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Ideas for an Halloween Costume Contest

Updated on September 14, 2018
Nanciajohnson profile image

I enjoy painting fantasy art, going to art shows, creating delicious dishes, being with my grandkids, taking walks, and reading good books.

Let Your Imagination Go!

Gnomes Anyone?
Gnomes Anyone? | Source

A Costume Contest Adds Fun to Your Party!

Every Halloween party that I have put together and hosted has included a costume contest. It just is so easy to do and so much fun for kids of ALL ages. My current career as an Activity Director of an Active Adult Retirement Community now has me planning and organizing a Halloween Dance Party each year. Your party does not have to be as large as mine to include a costume contest. Several of my photos include seniors having fun a recent Halloween Dance Party.

In past years, I worked for a city Recreation Department where I would put together a Halloween party for grade school children. The children loved the costume contest and winning gift certificates from local fast food businesses. Almost all of my prizes are donated by local businesses who are only too happy to be involved and advertise their business with the contest participants.

You don't have to throw a Halloween Party for a large group like I do, but even a neighborhood or small classroom party can include a costume contest. Some schools are no longer having Halloween parties in their classrooms, so this is more reason to host your own party and invite your child's classmates. If you have more than one child, have each one invite up to six of their friends to the party.

Even our local grocery store throws a Halloween Party for their customer's and neighborhood children on the Saturday before Halloween each year. There is Halloween trick or treating throughout the store where specific department employees hand out goodies. There is food, drinks and a costume contest divided by age groups. My grandsons love going to this party each year.

So whatever age group your Halloween party is for this year, don't forget to include a costume contest as part of the festivities. No matter what age we are, we love to create an "alter personality" and dress up in costumes that reflect characters we love. For the past five years I have attended a family oriented Halloween party put on by friends. They pick a theme and hold a contest each year. My boyfriend has won several times already! He loves it!

Let the Party Begin!

Halloween Fun

Going to a Halloween Party
Going to a Halloween Party | Source

Making Your Party Plans

As soon as you decide to throw a Halloween party, the first thing to do is to pick the date. Sometimes I have to select a day or two before October 31 to throw the best party. I look to a Friday or Saturday when I know people usually plan to go out.

The next thing I do is make a list of what I need to do make this the best Halloween party ever! I make my guest list, outline an agenda for the evening, pick a party theme such as "Pirates", "Movie Monsters", etc., find judges and make a shopping list. Since I put on a community dance party, I also find a DJ or small band that fits in our event budget. We do charge a nominal fee at the door to cover all the expenses.

I also decide on my own costume and make plans to create or purchase this year's character. I usually end up being the MC of the party and being in costume adds to the festive theme.

My To Do List

Make invitations

Invite friends and neighbors

Shop for decorations

Create my costume

Hire the band or DJ

Snack shopping list

Costume contest categories

Collect or buy prizes

Recruit judges

Start RSVP list

Party Time!

Tim Burton Themed Party, 2015
Tim Burton Themed Party, 2015 | Source

The Costume Parade

Ok, now your party is here and going strong, so it is time to fit in the costume contest. When guests are entering the party dressed in costume, I have someone take their ticket or invitation and ask them if they would like to enter the costume contest. It is an option activity of our Halloween party, but I really encourage them to participate. With friendly persuasion, people will enter for you.

About one-third of the way into the party, I start my costume contest. I usually call up everyone who said they would participate in the contest, but still toss out "one last call" for any last minute entries. If I have a large group that have entered, we break it up by categories or groups to make it easier on the judges.

I give out everyone a large number for the judges. Since I usually have a band or DJ, I enlist their help at this point. They will play some Halloween music as the contestants parade past the judges. This first time by, I ask them to stop so the judges can write their numbers down on their judging form. If doing a smaller party, the music and numbers are optional!

Once we parade a loop or two in front of the judging table. I then ask them to line up and we introduce each one by costume or character. This is the time the guests can vote for their favorite. (I put out People's Choice ballots on each table.) These ballots go into a box on the Judges Table.

As soon as the judges tell me they have made all their notes and selections, they go off to another room to tally up the scores and People's Choice ballots. Everyone goes back to dancing and partying until the judges come back. It can take up to a half hour, so I tell everyone at what time we will announce the winners.

Sweeney Todd Couple

Best Theme Winners
Best Theme Winners | Source

Costume Contest Categories

These are the costume contest categories that I use the most often at our Halloween parties:

  • Most Original Costume
  • Scariest Costume
  • Funniest Costume
  • Sexiest Costume
  • Best Superhero Costume
  • Best Couple
  • Group Theme
  • People's Choice

You may think of more to add to this list. Remember it is your Halloween party and costume contest, so the ideas are unlimited. Just "think outside the box" and you will have lots of fun. That is the whole reason for throwing a party and having a costume contest.

A couple of characters with one of the judges.  Bribery going on?
A couple of characters with one of the judges. Bribery going on? | Source

Selecting a Winner!

My judges included party goers who did not want to be part of the contest. I have also invited local business owners or managers in the past to be judges for a costume contest. People usually love judging when it is a fun contest. I give each judge a clipboard, pencil and judging form that outlines the categories and number ratings. Don't forget to allow time for the judges to meet, discuss and select the winners. At our friend's party the host and hostess plus their parents are the judges.

Sometimes all you have to do is have a People's Choice Contest and let the guests select their favorite costumes by applause or cheering. I have also handed out paper ballots for each party goer to fill out their favorite costume and put it in a Ballot Box. I have entered many of these types of costume contests myself. They are fun too! That is what it is all about, the fun!

The More Creative the Better!

A twist on the Grim Reaper!
A twist on the Grim Reaper! | Source

Taking Home the Prize

I love to give everyone a prize since everyone is a winner in my book. Just by dressing up and getting up in front of everyone in costume is deserving of a prize. I work on gathering prizes at least a month before our costume contest. I look at the categories and then find a first, second and third place trophy or prize for each. I also make sure I have a nice "People"s Choice" trophy or prize.

The judges usually tally up the marks on each contestant and then let me know who are the winning costumes. I start with a category and then award the 3rd, 2nd and 1st in that order. Then each participant in the category is given a little participant prize to take home. I save the People's Choice award for last. That is the best way to end the contest with the winner that the guests themselves selected. Then we go back to having a good time with friends.

Masquerade Halloween Theme

Masked Ghost Rider
Masked Ghost Rider | Source

I want to thank the people for this honor of winning the People's Choice Award.

— Jay Nixon

Creating Great Memories

Most everyone has been to a Halloween or even a fall harvest party where you have had the opportunity to dress in costume. Remember back to childhood parties or one you attended last year. All of my memories of Halloween have been fun with my family and friends.

For me, dressing up as a character let's me express myself and things I like. Last year, I went to a Halloween Party dressed up as a Woodland Fairy. I did not win any contests but I had fun moving light on my feet, wearing my wings.

I am already looking forward to my next costume idea and our next costume party!

© 2014 Nancy Johnson

Have you ever entered a Costume Contest?

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    Post Comment

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I was just 6 years old and back then we used to live in Ohio. I remember it was great fun and i think i fell in love with the strawberry girl there :)

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 

      6 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Yes...gosh it has been years ago. I didn't win, but having a Halloween costume contest is great fun for all ages!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I got a costume award when I was a kifd at school was so groovy


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