Unfortunately, many of our holidays have become an opportunity to buy stuff that is used once and then tossed in the garbage. Halloween is an especially hyper-commercialized celebration with individually wrapped candies, disposable costumes and plastic accessories galore. Then there are the decorations — but don’t be frightened, there are plenty of ways to treat the environment kindly on Halloween. Here are my five favorite eek-o-friendly Halloween decorations that you can make at home.
1. Recycled jack-o’-lanterns
I thought of this DIY decoration just last week (although I’m sure someone smarter than me has already done it), and it’s already made the top five of my favorite Halloween-decorations-to-make list. I really wish I would’ve thought of it when my daughters were younger because it’s easy, fun and not messy at all.
- Clear plastic bottles from your recycling bin
- Orange paint (or red and yellow) — most any type of paint will work
- Black Sharpie
Remove the label from your plastic bottle. Use a black marker to draw your jack-o’-lantern face on your bottle. Fill your bottle 3/4 full of water and, with a paint brush, add some paint to the water. Put on your lid and shake until your water is orange. Add additional paint as needed. When your pumpkin is the right shade of orange, fill with water to the top and replace the lid tightly. TIP: If you put your pumpkin outside and you live in a climate where your pumpkin might freeze, don’t fill with water to the top because it might burst.
Now you have an adorable pumpkin that you could put anywhere.
Another thing I love about this DIY is that when you’re done using your bottles for decorating, you can simply rinse them out and pop them back in the recycling bin.
2. Spooky terrariums
This DIY is a great way to get your kids out in nature. Have them hunt for tiny pinecones, twigs, moss and rocks. If you have them, you could also use small Halloween-themed things from around the house like skulls or blackbirds.
- Glass jars with lids from your recycling bin (we used an empty pickle jar)
- Moss, leaves, twigs, etc.
- Rock (preferably one that could look like a gravestone)
- Marker or paint
- Other small Halloween-themed decorations (optional)
Search outside for moss, twigs, pinecones, rocks and anything you think would fit into your jar. If you’re using a rock for a gravestone, use a marker to write RIP on it. Then, build your spooky scene on the upside-down lid of your jar. Remember that you’re going to need to screw the jar onto the lid, so make sure you leave some room around your scene (we learn this the hard way). When your scary miniature landscape is finished, screw the jar onto the lid and enjoy.
This, like the recycled jack-o’-lantern, could be re-recycled when you’re done with Halloween. Or, you could reuse it for a Thanksgiving-themed terrarium.
3. Ghostly hanging leaves
This Halloween decoration couldn’t be easier and it’s a fun craft to do with your kids. It not only gets them creating a boo-rific Halloween decoration, it gets them outside while they’re finding different-shaped leaves to turn into their ghostly creations.
- White paint
- Black marker
- White, black, orange or purple string
Make cute, inexpensive Halloween ghosts by painting leaves white, then drawing a spooky face with a marker. Glue on a string to hang your ghosts on a chandelier or on some trees in your yard.
4. BOO board
If you have any old fence board or other scrap wood, you can make an adorable Halloween decoration.
- Scrap wood
First, sketch out a design for your board based on the shape of it. I had some discarded fence board that I rescued from going to the landfill, so I decided to make a vertical design. I also incorporated a couple of bats and a cobweb. Next, paint your design on the board, let it dry and put it on a mantle, by your front door or anywhere it will be seen and enjoyed. When Halloween is over, store it to be used again next year.
5. Yard monsters
Everyone needs a yard monster (or two). Here’s an easy and environmentally friendly way to make them.
- Paperboard from the recycling bin
- White paint
- Black marker
Gather some paperboard from your recycling bin, like a cereal box. Flatten it out and paint it white. Once the paint has dried, you can draw on your eyes. Then glue or tape a string on the back of your eyes. This will be used to tie your eyes to a shrub or small tree. You could also make angry eyebrows or a Frankenstein mouth. Let your imagination be your guide.
Keep in mind that the holidays are a time to enjoy time and traditions with your family and friends. With a little creativity and some stuff from the recycling bin, you can lower the impact your holiday celebrations have on the environment.