Putting a lot of time and money into making an awesome Halloween costume can seem like a bit much for only one weekend of wearing it. But don’t bury your grand ideas just yet — creating extravagant costumes can really pay off at Charleston’s many costume contests. With prizes that range from $200-$1,200, Halloween can be quite the money-making event. Pantheon, Taco Boy, and Mad River are just a few places where you can win the big bucks.

Pantheon sees its fair share of extreme costumes every Halloween. In the past years, there have been costumes featuring Barbie (still in the box), the Black Swan, Carrie covered in fake blood, and an entire troupe of boy scouts. Needless to say, in order to take home the 1,200 big ones, your costume will need to be pretty freaking awesome. This year they’ll be searching for yet another get-up with wow factor, so if you’re interested, head their way on Sat. Oct. 27 and make sure to pull out all the stops.

Taco Boy’s costume contest and Halloween party will also take place on Sat. Oct. 27. Before the 21-and-over crowd rolls in, they’ll host a puppy costume contest, giving away $50 to Dolittle’s, while the owner will receive $50 to Taco Boy. After 6 p.m. the doors will open to the nightlife crowd, where decked-out hopefuls will have a chance to win $1,000. If you’re showing up with a group get-up, you can take your shot at winning $500 to Taco Boy for your whole crew ­— now, that’s a lot of tacos.

Mad River isn’t dishing out quite as much cash, but the prizes for best costume aren’t too shabby. For the best group costume, the prize is $300, sexiest gets $200, and best individual gets $200. The best part about this contest extravaganza is the fact that it lasts three nights. Each prize will be given away on a different night: Fri. Oct. 26 for best individual costume, Sat. Oct. 27 for best group costume, and Wed. Oct. 31 for sexiest costume.

What’s the trick to winning one of these contests? James Applegate at Hokus Pokus Costume Shop says, “Don’t purchase a packaged costume.” He knows what he’s talking about. “We’ve had several people win costume contests that have purchased their costumes from here.” He advises to either create your own costume or do something completely original that no one else can buy in a typical costume package.   

When asked about the best costume they’re carrying right now, Applegate told us that the head piece and heavy jacket of the Beast from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is probably one of their most impressive costumes in stock. Fur and all, with the right amount of carefully crafted make-up, this costume is sure to be quite the contender.

The craziest request Applegate has gotten for costume making? “That would have to be the liquid latex.”  Sounds pretty tricky — you paint your entire body, standing still while you literally watch paint dry. Judging from the ads in the store, the results are pretty ridiculous and worth the effort.

Applegate says the biggest trends so far this season have been flappers and pirates, and Hokus Pokus has arrrgh-uably some of the best costume selections in the Charleston area if you’re interested in following these trends or any others. To check out a few of their costume selections online, go to hokuspokuscostumes.biz or head over to their costume shop at 1015 St. Andrews Boulevard. Another great source for local costumes is Theatrics Unlimited at 981 King St.

For a complete listing of costume contests and plenty of other fun Halloween events to attend — past slideshows from past parties — check out our Fright Life page.