My Exploding Cat

Just stories and drawings really, no actual fissile felines.

A Teenager’s Guide to Last-Minute Halloween Costumes That Don’t Suck

When you’re an older sister, the ability to stare into a closet and pull out an acceptable Halloween costume thirty minutes before trick-or-treating starts is a highly useful skill. In fact, even if you’re the youngest in your family, the invention of a clever costume can be what swings you out of that gray area you slip into as a teenager, and make it somewhat socially acceptable for you to still wheedle candy out of your neighbors. The fact is, when you turn about fifteen or so, you can no longer get by with going up to your neighbors’ house in a grungy T-shirt, grunting, “…trickrtreat…” and holding out a bag for candy. And eventually, we all get tired of dressing as black cats and hippies every year.

It’s best, of course, to offer to take someone else’s kid for them, so it looks like you still have a reason to be doing this beyond the obvious. (Face it, it’s kinda lame to be at the acne-ridden age and still running around with all the little kids. Even the adults think it’s kind of pathetic looking and you won’t get candy from a bunch of them.) But if no such younguns are available, you need a clever costume–or at least one that looks like you sort of tried.

Unfortunately, Halloween is often the kind of event that people sort of forget about, unless reminded by huge inflatable gimmicky things stuck in the middle of Walmart’s produce section, which are among the only reasons anyone remembers to buy candy (which is, naturally, why they’re there). This forgetfulness means you probably don’t have such a neat costume. But don’t worry! If you regularly make a habit of wearing clothing, it is statistically likely that you can forge a costume in the last thirty minutes before people turn their lights on.

But not by reading most articles you find on the Internet. I know from experience that if you search for this kind of thing, you’re way more likely to pull up Family Home Whatever Magazine and instructions on how to turn an innocent two-year-old into a grumpy-looking bumblebee than you are to pull up something useful and not embarrassingly terrible.

I mean, you can make a really bad costume and run around giggling about how bad it is–that, like B-movies, is an art form all its own. Or you can make something slightly more serious. It’s up to you how much of a crap you want to give.

I have dealt with this before. Now, I pass my knowledge to you.


Last year, my brother and I went as highwaymen. We put on brownish clothes and leather jackets, tied a bandana on our heads, and ran around saying, “Stand and deliver! Your candy or your life!” This is clever, and gets you out of saying “Trick or Treat,” which is kind of a dumb phrase.

Dragon Rider

Slap some sparkly silver makeup on your palm, wear boots, and claim that your dragon has a sweet tooth. Nobody wants to upset the dragon, right? This costume is unabashedly ridiculous. It also gets points for being a reference to Eragon… although most people have only seen the movie, which was terrible, you’ll get a high rate of recognition. And nerd points! It’s more excusable to still be trick-or-treating if you’re a nerd. It’s kind of expected.


A nice hat, a long necklace, and a knee-length dress = flapper. Best if you have short hair. You also need to be a girl. This one doesn’t work on guys.


Throw on a whole bunch of jewelry (must have big earrings) and swooshy-looking clothes, drape something over your head, and take on Professor Trelawney’s airy-dramatic demeanor. Also a girl’s costume, although if you’re a dude and you want to modify it (like, a face-painted gypsy with one earring or something), go for it. You get points for creativity.

Crazy Person

Mess up your hair, wear mismatched clothes, and carry a really blank expression. Don’t respond to people easily. If you’re really committed, don’t shower. If you’re a girl, put on makeup. Badly.


All you need is a huge and confusing-looking map, maybe some dorky shorts, and a shirt with the name of a state on it (or the classic Hawaiian deal).

Rock/Dubstep/Metal/… Musician

This one is more of a guy’s costume, but girls can pull it off too if they have the right clothes. Guys just need to find the darkest-colored clothes with the most holes in their drawers, put on their sister’s black eyeliner, and bathe themselves in Axe. (The guys with the right clothes for this are more likely to be the guys who bathe themselves in Axe anyway.) Girls might need to put on a bunch of jewelry and nail polish, rather than Axe.

