25 Best & Creative Costume Contest Ideas

Whether Halloween, Christmas, a themed party, or a fun gathering with friends & family, costume contests add excitement and competition to any event. But coming up with new ideas every year can be challenging. Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered! Here are the 25 best and most creative costume contest ideas to make you stand out.

costume contest ideas

About: Costume Contest

A costume contest is always an exciting event for people of all ages. Whether it’s a movie festival, a comic con, or a simple Halloween party, costume contests are always a hit. People love dressing up as their favorite characters and showing off their costumes to win prizes.

Costume contests can be judged based on various factors, such as creativity, originality, effort, and how well the costume is executed. Some contests may also have specific themes or categories for participants to follow.

So, if you’re planning a costume contest or participating in one, these ideas discussed below will help you stand out and win the prize!

What Are the Best Costume Contest Categories?

Before we dive into the ideas, here are some popular costume contest categories that you can use as inspiration for your next event:

  • Best Overall Costume: This category is usually for the most creative and well-executed costume.
  • Funniest Costume: For those who love to make people laugh with their costumes.
  • Scariest Costume: Perfect for Halloween costume contest events.
  • Group Costume: Create a group costume theme for your friends or family.
  • Couple Costume: A classic category for couples who want to match their costumes.
  • Most Creative Use of Materials: For those who love to make their costumes and use unconventional materials. 
  • Adult Costume: This category is usually for adults, and the costumes can range from funny to scary.
  • Children’s Costume: A special category for kids to showcase their creativity and imagination.

25 Best & Creative Costume Contest Ideas

Let’s dive into the 25 best and most creative costume contest ideas that will make your next event memorable!

#1. Retro Futurism

Mixing retro and futuristic elements can create a unique and eye-catching costume. For example, you can dress up as a 1950s housewife with robotic limbs or a spaceman wearing a vintage leather jacket. Think metallic fabrics, neon colors, and space-age accessories to bring this idea to life.

#2. Disney Villains 

Everyone loves Disney, but why not switch things up and go as a Disney villain instead? Dressing up as characters like Maleficent, Ursula, or Scar will make you stand out from the usual princesses and heroes. Always remember, the darker and more dramatic, the better!

#3. Celebrity Couples 

Couples costumes are always fun, but dressing up as celebrity couples will surely make heads turn. Think Beyonce and Jay-Z, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, or even fictional couples like Gomez and Morticia Addams. It’s a great way to show off your love and creativity simultaneously.

#4. Emoji Costume

Emojis are a huge part of our modern communication, so why not turn them into costumes? You can either go as a classic smiley face or get creative with the more popular emojis like the poop emoji or the dancing lady. This idea is fun, simple, and perfect for those last-minute costume plans.

#5. Classic Horror Movie Characters 

If you are planning for something Halloween special, why not choose a classic horror movie character as your costume? Think Freddy Krueger, Jigsaw, Jason Voorhees, Pennywise, Leatherface, or even the iconic Ghostface from Scream. These characters never go out of style and will make an impact at any event.

For more Halloween costume ideas, check out the below video content.

#6. Food Costumes 

Dressing up as food is always a hit! You can go as a classic food item, like a slice of pizza, an ice cream cone, or a taco. Or you can get creative and make pun costumes like “cereal killer” or “deviled egg .”Also, bonus points if you match your costume with a friend and go as a food combination like peanut butter and jelly or milk and cookies.

#7. Historical Figures 

Pay homage to the great figures of history by dressing up as them for your costume contest. Think Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, or even Elvis Presley. This is a great opportunity to learn and educate others about these influential individuals.

#8. Mythical Creatures & Legends

Unleash your inner fantasy by dressing up as a mythical creature or legend. Think unicorns, dragons, mermaids, Bigfoot, or the Loch Ness Monster. In addition, you can also go for historical or cultural legends such as Medusa, King Arthur, or Robin Hood.

#9. Superheroes vs Villains 

Who doesn’t love a good superhero battle? Dressing up as iconic superheroes and villains is always a hit at costume contests. You can choose from the classics like Batman and The Joker or get creative and mix things up by going as Catwoman and Spiderman.

