Seeing scary thru a little kid’s eyes is tough sometimes. When my girls were pretty young… ok, too young to be watching it, they saw Beetlejuice. I thought it would be a fun, light movie for them but as soon as the Maitlands pulled off their faces to test their haunting power, my girls freaked out. I saw the whole thing as lame and funny but they saw the whole thing as completely horrifying.
That’s just the thing about Halloween… No one sees costumes or decorations in the same way.
My kids hated masks on anybody. Even those princess masks made them nervous, but then again, those can be pretty creepy. Same thing goes for spooky decorations. A neighbor of ours used to go all out for Halloween. He’d rig a flying witch from a tree to the front of his house that would swoop down every time a trick-or-treater walked up to his door. It even freaked me out and I wasn’t five.
Living in the Midwest means all the trees surrounding my house are turning orange and red. They fill the sidewalks and crunch with every step and I absolutely love how they make my house look like one out of a horror movie. Course, it doesn’t take much to make an old Victorian look scary, but we still like to deck it out for Halloween.
The problem is, like all things made for seasonal decorating, most of the creepy plastic Halloween decorations you find at those pop-up stores end up in landfills. That’s why I’m here to give you 5 great ways to deck out your house and yourself for Halloween without creating a scary ending.
5 Eco Hacks for a Green Halloween
1. DIY DECORATIONS
GHOSTS: Got an old white bed-sheet or two hanging around?
Cut it into squares of various sizes. Hold the square in the middle and take some old fabric to form a head. Then tie it at the neck to create a whispy ghost.
Draw two round eyes and an oval shaped mouth and fill them in with a black Sharpie.
Then use a needle and thread, double thick to sew a long loop from the top of the head. Knot it and you’re ready to hang your ghosts from your porch ceiling, any doorway inside or on a strand as garland.
Designer tip: No white sheets around? Using an old printed sheet will give your ghosts that Beetlejuice appeal…
SPIDER WEBS: Instead of gauzy store-bought webs that trap insects and animals, opt for white twine or wool yarn webs that are easy to store and can be re-used or composted afterwards.
Designer tip: Attach a few strands to any high peak and weave your own web downwards until it meets the ground or railing you’re attaching it to… put your own creative spin on the patterns!
SCARECROWS: Grab a few old ratty finds from your closet (a plaid button down shirt, distressed denim, some old shoes, etc.) and stuff them with newspaper, fabric or traditional straw hay until they can stand or sit on their own. Place your scarecrow on your front porch steps or bench, on an armchair inside or stake it to the ground in the grass or garden so it can loom in the front lawn.
Designer tip: Add some accessories to give your new friend some personality… make it simple with a straw hat, scary with some garden tools or just plain silly.
2. COMPOSTABLE DECORATIONS
PUMPKINS: Pick up a bunch of pumpkins, all sizes and have a pumpkin carving party.
All you need is a good, sharp knife to cut the top open (don’t let kids do this, please!) and a few carving tool kits… you can pick these up from any dime store… my sets are older than my kids so no need to toss them after using them! Just wash and keep them for next year.
The reason I like the carving sets is most come with a tiny, two-sided saw that makes carving super easy.
Scoop out the seeds… save for our next idea… and let your imagination fly. Create whatever you want. A one eyed monster? Perfect! You really can’t go wrong here.
Put a candle in them and place on your porch, on your steps, in your windows or anywhere that works for where you live. Just don’t leave those candles burning in them unattended.
Designer tip: We live in a neighborhood filled with squirrels and they usually get to the pumpkins as soon as we carve them, but people can do the worst damage by smashing them. Keep your pumpkins out of reach and after the holiday, leave them in a hidden place for the squirrels to nibble on. Those little guys are like living composters.
GOURDS: Next time you’re at that farmer’s market, pumpkin farm, corn maze in the Midwest… or even your local grocery store… pick up some of those little colorful gourds. Throw them in a basket and put it on your porch or put them in a bowl to make a great centerpiece for your table… I keep mine there thru Thanksgiving! Again, the squirrels love these so pick up a bunch if you plan on putting them on your porch so you can replace them when those little guys steal ’em.
Designer tip: I like to use twine to hang a bunch from my front door or to make a long garland I can hang over the porch rails.
3. SUSTAINABLE SNACKS
PUMPKIN SEEDS: Don’t throw those pumpkin seeds away!
One of my favorite snacks is baked pumpkin seeds. They’re great over yogurt and cereal or straight from the oven.
Simply rinse the pumpkin pulp off them… this takes the longest… and put them on a greased cookie sheet. Add a little salt and pepper and let them bake at 375 degrees for ten to fifteen minutes. Cool and store in a container and eat them up.
Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, manganese, iron and zinc. The magnesium helps with mood and sleep while the manganese helps promote collagen, making these a good snack for your skin. Iron is good for our blood and the zinc supports our immune system and vision. See? Some snacks are worth all that work!
Designer tip: Grease your cookie sheets with extra virgin olive oil instead of butter. It’s not only better for you but it adds a culinary touch and a richer flavor.
CANDY: Stay away from any chocolate or candies that are made with palm oil.
Unethical sourcing of this resource can lead to deforestation and demolished homes of humans and endangered animals.
Try to make as many sweet treats you can yourself (like mouthwatering homemade peanut butter cups… YUM!) but for the candy you’re handing out to trick-or-treaters, purchase from this list of recommended Palm Oil Free Candy.
4. PRACTICAL PARTIES
Go ghoulishly green when g-hosting your get togethers. Along with creating your own DIY decs, choose compostable cups and utensils for your festive snacks, re-purpose pre-owned serving bowls and glassware, make re-usable fabric table cloths and napkins and encourage guests to compost or recycle for easy clean-up throughout the party.
5. CREATIVE COSTUMES
Finally, you ALL know this, but NEVER buy a Halloween costume! Use what you’ve got in your closet or head to your local Salvation Army or thrift store and make your own. You’ll be surprised at how much thrift stores have to support your imagination like hats, scarves, gloves, wigs and even shoes.
Designer tip: Check out Pinterest for inspiration before you go. Give yourself plenty of time because this topic is a worm hole, trust me! You’ll be amazed at the creativity out there. You may even find so many ideas, you’ll have to store some away for next year.
This can be a fun time of year, but respect the people around you.
Put on your little kid hat and keep the terrifying decorations and costumes inside until they’re done trick-or-treating. Decorate in good taste and make your costume clever, not offensive.
Remember there’s a lot of camera phones out there so don’t wear something that will embarrass you in years to come.
If you’re going to a costume party, pretend you’re running for some public office and try not to wear something you’ll regret later. We’ve all seen that horror film play out and it doesn’t end well for anybody.
#CareWhatYouWear is a good rule to follow, especially this time of year.
– Germaine Caprio, MAJAMAS EARTH Company Owner & Designer
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Let ME know:
What are your favorite eco-friendly Halloween tips & tricks – or treats?
Please share your own thoughts with us – let’s get a conversation started in the comments below!