Tonawanda News

October 22, 2012

HAYNES: Cutting it close with costumes

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — At this point there’s little more than a week left before ghouls, spirits and vampires start taking over the streets in search of candy and perhaps a little mischief-making. 

There’s just enough time left to search through the dregs of the Halloween costume aisles at your local party or big-box store, but you might be cutting it a little close if you plan to create something from scratch.

Ever since I’ve old enough that my mother — who’s handy with a sewing machine — no longer makes my cos- tumes, I’ve found Hall-oween to be a bit stress-ful. I am way too picky about what I wear and how it fits to be able to find manufactured costumes I feel comfortable wearing. 

You’ll never see me wearing anything with the word “slutty” before the title of the costume (nurse, cop, hamburger ... yeah, that’s a real thing). Plus, there aren’t many options to begin with when it comes to plus-sized Halloween costumes. 

Combine that with the fact that I too often find myself needing a last-minute costume — because maybe I didn’t plan to go out but was inevitably invited to a party two days beforehand — and I usually have some real troubles.

It usually boils down to: How can I cobble together a costume using mostly clothes I already own and wear?  Some might call them lazy costumes, but I call it getting creative with what you have on hand.

In case some of you encounter the same troubles, I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite easy-to-wear (and mostly) last-minute costumes.

Double Dare

Ok, this one definitely speaks to the ’80s and ’90s kids out there. It also happens to be my favorite costume I’ve ever been responsible for creating. 

For those who don’t know, “Double Dare” was a kids’ obstacle course game show on Nickelodeon. Two teams of two have to answer trivia questions and the winning team runs through a messy obstacle course collecting as many flags as possible to win prizes and money. 

It’s much-beloved by folks in their late 20s and early 30s, and believe me, the costume gets a lot of positive attention. Nostalgia is always the way to go when it comes to Halloween.

The costume is simple, the hardest part being the T-shirts. Simply take a plain blue or red T-shirt, and iron on the “Double Dare” logo using fabric transfer paper. I’m not going to tell you where to find the logo, because I’m pretty sure there might be copyright issues here, but I’m sure the tech-savvy can figure it out.

You’ll need to get a little crafty with the helmet as well. Find a pretty plain helmet — and paint it to match your shirt if need be — and super or hot glue a clear cup on top. Gotta complete those physical challenges — which may or may not involve beer — somehow! Finish things off with some cheap foam knee and elbow pads and plastic goggles from the hardware store and you’re good to go. 

This one works best with a partner.

Elliot from “E.T.”

Another easy one because all you really have to wear is a red hoodie and a pair of jeans. You could go really simple with this and just carry around a stuffed E.T. and you’re good to go. 

I decided to take it a couple steps further and bought a set of handlebars — who knew you could buy them independent of a bike? — and zip-tied a basket to them. Add a stuffed E.T. doll with a white sheet or blanket draped around him, and carry around a bag of Reese’s Pieces and everyone will love it, especially once you start sharing your stash of treats.

I still wear the hoodie, though the handlebars have proven to be useless. ...


Transforming yourself into a hippy is largely about the accessories, which Halloween costume shops usually have plenty of. Rose-tinted glasses, lots of beads, headbands, some creative uses of markers and/or face paint, and you’re good to go.

The last time I dressed as a hippy — early 2000s — I still had flared jeans from the 1970s fashion revival we went through in the late ’90s. Who knows, some of you might still have some. I wasn’t too attached to them anymore, so I drew a couple peace signs, flowers and hearts here and there with permanent markers. I also happened to have a flowing, hemp-looking top to pair with the jeans ... I’m beginning to wonder if I was just unintentionally dressing as a hippy at one point in my life.

Paint a peace sign on your cheek, add the aforementioned accessories and you’re good to go.


If you give any of these costumes a try, I’d love to see your photos and hear how they worked out. Happy Halloween!

Contact features editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116.