Scaring up a costume

The Baltimore Sun

You could go as a procrastinator. A clueless procrastinator who can't afford an expensive costume even if you had an idea for one - which you don't.

Tomorrow is Halloween. If you don't have a costume by now, chances are you'd be a natural in the procrastinator suit.

Or you could peruse our list of ideas. Culled from our own imagination, the ingenious Web site and a crafty Baltimore mom, we've got 41 can't-miss costumes that will pass muster at any Halloween party.

Millions of people visit each year. According to Kate Regan, who runs the site, in the last two weeks of October last year, about 150,000 people combed daily through the more than 2,400 costume ideas - many of which fall into the cheap and easy category. But on the very last day before Halloween, with just hours left, procrastinators clogged the site and set a one-day record of more than 1.5 million page views.

Regan, who's based in California, started the site in 1996 with just 20 ideas she thought up herself. Readers started sending in their own creations, and the site grew in size and reputation.

In Baltimore, Heather von Marko, a fiber and mixed-media artist, doesn't need to go online for costume ideas. She says her head is "brimming with ideas," costumes that tend to be more creative than costly.

"My ideas are all sort of the cerebral type," the 33-year-old says. "One year, my college roommate was the road. She wore all black, used masking tape to make the dotted line down her middle, top to bottom, and she hot-glued matchbox cars in the 'lanes.' "

Are you listening, costume dalliers?

As a kid, von Marko loved to trick-or-treat as a hobo.

"My mom used sugar water to 'glue' coffee grounds onto my face to look like stubble, then I got a stick outside, tied a bandanna to it, put on a torn pair of jeans and one of my dad's giant flannel shirts, and I was done!"

With ideas like that, our suggested costumes might not be the most elaborate and you might have to accessorize a few of them with an ironic smile. But each and every one is cheap (if not free), easy and fast.

With the witching hour fast approaching, what more could you want?


Hippy: Who doesn't have a tie-dye T-shirt laying around? Or maybe a caftan. Throw either on with some Birkenstocks, beads and a peace sign.

Doctor: Pull on scrubs or even just a white jacket. Wrap a real or fake stethoscope around your neck.

Miss America: Wear a cocktail dress (or a swimsuit if you're really brave) and then make a sash (perhaps out of toilet paper) that says Miss (fill in the blank).

Nerd: Wear an outfit of high-waisted pants, a plaid shirt and a cardigan. Grease your hair. Tape your glasses. Add a pocket protector and some pens.

Spy: Wear a trench coat, sunglasses and a fedora if you have one.

Pirate: Wear a bandanna on your head, one big gold hoop earring, a billowy white shirt and rolled-up black jeans. Make a sword out of cardboard and fit it into your belt. Pin on a skull and crossbones.

Ripped from the headlines

Hockey Mom: Wear a hockey jersey and carry a baby doll.

Stock Market : Wear all black and then use masking tape to stick erratic zigzags onto your body, pointing down.

Exit Poll : Tape questions and check marks onto your back. On the front you can pin an "I Voted" pin.

Joe the Plumber : Wear jeans or work pants and any sort of shirt and maybe a trucker hat. Carry a plunger and make sure the jeans can ride down low. (You could also do Joe Six-Pack with the jeans, a plaid shirt or a sports sweat shirt and then pin plastic six-pack rings all over yourself.)

Blog : Wear whatever you want and write the words "blah-blah-blah" on lots of pieces of paper and pin them all over yourself.

The Biggest Loser : Dress in something four or five sizes too big.


Chick Magnet : Hot-glue marshmallow Peeps candy onto your outfit. The hard part there is finding Peeps this time of year - though it's possible to download pictures and tape those on. Von Marko also suggests using pictures of chicks from a farm catalog.

Chip on Your Shoulder : Dress in regular clothes and glue a poker chip to your shoulder.

Identity Crisis : Put "Hello my name is ... " tags with random names all over your body.

Shot in the Dark: Wear all black and hang a shot glass around your neck.

Past Your Prime : Put a sign on your shirt that says, "Sell by Nov. 31, 2001" (or any date that has already passed).

Black Mail : Wear all black, and attach a postage stamp to your chest.

Head of Lettuce : Attach real or fake lettuce leaves to a stocking hat.

God's Gift to Women : Find a box large enough to fit around your body. Cut some holes for your arms and head, and then cover the box with wrapping paper. Add a large bow. Attach a tag that says "TO: Women, FROM: God."

Devil's Advocate : Wear buttons and carry signs that say, "Devil is No. 1" and "Vote for Satan."

Self-Absorbed: Attach sponges all over your body.

Black-Eyed Susan : Wear a name tag that says "Susan." Use black makeup to give yourself a black eye.

Generic: Wear all white. Draw a large UPC code on your chest and write "COSTUME" above it.


Bunch of Grapes : All you need is one package of purple balloons, a lot of hot air, and some staples or tape.

Bag of Jelly Beans : Fill a clear trash bag with multicolored small balloons. Cut holes in the bag for arms and legs. Cinch the top to hang around your shoulders.

Q-Tip : Dress all in blue and cover a cap and your shoes with cotton balls.

Dryer Lint : Wear a sweat suit inside out. Attach fabric softener sheets all over yourself.

Bruise: Wear all black and blue.

Snack Bar: Attach open bags of snacks to yourself - chips, pretzels, whatever. You'll be the most popular guest at the party.

Jackson Pollock Painting : Splatter drips of paint on your clothes and hang a picture frame around your neck.

Piece of Gum Stuck to A Shoe : Dress in all pink and attach a shoe to the top of your head.

Got Milk? : Wear a sign that says Got Milk? Paint a milk mustache over your lip with makeup.

Runaway Bride : Wear a bridal gown and sneakers. Or just a veil and sneakers to be more comfortable.

MasterCard Ad : Wear whatever you want. Attach a sign to your back that says: Shirt: $30 ... Jeans: $50 ... Shoes: $70 ... Halloween costume that took minimal effort: Priceless.

Involving a cardboard box

Robot: Take a cardboard box, glue on plastic cups and random doodads, and then make a hat out of a shoe box with some pipe cleaner antennae.

Stick of Gum : Paint a longer box pink, or make a sandwich-board-style stick of gum.

iPod : Paint the box whatever color you want, add a paper plate with the little arrows and such drawn on with marker, draw the screen - even add your favorite band and song in the field.

Head on a Platter: Get a plastic platter from the party store, cut a hole for your head through the box and the platter, add a tablecloth to your "table" and some plastic silverware as a place setting.

Lego: Paint the box a solid color, and use round plastic takeout containers painted the same to be the round nubs. Hot-glue them on, and you're done.

The easiest cardboard box costume: Draw on wide ribbons and be a wrapped present. You can make a big bow with strips of cut paper.

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