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Halloween Costumes: Dos and Don’ts

Halloween. When one thinks of the holiday, they might be transported back to when they were young and went trick-or-treating in their costumes, slowly learning which houses to avoid and which ones gave out the best candy. Others might remember that they didn’t celebrate or dress up. They might think of playing Halloween movies and songs like “Halloweentown” and “Spooky Scary Skeletons” on repeat as soon as October hits. Something no one can deny, though, is how extra Halloween celebrations are in college.  Usually, Halloween costumes are worn the weekend of, or before, the holiday. It might be difficult to navigate how to save money, and how to be appropriate and still have fun, but it’s not impossible.

One thing that may get in the way of students having an amazing time during Halloween is money; back when we were kids, if we dressed up, our parents or guardians footed the bill and we were able to run around in ignorance. Now that we have to adult, that responsibility is on us and it can be quite daunting to try to figure out a unique costume that isn’t going to make you go broke. It’s easier than you might think to make a fun Halloween costume that is still thrifty with a few tips! First off, don’t feel pressured to buy a physical costume from Party City. They are usually overpriced and the selection is limited. Instead, try to make your own costumes by using what you already have in your wardrobe, buying cheap clothing items at Walmart, making use of paper and markers, and knowing how to use Halloween make-up. This is what I’ve used every Halloween at Siena, and for about $20 and a dream, I’ve been able to make two costumes every year including a scarecrow, Clark Kent/Superman, Two-Face, Mickey Mouse and a magician. 

Do participate in group costumes. They’re also a fun way to keep things simple but still look cohesive. If you wanted to dress up as Mario Kart characters, you could make use of clothing you already own to dress up.  You could wear a plain red t-shirt and blue jeans for Mario, buy a fake mustache and look up how to make cars out of cheap cardboard. Just by doing that, people will definitely know what you’re going for! Group costumes are also a way to bond with roommates or new friends, and they can be a lot of fun to make. Of course, couples costumes are prevalent on college campuses and this can also be a fun and easy way to connect with your partner and show off your relationship if you feel comfortable to do that!

Cultural appropriation is something that can pop up during Halloween but it’s definitely something that is easy to avoid. Cultural appropriation can occur if someone exploits a minority group by adopting aspects of that culture into their Halloween costume. The minority group is often ridiculed for that aesthetic and people who exploit it are typically complimented for how they look. This is a very subtle form of discrimination, and not everyone agrees about the impact. Despite this, I would still encourage you to decide against wearing a headscarf, or a fake beard, to “dress up” as a Middle Eastern person, or go around talking in a Mexican accent and carrying a bag of tacos to “dress up” as a Mexican: everyone is way more creative than having to dress up as someone’s culture!

On campus there are a lot of opportunities to dress up for Halloween, and as I’ve mentioned the weekend before Halloween is a lively weekend when a lot of people celebrate and invite people over for Halloween music, candy and fun. After the shadow casting of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (this year it will be on October 19 and 20), there is always a costume contest and the best costumes win prizes. Even though we may be older and some people might even say “too old” for Halloween, costumes are heavily encouraged in college and are a lot of fun!