10 Last Minute Costumes That Don’t Suck

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and "lazy person's memoir," called Borg Like Me.

4022 Articles

By Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and "lazy person's memoir," called Borg Like Me.

4022 Articles

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About a decade ago, I had no costume the day of a Halloween party. I hate not being a Halloween team player. I almost always have a costume, but that year, I’d given up; I was out of time. I was online, reading the news, when I read a piece about corporate criminal du jour Bernie Madoff who was then breaking news and plastered all over the media. Impulsively, I decided to go as him. I printed out his headshot I found online onto card stock, quickly stepped into a suit, and made a cardboard panhandling sign that read: “Will Swindle for Food.” Surprisingly, this costume was a huge hit. Lots of people wanted to pose for pictures with me, and in the pictures, the mask looked convincingly real. I was amazed at the compliments and attention I got, for a costume I basically threw together on my way out the door. Who knew that last minute costumes could¬†make you the life of the party?

To do this yourself: let’s say you want to go as Christopher Walken. All you need to do is find a suitable image of him, and size it to the width of your head. Print onto thin card stock. Cut out the eye holes and attach with elastic string. Find suitable clothing for your subject. If I were going as Walken, I’d probably wear a smoking jacket, carry a bottle of champagne, and go as his “The Continental” character from SNL. (You could also just skip the mask, wear the jacket, carry the champagne, slick back your hair, and pencil on a mustache.)

A good costume is frequently so much more about the cleverness of the idea, its humor, than its craft. Sure we all adore an elaborate, well-built costume, but how many times have you seen a very simple, funny costume get as much attention as one that took ages to fabricate? Here are ten costumes that you can put together in an evening (or less) that should generate a splash at your upcoming party or on Halloween night.

If you put together a last minute costume you’re happy with, we’d love to hear about it. Post up in the comments below.