Once you’ve had that first sip of pumpkin-spiced latte, you know the countdown to Halloween has officially begun. Then the panic sets in: what should you dress up as this year? Trying to come up with a costume idea is never easy, so we’ve created a handy flowchart full of spooky (and not-so-spooky) ideas to inspire you. Happy haunting!
What should I be for Halloween? A flowchart
Tips for choosing a Halloween costume
Keeping your Halloween ideas fresh year after year is no easy task, especially if you like to stand out from the crowd. Sure, you can stick to a classic costume like a mummy, vampire, or fairy, but being inventive is a big part of the Halloween spirit. If you need a touch of inspiration, check out our frightfully creative tips to answer the question, “What should I wear for Halloween?”
1. Sum up your personality
Ever play the game where you try to figure out what animal or car you’d be based on your personality? Apply the same logic when picking a Halloween costume. Make a list of the traits that best represent your personality, and brainstorm any topics that come to mind when you think of those traits.
Use a mind map to expand upon your ideas. The topics could include anything from book, TV, and movie characters to household objects, animals, and works of art. Are you an energetic chatterbox who’s always on the go? Why not channel that into a squirrel costume? Do you love to play pranks or keep people guessing? Try recreating a spooky superstition or amusing pun as a costume, such as a cracked mirror, and see who freaks out.
2. Decide what feeling you want to convey
Not everyone enjoys scary Halloween costumes. But if you’re drawing a complete blank, start by thinking about the emotion or tone you want to convey. Do you want to be flirty? Funny? Offbeat? Abstract? Adorable? Spooky? Downright terrifying? Choose an adjective (or two), and make a list of costumes to fit each category. If you like to visualize your ideas, organize the categories into a table chart. That way, you can refer back to it for future costume picks.
3. Double up with a couples Halloween costume
Are you spending the holiday with a friend or significant other? Narrow down your options by choosing a Halloween costume for couples. Not only does this help you focus your ideas, but now you have two heads working together to come up with an unforgettable costume.
Refine your choices even more by deciding which genres, costume categories, everyday objects, or pop culture icons you both love the most. Do historical romances inspire you? Cult classic buddy comedies? Superhero teams? How about a lunchbox and thermos? Your options are endless.
4. Use your surroundings for inspiration
Truthfully, some of the best Halloween costumes are based on totally mundane objects or concepts. Yet, they grab attention because the costume isn’t common or overused. With this in mind, stimulate your imagination by exploring your indoor or outdoor environment for ideas. Who knows? Dressing up as the recycling bin in your driveway, the parking meter outside your building, or the asparagus you ate for dinner last night might turn out to be a hit at your next Halloween party.
5. Get with the times
Stay current, and base your costume on topical issues in pop culture. Remember all the Joe Exotica costumes after the “Tiger King” documentary or the many colored jumpsuits inspired by “Squid Game?” Topical costumes capitalize on whatever buzz is happening around the world right now, and they’re sure to generate lots of laughs. Just be tactful and stick to topics that are amusing, rather than controversial.
6. Be clever and crafty
Prefer to avoid waste? Spending money on a new Halloween costume every year is hardly necessary. Look around your home, and use items you already own to develop ideas.
Making your own costume is especially easy if you dress up as a TV or movie character set in a realistic, modern-day environment. If you’re hoarding cardboard boxes from all your package deliveries, consider using them to construct a costume. Round up old clothes, paint, and arts-and-crafts supplies to put on the finishing touches.
With a bit of effort and planning, you can dream up a boo-tiful costume. Look through our flowchart for examples, or use your favorite brainstorming method to create your own list of bewitching ideas.
This post was originally published on October 4, 2019, and updated most recently on October 31, 2021.