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Posts Tagged ‘frugal halloween’

Handmade costumes for the whole family: The Odyssey

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

By Corey

My dear friend, Maria, recently posted this picture on her Facebook wall:

How CUTE are these family-made costumes (not to mention the kids!) ?!?

I just had to get the scoop…


Name: The Odyssey, Halloween Adventure!

Kids ages: Max 8, Dom 5, Sophia 3

Costume/s: King Menalaus (Max), Odysseus (Dom), Helen of Troy(Sophia)

Inspiration: We had read Black Ships Before Troy, a children’s version of The Odyssey that year and decided to play it up for Halloween!

Materials used: Cardbord and any clothes we had such as dress-up and old T-shirts along with markers, paint and a wagon.

Reaction from kids: They were thrilled to re-enact such a fun story, they were heros!

Family’s costume plans for this year: Rockstars using clothes and boots we have and some of moms make-up.

More from Mom: I love to incorporate things that the kids are learning/interested in to make a costume from so that it becomes a fun family project instead of just going out and spending a bunch of money on something new.

My husband is so creative that the kids end up winning the costume contests many years!

I like to turn Halloween into a time that the kids can join with us in being super resourceful and creative and see that we can use what we already have to make great costumes that are different than anything other kids have. It is such a great opportunity to teach and get creative together.

One year my son was so bummed that we were just making do, and he ended up winning the costume contest at school and becoming the true hero of all his friends. It was such a great lesson for him! Ever since, our kids ask, “what are we making this year for costumes” they don’t even think of going to buy anything!!

Is your family passionate about celebrating a homemade Halloween? Share your stories below.


Tristin & Tyler in “How to Throw a Costume Swap Party” (video)

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Eco-fabulous twin brothers, Tristin and Tyler, show you how easy (and FUN!) it is to host a swap for National Costume Swap Day™!

Tristin and Tyler are 7 year old city kids who host their own series about having fun and going green in New York City called “Tristin and Tyler’s Tales from the City!” In each episode these mini reporters interview people finding unique ways to be creative and/or help the environment! Visit and check out all of their fun adventures!

And check out T & T’s tell-all (about costume swapping) interview with us, here.


Green Halloween® is a nationwide non-profit initiative started by mother-daughter team Corey Colwell-Lipson and Lynn Colwell. In 2010, Green Halloween became a program of EcoMom® Alliance and has events in cities across the U.S.


25 Ways to Go Green This Halloween

Friday, September 16th, 2011


Halloween is meant to be enjoyed, but somewhere in between “planning” and “cleanup,” many parents find themselves feeling overwhelmed. It might seem that attempting to consider the Earth while planning a great ghoulish party is just too much work and way too expensive. Some fear it might even zap the fun right out of the day. But creating an eco-savvy Halloween doesn’t have to be scary, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg when you follow these pointers:

