Thursday, October 15, 2009

Get Ready for an EEK-O-friendly Halloween (Part 2)

When it comes to decor, Halloween lines right up after Christmas. Americans spend $1.5 billion decking their homes with the latest in ghosts and goblins, much of it tossed when the holiday is over.

In reality, there is no need to purchase decor. This is a definite area of want. And while we know that most people are short on cash this year, many will still want to make some purchases. If you're one of those, keep these ideas in mind while spending green to celebrate green.

  • Buy less. Whatever your budget, cut it by 25%. Will anyone really miss that life sized witch among all the other yard decor?
  • Buy what will last. Dollar stores do offer great bargains. But poor quality items are likely to end up in the landfill. Better to spend a bit more on fewer items that can become a part of your holiday tradition. Be sure to wrap carefully after October 31, to preserve for the future.
  • Look for local and handmade items, especially those produced from recycled/recyclable or sustainable materials. Check for local artists through

A great solution to the decor challenge is to go DIY (do-it-yourself), preferably using materials you already have on hand, can secure via swap or, best of all, select from nature. This is the perfect time of year to pull together items from nuts to branches to leaves and use them to brighten your home (see activities below). If you feel challenged when coming up with ideas, of course the internet is an incredible resource. Just do a search for "recycled Halloween crafts." Here are a few to get you started:

(Frankenstein as pictured above, is made from a paper towel roll and fabric scraps. The original comes from Let it inspire you.)

When it comes to table decor, simply bringing in a selection of natural items and arranging them in containers or even directly on the table, can create a stunning tableau. Best of all, everything can (and should) be returned to where you found it for totally wastefree decor.

If you're itching to purchase new lighting, look for LEDs or solar. (Get rid of the old ones by recycling them through

Bonus craft: Shadow box picture frame chandelier Here's a project that's easy to assemble, but packs plenty of punch.


  • Shadow box picture frame or any frame that is deep enough for you to place items on the glass without them sliding off.
  • Leaves, moss (if you are taking moss from nature, be sure it is not in an ecologically sensitive area), whole acorns, acorn caps, small pinecones
  • Glue
  • 4 screw eyes
  • Wire, ribbon, rope or whatever you have on hand for hanging


  • Remove all backing from picture frame.
  • Turn frame over so glass rests on bottom.
  • Screw one screw eye as close to each corner as possible while avoiding the area where the two sides meet.
  • Randomly glue items like the acorns etc. to the frame. Use as many or few as you like.
  • Glue on moss.
  • Decide how low you want to hang the chandelier, then cut four pieces of wire to that length plus a few inches.
  • Feed each length of wire through a screw eye, then secure it by winding the wire around itself.
  • Bring the four lengths of wire together in the middle so that the chandelier is balanced. If you have a round item like a nut, you can wind the wires through that to secure. Be sure whatever you use has a large enough opening to hang from a hook in the ceiling.
  • Fill with leaves, acorns, candles (in holders), small pumpkins or whatever you like.

Note: If you prefer, make without screw eyes and wire and simply place in the center of your table.

Of course, when it comes to Halloween activities, trick-or-treat can't be beat. But for parents who are green-leaning, this traditional activity presents challenges. They don't want their kids to miss out on the fun, but neither do they want them eating all the candy. If you're facing this conundrum, you might want to consider inviting the Halloween Fairy/Witch to your home.

Eco-friendly activities before and after the holiday can engage your kids and help them learn about green issues as well. For instance:

  • Visit an organic farm/orchard to select a pumpkin or pick apples and talk to the farmer about how veggies and fruits are raised.
  • Spend an hour outside, hunting for decor. Be sure you have permission before taking items from nature, especially from parks or any ecologically sensitive area. Once you bring the items home, have each child make a special item for the table. Rotate the items during the week preceding Halloween.
  • Roll beeswax candles for pumpkins or other displays.
  • Do craft activities as a family each day leading up to Halloween.
  • Try out new recipes for Halloween menus. If you're hosting a Halloween party, making something to eat is can be a central activity and the resulting treat can be taken home as a party favor (if the kids can wait to eat it!).
Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at

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