You’re Never Too Old or Too Broke For Halloween!

I’ve always loved Halloween, from carving pumpkins to trick-or-treating to growing up and being the one to sit on the porch handing out candy to all the ghouls and goblins.

As a kid, I always had the coolest Halloween costumes. My ideas weren’t always the most original – like most little girls I wanted to be a princess, a witch, a dalmation fire dog. OK, maybe most little girls don’t go through the fire dog phase, but you get my drift. My grandmother loved to sew, and whether my idea was unique or pretty par for the course, she always came up with something that made my costume original and brought it life.

Fast forward to my grown-up years. I don’t have kids of my own. I live on an uphill, dead-end street. Although I have plenty of neighbors, the uphill hike just isn’t worth it for local trick-or-treaters when we are surrounded by more heavily populated and flatter areas. So we rarely if ever actually get any ghosts, zombies, action heroes or princesses knocking on our door for goodies.

So for the last many years, my ghoulish fun rolls around when my family’s pub hosts their annual Halloween party. Give grownups the opportunity to dress up in silly costumes just like the kids AND drink beer, and you’ve got a recipe for good times.

Another feature of the last few years of my life has been that extra financial resources are just about as scarce as those trick-or-treaters on my street. I love the excuse to dress up and be scary, silly or even sexy, depending on the mood. But I sure as heck can’t go out and drop big money – or sometimes even chump change – on a costume.

A lot of us are in the same boat in today’s economy. But one thing I’ve learned over the years is that with a bit of imagination and an urge to have some fun, you can do up Halloween right on a shoestring budget, or maybe even no budget at all.

Below are 10 tips for cheap and awesome costumes for grownups who, like me, still want to be Halloweenies. Many of them apply to kid’s costumes too.

1. Before you go out and buy “costume makeup,” play around with what you (or the women in your household) already have in their stash. I’ve made some incredible looking boo-boos, bruises, and eerie-looking ghoul-eyes for both myself and my boyfriend using the same makeup I wear on any other day.

2. Not sure what to be? Or have an idea but need a certain item of clothing? Rummage through the closets, attics or basements of parents, grandparents, quirky friends or even your kids (get everyone’s permission first, of course!). That awful floppy hat your grandfather wore fishing 30 years ago just might spark an entire costume idea for you. Old work uniforms are also great building blocks for costumes.

3. If you can’t find the clothes you’re looking for in your family’s closets, visit your local thrift store. Again, you never know what treasures you’ll uncover – either the perfect piece that your costume is missing or some item that gives you a what-to-be idea if you’re stuck.

4. If you want or need to keep it simple, think about what type of costume your own features lend themselves to.  The year I wanted to be a Pittsburgh Steeler, I could have chosen from any number of jerseys in my closet. But thankfully, it would have been a stretch for me to make myself look like Brett Keisel or Ben Roethlisberger.

Troy Polamalu, though …

Me as Polamalu

I already had the hair on my head, I just needed to work it into a bit more of a wavy frizz.

5. Never underestimate how ordinary things you already have around the house can turn a so-so attempt into a killer costume. A bottle of Head and Shoulders did wonders for my Troy costume, since that year was the heydey for his commercials for the shampoo.

The same year, my boyfriend used all the Baltimore Ravens gear he already had, borrowed and fake-blooded my Pittsburgh Steelers Terrible Towel, and made a “murder weapon” he called “The Steeler Peeler” out of cardboard and aluminum foil. We got him a silly mask and wig, and he was transformed into “The Steeler Peeler,” a Raven Maniac who took our team’s rivalry just a bit too seriously.

When you want to get creative without breaking the bank, see what you can do with what you’ve already got in your closets, drawers and cupboards, and who knows, maybe even the kitchen sink.

6. Couple up. Sometimes, “duo” costumes are easier and more fun than going solo. Double trouble doesn’t mean you have to do something all mushy and romantic, unless that’s what you want. If you don’t want to be Romeo and Juliet, do something silly.

Ghost costumes are super-easy. They are also seriously overdone, and likely to get a yawn unless you come up with something really different. But what if your standard sheet-with-eyeholes costume was accompanied by a friend who dressed as a medium and kept conjuring you up? Suddenly this overused Halloween staple is cool again.

My Polamalu was fun to do as a stand-alone, as was Lee’s Steeler Peeler. But put them together, and we had a hit. Especially in Baltimore, where folks loved seeing a pretend Polamalu fleeing from a crazed anti-Steeler serial killer.

7. Ham it up. You can turn even a simple and otherwise boring costume into something fun if you also act the part. Use facial expressions, speech and body language to make your costume stand out. As the Steeler Peeler, Lee remained eerily quiet and just scanned the crowd for the first half hour or so we were in the pub. It made him really seem like a psycho just waiting to strike.

If you’re a princess, act like royalty. A zombie, lumber and stumble around. A few drinks should help with that one. A hooker? I’ll leave that one up to your imagination.

8. Go off the wall. You’d be amazed at what you can turn into a costume. The other night, I was talking with some regulars at the pub about how it would be funny if we all came as our favorite shot for Halloween.

One of our most commonly ordered shots is something called the “bald headed chickenf***er.” Um … yeah, I know. But seriously? Is that not the easiest costume ever? Either be bald already or put on a nylon cap, carry a rubber chicken, and you are an instant Halloween hit and a barrel of laughs at our party.

