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6 Original Costume Party Themes and Why They are Awesome

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by Jess Fredkin (subscribe)
A somewhat reluctant secondary education student and balloon-animal making extraordinaire,whose laissez-faire attitude to all things in life gets her into many a pickle.
Published November 3rd 2012
Dress-up for an exponential increase in fun
6 Original Costume Party Themes and Why They are Awesome

Just because Halloween is over for this year *sob* shouldn't mean we have to stop looking ridiculous and/or fabulous. In fact, research I just made up has shown that costume parties are at least 40% more fun than regular old parties! Is it the immediate hilarity usually boring people provide us? Is it the lowered inhibitions of all present due to the "well I already look crazy, I might as well act it too" mentality? Is it the extra build-up to the party as you search for a costume that really embodies the spirit of a zebra for example, while still looking hot? Is that enough rhetorical questions? No? Yes, that's enough, let's press on. It is all of these reasons and more, all underlined by the fact that it is simply fun to dress up like a fool and have people laugh with you not at you, something new and different for me.

Now this kind of mishmash is what happens when there is no theme!

Themes are important, they facilitate the invention of really creative costumes and help to avoid that boring person at every costume party who thinks regular clothes plus cat ears equals an acceptable costume, which it most certainly does not! That being said, originality is important – recent 'era' parties are a little played out and don't offer much in the way of inspiration; I have whole 60's, 70's and 80's outfits ready in my costume draw (yes, I have a costume draw and at this point am probably coming across more than a little unhinged, but I guess that's the spirit of things). It's not great to be seen in the same costume too many times, a large part of the costume party fun is the unveiling, but it just got too expensive to keep buying legwarmers and go-go boots. And don't get me started on toga parties; for reasons I don't understand these are the most common and resilient costume themes but without fail everyone but the tallest and thinnest of girls, and the buffest of boys look fat, dreadful and dowdy.

So without further ado I present to you (in no particular order) my top 6 favourite costume party themes. These themes are probably most appropriate for late teens and adults, but everything is adaptable.

When I Grow Up
Puns Party
Ye Olde Partee
Literature Party
Quentin Tarantino Party
Reality TV Party

When I Grow Up

This theme is fabulous for 'big age' birthdays and anniversaries such as 21st birthday parties. Guests are required to come dressed as what they wanted to be when they grew up when they were kids (aka their first dream occupation). For example, I wanted to either be a tooth fairy or a palaeontologist when I was a child and would dress thusly. Other common ideas could be:
• Firemen
• Policemen
• Ballerina
• Astronaut
• Clown
• Princess (Disney or usual)
• Pirate

Me and my friend Nat at a 'when I grow up' party

Kids, in that glorious kid way of theirs often also aspire to be objects; my brother for example dreamed of being a fire truck, so be creative.

Puns Party

For this theme everyone has to come as a walking pun. While a little more abstract than the previous one, this theme will force people to be creative, whether they want to or not! Some ideas are:

• Reigning cats and dogs – Come dressed as a king or queen complete with crown, cape and sceptre with toy cats and dog painted on or attached to the cape, or perhaps a painted cat or dog face.
• Smarty-pants – stick smarties onto your pants using double sided sticky tape, complete with lab coat and geek glasses OR dress like a troublesome kid, perhaps a backwards cap and a whoopee cushion in hand.
• One night stand – while the message of this costume is a little risquι I can't imagine it being too sexy – paint a big cardboard box like a nightstand, leave the bottom and top open for your legs and head, and cut out two holes either side for your arms and there you are; a walking one night stand.
• Gold digger – paint yourself gold and carry a shovel
• Swine flu/bird flu/mad-cow disease – dress up as the animal of choice, carry tissues, put a bandage on your head, and an oversized thermometer in your mouth.
• Gangrene – this is a group costume; get a few friends together and dress all in green.
• Freudian slip – cover yourself in slips of paper that say things like "Ego" and "Id", or for the more adventurous wear a sexy slip with "Freud" written upon it.
• Assault with a deadly weapon – dress all in white and write salt across your chest, carry a toy knife or gun. Could easily be amended to assault and battery.
• Chick-magnet – wear black and stick baby chickens all over you.

