2016 Halloween Trends: Games, Girl Power, and Rocking the Vote

Iva-Marie Palmer

Save the traditions for Thanksgiving and Christmas: Halloween is all about channeling the zeitgeist. But how does one dress as the zeitgeist? (Which, by the way, is not a new character on American Horror Story.)

Suicide Squad costumes from Spirit Halloween store

Halloween 2016 looks to be rife with of-the-moment costumes, thanks, in part, to a contentious election (that, as of Oct. 31, will still have us in suspense for eight scary days), the super-popular game Pokémon Go!, and the celebrated musical genius of the late Prince and David Bowie. Two tough women carrying baseball bats (Suicide Squad's Harley Quinn and Béyonce in "Hold Up" from Lemonade) are going to have mass appeal, as well.  This year also saw some visually awesome flicks, like Suicide Squad and the return to the big screen of Star Wars (which, let's face it, always inspires trick-or-treaters.)

According to Steven Silverstein, president and CEO of Spirit Halloween stores, some of the top predicted Halloween hotness (or give-you-chills-ness) is very topical: Pokémon, powerful women, presidential candidates. Here's a breakdown of what's generating buzz in Spirit shops and online:

Anti-heroes: The aforementioned Harley Quinn; along with her Suicide Squad boyfriend, the Joker; plus the wisecracking Deadpool, are all heroes with style and a touch of badness - the very essence of what a lot of people look for in a Halloween costume.

Girl Power: Superheroines, naturally, are going to be fierce. Though princesses, especially the Frozen duo, will remain big, with no new royalty on the screen before trick-or-treat time, Halloween 2016 is likely to see classic comic characters like Supergirl, Batgirl, and Wonder Woman making the scene, for both kids and adults alike.

Politics: Shockingly, we're not all completely fatigued by this election yet. Silverstein said would-be Trumps and Clintons might go disguised in realistic masks and garb, or might accessorize to "show their sexy side, devilish demeanor, or even what they'd look like behind bars." Expect to see plenty of Obamas, Bidens and presidents past, too.

Celebrities: Beyonce, on her icon-making work for "Lemonade," will have plenty of women getting in formation. Likewise, three late celebrities who each had signature looks will likely be celebrated in costume form: David Bowie, Prince, and Gene Wilder (probably in Willy Wonka garb).

Movies: Beyond the stars (Wars and Trek), and the Suicide Squad and superhero fare (Superman, Batman, X-Men, Avengers have staying power thanks to sequels, and because those suits look good on everyone), last-minute moms might go as the crew from Bad Moms, while some really on-top-of-it types might assemble a costume from the new Tim Burton movie, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, or the upcoming flick from the Potterverse: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Kiddo Stuff: The little ones know exactly what they want to be, and that often means characters form their favorite movies and TV shows. Silverstein said Spirit stores anticipate a lot of cartoon costumes from PJ Masks, Shimmer and Shine, Paw Patrol, and Blaze and the Monster Machines. Also expect to little girls dressed as fave characters from My Little Pony, Doc McStuffins, The Descendants and the new Disney Junior hit, Elena of Avalor. Movie-musts include characters from Despicable Me, Finding Dory and Zootopia.

Scary TV Worlds: Silverstein said American Horror Story (with its bevy of terrifying topics), will inspire a lot of looks. The HBO hit Game of Thrones will no doubt bring out a vast array of characters from the latest season and past seasons (certainly some lookalike Lannisters and Jon Snows, dead/alive/who knows? -- will be afoot).

Group Costumes: Sets of friends or families can go as an assortment of Pokémon Go characters, but also expect to see non-cartoons, like the kids from the Netflix series Stranger Things, or the "Final Five" Olympics gymnastic team.

Throwbacks: The success of Stranger Things has not only put those characters on the radar but has renewed interest in the '80s flicks that inspire the series: things like E.T., The Goonies and Alien have costume potential. Meanwhile, horror villains of the '80s and '90s remain costume gold, so get ready for plenty of Freddy Kruegers, Jasons (Friday the 13th) and Michael Myers (Halloween). On the funny front, the remake of Ghostbusters calls for a proton pack and jumpsuits - now great for the male AND female gender, thankyouverymuch.

Devilish Decorations


While what to be is the most important question each Halloween, half the fun of dressing up is having a place to go. For home haunters eager to make their house the scariest on the block, yard décor is a must. Silverstein said that at Spirit stores, freaky Animatronics remain a big hit and many front walks will be tricked out with monster and zombie figures that shake, glow and moan. Unlike with costumes, most yard and home décor is centered on classic creepiness: witches, werewolves, scarecrows and asylum escapees (just another day in the neighborhood!).

For the party-throwing set, this year's hottest musts are the ones that put your guests in contact with the "Other Side." Ouija-themed items are big at Spirit, and hot Instagram accounts have been showing crystal balls and other fortune-telling themed party gear as musts for your bash. Those hosting a party at home might look into a psychic or tarot reader who pays house calls.

Iva-Marie Palmer contributes to a number of websites and is the author of two young-adult novels, The End of the World As We Know It (Alloy Entertainment/Hot Key Books) and The Summers (Skyscape). She loves tasting her way through markets, exploring unique book stores and libraries, and weekends around Los Angeles with her husband and two sons. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @ivamarie.
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