We realize the kids are barely back in school, but if you want to celebrate Halloween in a more earth-friendly way this year, it's going to take a bit of planning. So over the next weeks, we'll be posting lots of ideas for families with kids from newborn to teens. And if you have ideas you'd like to contribute, be sure to let us know.
The scary truth about store-bought costumes is that nearly all are made with less than healthy materials. So why not make costume creation the centerpiece of a Saturday afternoon family activity? Ask your kids what they want to "be," then discuss how they can make the costume using items you already own, can borrow, make or pick up used from a thrift store. Get inspiration from the internet or books if you like, or just let the kids go at it. You'll likely be amazed by their creative ideas.
Once you've gathered the materials, discuss with how the costume will be held together. Bravo if you can sew. If not, glue guns (operated by an adult or with adult supervision of course), double-stick tape, even staples, can be used. Be sure to get kids thinking about accessories such as hats and shoes as well as unusual loot bags. Purses, baskets, even small backpacks can make the perfect finishing touch for the right costume. [more]
In case you're fully into eco, here are a few ideas for creative costumes with a green twist:
- Recycling bin: Wear brown or black clothes and attach all sorts of potentially recyclable materials like tin cans, cardboard and newspaper. Or suspend a cardboard box with the top and bottom cut out, from rope over the child's shoulders. Print "Recycling Bin" in large letters, then fasten items to the top sticking out.
- Endanged species animals: Have your child research animals on the Endangered Species List, then create a costume along with a sign that says, "Help me! I'm going extinct!"
- Cloud: Wear white clothes. Tear or cut old bed sheets into strips. Tie or sew strips to the arms of a shirt so when the child waves her arms, the strips will move.
If making costumes isn't your (or your kids) idea of fun, there are a few alternatives to the usual plastic fare. The ones we love are made from silk from stores like Magic Cabin and Sarah's Silks. Yes, they're more expensive than plastic, but they can be used for play throughout the year and will still be in good shape when passed on to a younger sibling.
And speaking of passing on, how about, instead of buying, arranging a costume swap with friends and neighbors or at a school (see why we're talking about Halloween in early September?). Or if you can't find what you're seeking locally, try the costume swap at www.GreenHalloween.org.
Whatever you do, encourage your children to actively participate in the choice. Explain to them why making costumes, borrowing them or purchasing those made from earth-friendlier materials, is important. The more engaged they are in the process, and the more they understand, the more likely they'll be to enjoy an EEK-O-friendly Halloween.