Ye Olde Partee

Woman in a Red Dress
Giovanni Battista Moroni, c. 1560

Now I know I said era parties were played out but I meant twentieth century era parties; have a blast going back in time and speak in ye olde English all night while in medieval or Elizabethan dress, a feat that gets significantly harder in direct correlation to the number of drink had. This means corsets, big skirts, petticoats, breaches, swords, tunics and the rest. The drawback for this theme is that for women in particular it can get a little expensive, but again this can be solved through a little creativity – not all the people of Elizabethan England wore grand dresses, other ideas could include plague victims (make it gory with leaking pustules) and 'savages' from the new world (although obviously this could be a little contentious so use good judgement). Of course there are the classic figures such as Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth to emulate. Don't forget about all the wonderful figures of the Renaissance and their works; you could go as Shakespeare or one of his characters, Isaac Newton, Leonardo Da Vinci, Joan of Arc, Lucrezia Borgia, or the Mona Lisa to name a few. Again, don't forget objects as they can be highly amusing; a maypole could work well for a tall person and facilitate dancing – what more could you ask for?

Literature Party

Whether you're a sci-fi and fantasy nerd like me, favour books with a little Darcy-esque romance or want to be scared out of your wits by Stephen King and the like; literature offers a veritable treasure trove of characters which make amazing costumes, whilst revealing a little something of yourself – these kinds of costumes are great conversation starters. The list of possible characters is truly endless; from Hermione to Hobbits to the Hungry little caterpillar there really is no end to the possible costumes this theme can bring. And don't just think of main characters either, which brings me nicely to my next theme…

Quentin Tarantino Party

Courtesy of The Telegraph UK

I went to a Tarantino party late last year and it was amazing! My favourite costume by far had to be the guy who came as an extra, and I think we all know what happens to the extras in a Tarantino film … yes, he was dead. Dead and gory, so very gory. He had, with quite remarkable skill I might add, ripped his clothes in various places and painted on fake stab and bullet wounds, where he had taped blood bags which gushed at regular intervals. Needless to say it was awesome. And messy. But mostly awesome. Other costumes included:
• The man himself, Quentin Tarantino.
• The Bride from Kill Bill in her various outfits – most commonly in the iconic yellow suit or a blood stained bridal gown with a fake pregnancy belly.
• Groups dressed as the Inglorious Basterds.
• Cherry Darling from Grindhouse – anyone who can pull off a convincing machine gun leg is a winner to me.
• Gogo Yubari from Kill Bill.
• Basically everyone from Pulp Fiction – it's so iconic you can dress as any character and be identifiable. Based purely on practicality; Mia Wallace (aka Uma Thurman) would be the easiest with that fantastic wig. Another easy one would be John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson's characters Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield who can easily be portrayed by anyone with a black and white suit and a fake gun. Double plus bonus points for anyone game enough to come dressed as The Gimp.

Reality TV Party

The wonderfully trashy Thomas and Casey

Reality TV is a plague upon this earth as vile as any other through history, in fact it is arguably worse; unlike the Bubonic plague for example it is never-ending and without a cure. So why should we celebrate this assault on the senses I hear you ask? Because it's all we can do! Get your friends together and suck on the palliative goodness of alcohol while making fun of Snooki, J-Wow and the rest of her horrid little gang. Reality TV shows are rife throughout lovely TV land, each with more contemptible personalities than the last giving you endless costume opportunities that are tacky with a capital T such as:
• All of the Jersey Shore crowd – think Oompa Loompa orange fake tan, sunglasses inside, an excess of Ed Hardy gear (that you made, I would never condone giving money to that brand), and the skankiest dresses and/or swimming costumes you can find.
• The Shire – Channel 10's abortive attempt at an Australian version of Jersey shore was horrendous by general consensus, but it did give us two very classy ladies by the names of Sophie and Vernessa. Wear the same thing as above, trashiness it seems is transnational.
• X-Factor – dress up like one of judges and go around scoring people while talking endlessly about dreams coming true, or be a contestant you found particularly funny or irritating; if you haven't guessed it this night is all about mocking. Set up a karaoke system for extra fun.
• Big Brother – go retro Big Brother with some Sarah-Marie bunny ears and a bum dance, or emulate doofus Michael or nerdy Bradley from this year's atrocity.
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Why? No matter your age, dressing up is always fun
Where: Anywhere!
Cost: Depends on your creativity and sewing ability
Your Comment
We're hosting an awesome superhero themed party for my 2 boys next weekend and have lots of fun "superhero skill tester" games organised. It's a great theme and fairly easy for guests to dress up - just a mask is enough for those that don't want to go too crazy with costumes.
by nadia (score: 0|8) 1893 days ago
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