According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, consumers plan to spend an average of $72.31 on Halloween candy, costumes, and decorations (or a total of $6.86 billion) in 2011.
When you haunt your house this Halloween, why not skip the plastic skeletons and instead opt for clever, creepy decor you can make yourself from recycled or natural materials? "Look in your home and yard and decorate with what you have all around you," suggests Corey Colwell-Lipson, co-author of the book Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations & Traditions for the Whole Family.
This way, you'll avoid using up resources (like paper and petroleum) from store-bought props, which often wind up in landfills. "You can save money and make an impact in a way that fits with your family's traditions," says Colwell-Lipson. Here are some fun, easy ways to set the mood for a spooky celebration:
- Decorate with food. Purchase pumpkins and apples from a local farm or farmer's market — go to Local Harvest to find one near you. Then make shrunken apple heads to hang in trees or string on a garland. Just cut faces into peeled apples and soak them in a mixture of lemon juice and salt. Let the apples dry for a few days and the facial features will become shriveled and creepy.
- Carve cats, moons or other bewitching patterns into your pumpkin, or add veggies and pinecones to make funny faces, using these kid-friendly instructions and carving patterns.
- After Halloween, reuse your pumpkins for soup or pie, compost them, or share the seeds and fruit with wildlife.
- Dig through your recycling bin for craft supplies. For your walkway, use tin cans to make luminaries and empty plastic milk jugs to create "spirit jugs." You can also craft bats from egg cartons and spiders from plastic water bottles.
- Go retro and use old white sheets to make ghosts or create a scarecrow from materials you already have, like clothes, straw and a broomstick.
- Use soy or beeswax candles to cast an eerie glow, instead of petroleum-based paraffin ones.
- If you're building a haunted mansion, shop for supplies locally at a nonprofit used building materials store. "They have fabulous haunted house type stuff like doors and windows that already look really old and used and creaky," says Colwell-Lipson.
- And if you do buy new decorations, choose durable ones and store them carefully so you can reuse them every year. Colwell-Lipson suggests supporting artisans by searching for unique Halloween decorations made from natural materials at Etsy.
For more tips on earth-friendly Halloween crafts, games, costumes, and more, check out Green Halloween.
Do you have any spooktacular homemade Halloween decorations? Share your ideas with us by commenting below.