How to Host an Online Costume Contest: 9 Easy Steps

The costume contest is a fun activity for people of all ages. It’s a great way to showcase creativity, laugh, and win prizes. With the rise of virtual events, hosting an online costume contest has become more popular. It allows everyone to participate from the comfort of their homes and eliminates the need for physical gatherings.

If you’re thinking about hosting an online costume contest but are unsure where to start, this blog is for you. In this blog, I will tell you nine easy steps to host an online costume contest that will be fun and engaging for all participants.

Online Costume Contest

Can You Run a Costume Contest Online?

Yes. You can run a costume contest online, which can be as exciting and enjoyable as an in-person event. To host an online costume contest, you can use various technology platforms and social media tools that enable video conferencing and online voting. 

Participants can dress up in costumes and showcase their creativity via live video or pre-recorded submissions. With the right planning and organization, an online costume contest can reach a wider audience, as geographic limitations do not restrict it. 

Notably, it offers the advantage of safety and comfort as participants can join from their homes. This format encourages creativity, as participants can use their home environment to enhance their costumes or presentations. 

How to Host an Online Costume Contest: 9 Easy Steps

Let’s dive into the nine easy steps for hosting an online costume contest:

#1. Choose the Platform:

Choosing the right platform is the first and one of the most crucial steps in hosting a successful online costume contest. The chosen platform should allow participants to showcase their costumes effectively while enabling interaction, voting, and easy navigation for all attendees.

Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams stand out for video conferencing among the numerous online platforms available due to their stability, ease of use, and widespread adoption. These platforms allow real-time interaction and enable participants to present their costumes live.

For pre-recorded submissions, platforms like YouTube or Vimeo can be quite effective. Participants can upload their costume presentation videos to share with all attendees.

Regarding voting, interactive platforms like Slido or Poll Everywhere can be integrated into the video conference. Alternatively, social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram can be employed. Here, reactions or likes can serve as votes, making it a familiar and straightforward process for voters.

Don’t forget to consider a platform’s technical requirements. You must consider the platform’s cost and capacity to accommodate your expected number of participants. Ensure that your platform is accessible and user-friendly for your attendees, offering a seamless experience from start to finish.

#2. Select the Theme:

Selecting a theme for your online costume contest adds cohesion and enhances the fun factor. Providing participants with a specific theme can foster creativity and make the competition more engaging. 

There are countless theme options to choose from. Consider selecting a decade like the ’80s or ’90s, a genre such as superheroes or fairy tale characters, or even something more abstract like ‘the future’ or ‘past.’ A classic ‘Halloween Horror’ theme never fails to impress in the Halloween season.

Read also: Categories for Halloween costume contest

When choosing a theme, consider the diversity of your expected participants. Aim for an inclusive theme that appeals to a wide range of ages, cultures, and interests. Remember, your ultimate goal is to encourage maximum participation and enjoyment. Be sure to announce the theme well in advance to allow participants enough time to create or find their costumes. 

The theme you choose sets the tone for your contest and can even influence the design of your promotional materials, event structure, and the type of entertainment you provide during breaks between costume presentations. 

Read also: 25 Best & Creative Costume Contest Ideas

#3. Set the Date and Time: 

Picking the right date and time for your online costume contest is important. You want to choose a day and time that works well for most of your expected participants. Remember things like time zones, work schedules, school holidays, and other events that might clash with your chosen date. 

Since hosting an online event lets you reach a wider audience from different locations, finding a date and time that suits everyone can be tricky. But try to go for a convenient day and time for most of your participants. 

Also, don’t forget to think about how long your event should be. Depending on the number of participants and costume presentations, you might need to allocate more or less time for your online contest. Just make sure it’s not too long or too short ’cause that can affect how engaged and entertained participants and attendees will be.

#4. Create Rules and Guidelines:

Creating clear rules and guidelines is vital to ensure a smooth and fair competition. Here are some basic rules and guidelines you might consider for your online costume contest:

  • Eligibility: Detail who can participate in the contest. For instance, “The contest is open to all residents of X city, aged 18 years and over.”
  • Submission Format: Specify the format in which the costumes should be presented. For example, “Participants must send a 1-minute video showcasing their costume, or present it live during the event.”
  • Theme Adherence: Stress the importance of staying true to the theme. For example, “Costumes should align with the chosen theme of ’80s Pop Culture’ – think big hair, bright colours, and iconic personalities!”
  • Originality: Encourage creativity and originality. “Costumes should be original and creatively express the participant’s interpretation of the theme.”
  • Participation Deadline: Mention the deadline for registering or submitting entries. “Entries will be accepted until 11:59 PM, one week before the event date.”
  • Behavior: Highlight the importance of respectful and appropriate behaviour. “All participants must respect each other’s efforts and maintain a positive environment throughout the contest.”
  • Voting: Explain how the voting process will work. “Winner will be decided through a combination of audience votes (via likes on Facebook) and judges’ scores.”

#5. Promote and Publicize: 

To attract many participants and attendees, you need to promote and publicize your online costume contest effectively. Some simple yet effective ways to reach out to potential participants include:

  • Social Media: Use social media platforms to create buzz around your event. Share enticing graphics, theme hints, and sneak peeks of the prizes. Encourage people to share the event with their friends and followers.
  • Email Marketing: Send personalized emails to your network, inviting them to participate or attend. Consider creating a catchy subject line and including all the necessary details and links in the body of the email. 
  • Collaboration: Collaborate partners with local businesses or organizations that cater to your target audience. They can help you promote your event to their followers or even sponsor prizes.
  • Influencers: Reach out to social media influencers who align with your target audience and ask them to promote your event in exchange for a free entry or prize. 
  • Online Ads: Consider investing in targeted online ads to reach a larger audience. You can choose from various platforms like Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, or Instagram Ads. 