9. But of course,  you gotta consider your audience. That idea works great at our pub, where chickenf***er shots are the drink of choice and everyone would get a laugh out of it. At someplace where they are unheard of, like say a church costume party, I don’t think that one would fly.

10. Make sure to take your comfort into consideration. If you’re going to be in a warm crowded house or pub all night and your costume requires tons of padding, here’s what will happen. You’ll walk in and be a hit, and within an hour or two you’ll have stripped down to your street clothes and just be spending Halloween as you rather than sweat your doo-dads off. Just sayin’.

Whatever you do, have fun. No matter how little time or money you have, with creativity and a sense of humor you can throw together a costume that makes you feel like a kid again.

Trick or Treat!



About hawleywood40

Writer, Steelers Fan in Baltimore, Frequent Visitor to the Shot Fairy
This entry was posted in Hawley's Pub, humor, Slices O' Life, Weird and Spooky Stuff and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to You’re Never Too Old or Too Broke For Halloween!

  1. l'empress says:

    I often made costumes for my kids; most people thought they were better than the store-bought ones. But I gotta tell you, I have a picture of my granddaughter from a couple of years ago — as a Dalmatian fire dog!

  2. WiseFather says:

    Many people look for Halloween costume ideas, but I have put together a list of fun things to do with your Halloween costumes even after October 31st. If you have your own funny ideas I would love to hear them.

  3. Your costume is awesome!!

  4. Lafemmeroar says:

    What a fun post. I found this video in your honor:

    P.S. The Palomalu hair and the Head and Shoulders were spot on.

  5. tsonoda148 says:

    LOVE LOVE Halloween. I always dress up for Halloween, even when I’m not working. Last year, I dressed up and went to the various casinos on a picture-taking excursion. I photographed a lot of cool costumes and decor. Since I’m not work this Halloween either, my plans will be similar. I just don’t have a costume idea yet. But, yes…..Halloween rocks!

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Oh wow, I bet casinos would be a mecca of Halloween costumes and deco! What fun! If I lived in your area, that is exactly what I would do! When I lived downtown, we used to love walking Fell’s Point (a stretch of restaurants, bars and waterfront in Baltimore) on Halloween. We always saw the neatest costume ideas.

  6. kimkiminy says:

    This guy draws a skull on his face every year with just eyeliner:

    You’re right about acting the part. One year I went as Hunter S. Thompson. It’s a really easy costume to throw together: wear a floppy fishing hat, amber aviators, tropical-print shirt, khakis, white sneakers, clamp a cigarette holder in your teeth, and carry a flyswatter. Swat at the imaginary bats flying about, over-react to everything, act twitchy and jumpy… basically pretend you’re having the acid trip of a lifetime. It’s hilarious.

  7. Jess Witkins says:

    Costume parties may be my favorite thing about Halloween. I like your suggestions because I don’t usually buy my costume either. Or if I do need a piece, I get it at the thrift store. I always give kudos to the costumes that have some funny play on words on them. For example, I’ve seen people dress up with a board around them, a lamp shade on their head, and some odds and ends coins, books, clothing on the board. Their costume? A “one night stand” *Bah duch!* Really funny though. Another hit is role reversal. Friends of mine did Peter Pan and Tinkerbell last year, where she was Pan and he Tink. Big hit!

    Oh I love costume parties. Having one at my blog on monday! I’ll be linking back to yours, great ideas! And if I ever get out to Maryland, I’ll have to get one of those shots. 😉

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Jess, can’t wait to see your costume party! And if you do get to MD, we’ll have one together : ). I love the One Night Stand costume idea – word pun costumes are the best! The role reversal thing is a great idea too – don’t know if I could ever get Lee to go for it though! He enjoys scary manly costumes too much : ).

  8. Marcia says:

    Great ideas! I love the creative costumes so much better than the store-bought. I used to make my kids costumes every year. For adults, no matter what the economy is doing or how much money you have, why spend a fortune buying or even renting a costume that you will likely wear once? Like you said, wearing one you made is usually the bigger hit.
    What are you dressing up as this year, Pam?

    • hawleywood40 says:

      We’ve been thinking about doing the Jack Sparrow (me) and evil dead pirate dude (Lee) thing this year. But this morning, we started talking about how easy and funny it would be to be Al and Peg Bundy instead … so that one might win out!

  9. Aurora says:

    That footballer has way too pretty hands and hair to be who he says he is, LOL Thanks for the fun suggestions and Happy Hallowe’en, whatever you decide on this year. I’m going for the pink sleepers pj’s with feet in them LOL Just joking. But it sounds so comfy to me right now 😉

  10. One year, my husband & I dressed as a pair of dice. All it took was a couple of square boxes, some paint & an exacto knife. It was really great until it came time to eat.

  11. akamonsoon says:

    Such a fun holiday. Love your costumes! One year I went as a table complete with plates, cups, forks and knives. My head was in the center where there was flower pot with two eye holes cut out. So much fun.

  12. Love the costume and the photo….very creative and real! what a fun post …makes me look forward for the Halloween event. I don’t know what my costume will be yet but you sure gave me some idea…Have a fun day my friend!

  13. Great tips! I always thought I had to go fancy with the costumes and that took the fun out of and put the work into Halloween. You showed how to make it all fun and games! Thanks! 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s