What's hot for Halloween costumes this year?

It's decision time for Halloween costumes, and the people who sell them are already seeing some trends.

Denise Dougherty Vinal, of Dougherty's Masquerade in Syracuse, says more people are buying complete costumes instead of accessories, and she says that's an encouraging indicator that there's more money available in more homes for fun things.

The other trend is costumes related to Hollywood and entertainment. Lady Gaga, "Alice in Wonderland" and "Avatar" are popular themes. Dougherty's says they're almost sold out of Alice costumes.

Cazenovia High School senior Melanie Arehart was shopping for those costumes on Tuesday (a Caz school holiday). She plans to be Alice, but says other members of her senior class will also be characters when they do their annual Halloween parade for the elementary school.

Movie themes may be hot, but politics is not this year. Masks for Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Richard Nixon are on the shelves, but not moving. We noticed pirate costumes, and retro (1950s) waitresses were.

Dougherty Vinal says children's costumes include the traditional - we met one 'fireman' trying on helmets - but they also mimic what adults are interested in. One mother is also looking at movie themes. She plans on dressing her boys as "Toy Story" characters Buzz Lightyear and Woody.

Not all the costumes come from costume stores. Rescue Mission Thrifty Shoppers stores also see a lot of seasonal business. They even have Halloween-themed displays and costume suggestions on their clothes racks. Tina Badger, who is a district manager for the stores, showed us some ideas: Doctor's scrubs, formal gowns to dress up as 'beauty pageant' themes, men's suits to show off professions, or more. Badger says you have to have a bit of imagination, but the prices are lower, and once Halloween's done you can reuse or re-donate the costume basics.

Back at Dougherty's, this is the busy time of year, not only for the Syracuse flagship store but also for its upstate branches. This year they've also started 'College of Halloween' stores in university college towns in Florida, Texas and Ohio. The bulk of their Halloween items were ordered back in January, but they're ordering and updating inventory daily, to replentish the most popular costumes.