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Make your own Halloween costume

OK, Boos and Ghouls, how can you go out and have a witchin' time this Halloween even if your wallet has as many cobwebs as a haunted house? Well, no need to be frightened by the prices of those Dick Cheney masks or Spiderman outfits at the local costume shop. Anyone can buy a costume off a shelf (well, if they have the moolah). You want to look different, funnier . . . oh, all right, cheesier.

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The following costume ideas are fun, odd, imaginative and, best of all, cheap. Take a look around your house. Many of the items needed for the following costumes could be sitting in the back of your closet or in the garage. Use your imagination and adapt what you find.

Let's be cheesy
Chia Pet: Get a bathing or shower cap and a plastic plant (with small leaves like a chia pet). Staple enough plant to cover cap (before you put the cap on your head, silly). Wear rusty brown clothes. Carry a watering can -- to put your treats in.

Clock: Paint your whole face with white grease paint. With black eyeliner, draw numbers around face and draw clock hands originating from your nose. Slick hair back. If you can find a large spring, attach it to your hair (as if the clock is broken).

Bag of candy: Find a large clear garbage bag. Cut two holes in bottom of bag for your legs, and two armholes near opening of bag. For M&Ms, take multicolor round balloons and choose ones that match M&M colors. Blow them up to about 80 percent (less likely to break), and write "M" on each of them with black marker. Half fill bag -- then you have a chance of sitting down). For jellybeans, do the same with longer balloons.

Work of art: Pick your favorite style of painting and think of a way to match it. For Jackson Pollock, take a clean white T-shirt and splatter with paint. For Picasso, use black eyeliner to draw a profile of a face down the middle of your face, and color in one half. Perhaps you already have a shirt with a work of art on it. If the painting is only on your shirt, take a frame that is bigger than your "picture" and hang it by a ribbon around your neck. If your painting incorporates your body and head, you'll need to carry a large frame in front of you.

Siamese Twins: Suggest this fun two-person costume to a special friend you'd like to get to know better. It requires a minimum of sewing. Take two large men's T-shirts. Cut the right sleeve and side off one, and the left sleeve and side off the other. Sew the two T-shirts together so that you end up with one big shirt with two armholes and two neck holes. Both people get into the shirt and walk around together all night.

Mr. Potato Head: Cut leg holes in bottom of a large burlap bag (you might have to make it). Cut out armholes near top of bag. Cut out eyes, nose, ears and mouth from appropriately colored felt. Attach Velcro to the backs of these items. Attach Velcro backs to the bag. Use black sweat pants or leotard for legs. When you're in the bag, fill it with old shirts or rags. Let people change your "face" around all night. Wear a hat.

Road Kill: Find black clothes you're willing to sacrifice for a very funny and gross costume. Paint a white dotted line down the middle of the clothes (think "road"). Staple a rubber chicken or small stuffed animal to shirt. Dash animal with red paint.

Dionysus/Bacchus (God of wine): Take a sheet and wrap it around you like a toga. Buy a branch of plastic leaves at a craft store (or pluck a branch from a bush outside). Fashion leaves into a half-circle to wear on your head. Tie a cord around your waist, and hang a corkscrew from it. Carry plastic or real grapes. Eat, drink and be merry!

Let's be timely
Kerry and Bush: It's an election year so of course the candidates will be top costume picks. You can wear your Sunday suit and buy a mask at the local costume shop. But, if you find masks are too expensive, use a Xerox machine to enlarge a picture of your candidate's face; poke a hole on either side of his head; secure your new mask with a ribbon and you're ready to kiss some babies and shake some hands.

Sirius Black: Rip up an old, black shirt, rub some dirt on a pair of black pants and use a black pen to draw druid-symbols all over your chest, neck and hands (those are your wizard-prison tattoos). Add a wand and a crazed look -- suddenly you're the star of the latest Harry Potter film.

Britney Spears: Wear low-waist-hip huggers, a bedazzled belt, belly-revealing t-shirt, heels and, of course a bridal veil. Chewing gum and a baseball cap are optional character additions.

SpongeBob SquarePants: Buy two yellow poster boards; poke two holes in the top of each board and using ribbon or yarn, tie them over your shoulders like sandwich boards. Wear a red tie, white shirt, knee-high athletic socks and black shoes. Practice your squeaky-voice before heading out: try saying, "Krabby patties!"

Myra Crystobal and Amy Fleitas contributed to this story.

-- Updated: Sept. 16, 2005




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