How to Win Halloween Costume Contests

When Halloween rolls around, it brings the opportunity to win prizes from costume contests, whether they be online contests, competitions hosted by local businesses and restaurants, or even parties with friends. If you'd like to win prizes this year, follow these five easy steps to learn how to win Halloween costume contests.

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Read the Rules Carefully

Children wearing fancy dress
Zing Images / Getty Images

When you find a costume contest you want to enter, your first instinct might be to start brainstorming ideas right away. But hold on a minute; before you start thinking about costumes and props, read through the contest's rules thoroughly. Maybe even more than once.

It doesn't matter how great your Halloween costume is if you get disqualified on a technicality. So before you do anything else, jot down the guidelines for entry, the goal of the contest, the end date, and other pertinent details to make sure that your entry qualifies.

While you're at it, also think about the costume contest's sponsor. You might get a leg-up on the competition if your contest entry ties into the right theme.

For example, if it's a costume contest at a friend's party, think about in-jokes or things that the group has in common. If the sponsor is a big corporation, think about a costume that uses the company's products as a prop.

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Come Up with a Great Halloween Costume

Boy (6-8) wearing robot costume
Tony Hopewell / Getty Images

You're not going to win a Halloween costume contest with the same costume everyone else is wearing. Pick an idea that's unique, original, and reflects your personality or the brand of the contest's sponsor.

Cute or funny costumes have an advantage over costumes that are gruesome (unless the contest is calling for something scary) since people tend to have a positive feeling toward them. Avoid the standard fare, like witches and vampires, and current costume trends — unless you can add a unique twist.

Also, consider using props along with the costume. Done well, this makes your costume more unique and eye-catching. This is particularly effective if you are submitting a photo of your costume for consideration.

If you're looking for some inspiration for original Halloween costumes, Pinterest has over 1,000 images to browse through. You can also pull inspiration from stories in the news, popular movies, or wordplay.

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Use Personality to Make Your Halloween Costume Contest Entry Stand Out

Girl dressed as a superhero
Elizabethsalleebauer / Getty Images

Whether you're entering a Halloween costume contest online with a photo or video or you're standing before the judges in a local costume contest, one sure-fire way to stand out from the competition is to really play up your role.

Coming up with a little background for a character that matches your costume might help you bring some personality to your costume. Don't be just "an angel" or "a superhero." Come up with a name, consider what would be important to your character, and bring that personality onto the stage or into the photo or video you take.

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Take a Great Halloween Costume Photo

Person Taking a Halloween Costume Contest Photo
Image (c) Rob Melnychuk / Getty Images

Many costume contests, especially those that take place online, judge your costume via a photo. Even if you have a unique Halloween costume idea and have made it stand out with your personality, you need to take a prize-winning photograph to have a chance to win.

Judges will be looking at hundreds of photographs, so yours needs to be able to stand out from the crowd. 

Use good lighting to highlight the subject's expression as well as the costume details. Also, try some unique camera angles so that you won't just be another person staring straight into the camera.

For even more tips, adapt this advice on taking great Instagram outfit photos for your costume.

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Build Enthusiasm for Your Halloween Costume Contest Entry

Image of Hands Raised
Image (c) Thomas Northcut / Getty Images

At this point, you've created a unique and fantastic Halloween costume. You've come up with a way to set it apart from the crowd, and you've taken a fantastic picture to submit to the contest. Is there anything else you can do to help you win your Halloween costume contest?

For many contests, there is a final step: gathering votes for your entry.

If an in-person costume contest asks for input from the crowd, make sure you work the room, talking to people and letting them get to know you and see your costume.

When it comes to getting votes for online contests, you have many options. Before you pick one, make sure you check the rules to see if there are any restrictions regarding how you can go about getting votes.

Once you've cleared what you can do, lobby your family and friends, join a Facebook voting group, or make a little promo video and post it on YouTube.

If it's not prohibited, you can join vote exchange forums and sweepstakes communities. For a bigger or more interesting prize, you can even see if your local news station might be interested in a human interest piece about your contest entry. You can even take out Facebook ads to spread the word about your entry.

By following these tips, you can boost your odds of walking away with a prize for your costume... and you can have a lot of fun doing it!