Party theme with cheap and easy costumes
November 6, 2008 12:51 PM   Subscribe

I need ideas for a "theme" party that will allow 500 - 1000 people to dress is costume (if they desire), and the costumes should be easy and/or cheap.

Costumes will not be required to attend but they are encouraged, so it would be nice if they were things that could easily be put together in a thrift store. Past party examples include "prom" and "superhero". I'd love to get some party ideas beyond just the costumes, as well (ex: prom photos, etc)
posted by monkeystronghold to Grab Bag (26 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Toga party.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:57 PM on November 6, 2008

70's Theme. Very easy to dress for that.. even people not apt to dress up can put a 70s theme outfit together pretty easily, usually with what they already have.
posted by MattScully at 1:05 PM on November 6, 2008

toga party with groucho glasses
posted by timsteil at 1:09 PM on November 6, 2008

Vampire Disco.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:11 PM on November 6, 2008

"Western" or "Cowboy" - some jeans, boots and a bandanna; maybe a hat, but you can still look the part without one; say "pardner" a lot
posted by SuperSquirrel at 1:12 PM on November 6, 2008

"Ugly tie" theme.

Everyone shows up wearing an ugly tie, and laughs at each other's ugly tie.
posted by Wild_Eep at 1:16 PM on November 6, 2008

I'm not sure if it work with 1000 people (maybe it would be better?), but a Rubik's Cube party - you come wearing all different colors and swap clothes until you are wearing a single color.
posted by milkrate at 1:17 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Dress as your favorite nude pilgrim.
posted by rhizome at 1:18 PM on November 6, 2008

Come as your favorite stereotype.
posted by General Malaise at 1:25 PM on November 6, 2008

"Taste the Rainbow" party - everyone dresses up in a single color.
posted by kidsleepy at 1:26 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'll second Ugly Tie theme.. I've actually been to one.. it was a party for my Dad.. the king of the Ugly Ties.. it was a surprise party and everyone wore one of his ties (supplied by his wife).

At first.. he didn't even notice! He later told me that before he realized what was going on, he actually thought to himself.. "Man, who would wear such horrible ties!"

Ooops. Good times!
posted by MattScully at 1:29 PM on November 6, 2008

Pick a color.
posted by violetk at 1:33 PM on November 6, 2008

My brother threw a "If It Ain't Neon, I Can't Be On" party that people seemed to love for the odd hilarity of it. The idea being, you have to dress in neon colors, so everyone hits the thrift stores and looks ridiculous. I think that was a great idea. They bought some neon construction paper and poster board to make hats and belts for people who didn't dress in neon colors.
posted by Science! at 1:40 PM on November 6, 2008

Any decade theme will work wonderfully and should give you ample fodder for party activities, decorations, and music. 70s, 80s, and 90s are probably your best bets.

In a similar vein: Y2K/Party Like It's 1999! I'm not exactly sure how the costumes would play out - maybe everyone dresses like a Backstreet Boy? - but at midnight you can cut off the power and hand everyone bottled water.

Space is always a good theme.

An all-nerd costume party would be awesome. Actually, a high-school stereotype party in general would be great (dress as a jock, prep, nerd, goth, stoner, cheerleader, etc, etc).

Or maybe a "When I Grow Up" theme, where everyone dresses like their ideal careers when they were kids. Lots of ballerina astronauts!

And I'm a huge fan of incorporating technicolor wigs/glitter/wacky makeup whenever possible, so I like some of the color suggestions. Perhaps a Harajuku theme?
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:43 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

The best themes of this kind
1. Allow for variable levels of participation (ie basic costumes and really elaborate ones both work equally well within the theme).
2. Compel some kind of ingenuity
3. Allow for variations in individual taste - if someone really doesn't like, say, tutus, they shouldn't have to wear a tutu to have a good costume.
5. Allow for 'icebreaker' costumes, which complete strangers can start conversations about.
4. Allow for similarly-themed food and music.

Generally good on all these points are letter parties ("Dress as something beginning with K"). For some reason the ones I've attended/heard of have all been "B" parties, so maybe that's an extra good letter, but any letter will do. And it can be fun watching the guests realise that it's no coincidence that they're eating bacon bits, beetroot and blancmange while listening to Bon Jovi.

Metaphor parties also tick many of these boxes, but they can skew towards the over-elaborate. I've heard of good parties based on the evocative names of London Underground stops; there must be some American equivalent.

Bad taste parties can be good for charity shop shopping. They comply with requirement 3 in a pleasingly paradoxical way, but are less good on 4.

Masked balls are very strong on the first criterion.
posted by Acheman at 2:29 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have always wanted to have a Where's Waldo party... Encourage people to dress not as Waldo himself, but as all of the people that live in his little Waldo World and camouflage him. Just a variation of Red and while striped clothing with various accessories and the like... I think if you had creative friends it could be really funny.
posted by veronicacorningstone at 2:35 PM on November 6, 2008

Friends have had good success with the following:
- Wigs and Hats party
- "Fancy Pants" party - your pants have to be somehow fancy
- Pirate party (lazy folks can don an eye patch, crazy folks can go all out with the Jack Sparrow)
- Oktobervest! You just missed it for this year, unfortunately. It's like Oktoberfest, but everyone has to wear a vest to get in. The uglier the better.
posted by vytae at 2:36 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

A WTF party.

Basically, you wear a non-coherent array of items such that when someone looks at you, they go "WTF?"

Example: genie pants + inner tube + beanie + picture of President Taft pinned to your shirt + cowboy boots.

Could make for some interesting snacks/drink options, too.
posted by landedjentry at 2:48 PM on November 6, 2008

posted by Neofelis at 3:03 PM on November 6, 2008

Ooh! Building on landedjentry's idea: a "cleaning out the closet" or "garage sale" party. Wear whatever bizarre combination of weirdness you want, as long as it's something you already own. Guests could also bring weird stuff they want to get rid of for a white elephant exchange. (My extended family plays White Elephant Bingo at parties; also fun.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:07 PM on November 6, 2008

i once went to a "wig" party - it was pretty fun - i wore dreads
posted by mrmarley at 3:24 PM on November 6, 2008

Zombie parties can be good, especially if makeup is supplied for those who forget/don't have makeup. Then you can go as zombie anything. Zombie cowboy. Zombie JFK. Zombie ______.
posted by craven_morhead at 3:57 PM on November 6, 2008

A mustache party always seems to be a hit back in ye olde college days. Encourage the less hirsute to bring fakes, and offer a nice washable marker 'stache at the door for those guys and gals that don't bring their own.
posted by Jezztek at 4:19 PM on November 6, 2008



Pirates vs ninjas.
posted by mismatched at 6:01 PM on November 6, 2008

Tell everyone to dress like they did in high school. You usually get different decades & groups represented and it leads to everyone telling fun stories about high school.
posted by amarynth at 6:41 PM on November 6, 2008

No force on earth can stop the awesome power of 1000 santas.

Santacon !Santacon ! Santacon
posted by lalochezia at 9:28 AM on November 7, 2008

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