Along with my considerable skill as a rapping arm-wrestler and a surfing ventriloquist, I also happen to be a master of disguise. Not many people know that about me, but in the high-stakes world of brothel infiltration, it’s better that way. Give me some basic supplies and I can change into a believable yuppie or redneck faster than you can say “gentrification.” And that’s only five syllables.

This amazing ability isn’t something I was born with; I had to practice diligently. Showing up for class as an Eskimo was an occasional treat, and my little league coach would look the other way when his starting shortstop was suddenly a Hell’s Angel. But there was only one time of year where I could really apply myself: Halloween.

Halloween was, is, and forever shall be my favorite holiday. I have a hunch that this is a pretty common thing among Jews; Christmas is mostly a time of jealousy and boredom, Easter is an incomprehensible set of mixed signals (so, chocolate bunnies represent the body of Christ?), and though we like to pretend otherwise, our corresponding holidays don’t stack up, fun-wise. But Halloween is an event that’s open to all. And the really religious Jews already have a neat costume set to go.

Needless to say, candy and snacks are a large part of what made Halloween so awesome. Kids are incredibly materialistic. Accordingly, the easy acquisition of an enormous candy hoard is quite significant. I can remember wheeling and dealing, trying to unload tooth-splintering caramels and other crap for the gold bullion of Halloween fare: miniature candy bars.

Trick or treating had to be precise in its efficiency. Candy was so important that smart kids would try to hit generous houses a few times by altering their costumes on the fly. More on that later. And every neighborhood had some asshole, probably a dentist, who would give out toothbrushes every year. Those altruistic fuckers usually spent November 1 cleaning egg off their properties.

If you’re under the age of 8, I know this is going to be hard to accept, but the importance of candy fades. Once you get older, you can buy all the miniature candy bars your heart desires. Unless, of course, your major was something like philosophy, or journalism. If that’s the case, trick or treat as long as possible in order to scavenge whatever nutrition you can. Some candy bars even contain peanuts, a source of valuable protein for homeless people such as yourselves.

The good news is, even though candy’s not as important, Halloween is still pretty kickass as an adult. Take candy out of the equation and what are you left with? Well, there’s a lot of supposedly scary crap, but if there were any goth kids at your high school, you’re probably already immune to Satanic imagery and Dracula bites. What I’m saying is, the best part of Halloween is the costumes.

As you get older, Halloween parties/bar crawls replace trick or treating, and booze becomes the new candy. But you still have to earn it by means of a creative costume. I’ve compiled everything you need to know about your options.

Traditional Halloween Costumes

Even though Halloween has moved away from the spooky aspect, some costumes will never go out of style. Witch/vampire costumes and accessories can be bought just about anywhere. There’s not much to say about this category and let’s be honest: if you’re actually going to a party as a damn ghost with a sheet over your head and two holes cut out for eyes, you need to work on your creativity.

These should be used as last resorts only. As Adam Sandler once pointed out, anything can be a costume. Glue a protractor to your face and go as “Crazy Protractor Beard.” The possibilities are endless. But if you must go the traditional route, don’t expect to turn any heads, and remember, some members of the Wiccan faith will feel that these costumes are offensive to real witches for promoting stereotypical caricatures. So if you meet a Wiccan, punch them in the throat and steal their magic cauldron before they have a chance to send the flying monkeys after you.

Recommended for: Kids who don’t know any better; slow-witted adults who remembered it’s Halloween at the last minute.

Ironic Halloween Costumes

Since it’s a time to let loose, some people dress up in a manner that really contradicts their character. Nine times out of ten, this boils down to some guy dressing in drag. Under the safely ironic context of a sexy Halloween costume, tough guys can be as frilly as they’ve always wanted. They should be regarded with extreme suspicion at all times. This also includes 300-pound guys dressed as babies.

For women, a good ironic choice is the prostitute. However, it only counts as ironic if your reputation is more or less untainted. Otherwise, partygoers who know you might ask why you didn’t make an effort for Halloween. Ironic costumes work best when taken to extremes.

Recommended for: “Good” girls who are just a few drinks and a little Ecstasy short of turning a corner.

Adaptable Halloween Costumes

As mentioned earlier, having a costume that is actually four costumes can result in greater candy accumulation. If you have a bed sheet, you have the makings of a ghost, a superhero cape, a Roman toga, and a Sheik headdress.

The benefits of an adaptable costume are applicable to adults as well. If Halloween is a chance to show off your wit and creativity, then you get to be twice as obnoxious. The key is the accessories you bring with you. If you’re wearing a Viking helmet, bring along a battle-axe for starters. Later, find a bathroom and slip on an oversize clock necklace, and suddenly you’re Flava Flav!

Recommended for: Kids who are serious about their candy, people who plan to steal candy and need an alibi.

