It's the time of year where dressing up and collecting treats is just the in-thing to do, and we're here for it! Whether you love Halloween for all the adorable costumes you see roaming around this month, or you dig channeling your inner-spookiness (we dig it with you!), Halloween is full of fun opportunities for the whole family. And, it seems like we're doing Halloween up bigger and better every year, with the help of favorite tools for a tricked-out Halloween experience. Gone (mostly) are the days of plastic trashbag costumes and masks kids can't breathe through (hooray!). Today's Halloween is much more modern, much more elaborate in many cool ways and totally tricked-out with some super neat tools of the trade. Just check out all these fun ways we've found for a tricked-out Halloween experience the whole family will love.
Related: 8 Halloween Traditions Around the World
The Many Faces of Halloween
Let's just be real. Halloween is full of fun, but for those of us who are more natural-minded mamas, Halloween (and many other holidays, if honest) is another one of those times where our kids are peddled way too much plastic, junky candy and in many cases, pretty intimidating sights, sounds and stories.
The good news is that there are more and more ways to celebrate Halloween festivities in eco-friendly ways, and more ways than ever to have tricked-out Halloween tools helping us. We're glad, too, because we love little gigglers roaming through their neighborhoods in adorable costumes; we just would like to make sure we're tricking-Halloween out in an eco-friendlier way!
Here are some things to consider for eco-friendly Halloween celebrations.
- Mind Plastic. Plastic is practically unavoidable this time of year. Even if you're buying organic candy and treats, they often come in plastic bags. Costumes are overloaded with plastic and on the big night, you're likely to see several kiddos toting their loot around in plastic grocery bags or the ever-famous plastic Jack-o-lantern bucket. Not to mention all the candy wrappers that adorn tables for the next several weeks. Consider eco-friendly loot bags (we're all about old-school pillowcases!), candies and treats that are minimally packaged, costumes that use little-to-no plastic (or even better, homemade with recycled materials!) and any plastic swap-out you can on Halloween. Every little bit helps our environment while teaching that we can still have fun when being responsible citizens of the earth.
- Choose True Treats, Not Tricky Treats. We know, we know. When your child's sports team/dance club/classroom party requirement is a Halloween treat for the whole team/club/class, it can get pretty expensive when you're looking at organic treats. It's sad, and why we always advocate using our dollars to tell retailers what we really want, but the truth is, it's worth it. And, if you can't afford to do organic treats, don't feel like you have to. You can get super fun pencils or erasers or other neat little Halloween goodies that are good to the earth and useful, and you'll spend about as much as you would on that God-awful case of ring-pops in the big-box stores. Seriously, though...think about how dangerous those wrappers are in landfills-the chemicals that are leaching as we speak. If we don't want them in our children's body, Mother Earth doesn't want them in hers either.
- Dress Appropriately. Holy moly do costumes leave a very heavy carbon footprint. Think about it-they're often used and worn one time, and they're often very heavy on the plastic in the construction and the packaging. Halloween costume popularity changes as quickly as trends in childhood pop culture does, and that can leave a heavy mark on our earth and her landfills. So, instead, think about using what you already have in your closet/costume boxes. The Internet is full of DIY costumes for just about everything you can imagine, and you may likely have the items in your closet (or that of a friend). Consider a neighborhood costume swap--think about how often you'll see your child play with a toy at someone else's house but they consistently turn their noses up at the same toy in in their own playroom. Why? It's because it's always cooler when it started as someone else's! Take advantage of that and help your entire Mom's group/church group/neighborhood/child's classmates have fun and be better to the earth too.
- Designer Decorations. You know those houses that have tons of holiday decorations up for every event there is? (No judging if you're one of them; trust that we drive by just to see what you've got this year!) Well, Halloween has joined the holiday party with inflatables, lights and all things decorative, but you need to remember that Halloween decorations are similar to Halloween costumes. They're often used that year, made cheaply of cheap but bad-for-the-earth materials and are just fodder for our landfills.Instead, consider homemade decorations, particularly out of recycled materials. Kids love to make stuff out of other stuff (totally technical terms) and there are a million different Pinterest pins you can find to make something out of just about anything you have in your recycle bin, craft box and trash. This also makes each Halloween a different setup, and you can even have yearly themes where the family is involved in celebrating with their own decorations. Decorating for Halloween can take on a new and fun tradition each year, and your kids will look forward to it as much as they'll look forward to the sugar rushes! (Maybe even more!)
