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A Traditional Halloween Costume Party

With October now upon us, it’s time to kick the Halloween party planning into high gear.  You’ve already got tricks for making it the best Halloween party, ever; elaborate ideas for a gothic masked ball; and plans for a party inspired by a couple of magical novels we all love (or love to hate).   Our fourth stop in a tour of Halloween Town brings us to simple, traditional costume parties.

Okay, so not one hundred percent traditional.  But basically traditional.  In order to give your classic, Halloween costume party just the tiniest bit of structure, we suggest coming up with a (very loose) theme around which your guests can plan their costumes.  Something broad enough to spark and then allow creativity will make people happy.  Some ideas:

Heroes and Villains

Whether the costumes be of the comic book, true crime, or metaphorical variety, heroes and villains are classic fodder for dress up and imagination.  We idolize and despise them, and their status as being larger than life makes them perfect for costuming.  You can choose a specific hero and villain genre, or just let it go and see what people come up with.


Uniformed careers are perfect inspiration for easy costumes.  The hats alone that pair with occupations will make for a veritable fashion show at your traditional costume party. You’ve got health professionals, armed services folk, hospitality and food service personnel, and all kinds of quirky types in between to be inspired by.  Don’t forget jobs that don’t exist anymore, too, like telephone operator and milk man.

High School

Encourage guests to don whatever duds they wore in high school, either by putting together an ensemble typical of the era or by wearing actual letter jackets, jerseys, or uniforms that may be hiding in the backs of their closets.  Other options are costumes of high school archetypes, famous students or teachers, or era-appropriate prom attire.  For the full shakedown on throwing a high school-themed blow out, feel free to poach from our ideas!


If you want your Halloween costume party to be funny, current, and appealing, theme it around a popular TV show with a huge cast.  Lost, The Office, and Mad Men (we’ve already done the work for you on that one) fit the bill for sure.  For some kid-friendly nostalgia, have your guests take on It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

Friends, keep an eye on our Ten Tricks column for more Halloween ideas as the end of October approaches.  We’ll give you ten ways to celebrate that don’t involve full-blown parties or costumes!

Photo credits: Paul Finley,

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