I love Halloween, but every year when it comes time to dress up at the office, I put in a pretty half-hearted attempt. You have to come up with something that’s the right mix of recognizable and work appropriate and I usually just end up procrastinating and doing something kind of lame.
Case in point: Last year I was a mediocre Mad Hatter, mostly just because I saw the hat at Party City and I had an outfit that had a similar color scheme. But it was work appropriate, and recognizable, so there ya go. Office Halloween costume.
Don’t want to be an office party pooper this Halloween? I’ve put together some rather cheap, somewhat clever, very easy to implement last-minute costumes. What’s better? They’re both work appropriate and kind of dance around tech/marketing themes.
This list — which includes both group and individual costume ideas — is separated into two sections: evergreen costumes, and topical costumes. Check them out below.
20 Last-Minute Halloween Costumes for the Office
Evergreen Office Costumes
1) Alt Text
This was my lazy, dorky, office Halloween costume a couple years ago. It’s great because you don’t even look dressed up if you have a casual office dress code, so you can just blend in.
All you do is dress 90s alternative — I went with black jeans, combat boots, and a flannel — and tape a piece of paper to yourself that says something like img2017.jpg. Or if you want to follow best practice for good alt text, you can put something more descriptive, like “alt_text.” Your choice, you SEO rebel you.
2) SEO Ninja
Speaking of dorking out on SEO stuff, you could be everyone’s favorite LinkedIn title — the SEO ninja. Dress in all black, put on a black ski mask (kinda creepy if you already have one, but I won’t ask questions), and tape keywords all over yourself. It’ll be a hit at your Office Halloween Party Work Halloween Party Corporate Halloween Party Company Halloween Party.
3) Google Algorithm Update
Find a couple office buddies for this one — one panda, one penguin, and one pigeon. You might be thinking, “what the hell is the pigeon algorithm update?” 1) It’s a thing, and 2) I checked Amazon for hummingbird costumes and there aren’t any cheap ones available.
4) Black and White Hat SEO
This is the last SEO-related costume, and I think you can figure this one out on your own. I recommend an all black outfit for one, and all white for the other — but the hat’s the most important part.
5) Mobile App
Wander around holding an appetizer — cheese and crackers, chips and dip, whatever you have on hand. Boom. You’re a mobile “app.”
This costume also doubles as a great way to make friends at a party.
Another way to turn handing out food into a costume: Dress up like a hipster and hand out graham crackers. Voila, you’re an insta-graham.
Grab a white sheet and cut a hole for your head and arms. Dob some black ink spots on the sheet, get a book and one of those feather quills (or just get a feather, I suppose), and you’re a ghostwriter.
8) White Space
Dress in all white — add white face paint and a white wig if you’re ultra-committed. Then add a hint of color somewhere on the outfit, like a colored tie or scarf, or even a paint splotch if you’re okay with ruining an article of clothing. That color splotch will make the white space more prominent, transforming you into “white space.”
9) Series A Round of Funding
Get a bunch of people together, write the letter “A” on your shirt, and line up. (You could do subsequent funding rounds using the same principle, too.)
10) Fully Vested
If you work in a company where people would get the joke, put on a bunch of vests (at least three, but even more is encouraged) and that’s about it. You’re fully vested.
How’s that for a lazy Halloween costume? (This is what I’ll be wearing to work this year.)
11) BuzzFeed Reactions
Here’s an easy group costume for a big crew. Everyone dresses in yellow and writes one of the following in big black letters on their shirt. Be sure to put the numbers above each sentiment, too. Sign up for a reaction fast, lest you end up with “ew.”
Topical Office Costumes
12) Pizza Rat
Eight million people have watched this rat take pizza on the Subway. Pay homage to that rat by rocking a fake mouse nose, fake mouse ears, and eating a slice of pizza.
A perfect costume for anyone whose office Halloween party will already have pizza. Or anyone who was once a “sexy rat” in college and kept the costume. Just in case.
13) Zombie Pumpkin
I’m sure you’ll see a handful of PSL costumes this year, but did you know we’re actually in the middle of a pumpkin shortage? That’s right, we’re killing too many pumpkins*, people. Let’s get ahold of ourselves and use Halloween to memorialize all the pumpkins that are no longer with us because we’ve pumpkinized everything from our coffee to our beer to our toilet paper. (That last one’s a joke. I hope.)
Get one of those pumpkin leaf bags, or simply one of those good old-fashioned pumpkin costumes, and put on some zombie makeup. If you’ve never done zombie makeup before, here’s a tutorial for easy zombification using makeup products many people are likely to already own.
*The pumpkin shortage is actually due to a smaller pumpkin harvest this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still rant about pumpkins.
14) Netflix and Chill
This costume is how you get to wear pajamas to work. Wear pajamas or sweatpants, pop a bag of popcorn, and open up Netflix on your laptop. While you probably can’t watch Netflix all day, when someone comes up and asks what you are, flip over to the Netflix tab to complete the costume.
15) Net Neutrality
Dust off that elementary science education and grab a permanent marker. Write a bold “+” and “-” on a t-shirt, and then choose one of the following ways to represent the “net” part of this heavy-handed costume pun:
- Wrap yourself in some of that spider web stuff people use to decorate their yards
- Wear fishnet clothing — tights, shirt, etc.
- Wrap yourself in some other type of netting from your local hardware store
Just make sure you brush up on the issue of net neutrality (and prepare for how to stay politically “neutral” about it) in case the costume leads you into some heated water cooler conversations.
Can’t get enough of your favorite live video streaming app?
Amazon sells cheap meerkat costumes. Order one. You’re done. (They don’t sell periscope costumes, sorry guys.)
17) Left Shark
Who could forget the uncoordinated shark from Katy Perry’s Super Bowl XLIX halftime show performance that took the internet by storm?
Lucky for you, there are a few different Left Shark costumes available online. The cheapest one I could find is $70 … but at least you’ll be warm.
18) The Dress
The Dress is easy to DIY at home provided you’re willing to trash a dress, which makes for a pretty cheap costume. Here are the varying levels of effort you can put in to donning this costume, from laziest to most intense:
Minimal Effort: Find a dark blue dress and some black duct or electrical tape. Use the tape to make some horizontal stripes across the dress in a similar fashion as the actual dress.
Some Effort: Find a dark blue dress you’re willing to ruin, some lace ribbon, and a hot glue gun. Glue the lace on the dress in a similar fashion as the actual dress.
Serious Effort: This blog post is supposed to be for last-minute people that are kind of lazy about office Halloween, so this seems like a bad time to get into “serious effort” costume DIY. However, there’s a DIY instructional here that doesn’t seem too bad if you’re really interested in representing both the white/gold and black/blue into your costume.
Catfish: The TV Show has been on since 2012, but in the past year or so the term “catfishing” has really caught on, particularly for the online dating generation.
This is a pretty easy, punny costume to pull off if you happen to have a fishing rod. Get cat ears and a cat tail at your local Halloween costume shop — you can even draw on some whiskers if you don’t mind having some makeup on at work — and keep a fishing pole by your side. If you don’t have a fishing pole or don’t feel like carrying something that bulky around at work, I did some searching and turns out most toy stores carry smaller versions that might be more tenable.
20) Escaped Llama
Llamas on the loose might be my favorite nonsense news story of 2015. The escaped llamas would make a great group costume, but you can do this one on your own, too. Order a llama mask (there are a few different options, all seem to be pretty low cost), and get a prisoner outfit at your local costume store to quickly transform into an escaped llama for work.
Is your office dressing up this year? What costume will you be sporting? Share with us in the comments section below.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2014 and has been updated for freshness and comprehensiveness.