#10. TV Show Ensembles 

Is there a popular TV show that you and your friends love? Why not go as the characters for your costume contest? You can dress up as the whole ensemble from shows like Friends, Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, or The Office. It’s a great way to show off your love for your favorite TV shows and have fun with your friends.

#11. Eco-Friendly Outfits

Doing something sustainable & eco-friendly is always a plus. You can use recycled materials or thrift clothing to create a unique and environmentally friendly outfit for your costume. You can also choose an eco theme such as nature goddess, recycling superhero, or Mother Earth herself.

#12. Fairy Tale Characters

Who says fairy tales are just for kids? Dressing up as characters from classic tales like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, or Snow White will make you stand out in a sea of modern costumes. Plus, getting creative and adding your twist to these classic characters is a great idea.

#13. Space Explorers

Space exploration has always been exciting, so why not turn it into a costume idea? You can dress up as an astronaut, extraterrestrial being, or even a futuristic space traveler. Add cool sci-fi elements like LED lights, metallic fabrics, and holographic accessories to make your costume out of this world.

#14. Jungle Safari

Prepare to unleash your wild side by dressing up as a jungle safari explorer. Think Indiana Jones, Jane Goodall, or even Tarzan and Jane. For that extra jungle vibe, you can add fun animal print patterns, binoculars, and a pith helmet.

#15. Pop Culture Icons

Pop culture constantly evolves, so why not make it your costume inspiration? You can dress up as iconic figures from music, movies, or even memes. Think Lady Gaga, Marilyn Monroe, Beyonce’s Lemonade look, or the “distracted boyfriend” meme. The options are endless!

#16. Video Game Universe

If you’re a fan of video games, why not bring your favorite characters to life for your costume contest? You can choose from classic arcade games like Pac-Man and Mario or modern games like Fortnite and Overwatch. Plus, this is a great way to bond with fellow gamers at the event.

#17. Around the World

Get inspired by diverse cultures worldwide and create a unique ensemble for your costume contest! You could rock a flamenco dancer, a geisha, an Indian princess, or a Scottish Highlander. It’s a fantastic chance to delve into different cultures and traditions.

#18. Book Characters

Hey, bookworms, this one’s for you! Dressing up as characters from your favorite books is always a fun and creative idea. You can go as Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen, or the Grinch. It’s a great way to inspire others to read these amazing stories.

#19. Zodiac Signs

If you’re into astrology and horoscopes, why not use it to inspire your costume? You can interpret your zodiac sign creatively or dress up as the constellation. This unique and personalized idea will make you stand out at any event.

#20. Cosmic Aliens

Going beyond traditional alien costumes, you can take inspiration from the vast universe and create a cosmic alien outfit. Think metallic fabrics, glow-in-the-dark accessories, and futuristic elements to make your costume otherworldly. You can also incorporate neon colors or UV paint for an extra pop at night events. 

#21. Time Travelers

Step into a time machine and travel back in time with your costume. You can go as a 1920s flapper, a disco dancer from the 70s, or even an ancient Egyptian pharaoh. It’s a great way to pay homage to different eras of history and get creative with fashion. 

#22. Robots & Cyborgs

Embrace your inner sci-fi geek by dressing up as a robot or cyborg. You can use a classic metallic robot look or mix it with futuristic elements like circuit boards and LED lights. Also, this is a great opportunity to show off your crafting skills and create a one-of-a-kind costume. 

#23. Underwater Creatures

Take inspiration from the ocean and dress up as a mystical mermaid or a fierce shark. You can also choose to go as an underwater explorer or scientist, with scuba gear and a lab coat. This theme is perfect for those who love marine life and want to make a splash at their costume event. 

#24. Santa’s Helpers

Who says costumes are just for Halloween? Get festive and dress up as one of Santa’s helpers for your holiday party. You can go as an elf, a reindeer, or Mrs. Claus herself. This fun theme will spread Christmas cheer and get everyone in the holiday spirit.

