Party Plan: Types of Costume Parties

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When I was young, my mother made all my Halloween costumes. She was a fabulous seamstress, and she made the best outfits for me. She made me a Little Red Riding Hood outfit complete with dress, apron, pantaloons and a cape. She created a turquoise majorette outfit with epaulettes, lots of gold braid, hat and spats. She even made me a blue taffeta Sleeping Beauty gown just like Princess Aurora wore in the movie. I wore these dream costumes until they were literally in tatters.

So you can see why I grew up loving costumes and, not coincidentally, costume parties. Costumes allow you to imagine yourself to be someone else—who wouldn’t like that chance?!Costume parties are very closely associated with Halloween and children because it’s a tradition for them to dress up for trick-or-treating. But costume parties are not exclusively for children—adults and teens can find them to be just as much fun and should consider hosting costume parties for festive celebrations, beyond Halloween, too!You can always host a traditional costume party where guests dress in assorted costumes they have made, bought or rented. But there are many other approaches to such a party that utilizes the imaginations of your guests in more creative ways.

Here are some types of costume parties to consider if you are planning a party for your friends and family. Part of the fun is calling on each guest to explain his or her costume, and give prizes for the most imaginative, funniest, most creative and more.

1) Ask your guests to come in costume as traditional Halloween characters—ghosts, witches, monsters, mad scientists, even bats or ravens. You might ask guests to come as very scary versions of the character or very humorous or wacky versions.2) Ask your guests to come in costume as one specific Halloween archetype like a ghost or a witch, but ask them to create a specific personality for their archetype to wear or carry. Give them some examples like Gertie, the Ghostly Plumber, or Wanda, the Woebegone Witch. Ask them to wear or bring props that demonstrate the personality of the character.

3) Ask your guests to come in costumes of all one color or pairing like a black and white party or a red, white and blue patriotic party.4) Ask your guests to come in costumes and masks that will obscure their identities. Encourage them to make or decorate their own masks rather than just wearing a bought or rented one. Then make the suspense of revealing who is who part of the party fun.

5) Ask your guests to dress up in costumes that are themed to your party’s theme—like Marvel Super Heroes, Star Wars, Harry Potter or Pirates of the Caribbean or whatever you like.


6) Ask your guests to dress up as their favorite book characters, favorite movie stars, or even something funny like their favorite foods. If all of your guests are couples, you could ask them to dress up as famous couples of history or literature.
7) Ask your guests to dress up as their favorite political or topical issues which could really bring out their creativity.

8) Ask your guests to each bring a paper bag filled with five unusual articles of clothing or accessories. Blind-fold one guest at a time and have him/her select one of the paper bags. Once everyone has a bag, they are each to create a costume to wear out of the five items. Make sure everyone gets their own clothing items back at the end of the evening.9) Ask your guests to divide into teams. Each team will be given a basic prompt to use in creating costumes to illustrate that idea. As the host, you have a large number of costumes, clothes, hats, accessories as well as paper, markers, tape and other decorative supplies for the teams to use. For example, the prompt may say that the team members are people in a hospital waiting room or cast members in a stage play. At the end of the designated time to create their costumes, each team will share their prompt and costumes with the rest of the guests. Regardless of how you decide to organize your costume party, be sure to have cell phones and cameras to get lots of photos of your guests’ creativity. Dress up and be someone new! Enjoy!

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