you have everything attached to the table cloth, wrap it around your waist and staple the ends.

Who says you have to be a person? Why not be a thing!

Guest's picture

One other idea... my mother dressed me up like this when I was a child, but still a good idea, is a bag of jelly beans.
Buy a clear garbage bag and cut out hole at the bottom for your legs. Once you can get your legs through the garbage bag, line up where you would put in hole for your arms. Once you have the bag on, fill it with a variety of colored balloons. Seal the top of the bag by tieing a ribbon around your neck to close the bag.

Guest's picture

Further comment on the #2 suggestion--I always have a weird feeling when I see "international" costumes- especially some that are supposedly comical. Sometimes they feel more racist than funny- like a white guy wearing a rasta hat with sewn in dreadlocks. Not for me.

Guest's picture

Dress all in the same color and paste "crayola" on your pant leg. Then make a pointed cap with construction paper. This is great to do with a group of friends. Be careful with the white crayon however (everyone thought my friend was a tampon).

Guest's picture

can you make it any stupider?

Guest's picture
Steve K

Go as a person from another country...

Ah yes, because people from Africa, India, and the Middle East wear robes and are farmers/peasants and refugees. I think this would be considered extremely offensive I'm afraid.

Guest's picture

My favorite costume so far: Tippy Hedren from Hitchcock's classic The Birds.
Went to Goodwill, bought a great little '60s style suit for $10, bought a couple of birds at Michael's, attached them to the suit, put my hair up in a French twist, runs in the stockings and a little "blood" here and there and everyone got it :)

Sarah Winfrey's picture

In some places, they do wear clothes that we can easily make out of bedsheets.  That's just true.  In others, they wear nothing at all (I'd suggest that as a Halloween costume, but don't want to be sued when people are arrested!). That's also true. I've said nothing more than the truth.

In related news, learn to read.  I've said nothing offensive and not suggested anything that way.  I didn't suggest that all people from certain areas wear clothes like that, just some of them.  If you'd like, I can show you pictures to prove my point.    

Guest's picture
Steve K

I think the issue is not that you seemed to link wearing robes with being from Africa, India, and the Middle East, that can be true. Lots of clothing from lots of places can be made from cotton sheets. I think the problem is that you linked being from those countries (where some people wear robes) with being a farmer/peasant/refugee...

One might as well suggest
1: Wear a fat suit and carry a big camera and go as an American tourist... just because some Americans are overweight (thats just true) and carry cameras when on holiday (thats also true) doesn't make the suggestion any less offensive.

2: Paint yourself with brown paint and go as a basketball player or rap musician... because some basketball players and rappers are black (thats just true, i can show you a picture to show its ok and not offensive)

Guest's picture

I think some of the Best Halloween costumes are just offensive, it comes with the territory. You just have to be careful of the company you're with if you don't want to draw too much negative attention.

Guest's picture

All of your suggestions are great except one. I have to take issue with the "go as a person from another country" suggestion, and here's why:

Steve's points are valid and spot-on. Costumes like these usually come with racist assumptions . Cultures are not costumes. Racism may be cheap, but that doesn't make it okay.

Guest's picture

Here are better uses for old sheets (along with some great and cheap ideas):