  1. Consider your costumes. The truth is many store-bought costumes and accessories contain toxic chemicals that not only are a potential hazard to your child, but also to the environment and the people who helped to make them. Choose fabrics such as cotton, wool and silk or make costumes yourself from materials you know to be safe.
  2. Go au natural. When decorating your home for Halloween, skip the plastic black cats and paper skeleton streamers made in China. Instead, use décor inspired by Mother Earth by choosing fallen leaves, gourds or pumpkins, and 100% beeswax candles.
  3. Trim your trick-or-treats. Hand out less ________ (fill in the blank). Preferably your goodies of choice are healthy and/or Earth-friendly, but even if they’re not, handing out just one (rather than the conventional handful) of something is better for kids, better for the planet and better for your bank account.
  4. Apply the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) to all of your holiday choices: costumes, décor, goodies, etc. Of the 3 R’s, reducing is the best for the Earth, our wallets and, in regard to food, our waistlines. Rent, borrow, swap, make or acquire used, when possible, to avoid buying new, especially disposables.
  5. Choose eek-o-décor. Say ‘no’ to disposables and instead, re-use or re-purpose items you already own. Look also for items from nature and don’t forget to decorate with food (consumable décor). If you must use disposables, look for products that are compostable and then be sure to compost them. Or, choose recycled, reusable and recyclable items like Preserve products. Too bad they don’t come in Halloween colors… yet.
  6. Go kid powered. Give your child a shakable or hand crank flashlight to light his way.
  7. Love LEDs. Use decorative Halloween LED and/ or solar lights for trees, outside of your home, and for lighting the path for trick-or-treaters. They come in every shape, theme and color imaginable!
  8. Bag it, green style. Instead of buying, make your child’s goodie bag from a pillow case or anything else you already own that goes with the theme of the costume. Or, purchase a keepsake, reusable Green Halloween® trick-or-treat ChicoBag. (Designed each year by kids! Enter the design contest here. 10% of the sales support the Green Halloween initiative.)
  9. Get creative. Turn costume making into a creative and fun experience for your child. Hunt through the house, at neighborhood garage sales, or a thrift store for costume-worthy items. Enjoy the process and the product! Another idea: host a costume exchange as part of National Costume Swap Day (second Saturday in October).
  10. Switcheroo. Instead of allowing your child to eat all the candy he collects, ask him to select a limited, pre-agreed upon amount and then leave the rest out for the Halloween Fairy/ Witch/ Great Pumpkin, who will, while your child is sleeping that night, swap the candy for goodies such as books, games or “pumpkin points” redeemable for outings.
  11. Green the YUM. Make the party meal using foods that are mostly orange, black and green. Create spooky names for the food, if you can. Shop locally (support local farmers) and choose organic, whenever possible.
  12. Recycle the unexpected. Compost all leftovers, jack-o-lanterns, natural décor and unconsumed candy – remove wrappers unless they’re compostable. In some places of the country, you can add compostables to your yard waste bin.
  13. Celebrate others. Host your Halloween party at a retirement home, children’s hospital, organic farm or similar.
  14. Say ‘no’ to toxic chemicals. Make your own face paints. Here’s the recipe. Or purchase mineral-based, lead-free paints.
  15. Choose eco sweets. If buying candy, choose organic – you’ll be surprised at how affordable some brands are! If buying chocolate, look for triple certified: organic, shade grown, Fair Trade.
  16. Think outside the {conventional} candy box. Instead of giving out conventional candy: give away healthy and/or Earth friendly treats and treasures.
  17. Make décor to DIY for. Make your own Halloween décor by visiting craft sites and swapping conventional materials for eco-supplies. For example, if you are going to make some paper ghosts for your window, be sure the paper is reused, recycled or tree-free.
  18. Invite sustainably. Use e-invitations or make your own from reused, recycled or tree-free sources. Kids will love Mr. Ellie Pooh’s Elephant dung paper! It comes in gorgeous fall colors (all scent-free!). The orange cardstock is perfect for Halloween invites, place cards and more. Supporting Mr. Ellie Pooh means supporting the Elephants in Sri Lanka, who are losing their lives because without profit associated with them, they are seen as liabilities to local farmers.
  19. Reclaim wrappers. Collect candy and bar wrappers and turn them into picture framed, purses, jewelry and more. Tweens and teens especially love this activity. Contact for a collection box.
  20. Trick-or-treat for good. When tweens and teens are too old to trick or treat, but still enjoy the traditions, encourage them to take a look at how they can turn trick or treating into an activity that benefits others such as: Reverse Trick-or-Treating, trick-or-treating for cell phones, or of course, UNICEF’s program.
  21. Start small and build your confidence. Start simply by having (and using) a recycle bin at your party or by going bottled water-free. You can green up each of your next celebrations a little bit at a time until celebrating green-style becomes old hat.
  22. Plan ahead to avoid costly impulse buying. You’re less likely to invade the local super party store at the eleventh-hour when you make food, gift, décor and activity decisions in advance.
  23. Get the family involved. Ask your kids to come up with three ways to give Halloween a green makeover. Write all of the viable ideas down on paper, toss them in a bowl and select three to try this year.
  24. Don’t drive to trick or treat. Encourage your neighbors to go green and then go door-to-door near you. It’s good for you and the planet and builds community.
  25. Learn more. For more great tips and tricks sign up for the e-newsletters from and And don’t forget to buy a copy of Celebrate Green! It features ideas, recipes, crafts, gift suggestions and more.
Green Halloween® is a nationwide non-profit initiative started by mother-daughter team Corey Colwell-Lipson and Lynn Colwell. In 2010, Green Halloween became a program of EcoMom® Alliance and has events in cities across the U.S.

Celebrate Green (this Halloween)! It’s Easy.

Friday, September 9th, 2011


Busy parents need greening to be simple. Whatever the choice may be (goodies, costumes, décor, etc.), adding an eco-friendly twist shouldn’t increase stress and chaos to an already hectic holiday season.

But making healthy and green choices is, in fact, easier than it seems.

The key is thinking (and acting) outside the conventional candy box.

  1. Plan ahead. Halloween is a fairly last minute holiday, resulting in a lot of knee-jerk choices that aren’t good for kids or the planet. But if you make a habit of thinking ahead, you can find exactly what you want while saving time, energy and reducing stress. One idea is to create a reoccurring appointment in your calendar for each October 1st. Decide what you are going to give away this year and, if necessary, order it online or pick it up. If you have the bandwidth to coordinate with a few friends or co-workers, you can save money by buying online, splitting the quantities and dividing the shipping charges. If the recycled plastic tops or eco-themed temporary tattoos are a hit, make it easier on yourself by giving the same thing away next year. (Make your green goodies a tradition.)
  2. Take a different road. Who said goodies have to be bought at grocery stores? Most of us run out to the grocery store the night before Halloween to pick up that 10 pound bag of candy (or two), but what if we realized that great, green goodies can be found elsewhere, too? What about picking up some seeds while you’re at the nursery? Or some cool glass beads when you drive by the art supply store? Playing cards with magic tricks, recipes and Halloween jokes can be found at bookstores and toy stores. Lots of ideas for “treasures” can be found here.
  3. Include the kids. Going green is a family affair, so make it easier on yourself and include the kids by asking for their ideas. When they’re involved from the get-go, they’re more like to stay involved and to have positive attitudes.
  4. Relax. Going green isn’t an all or nothing deal and busy moms have a lot on their minds and plates. So start with simple green steps that will work for your family this year. You can always add more the next time around. Holidays should be about the fun, not about the stress. Even green choices, if stressful, won’t be sustainable over the long haul.

