The Minimum Effort Costume

What expression is this mask even making?Aw, man! Your friends are throwing another costume party? I’d say it’s time to get some new friends, but we both know that would take too much effort. The clock is ticking, and if you’re even twenty seconds late to that party, you know your friends are going to judge you. They’re punctuality fiends! It’s the end of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off all over again, except with a party! Also, there’s no Cameron, so maybe the metaphor doesn’t hold up – there’s no time for metaphors!

Don’t worry – I’m here to talk you through this. Costume parties don’t have to be a pain. In fact, with the least effort conceivable, you could have the costume no one everyone is talking about!


Alright, it’s crunch time. You have to leave for the party in five minutes, but it would take too much effort to grab more than one thing to bring with you for your costume. In fact, if your ‘costume’ barely qualifies as a meaningful costume to speak of, all the better! You want to wear something or carry some prop that says, “Yeah, I’m here for this thing. Stop trying to make me do stuff.” A true mantra for the disaffected.

Let’s look at some sample costume ideas and props. Try not to care too much – you don’t want people to mistake your lack of effort for something methodical.

- Masks: The simpler, the better. You may be tempted to save money by cutting eye holes in a paper bag, but do not be fooled by this thought – do you really want people to know you cared enough about this costume to pick up scissors? Of course not. Besides, unless your eye holes are at least somewhat carefully aligned with your actual eyes, you’ll probably end up bumping into things all night. Hilarious from an outside perspective – annoying in practice. People who don’t care about things don’t bump into things. Bumping into things is dangerously close to caring.
Sometimes you don't have to go the extra mile to be scary.
At any rate, a good idea for any mask is to party in costume as a non-specific serial killer who might have existed at some point, maybe – let’s discourage people from looking things up on their smartphones and assure them that maybe your costume is edgy. The important thing is, you didn’t have to try. Another good option is, “Children’s entertainer who doesn’t quite get what that’s about.”

- Clip-on Bow Tie: You’ve probably got one of these lying around somewhere. I mean, our parents all made us wear embarrassing things at one point or another growing up. You may as well take that youthful embarrassment and channel it into something more useful. Like a costume you didn’t spend more than thirty seconds thinking up. Your parents would be proud.
That sense of discomfort you get from looking at this? That's normal.
“Change the channel!” That’s what people will be thinking when you tell them you’re dressed as a political pundit! “I’m for that thing! Or maybe I’m against it! I bet Hitler’s involved in there somewhere! Possibly! Or maybe that’s just halfhearted hyperbole.” Alternatively, you could say you’re a naive life insurance salesman and start chatting people up about what they planned to leave their loved ones after that inevitable untimely accident. Maybe throw in a joke about how there’s no such thing as a ‘timely’ accident. You will rule the party.

- Plastic Pistols: Odds are, you’ve had one of these lying around since you were a kid. Who doesn’t love gun imagery with an uncomfortable passion? Besides, when you’re having heated arguments with your roomies, there’s no better way to make a point than mimicking shooting them with a toy pistol. Passive aggression is the new straightforward communication! And a plastic pistol makes a mean costume prop.
Yarr! I'd be here for yer booty if ye actually had any left to plunder.
Why not enter a party with a good, old-fashioned, “Oh hey, I’m Wall Street! Stick ‘em up! No, seriously, I might not make rent this month. Money please.” You’ll all have a good laugh, and also quietly acknowledge the pathos of the joke, in recalling the quite desperation many people now live with. Exactly what you were at a party to forget about – way to bring down the whole room. Low effort to the rescue! Another good costume idea is to say you’re a militia member, just waiting for “something to happen” so you can start shooting. That one should inspire just as much discomfort. Too cool to make an effort!

Remember that you’ve got to think abstract here. Challenge other people with your weird, vaguely-cleverly lazy costume, and make sure that nobody will ever be able to guess what you are at first glance. And if someone manages to somehow guess correctly, don’t be afraid to change costume themes immediately to ensure that no one is ever right. These are vital tenets of the Way of the Minimum Effort Costume.

Now that you’ve got the idea, get out there and party! Party like a person committed to making a staple remover look menacing. You can do this.

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