1. Stick with the classics.
Occasionally, a scandal comes along that’s so shocking it rocks the celebrity world and makes for a brilliant Halloween costume. But flashes-in-the-pan carry one major risk: you’ll almost certainly be dressed the same as at least one other party guest. Boo on that! A better bet is to go for characters and themes with time-tested appeal.
- Literary characters from the Jazz Age (the glitter!)
- Grunge musicians from the 1990s (the flannel!)
- Futuristic spacepersons (the aluminum foil!)
2. Dig deep.
Sure, you could go as the super recognizable main character of your favorite gritty gangster drama. Or, you could go as one of his delightfully murderous supporting goons. OR—ooh!—his totally dysfunctional mother. The point is to keep the convo around the witch’s cauldron focused on you and your mad genius.
- Dig Pulp Fiction? Great! But throw ‘em for a loop as Pumpkin & Honey-Bunny over the way-obvious Jules & Vincent.
- If you’re leaning presidential, a Bill-Clinton saxophone is cool, but a Teddy-Roosevelt stuffed lion is, like, a thousand times cooler.
3. The devil’s in the details.
Now really, what’s the point of going to great pains to look exactly like Beyoncé—down to the one-sleeved leotard and fabulous hair—if you’re not going to wear fierce makeup? Or rock 6-inch heels? Or roll with a 20-person entourage? Nailing the perfect costume is all about the details, so Google it and get it right.
- Every hobo needs a black eye.
- Marilyn without the mole is just some chick.
- If you have a sixth finger surgically attached and you don’t win first place, you are attending the wrong Halloween parties.
4. Make an entrance.
There’s nothing worse than stolen thunder, and timing is everything. Scope out the scene upon arrival, and, if necessary, let the adorable robot couple who walked in ahead of you have a moment to soak up their obligatory laughs before giving the people an entrance they won’t soon forget.
- Fog machines—they’re cheaper to rent than you might think.
- Real friends will be your backup dancers.
- Helicopt… OK, we might be getting carried away.
5. Work the room.
This is crucial if there’s any sort of voting system in place. Be social! Be charming! Remember, you’re not going to win any votes standing in the corner. Unless you’re going as Baby from Dirty Dancing. Which would be so many layers of good.
- You are not too cool to mingle on the dance floor. Drop it like it’s hawt.
- Paid votes work in Washington; they can work for you.
- Yes, we know the giant wizard hat is itchy and it keeps bumping people. Eye on the prize!
(Photo credits: Russ and Lori Reed)