Not all of us can be Masters of Halloween. Not all of us have the skills to craft a flawless Clockwork Orange or Lumpy Space Princess outfit out of bedsheets and supplies from the craft shop, the funds to buy something spectacular from one of the multiple costume shops dotted around the city, or the wherewithal to order something off Taobao well in advance.
That's okay, fellow flounderers. Even though necessity is the mother of invention, we've done the leg-work for you and come up with some truly genius ideas and illustrated them, in true DIY maverick spirit, using Microsoft Paint.
If you've run out of time (or just can't be bothered) but still want to be an active participant in Halloween festivities, why not dress up as...
Your costume is going to be trash anyway, so you might as well embrace your role as a Halloween failure and take the literal route. Simply cut leg and arm holes in a black bin bag, reinforce them with tape, stuff it full of scrunched-up paper for volume and add another bag on top for structural integrity. There's bonus points available if you complete the illusion with a cute little knot, made from yet another bin bag and taped to a headband.
A bunch of grapes
Even if the balloons all burst over the course of the evening, the fact that this bunch 'o grapes outfit takes literally ten minutes to assemble means that any time spent out of breath and blowing up faux-fruit is time well spent. People who care could match the colour of their shirt to the colour of the balloon grapes, but we highly doubt that this applies to many of the Time Out readership who should all have better things to do.
This is the crappy costume that's ruined all other crappy costumes for us, as it's sheer improvised perfection. Who'd want to faff around with spandex bodysuits and questionably-licensed slutty variants on cartoon characters, when you can simply drape a sheet with eye-holes over your head and top with a bikini (or for the classy burlesque-inspired sexy ghost, your best lace underwear)?
The pumpkin dance
Hey, if this Canadian chap can pull it off on local television, you can too [VPN]! All you need is some black clothing, some kind of pumpkin mask to hide your shame from the world, and your spookiest, scariest dance moves.
To get the too-cool-for-School look so beloved in the hutongs, dress in an entirely-black outfit, preferably of the androgynous variety, and brush your hair into your eyes as if full peripheral vision is overrated. Extra credit is to be given to anyone who manages to dig a pair of improbably clumpy shoes out of their wardrobe and then manages to dance in them without breaking an ankle.
it's tricky to get decent Mexican food in Beijing, so why not satiate everybody's cravings with this bangin' burrito costume? Just wrap your whole body in tinfoil and bam! You look delicious!
You might not be able to get your aquatic, is-this-really-an-animal-what-is-life-godammit friend into many nightclubs, but that shouldn't stop you having the time of your life with this jellyfish umbrella. Wear blue (it's the sea, idiots) and stick dangling fronds of tissue paper, yarn, cellophane or sheer fabric onto the cheapest umbrella you can find. Jellyfish are see-through, duh, so one of those clear 10RMB numbers from outside a subway station will be perfect. Once you're bored of gluing stuff onto a brolly and calling it art, propel yourself into the night and try not to sting anyone.
Everybody loves IKEA! If you cut leg holes into one of their legendary blue bags, you can put the straps over your shoulders like overalls. The truly enterprising can then fill the bag with cushions, plastic plants and any other rubbish from IKEA that they can be bothered to drag around for the duration, or even perch a lampshade on their head for a jaunty finishing touch.
Dressing as an out-and-out goth is offensive: a subculture is for life, not just for Halloween. What isn't offensive is dressing up as Robert Smith, because Robert Smith has made millions out of looking vaguely dirty. See that red lipstick? Smear it all over the bottom half of your face. See that black eyeshadow? Rub it around your eyes, preferably ignoring all concepts of 'flattering shapes', 'blending' and 'eye sockets'. See your hair? Backcomb, backcomb, backcomb, until it looks like the sum-total of all your teenage dreams going down the pan.
To live your spider-life to the fullest, dig out two pairs of the most laddered tights you can find (or, if you're usually not of the tight-wearing persuasion, whine until a friend, girlfriend or annoyed acquaintance lends you some). Stuff 'em full of loo roll or newspaper, wear some black clothes – and if you misguidedly bought a furry gilet a few years back, now's the time for it to shine! – and attach your new arachnid legs! If you can be bothered, then draw on a spooky spider face with make-up (use your imagination, boys and girls) and use eyelash glue to attach googly eyes to your forehead.
Grab a copy of our October issue from one of the fine establishments you frequent, read it cover to cover, then rip out the staples and tape the pages to your on-brand physique. Welcome to the team, my friend.