By Skyla Patton

Halloween addicts may have been meticulously planning their costume pick since November of last year, but some of us are just now realizing it’s October…and we have no plans. It can be difficult to pick something to dress up as for the popular holiday, let alone on such short notice — I mean come on, it’s once a year, it has to be good! Keep reading for some tricks and treats on how to put together a last minute costume, and what not to wear this Halloween.

Use what you have

Rather than rushing to the closest Halloween store in a panic, take a moment to shop in the most convenient store you’ll ever find — your own closet! Everything is free (well, it is now anyway) and the best part is you don’t even have to go anywhere to find stuff. When you really break it down, most costumes are just a combo of average pieces of clothing that most of us have in the back of our closet, or at least something close! Think about popular shows with easily-recognizable characters or well-known public figures: JFK and Jackie Kennedy, The Office or Seinfeld, Peanuts characters — the list goes on.

Thrifting is Key

If you searched and searched in the darkest depths of your closet and couldn’t seem to make anything work, the next best (and cheapest) option is to head to your local thrift stores or a chain store like Goodwill. Not only do thrift stores have a fabulous price range for all of us, they also have a reputation of holding some pretty crazy finds that could add on to even the most extravagant Halloween costumes. If you’re missing something for your own getup or just feel like throwing some stuff together, spending a few hours on a thrift shopping spree with your best friends can be a great way to pass the afternoon and check off ‘Halloween costume’ from your to-do list. Check out the local Goodwill Supercenter located at 1010 Green Acres Road (open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily) or head over to S.A.R.A’s treasures for a special treat: adoptable cats roaming around the store while you shop! The non-profit animal shelter provides a safe place for the animals to live while they wait for their forever home. What could be better than finding your perfect outfit and your perfect black cat for Halloween? Located on 817 River Road, open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day of the week.

Less is More

For the minimalists out there, the mere thought of assembling an entire costume can seem like a task far too big to be willing to tackle. Even then, no one wants to be left out of the fun! There’s a ton of creative costumes to don on Hallow’s Eve that are made up of just one or two pieces and won’t hinder your good times. For example: Queen Bee — make a paper crown out of construction paper and glue pipe cleaner antennas on. Then there’s 50 Shades of Grey — wear as many different articles of gray clothing you can handle. Or you could try Risky Business; everybody knows this classic, and all you need is some sunglasses, a white button up, and socks to match!

If you’re totally stumped, be sure to check out Halloween City located in the Valley River Center to search for any last-minute additions to your costume or simply to get your creative ideas flowing.

Don’t Get Offensive

While it’s by all means fun and games picking out something fun and festive to wear as a costume this October, remember that cultural appropriation is not fun nor a game. Avoid any costume that has a connection to a culture or racial stereotype — this is not a fine line! When picking your costume, ask yourself a few basic questions like this: does my costume include a significant piece of another culture? Am I utilizing a fake accent? Does my costume symbolize an ethnicity that is not my own? Keep this in mind to ensure that everyone has a fun, safe and spooktacular Halloween!