Lazy Halloween Costumes

Some folks just can’t be bothered to make any kind of effort whatsoever. These people will ransack their closets, looking for any kind of outfit they own which will technically fulfill the definition of a costume. For example, a dark suit and sunglasses will allow you to be an agent from The Matrix or possibly, Men in Black. Or for the really unimaginative, “Executive on a sunny day.”

Naturally, these “costumes” are not very impressive, but the people wearing them realize it and don’t care. They’ll probably have the most success with women at a given Halloween party, because most girls don’t want to make out with some guy wearing three pounds of makeup, or dressed like Leatherface.

Recommended for: Lazy fucks, obviously.

Morbid/Offensive Halloween Costumes

Some of the best, funniest costumes are ones that blur the lines of good taste. Here, originality is the key. A Hitler costume would have been an edgy idea before it was featured in a Halloween episode of South Park. But you get the general idea. Last year, I met a couple dressed up as a Catholic priest and a sexy young boy. It worked on so many different levels.

In a world where the Wayans Brothers make movies about baby-impersonating midgets, bad taste has a very short shelf life. Concepts simply become less offensive over time. I’ll probably see three or four Osama Bin Laden costumes this year, but back in 2001, that would have been a gutsy call. This year I know a delightful couple going as “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin and a manta ray. If you’re single, a baseball uniform and some zombie makeup comprises an instant Cory Lidle costume.

Recommended for: Political types, karate experts looking to practice in real world situations.

Punny Halloween Costumes

Every party gets someone who shows up in a seemingly inexplicable costume. He’ll be wearing something weird, like a brown sweater with some yellow leaves taped to it. After enduring some good-natured ribbing and some inaccurate guesses (“So, you’re a tree?”) he’ll ultimately reveal the meaning of his pun-based idea: he’s the Fall Guy. Cue groaning. If you come to a party wearing fake wings and carrying a martini glass and call yourself a “Bar Fly,” you almost certainly deserve a beating from a dozen guys dressed like the Fonz.

The punny costume was first popularized by fictional character Ross Geller, of Friends fame, when he came to a Halloween party dressed in some kind of brown bodysuit with tinfoil antennae. His concept? Spudnik. You see, pun-based costumes are, at best, hit-or-miss. Our own Mike Faerber tells of a Halloween where he went as a Douche Bag: a big plastic bag with a huge letter D on it… motherfucking hit.

Recommended for: Social misfits, professional joke writers.

Collaborative Halloween Costumes

Many great costumes are more than the sum of their parts. To really blow people’s minds, you need to approach costumes from a team perspective. In the past there wasn’t much choice: either the front end or the back end of the horse, and there’s not much to recommend the back end, believe me. Nowadays, creative couples have many choices. Some (e.g. Ketchup & Mustard bottles, Plug & Socket) are too cute by half. It’s better to be a little more thought provoking, like a slightly geeky couple I know who went as the Grim Reaper and a red-shirted Star Trek ensign.

Even if it’s just you and your buddies, you can still put in a collaborative effort. At one bar’s yearly Halloween bash, the best reaction was given to three friends dressed like the characters from Degrassi (which, in Toronto, made them instantly recognizable). Zit Remedy Rules!

Recommended for: Co-dependent couples, people who want to win prizes.

Slutty Halloween Costumes

We all knew this category was coming. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as the true meaning of Halloween, but if so, it’s surely girls wearing slutty, revealing costumes. What other time of year can you be in the same room as a nurse, a French maid, and Wonder Woman. And if you can make it out of that room without throwing your spunk around like Multiple Miggs, you have more self-discipline than I do.

The great thing is, just about any costume can qualify for this category. A little cleavage can change a zombie costume into “zombie slut,” or possibly “slutty zombie.” All women pirates, devils, or Catwomans are sexy by default. And if your girl’s going as a hobo or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, there’s no reason why a pair of crotchless panties can’t be incorporated.

Recommended for: Women, and really, everybody.

Essential New Word of the Week:

lickbo [‘lIkbo] n

No doot aboot it, Canada is a great place to live. Free healthcare, little crime, and gay marriage for all! But there’s a downside that our Yankee cousins probably don’t see. Whereas you can buy booze in any convenience store, supermarket, or flower shop you come across, we don’t have that kind of luxury. Here in Ontario, we have to visit special, government-run stores in order to buy hooch. It’s not very convenient, and they tax the hell out of us just for good measure.

These nameless stores are run by some shadowy entity called the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. As such, signs on these stores read “LCBO.” Since it’s far too difficult for alcohol enthusiasts to remember four separate letters, enterprising young acronym-crafters came up with “lickbo.” Say it fast enough and it sounds like “licks balls”—and I can assure you that the LCBO most certainly does. I look forward to the day I can buy beer in a vending machine, like God intended.