From shrunken apple heads to flayed skin cheese balls and origami bats, skip the wasteful Halloween aisle and craft your own spooky decor instead.
The National Retail Federation predicts that Americans will spend a startling $8.4 billion dollars on Halloween this year.
That’s $8.4 billion dollars worth of single-use costumes, artificial-everything candy, and novelty witchy tchotchkes. And that’s scary. You can practically hear the landfills’ plaintive moans! With that in mind, we’re leaning toward homespun spooks that don’t rely on a bunch of waste.
Day of the Dead cookies
Flickr/nikkicookiebaker/CC BY 2.0
Edible decorations are the best, they are waste-free and serve two purposes: food and decor. Win, win. And they taste great! Win, win, win.
Techinically, these Sugar Skull Cookies from the ever-awesome 101cookbooks.com are for the Day of the Dead, but we think the line between the two holidays is fine enough that these make a super suitable tasty decoration for All Hallow’s Eve as well.
Shunken apple heads
Flickr/Castaway in Scotland/CC BY 2.0
Nothing says Halloween like decapitation and cannibalism! Yet due to current laws and basic social taboos, say it with apples instead. Make these wee noggins to scatter about the house, place a few in bowls of snacks, or float in a bowl of cider.
Recycled paper bats
Flickr/paperfacets/CC BY 2.0
These paper origami bats which can be made with 100 percent recycled construction paper are so charming you may want them hanging year-round. (PS: If you ever find a live bat in the house, see this.)
It’s a mod, mod pumpkin
Flickr/dmushrush/CC BY 2.0
You can skip the traditional Jack-o’-lantern and opt for a mod drilled pumpkin instead. They’re not going to scare young trick or treaters with a spooky startle, but they are a clever way to light that which may need some autumn ambience.
Oh so creepy food
Flickr/TimmyGUNZ/CC BY 2.0
These simple shady spiders provide an ample arachnid creepy factor with not that much effort. You can make them with recycled construction paper, or use fabric scrap or old fun fur to create creepy crawlies of the hairy tarantula variety.
Flickr/Philip James/CC BY 2.0
We are pretty sure you’ve got a lot of used empty jars somewhere, just waiting to be refilled or to be used for storage or for a project…a project like Jack-o’-lantern lanterns!
Requiring little more than tissue paper, glue, and old jars, pumpkin candle holders like these are a breeze to craft. See this tutorial for the basics.
Flickr/kristin_a (Meringue Bake Shop)/CC BY 2.0
So not everyone is going to have a drawer full of doll parts to use to make “Rising from the Dead” cupcakes. But if you’re a crafter or DIYer or just a bit, you know, odd, there’s a good chance you have some collection of parts or knickknacks that could make for a convincingly creepy cupcake topper. Simply make your favorite cupcakes, then get creative with random toy parts.
Apple tea light holders
Flickr/utheadache/CC BY 2.0
When you’re done with them, give them to a local farm for animal food, or feed them to your compost.
Bird’s nest ghouls
Flickr/frykitty/CC BY 2.0
With paper from the recycling stack and some non-toxic glue, these very cute and perhaps more-sweet-than-spooky ghosts can be yours. See how to make the custom phantoms here.
Flickr/Wendy Piersal/CC BY 2.0
With little more than an orange (a grapefruit would be nice too) and some whole cloves, you can have Halloween decor and a way to perfume your home and closets long after the witches and goblins have left the building.
Any pomander how-to will show you how, but this one at Craft Jr has some extra hints to ease the (already) simple process.
Spooky jar lanterns
Flickr/frykitty/CC BY 2.0
The clever, clever crafty frykitty of frytopia made these spooky lanterns from cheap jars from a discount store, but old jars in need of upcycling would make perfectly good candidates for the job as well.