Halloween Levels Vary: Choose Your Own Adventure
Just take a look around. Halloween celebration levels vary greatly, and you'll find people who've been waiting all year for Halloween and people who turn the porch light off and call it an early night in. Even my own son this year has surprised me, telling me that he'd be completely cool with just putting the money I'd put into candy/costumes/etc. into a 'chillaxing night at home,' and I can't lie, it's a tempting deal.
But I also know that these childhood (and adults, if that's you--go you!) celebrations seem to fly by faster and faster each year, and there's a lot of fun to be had. Especially with some of the cool tools for tricked-out Halloween celebrations we've found.
So, whatever the level of Halloween excitement is that floats your boat? We've found something you'll most likely love!
Favorite Tools For A Tricked-Out Halloween
1. Sea Bags Recycled Sails Halloween Bags
It's always a pleasure to find companies who are not just committed to their products, but to creating them in sustainable ways that give back to the earth and to people. That's why we love Sea Bags. They're a company committed to recycling and sustainability in the truest senses of the word, as they take recycled boat sails and combine them with eco-friendly inks to create some pretty impressive pieces. Their motto, "Once a Sail, always a Sea Bag," focuses on reducing waste in the world, while at the same time, offering quality products that are loved for years and years. They take sail cloths that are no longer usable (from their pretty incredible Sail Trade program) and create gorgeous bags, accessories and more. In just the few years that they've started, they've already reclaimed and repurposed over 600 tons of sails, and they've saved landfills from nearly 6,300 sails that would have clogged them.
They also use sail trades to donate to SailMaine, a non-profit that helps young people learn to sail. Located in Portland, Maine, all their products are USA redesigned and made, and we adore their Halloween Treat Bucket Bags. They have five fun choices that are made from recycled sails, and they don't just have to be loot bags. You can put and LED light inside and it's a fun home lantern for the porch, or even use it as a planter for decorating with recycled goods. There are so many things you can do with these bags to trick-out Halloween, but we love that they're quality products that are good to the earth and can be reused for years and years
2. Nite Ize Lights and Slap Wraps
Sadly, Halloween is the most dangerous night of the year for pedestrian accidents that involve children. They're wearing costumes they're most likely not used to, running around jubilantly with the excitement of the night (and sugar) and it's dark. It's hard enough to keep track of them during the day when it's light outside, but gracious, at night? It's a whole different story.
Which is why we have fallen in love with these lights from Nite Ize. The Boulder, Colorado-based company has a ton of fun items to make sure your night is visibly safe. And if we're really honest, they're great for not just tricked-out Halloween events, but any time you or your kids will be outside in the dark. The Nite Ize SpokeLites are a must for bikers who will be out after dusk, and for the fun of trick-or-treating? We LOVE the Nite Ize SlapLit Slap Wraps! They're the fun wristlets that your kids can't get enough of, but they're perfect for keeping your kiddo lit up for visibility while out.
And, if you're thinking of partying it up before the door-to-door event (or after!), the NiteGem Waterproof Floating Lights are perfect for any outdoor activity/game, or lighting up the night on the patio, in your coolers or safely in jack-o-lanterns (please don't use candles anymore-fire hazard galore!). The Nite Ize SpotLit it is perfect for your whole family--humans and howlers alike, and we love the company's goal to move batter-based products into rechargeable options that are environmentally friendly and sustainable. In fact, Nite Ize is committed to a giving initiative they started in 2016 called The Brite Side. Their initiative focuses on philanthropy and positivity in the world, and they're using their success with Nite Ize products responsibly, supporting non-profit organizations and groups that are dedicated to making the world a better place. Count us in!
3. Starlux Capture The Flag Redux
One of the fun things about Halloween is all the neighborhood camaraderie that occurs, and it's super fun to gather before trick-or-treating (and after) with the gang and play some cool outdoor games. In fact, that's the premise of Starlux Games, really. Creator Judd King is a former high school teacher who saw the need for kids to get reengaged with each other and their surroundings, and he created Starlux Games to help kids (of all ages) and families get outside, get thinking together and get moving!
