Watch out for the cereal killer

by Eszter Hargittai on October 31, 2003

There are lots of serious issues to ponder these days, but we shouldn’t forget about Halloween, which comes with its own set of challenges. One such challenge is finding a fun yet easy costume.

One year I cut up some cereal boxes, colored parts of them red with a marker, made some paper knives and plastered these all over the clothes I was wearing. I forget whom to credit with that but I thought it worked well. Nothing like a cereal killer on the loose.

For the more academically minded, you may want to try dressing up as a social circle/ego network. You inflate a few balloons with helium, you draw faces on them and then tie them to your body. Valdis Krebs who suggested this to me has a helpful little guide to social network analysis on his Web site in case this costume doesn’t make too much sense.

Another option is to wear white clothes and wrap a few yards of white fluffy fabric around you. Then attach some aluminum foil on the inside of the fabric. When people ask you what you are, you show the aluminum foil and say: “silver lining”. (Thanks to my friend Carolyn for that one.)

Last year, my friend Tania suggested I wear regular clothes to which I attach a bunch of name tags all over. That was an easy costume.. perhaps not to guess, but to make. I was an identity crisis.

I welcome additional suggestions as I haven’t yet decided what to wear tonight.



Mitch Mills 10.31.03 at 5:24 pm

A couple of years ago I went to a halloween party, one populated mostly by law school students, wearing a nametag that said “Reasonable Prudent Person.”

It was one of those last minute “Hail Mary” ideas, and I actually thought it was pretty lame, but it got quite a positive response. But then again, it was mostly law students, and everyone was pretty drunk . . .


Alan 10.31.03 at 5:44 pm

I haven’t worked very hard at a costume for a few years, ever since nobody recognized me as Galactus Devourer of Worlds. This year, I’m going for Land Shark. However, for truly inspired costumery, I would turn to Rob Cockerham for pointers.


Ted Barlow 10.31.03 at 7:08 pm

My finacee wore a slip dress to a party last year covered with stickers with words like “ego”, “unconscious”, “Electra complex” and so on. She was a Freudian slip. Unfortunately, not too many people got it.


eszter 10.31.03 at 7:53 pm

‘Just had lunch with a friend and got one more suggestion: he once dressed up as a scratch-and-sniff. He took some pieces of felt and soaked them in liquids with various fragrances such as lemon. Then he put these on his shirt.


Jeremy Osner` 10.31.03 at 7:59 pm

Check out this Scott McCloud costume, and abandon any thoughts you had of putting in effort at a creative costume of your own…


Ab_Normal 10.31.03 at 8:14 pm

For work this year (theme: the 80’s), I fell back on what I wore for Halloween during the 80’s – I’ve got my bathrobe, my slippers, and my towel. (But no Hitchhiker’s Guide, alas. I could use something that says “Don’t Panic” in large, soothing letters…) It has the added bonus of nobody getting it except for my boss.


markus 10.31.03 at 10:11 pm

hey ab_normal I just meant to recommend that.


fred 11.01.03 at 1:22 am

Many years ago at Harvard’s Government dep’t party, one student wore normal clothes except for a large capital ‘F’ on her chest. When people asked what her costume was, she replied
“I M F”


Claire 11.01.03 at 12:12 pm

Easy one for blondes. Wear black and a crucifix and say you’re Buffy the vampire slayer.


Doug 11.01.03 at 1:47 pm

One year for our notorious Abstract Halloween Party (not allowed to come as anything tangible) a friend wore a pair of things, I think they’re called bobbers. Basically, glittery styrofoam balls on springs attached to a headband.

He was an umlaut.


Emily 11.01.03 at 3:50 pm

For the undergraduate linguistics society’s halloween party, I attached several tree branches to a hat, and from these hung tags labeled “DP,” “IP,” “CP,” “N'”, and so on–labels for syntactic phrase categories.

In short, I went as a syntax tree. They were amused.


eszter 11.01.03 at 4:59 pm

In case anyone is curious, I ended up dressing up as Twistess. What? Twistess, female form of Twister. It’s not quite as clever as many other possibilities, but it’s the best I could do given that I’m not at home. I bought a Twister game, used the “board” as a cape and made a hat out of the little spin board section. My friends were pretty tame, no one wanted to step on me or anything.


Davis X. Machina 11.02.03 at 2:57 am

I remember a grad student come-as-a-famous-pair party. We had Heloise and Abelard, Death and Taxes, etc. etc, but the best one was the guy who came stag.

He claimed to be Satre’s Being and Nothingness, who was his date, really was right _there_.


Dakota Loomis 11.03.03 at 5:12 pm

For an easy and slightly dirty costume wear ONLY a pair of pants and when people ask what you are reply, “I’m a premature ejaculator. That’s why I just came in my pants.”

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