Here it is, Halloween, and you suddenly decide it would be a good idea to go out collecting candy with your kids — in costume.

The stores are most likely picked over by now. And your closet is not exactly flush with extra Halloween costumes. There’s not much time until nightfall, so you better start moving, right?

Wrong. It might be better to stop.

And think.

Last-minute Halloween costumes — either for trick or treating or a costume party, for adults or for kids — are usually better and easier to pull off if you have a clever idea. You’re not likely to have all the items necessary to pull off a pirate outfit at the last minute. But you could easily make yourself and a friend into a pair of jeans, if you think about it.

And it will make others think, too.

Just ask Christina Razzi, who did this a few years ago while at college. Razzi and her friend Becca Verrilli put on jeans, blue shirts and name tags that said: “Hello: My Name is Jean.” Get it? A pair of jeans.

“It wasn’t the most glamorous costume, but it made people laugh,” said Razzi, director of institutional giving at the Portland Museum of Art. “And boy, was it cheap.”

Quick and cheap Halloween costumes usually come out best when they are based on a pun, a phrase or an object, instead of a person. Most store-bought Halloween costumes are based on a person — a witch, a princess, a vampire, a pirate. So you might want to stay away from that category when trying to make your own costume quick and on the cheap.

WHAT A GRAPE IDEA

Several Mainers who suggested ideas for this story mentioned a bunch of grapes as one of the easier, most eye-catching quick costumes. Run out to the corner store for some purple (or green) balloons. Cut a hole in a clear plastic garbage bag or leaf bag so you can wear it and your head will stick out. Attach the balloons to the bag, put the bag on, and tape it closed. You have now become a bunch of grapes.

Karen Gallati of Cumberland says her favorite homemade costume is a tea bag. She uses a large, clear plastic bag, and cuts holes for arms and the head. Put the bag on, fill it with dry autumn leaves, and close it with a belt. You can add a Tetley or Salada tag for a nice finishing touch.

Others talked about using equipment you might have — ice-climbing gear, an old football helmet, vintage military clothes — to become someone else for Halloween.

Tammie Turner of Cumberland says one of her favorites for both kids and adults is “man in wind.” Take pieces of things that regularly blow in the wind — newspaper, gum wrappers, etc. — and use a glue gun to glue them to the front of some pants. Then take a necktie and stick a wire coat hanger and bend it so that the tie is sticking out straight behind the person. Slick back the person’s hair, and you’ve got “man in the wind” or woman, or boy, or girl.

And then there are whole slews of easy costumes that are more about a play on words than about craft-making skills.

If you want to be black-eyed peas — either the food or the musical group — just take a washable black marker and draw two letter “P”s around your eyes, as suggested on the website of Family Fun magazine. (Familyfun.go.com). There are lots of other ideas on the website as well.

The website Halloween.com has some of the best word-play costume ideas, including:

Carry a hammer and a quarter with you, and you’ve become — a Quarter Pounder.

Dress in pink and carry a feather. Now you’re tickled pink.

Dress in all-black clothes and tie a shot glass around your neck to become a shot in the dark.

Strap a big couch cushion to the front of you and one to the back of you. Now you can call yourself “The lost TV remote.”

Hang a sign that says “Go Ceilings” around your neck and you’ve become a ceiling fan.

If none of the above ideas appeal to you, take a few minutes today before the trick or treating starts, put your creative/silly thinking cap on, and see if you can come up with a quick costume of your own.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]