#25. A New DIY Costume

Create your DIY costume if none of these ideas speak to you. You can combine elements from different themes or let your imagination run wild and create something unique. The possibilities are endless for DIY costumes, so have fun and get creative!

FAQs on Costume Contest Ideas

What is the best costume to win a costume contest?

Unique and creative costumes tend to do well in costume contests. Choose a theme that you’re passionate about, put your spin on it, and don’t be afraid to take risks. Also, consider factors like comfort and practicality when putting together your costume, as it can affect your performance during the contest. 

If there is a theme for the contest, you should incorporate it into your costume creatively. For example, if it’s a Halloween costume contest, you can wear spooky or scary costumes. If it’s a pop culture theme, you can dress up as your favorite celebrity or movie character.

How do you host a costume contest?

If you’re planning to host a costume contest, here are a few tips:

  1. Determine the rules and criteria for the contest, such as judging categories and prizes.
  2. Choose a theme for the contest or keep it open-ended.
  3. Promote the event through social media, word of mouth, or flyers.
  4. Gather necessary materials like scorecards and ballots for judging.
  5. Set up a designated area for contestants to showcase their costumes.
  6. Have judges or audience members vote on the winners.
  7. Announce and award prizes to the winners.
  8. Encourage participants to take photos and share them on social media with event hashtags.

Can I host a costume contest virtually?

Sure, you can host a virtual costume contest using video conferencing platforms like Zoom or by setting up online polls for voting. Encourage participants to dress up, show off their costumes during the call, and have judges or audience members vote on the winners.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are great options for organizing costume contests online. Create a dedicated event page or use hashtags to gather submissions and let the community vote for their favorites. Make sure to also announce the winners and award prizes through the same platform. 

Can I host a costume contest party at the office?

Yes, a costume contest party at the office can be a fun and creative way to celebrate holidays like Halloween or Christmas. Just make sure to check with your HR department beforehand to see if there are any guidelines or restrictions regarding dress code and themes. Also, ensure that the event is inclusive and respectful of all cultures and backgrounds.

What prize can I offer for a costume contest? 

The prize for a costume contest can vary depending on the budget and the scale of the event. Some ideas include gift cards, themed merchandise, movie or concert tickets, or trophies. 

You could also get creative and offer personalized items like custom-made costumes or accessories. Remember to keep the prizes aligned with your theme to make it more exciting for participants. 

Read also: Prize ideas for Halloween costume contest

What are the ideas for judging a costume contest?

When it is time to judge the costume contest, here are some criteria you can use: creativity and originality, attention to detail, how well the costume fits the theme or character, overall appearance and presentation, and audience reaction. 

Sometimes, the judging criteria will vary regarding the context. For instance, scariness and spookiness can be added to the criteria when judging Halloween costumes. In the case of a cosplay contest, the accuracy of the original character design may also be considered.

You can also have specific categories like “best group costume” or “most innovative use of materials.” 

Can I wear a store-bought costume for the contest?

It depends on the rules of the specific contest. Some contests may restrict store-bought costumes, while others may allow them if they are well-made and fit the theme. However, creating your DIY costume can give you an advantage in originality and creativity. So why not challenge yourself and make your unique costume? 

How do you win a costume contest?

If you are a participant in a costume contest, I have some tips for you: 

  • Put effort and creativity into your costume.
  • Pay attention to detail; even the smallest ones can make a difference.
  • Incorporate the theme of the contest in a unique way.
  • Have fun and stay in character during the event.
  • Interact with other participants and engage the audience.
  • Be confident and own your costume.
  • Buy contest votes for virtual costume contest.


Now, you have a detailed list of unique costume ideas for your next event. Whether you want to channel your inner pop culture icon or explore a new theme, these ideas will make you stand out and have a great time with friends.

Julia Nancy
Julia Nancy

I have vast experience arranging online voting contests for hundreds of clients worldwide in the last 8 years. I also helped countless clients to win their online competitions. Here, on royalvotes.com, I am just sharing knowledge from my experiences. If you need any help regarding the online contest, email me at julia@royalvotes.com