Spooky, Sustainable Decorations
- Make "spider webs" with pillow stuffing. Those "cobwebs" that are sold in Halloween shops are pretty much the same as the fiberfill or cotton stuffed in throw pillows, quilts, and plush toys. If you've got a throw pillow that's worse for the wear, rip it open and use wisps of the cotton batting as cobwebs to cover furniture or to stretch over the corners of windows.
- Find some naturally spooky decorations outside. Take a walk in the park and raid the farm stand for creepy-looking dead branches, pumpkins and gourds. You might also use old clothes and some straw to make your own scarecrow — the head could be a pumpkin or a white pillowcase with a creepy face drawn on with fabric markers.
- Make some Halloween crafts out of trash. Cut up egg cartons to make bats, make a witch out of a plastic spoon, or use decoupage or paints to decorate a cleaned plastic food container, like a large yogurt container or a gallon milk jug with the top cut off, for a trick-or-treat candy dish.
Costumes with a Conscience
- Host a kids' costume swap. A few weeks before Halloween, organize a costume swap with families in the neighborhood or at a local school. Everyone can bring their costumes from previous years, and trade them in for a "new" outfit. Especially when you've spent money on an expensive store-bought costume that's been outgrown or is no longer wanted (after all, who wants to dress in the same thing two years in a row?), it's satisfying to know that your purchase is being put to good use.
- Check your closet for costume ideas made from old clothes. Old prom dresses, business suits and hopelessly out-of-style fashions are all fair game for a fun Halloween costume, whether for yourself or a child. Zombie prom queen, anyone?
- Get clever. Some of the best costumes are the least obvious but the most simple to assemble. Use your imagination and some old clothes to create a thinking-person's costume: A big P on a t-shirt and some black make-up around your eye is a "Black-Eyed Pea", while painting a big black blob on a white shirt will have everyone interpreting your Rorschach ink blot.
- Raid your make-up box. All of those old cosmetics and gifts-with-purchases that are cluttering your bathroom cabinets can be put to good use when they double as costume makeup — red lipstick can stand in for blood, and dark eyeliner or a cotton swab dipped in mascara can be used to draw whiskers and other features. As you're digging through your cosmetics, you might also consider paring down your collection by donating any new, unused cosmetics to an organization like Cosmetics for a Cause, which distributes them to battered or troubled women.