King recognized that as it gets darker in the evenings, those opportunities to do so are fewer--leaving kids more prone to turn to screens for entertainment. Instead, Starlux Games brings teamwork, strategy, fun and GLOW IN THE DARK adventure to families and neighborhoods everywhere. King says that he originally wanted to create something that would be so dynamic and engaging that it would be worth putting screens and phones down to play.
Supporting the mission of getting kids outdoors, Starlux Games regularly contributes to organizations like Girls on the Run and Scouts Now, to encourage outdoor adventures at all ages.
Their award-winning Capture the Flag: REDUX is just what you may remember from your own childhood--running and grabbing flags from friends and 'foes,' but Starlux Games adds the twist of GLOW lights. The game can be played with anywhere from 4-20 players of all ages, and it's a super Halloween night game to play because it combines glow lights, physical exercise and most important: fun! And, if flag football isn't your jam, there's also Glow Battle With Light Up Swords. Trust us when we say your house/Halloween get-together will be THE place to be with these tricked-out Halloween (or anytime!) games!
4. Pumpkin Carving Tools
Carving pumpkins is almost a must-do for Halloween. Some pro tips, though: buy from local farmers, not your local grocery. You'll get better pumpkins, support local farmers, and they'll most likely last longer. On that, make sure you don't carve too early, particularly in warmer climates. It's sort of a rookie mistake to carve your pumpkin well before Halloween, and then all you end up with is a sad, toothless looking Jack or Jill well before the big night.
And, make sure you use good tools. Pumpkins are thick, and if you want decorative art, you'll need some precision. We like this kit, with nine different pieces and a cute zipper pouch in which to keep them all. The handles are rubber, so easy to hold and use, and they are sharp (so be careful with littles) enough to get the job done.
Speaking of carving with littles, we also love this set of pumpkin punching stencils. It's super easy for kiddos to create the 'look' they want, and then to punch the stencils in without having to worry as much about cuts with a knife.
Whatever tools you use...feel free to trick your pumpkin out like you want. It can be scary or adorable, or it can even be a pro-breastfeeding one like one of our favorites from Virginia mom Taylor Tignor a few years ago!
Related: 5 Halloween Crafts That Are Good for the Earth
5. KiwiCo Glo Lab
Sadly, there comes a day when our kids may feel they're 'too old' for Halloween. Sigh. That couldn't be further from the truth, and we certainly hope you always give some love to those kiddos in the awkward years of leaving childhood and moving into young adulthood-it's tough!
And that's why we don't want to forget them! We love KiwiCo's Glo Lab for a fun activity they can get into while little goblins patrol the neighborhoods. It has everything they need for three chemistry experiments that explore all things glow, including fluorescence, chemiluminescence and phosphorescence (say those three times fast!). All your kiddo needs to supply is the curiosity!
6. Halloween Cookie Cutters by Ann Clark
Probably the most well-known cookie cutters in possibly the world, Ann Clark Cookie Cutters are the premier cookie cutters when it comes to Halloween cookies. Ann started with a piggy cookie cutter and a dream, and years later, she has turned her artistic talents and family-bonds into being an industry leader in the cookie-cutter industry. And, while you may think, "Meh, what does it matter?" it matters because what cookie cutters are made of is typically junky plastic. Yuck. Do you want that to be the basis for your family's treats? No, neither do they, and that's why each cutter is certified food safe and made in the United States. They test their products annually to be sure they're safe for our families' use, and they're still family-owned and run--sticking to the basic principles that they were founded on all those years ago.
We love the idea of making delicious treats yourself and this recipe from The Organic Kitchen will give you the perfect sugar cookie for using your Halloween Cookie Cutters. Pass them out to your neighbors for a sweet treat, or consider them as your classroom/dance club/sports team donation.
7. Dia de Muertos Skeleton Corkscrew
And no Halloween celebration (or any other time, really) can be considered truly complete without your friendly skeleton corkscrew hanging around and taking care of opening the vino for you.
It's a conversation starter for sure, and a guaranteed way to keep them talking about your tricked-out Halloween!
8. David & Young Infinity Scarves
Don't forget to trick yourself out with these adorable (or spooky--your call!) infinity scarves from David & Young. They're lightweight and sheer Halloween decorations to adorn your neck, and you can wear the infinity loop style in lots of different ways. Perfect for all the holiday functions--class party, neighborhood party, walking around Target at 2 pm on a Tuesday...
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