Other ideas:

The loot

  • When it comes to which goodies to hand out, take a cue from doing laundry. Why? What “treasures” do your kids stash in their pockets? Polished rocks, feathers, seashells, and other items from nature are timeless treats for children of all ages. (And we’ve polled thousands of kids – toddlers to teens – who say goodies like these get two thumbs up!)
  • No matter what goodies you give away, give just one (instead of handfuls). When we were kids, most of us received one treat and each door, but now everything is supersized – including trick-or-treating. Giving away just one of something is easy to do, costs you less and is better for children and the planet. And here’s a tip: Place goodies in a bowl and let kids know  – with barely contained enthusiasm – that they can choose just one really special treat. When you do, something magical will happen. The kids will get excited about picking that one perfect treasure – more excited than if they had received a handful.
  • Many stores have healthier options for Halloween, but they might not know it (or market them as such). Take a quick stroll through the aisles and consider treats and treasures such as: Larbars, honey or agave sticks (may cost as little as 5-10 cents apiece), Stretch Island fruit leathers, all natural gum (like Glee Gum), or mini packs of all natural or organic crackers, granola or granola bars, cookies, or dried fruit. For treasures, stickers, bookmarks and pencils all made from recycled materials. Click here for a big list of ideas.
  • If you want to give out candy, consider organic options such as Endangered Species “Bug Bites” and look for candy in bulk. While still made with sugar, organic and all natural ingredients are better for children and growing foods organically is better for the planet and the people who grow them. Companies such as Surf Sweets sell organic candy with low price points.


  • Go green, save time and money by shopping for your child’s costume at a consignment or thrift shop such as Goodwill.
  • Celebrate National Costume Swap Day ( Have a lunchtime costume exchange with co-workers who are parents, or with your church, after a weekend soccer game or combine it with a ladies night.
  • Set the timer and let your kids go on a hunt through the house looking for Halloween costume components. (Be sure to tell them if any parts of the house are off limits). Let their imaginations fly. Instead of being a superhero or television character, the might just want to flex their creative muscles and be something unique.
  • If buying, look for costumes made from petroleum-free fabrics that are less likely to contain phthalates, lead or other toxins.
  • For the goody bag – use something you already own that goes with their costume. A chef can carry a bowl, a mountain climber a backpack, a princess a purse, football player a helmet, etc. Or go with the adorably eco, keepsake, reusable Green Halloween® trick-or-treat ChicoBag®.


  • Instead of buying petroleum based or disposable décor items, think about using items from nature such as pumpkins, gourds, hay, etc. When you’re done, simply toss them into your yard waste bin (if allowed in your area) or compost. Or buy items that are recycled, upcycled, handcrafted or ethically sourced (e.g. Fair Trade) such as those found here.
  • Candles are a popular Halloween décor item, but paraffin is an unsustainable product and contributes to poor indoor air quality. Instead choose 100% beeswax candles (available at most health food stores in a rainbow of colors, shapes and sizes). They burn cleaner and longer and don’t make as much of a mess. They also smell naturally sweet.
  • Instead of buying décor for the entire lawn, consider decorating just the doorway. Go simple in the house, too, by choosing one area to spruce up. Focusing and simplifying will save time, money and resources.
  • At the end of the holiday, pack reusable décor away carefully so that it stays in good shape and can be used for years to come. (Remember, when it comes to holidays, reusing=traditions.) While it may take some extra effort at clean up time, doing so will save money, time and resources in the long run.

Party food

  • Don’t make food ahead, instead, make it an activity. Here are a few ideas that are easy and fun to make (not to mention healthy and high on the ‘yum’ scale):
    • Pumpkin smoothies
    • Pumpkin seed “gorp”
    • Halloween pizzas (use pre-made, whole wheat crusts and have available orange, black and green veggies to customize)
    • Halloween-ka-bobs (let kids make their own with Halloween colored foods)


Putting some green into your Halloween does not have to be difficult or costly. In the continuum of being green, all families can hop on board! You can start wherever you are. For example, if your family eats organic and shops mostly locally, Green Halloween offers additional ways you can make your holiday even healthier and more green with tips even seasoned health-conscious parents will find useful. If your family has yet to try healthy alternatives, this is a great year to start. The Green Halloween website ( offers even green-newbies fun, easy and affordable ways to start new holiday traditions your whole family will enjoy. Being a part of Green Halloween means trying one new tradition–or trying them all. By going green for just one part of your Halloween, you’ll be making a difference you and your family can be proud of.

Green Halloween® is a nationwide non-profit initiative started by mother-daughter team Corey Colwell-Lipson and Lynn Colwell. In 2010, Green Halloween became a program of EcoMom® Alliance and has events in cities across the U.S.