Western Hostage in Iraq

Who will ever forget the terrifying images of the American and British hostages held captive by Iraqi insurgents? In their orange jumpsuits and chains, these hostages drove home the human cost of this war--even before they were cruelly beheaded.

This costume is not only scary but also one of the simplest projects imaginable. Simply visit your local uniform-specialty store to purchase an orange jumpsuit. (If orange isn't available, buy white, then color at home with fiber-appropriate dye.) Pick up a length of chain from the hardware store, and then fasten it around the child's wrists with padlocks or picture wire. Trick or treat!

Total cost: Under $15.
Total time: Under an hour.

Pfc. Lyndie England

Forget Christina Aguilera--America's NEW favorite bad girl is Private First Class Lyndie England. For the costume, simply add an invisible-dog leash from a novelty shop to a pair of camouflage pants and a khaki-colored shirt from your local Army/Navy surplus store. (Candy cigarette optional.)

Total cost: Under $30.
Total time: Under an hour.

The Littlest Prisoner at Abu Ghraib

Your child will be the hit of the neighborhood costume parade in this spooky recreation of the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal's most indelible image. Simply roll a cone from a sheet of 24"x38" black cardstock, making sure to cut out a hole for the face. Drape with two yards of black felt, add leftover wires from your last lamp-rewiring project, and pick up a wooden crate from your local farmers' market. Voilà! So easy, so quick, and so terrifying!

Total cost: Under $20.
Total time: Under two hours.