How to: Halloween

Does a Hawaiian shirt count as a costume?

Sam Johnson

More stories from Sam Johnson

The Tator
December 13, 2022

I know it’s the season of giving, but I’m broke.

Pumpkin spice season is in full swing, which means it’s time to come up with a Halloween costume. 

With an endless supply of options and the weekend quickly approaching, time is of the essence.

There are three distinct categories of costumes: homemade, store bought and clever. I’m here to break down the categories, give some recommendations and hopefully find a costume for myself.


Homemade costumes are great because they can be cheap, creative and fun to make. A good homemade costume has a personal touch that shows.

The downside is time and effort. The time it takes to craft a good costume is time lazy people and procrastinators simply don’t have.

If you start essays the night before they’re due and start studying minutes before an exam, an intricate homemade costume is not for you.

There are some lazy, simple homemade costumes, though. You won’t win any costume contests, but you can enter them.

Own a jersey? That’s almost a costume. 

A flannel shirt and jeans is a lumberjack, you just have to hope nobody comments on your sneakers. 

If you have a job, put on your work uniform. It really doesn’t count as a costume, but it beats regular clothes.

As long as you don’t care about impressing anyone, pretty much anything can be a costume.

Store Bought

Store Bought costumes are convenient, quick and easy. Unfortunately, they’re also expensive, boring and low quality.

I was at Spirit Halloween, turns out it’ll run you as much as $80 for a costume that’ll fall apart the first time you wear it. No wonder my parents wanted me to be Buzz Lightyear every year of my childhood.

So, if money isn’t a concern, you can become your favorite Power Ranger, Jedi or any number of costumes with weird names that narrowly avoid copyright infringement.


Another great way to be lazy and still have a costume is doing something clever.

Just pick an innuendo, company name or popular phrase and make it visual.

Tape a star and a dollar bill to your shirt and be Starbucks. Put on a lab coat, wear Beats headphones and be Dr. Dre. Or combine the lab coat with a jalapeño for a Dr. Pepper costume.

There’s no end to the number of lazy ideas that technically qualify as a costume. They take minutes to create and cost almost nothing.

No matter what costume category you decide on, here are four mistakes to avoid.

The first is a mask. If your costume is unrecognizable without the accompanying mask, it might be a good idea to pick a different one unless you don’t want to have conversations, drink or eat the whole night.

The second is accessories. Dressing like Tiger Woods seems like a good idea until you put the golf club down and people think you work at Staples.

The third is forgetting it’s October in Wisconsin. The lifeguard costume doesn’t make sense with a hoodie over it and it’s not worth waking up with the sniffles.

The fourth is being insensitive. Dressing up like another culture isn’t a costume, so consider leaving the poncho or rasta hat on the rack and trying something else.

Johnson can be reached at [email protected]