Tony Stark

Pin a blue circle to a black T-shirt. Find a name tag sticker that says “YOU KNOW WHO I AM” and stick it on. Put on a suit jacket if you have one. Now act like a pompous jerk, but a really funny pompous jerk. Boom, you’re Tony Stark. Now you have the excuse of wanting to run around dressed as and acting like Tony Stark, which is a good enough excuse for trick-or-treating, or really probably doing anything.

Katniss Everdeen

Got a leather jacket? Great. Got boots? Great. Braid your hair? Great. Bonus points for an orange backpack.

Stick Figure

Got a white T-shirt and some sweats you don’t mind marking up? Grab a black Sharpie and make yourself into a stick figure for the night. Draw down your arms, up your neck, and a circle (or a black headband or ribbon) around your face, and wear black shoes. You’ll need to shower well that night and the morning after to take off the Sharpie (don’t use Crayola markers–they’ll come off if you get sweaty, making a huge mess), unless you’re cool with people thinking you’re really, really, really weird.


A girl’s costume. Put on foundation that’s three shades lighter than yours (or highlighter or something), use lipstick as blush, and overdo your eye makeup. Then wear something frilly or little-girl-ish. There are ways to take this costume seriously and make it look really awesome, but they require somewhat more preparation and this is an article for the lazy.

Ninja Turtle

You may or may not have the clothes for this one, but you can swing by Walmart in less than thirty minutes, so I’ll still put it here. Another one that gets points for being a reference. Find a brown T-shirt and stretch it (or somehow tie or affix it) over a backpack. Wear a yellow short-sleeve T-shirt or a yellow tank top over a green T-shirt, and some green sweat pants. Make yourself a mask in your chosen color–be creative with that. It’s not terribly difficult to find something to make a mask out of. Raid your coat closet for old winter scarves if nothing else. Also, make lots of references to pizza.


This one’s not too hard. It’s not very far off from the jeans-and-T-shirt non-costume, but the difference is mainly in the accessories, and your acting skills. Put on your glasses. Carry a computer bag (with a book in it so it looks like you’re carrying a laptop). Find a lanyard and string some Flash drives on it. Wear glasses. Drink a bunch of coffee before going out (bonus points if you spill some on your shirt) and act jittery. Mutter about your company’s management, saying they never know what they’re talking about. If you really want to nail this costume, look here.


This is kind of obvious. Don’t bump into people.

Your football gear, cheerleading outfit, karate uniform, tennis clothes…

Kind of lazy, but they look pretty good. Some of these might be kind of overdone, though.

You, plus some sportsy looking stuff you found in the basement

Might work. You never know.

You as a zombie fighter

Okay, this is just kind of a classic. Torn or military-looking clothes are great. A baseball bat or a fake crowbar/sword/other fake weapon is a must. Tie your hair back if it’s long enough to do so. Wear good running shoes and a serious expression.

You as an annoying over-preppy teen girl, or a teenage guy who’s trying too hard

This is pretty self-explanatory, too. Get ready to bust out the most sickening perfume or Axe you can find. Try to stay away from asthmatics.

The IM A WIZERD costume

This is the one where you take a blanket, wrap it around your shoulders, and pick up a wand-ish-looking stick from your front lawn. Definitely a B-costume. But if you’ve gotten all the way down here and you haven’t found something you like, it may be your final answer.


Good luck.


This entry was posted on Thursday, October 10th, 2013 at 9:56 pm and is filed under Stuff. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “A Teenager’s Guide to Last-Minute Halloween Costumes That Don’t Suck”

  1. Anthelia
    10:06 pm on October 11th, 2013

    Have you heard of It’s a site where this woman, Whitely Birks, picks apart terrible books. Right now there’s a poll where you can vote (open till Saturday 12, aka when Pokémon XY comes out). Fifty Shades of Grey, The Selection, and A Discovery of Witches are on there. She rants. A lot. It’s funny and you learn how to look at your own writing critically & edit better. She’s SNARKY! So, so freaking snarky! Have fun!

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