#6. Judge the Contest:

Choosing the right judging method for your online costume contest significantly impacts success. You’ll need to consider how you’ll select the judges and how they will deliberate the winners. 

Selecting the Judges:

Consider inviting local celebrities, influencers, or professionals related to your theme. For instance, if your theme is ’80s Pop Culture,’ you could invite a local radio host specializing in ’80s music. Including well-known judges can also help attract more participants and viewers.

Judging Criteria:

Establish clear and specific judging criteria. This could include factors such as:

  • Originality: How unique and creative is the costume? An example of this might be a participant who doesn’t just dress as Madonna from the ’80s but specifically recreates her ‘Like a Virgin’ music video look, complete with the white lace dress and the iconic ‘Boy Toy’ belt.
  • Theme Adherence: How well does the costume align with the theme? For instance, a participant dressed as Prince from the ’80s, complete with his purple raincoat, would score highly for theme adherence.
  • Effort: How much time and thought have been put into the costume? For instance, a participant who hand-makes their Keith Haring-inspired ’80s outfit could score high for effort.
  • Presentation: How is the costume presented during the contest? Someone who incorporates ’80s dance moves or music into their presentation could score extra points.

Deciding the Winners:

You could have different categories for winners to make the contest more inclusive. For example, ‘Best Overall Costume,’ ‘Best Theme Adherence,’ ‘Best DIY Costume,’ etc. The judges could deliberate and decide the winners, or you could combine judges’ scores with audience votes for a more engaging contest. 

#7. Announce the Winner’s Name

Announcing the winners is the climax of your online costume contest and should be handled with excitement and anticipation. This moment should be grand and special for the winner, all the participants, and the audience. You could have a live stream for the announcement, creating a buildup to the revelation with some drumroll music or a countdown! 

Ensure to communicate the criteria by which the winners were selected, reinforcing the fairness and transparency of the contest. While announcing, highlight the unique aspects of the winning costume, appreciating the effort, creativity, and originality displayed by the winner. 

Also, if there are any runner-ups or special mentions, recognize their efforts. 

#8. Distribute the Prizes:

The distribution of prizes is an important aspect of your online costume contest, as it provides a sense of achievement to the winners and encourages participation in future events. 

  • Physical Prizes: If the reward is a physical item such as a trophy, merchandise, or gift basket, arrange for a safe and timely delivery to the winner’s address. Consider partnering with a reliable courier service to ensure the prize reaches the winner in good condition. 
  • Digital Prizes: If the prize is digital, such as an e-gift card, online subscription, or digital download, ensure it is sent to the winner’s email address promptly after the announcement. Be sure to follow up to confirm receipt. 
  • Public Recognition: Besides tangible prizes, publicly recognizing the winners can be a rewarding experience. Share a post on your social media platforms celebrating the winners with their permission. This acknowledges their efforts and serves as a promotion for future events.

Read also: 30 Best Costume Contest Prize Ideas

#9. Follow Up:

A follow-up after your online costume contest is essential to maintaining engagement with your participants and audience. It helps to create a sense of community and sets the stage for future events. 

  • Thank You Emails: Send personalized follow-up emails to all attendees and participants acknowledging their support and participation. Include a few highlights from the event and a link to a photo gallery or video if available.
  • Feedback Survey: A feedback survey can provide valuable insights into what worked well and what could be improved for future events. This could include questions about registration, theme selection, judging criteria, prize distribution, and overall event enjoyment.
  • Social Media: Share photos, videos, and memorable moments from the event on your social media platforms. Encourage attendees and participants to share their photos and experiences using a specific hashtag. This helps keep the buzz around your event alive and serves as a promotion for future events.
  • Announcing Future Events: If you have any upcoming events, now is a good time to announce them. Provide details about the next event or a timeline of when more information will be available. This ensures the momentum gained from the costume contest is carried forward.

Remember, a successful event doesn’t end when the last prize is distributed. It’s about building and nurturing relationships with your audience for long-term engagement.

You may check out the video below. Here you will see how a youtuber host an online costume contest on Omegle.

Why Run an Online Costume Contest?

Running an online costume contest offers many benefits and opportunities for both organizers and participants. For organizations, engaging with their audience, creating brand awareness, and fostering community spirit is an excellent method. It encourages creativity and boosts social media engagement, as participants often share their costume ideas and contest experiences on various platforms, leading to wider visibility and promotion.

For participants, it serves as an outlet for self-expression and creativity. They can showcase their artistic skills and passion for various themes and characters. Additionally, it fosters a sense of community as they interact with fellow participants and share their interests. The competitive nature of the contest also adds an element of excitement and anticipation.

Moreover, the digital nature of the contest allows for wider participation, as people from different geographical locations can join the fun without any logistical constraints. This opens up a broader audience base for the organizers and a diverse array of participants, making the event more inclusive and global. 

Finally, the contest can also serve as a fundraising opportunity if tied with a charity or cause, making it fun and meaningful.

Final Words

Hosting an online costume contest can be fun and engaging to bring people together, showcase creativity, and build a sense of community. With careful planning and organization, you can create a memorable event that leaves a lasting impact on your participants and audience. 

From selecting the theme to announcing the winners, every step is important in ensuring a successful event. So don’t be afraid to get creative, think outside the box, and, most importantly, have fun!  

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, I am just sharing knowledge from my experiences. If you need any help regarding the online contest, email me at