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How-Tuesday: Super Last-Minute Costume Ideas

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Halloween is tomorrow — are you still looking for that perfect costume? Procrastinators, consider this How-Tuesday our little gift to you. Artist, author, and Extreme Craft wrangler Garth Johnson, his wife Claire Joyce, and their daughter Ramona are here with four last-second costume ideas to help you own that party, despite the ticking countdown to All Hallow’s Eve.

When I married my wife Claire six years ago, I knew we were in for a clash of cultures. I’ve known couples who don’t see eye-to-eye politically, and I’ve even known couples who follow rival football teams, but they haven’t had to overcome the major incompatibility that we share: Claire starts preparing for next Halloween on November 1, while I usually freak out and start throwing together a costume on October 30.

This year we welcomed a new member into the family: our daughter, Ramona. Since Claire has been working on Ramona’s top secret costume for months now, I think we’re both going to be scrambling for last minute costumes this time around. Fortunately, I’ve got many years of experience to draw on. Here are four suggestions for costumes that you should be able to easily throw together with an inexpensive shopping trip, or perhaps with items you can find lying around your house.

Costume #1: God’s Gift to Women

Supplies Needed:
One large cardboard box
Wrapping paper
A piece of cardstock
A permanent marker

1. Find a cardboard box that you can fit in. Ideally, it shouldn’t be much wider than your shoulders. Take your cardboard box and remove (or better yet, fold under) the bottom flaps. If you don’t have a compass lying around your house (I don’t), use a pot lid or something else round to trace a round hole on the top of the box to poke your head through. Then, use a smaller round object to trace holes for your arms to poke through. You’ll be the hit of the party (but depending on the size of the box you choose, you might find it hard to maneuver in tight spaces).

2. Then, wrap the whole thing with wrapping paper, tucking the paper into the neck and arm holes, as well as under the box where you have removed or tucked the flaps. If the party you’re attending is going to be particularly bumpin’, you might want to use some double-sided tape to help stick the paper to the box.

3. Use your cardstock and permanent marker to make a tag that says:

To: Women
From: God

4. Voila! You’ve got a costume that will get you a lot of attention. It’s up to you what you’d like to wear under the costume. My friend John showed me this costume first, and he chose to wear…not a lot. Be sure to sell your costume with some lascivious winks and raised eyebrows. Obviously, you can reverse the genders.

Costume #2: “French Tickler”

Supplies Needed:
A striped shirt
A beret
A feather duster

I admit it, this is my go-to costume of choice when I’ve really procrastinated. The incongruity of the costume and the feather duster makes people stop, scratch their head and think really hard. People look at you and rack their brains for what celebrity you’re supposed to be. When you finally reveal all, they give a groan or giggle, then think about how naughty, delightful and smart you are for the rest of the night.

Costume #3: “Hello, My Name Is”

From the Wikimedia Commons

Supplies Needed
Name tag
Appropriate clothing

When Claire and I met, we were living in different cities. Sadly, we didn’t get to spend our first Halloween together. (I’ve since gotten my priorities straight.) Claire made an amazing mermaid costume with sparkly scales and scandalous soft-sculpture bare mermaid breasts. She wound up at a party with friends where she didn’t know most of the attendees.

One mystery party-goer came up with one of the best last-minute costumes I’ve ever heard about. He put on a bookish sweater and some jeans, then put on a “Hello, My Name Is” name tag that said: Your college ex-boyfriend. He then spent the rest of the evening sheepishly going up to all of the women at the party and asked passive-aggressive questions like:

  • “I think I left my favorite T-shirt at your apartment. Do you think I could swing by and get it sometime?”
  • “ I made a mix tape of some songs that you should hear. Would you like to meet up and have coffee?”
  • “Do you remember that one time when…good times. Good times.”
  • “Have you been working out?”

The beauty of this costume is that you can bring your own emotional baggage to it. Your name tag can be anything you can dream up… How about “Drunk Uncle” or “Vaguely Misogynist Best Friend.” Staying in character all evening is the main thing. If you do, you will reign supreme, and people will be talking about your costume for years.

Costume #4: Baby (or Grown-up) Frida

Supplies Needed:
A traditional Mexican Dress
Black yarn
Plastic flowers
Fun fur

Even though we have different preparation levels for Halloween, Claire and I both grew up in houses with boxes of vintage clothing, hats, and other things for playing dress-up. When Ramona was born, we didn’t waste any time. The Spanish teacher at the college where I teach gave Ramona a Mexican dress when she was born. As soon as it fit her, Claire made a simple headband by braiding together some black yarn and attached the braid to an elastic band. She also put a few plastic flowers into the yarn.

Finally, we cut an adorable mini unibrow out of fun fur. The unibrow can be adhered to your baby with whatever you feel comfortable with—some mild double-stick tape or spirit gum will work fine.

This costume also works for adults! All you need is an appropriate-sized dress (and unibrow).

If you’ve been procrastinating in the Halloween department, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It just means that you’re going to have to use your MacGyver skills or your acting chops to get by. Make some lemonade out of your last-minute lemons and use one of these costumes to own the Halloween party.

If you adopt one of these eleventh hour costumes, share a photo with us in the Etsy Labs Flickr group.

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