Sustainable Halloween Costumes You Can Make at Home (And Where to Go if You Can’t)

DIY Halloween Costumes

Halloween. The holiday that tends to creep up on us just as the back to school rush calms down.

Crap.

You may already be panicking. What do the kids want to be this year? I need to start decorating. What treats should I get? Where’s the pumpkin carving kit?

But here’s the scariest part of Halloween…

According to the Fairyland Trust and Hubbub, in 2017 94% of families planned on buying a Halloween costume. 4 in 10 of those costumes are worn only once and 7 million get thrown away. Each. Year.

Of those costumes 83% of the content is made of plastic contributing 2079 tonnes of plastic waste to landfills adding to the already ghastly 300 million tonnes of textile waste a year.

Now, some costumes do get donated to charity shops, but if the original tags are cut off, many shops won’t sell them because of issues with fire safety, so those end up in the bin, too.

Sadly only 14% of us make costumes anymore. The rest of us help spend £510 million on costumes in the UK alone.

(And that doesn’t include the plastic waste from candy wrappers and the money spent on cheap décor.)

But the spooky holiday doesn’t have to mean all doom and gloom. There are plenty of ways that you can enjoy the festivities, save money, and reduce your waste!

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Where to Get (or Buy) Sustainable Halloween Costumes

Resist the temptation to buy cheap costumes during your next food shop and try these tips for scoring great costumes that won’t harm the earth.

Swap

According to Hubbub, half of those surveyed weren’t sure about using costumes worn by strangers but 73% were perfectly happy to swap with family or friends, so get busy and organise a costume swap.

If you are feeling like a super-leader and want to organise something bigger start at your child’s school. See if you can get the school/PTA to host a swap. Parents and teachers can make it a crafting event, too and share ideas for face painting, making accessories for costumes-like wands and head pieces, and even repairing costumes that need a little TLC.

Second Hand

If you are part of the half that doesn’t mind purchasing preloved costumes than there are several places to snag just about anything you can think of!

Charity shops will be putting out there stock if you happen to pass by, but you can also order from the comforts of your home on Vinted.com or Depop.com. Both have people selling fancy dress costumes for kids (and adults) and it’s a good way to sell any costumes you can’t use anymore.

sustainable halloween, second hand halloween costumes

Easy Homemade Halloween Costumes

Avoiding character specific costumes allows you to be creative and have a truly unique costume. So many costumes can be made using shirts, dungarees, and leggings- clothing items likely to be in your wardrobe already and then all you need are accessories like scarves, tights, headbands or hats, and jewellry.

Many of the things you don’t have can easily be thrifted in your local charity shop or online second hand shops like Vinted.com and Depop.com.

Some ideas for Halloween costumes you can make at home:

A Pirate:

Easily made using a white peasant style top, leggings (if they are older you can do a large zig-zag cut to shorten them), a scarf for a belt, and a bandana for a headpiece. Items you might source could be a vest, striped socks or tights, jewellry and an eye patch.

A Fortune Teller:

Similar to the pirate but a long boho-styled skirt, big hoop earrings, and a crystal ball

A Minion:

A yellow shirt and some dungarees! Add some white gloves and a minion hat that can be used all winter!

A Zombie:

This is one of my favourites because it’s soooo easy and fun to make! Grab an old outfit to “destroy.” (I used a men’s shirt and trousers from a charity shop). Shred the shirt at the wrists and waist, and the trousers at the ankles. Then roll your outfit in the mud and let it dry. Some face makeup and sticks for your hair and you have an amazing zombie! I would wear a base layer under this though as it can be scratchy. When Halloween is over, hose the excess mud off, wash it and use the material for projects or bring it to H&M for their clothes recycling scheme.

A Ninja:

Another easy one. Black top and trackie bottoms for the base. Then get black material or scarves for a headband and waist sash. This is a pandemic-friendly costume as well since you can incorporate a black face mask.

A Cat:

Similar base as the ninja, a black top and black leggings. Then some black nail polish and face paint, source some ears on a headband, and use either a scarf or some maribou for a tail and to accessorise around your wrists. (The same costume with Mickey Mouse ears and you have a mouse).

A Fairy:

If you have a dancer then this is easy! A leotard and tights with ballet slippers. Then find or make a skirt, add wings a wand, and some eco-friendly face glitter and you are good to go.

A Princess:

Same base as the fairy but add a longer skirt and a crown instead of wings.

A Ghost:

A sheet?… Or you can find a light coloured nightgown, pasty face makeup and sprinkle corn flour in your hair to make it white/silvery without chemicals.

A Vampire:

A white shirt, black trousers and some face paint! You can make a simple cape using this cape pattern. The pattern is so versatile that there are 33 other variations you can make using the same pattern. Fancy dress costumes forever!

A Mummy:

Wear an all-white base layer and cut an old white sheet into strips to wrap your mummy with. You can “age” the strips by dipping them in tea to create a yellowy-brown colour. Then add some face makeup.

Animals:

Animals are easy homemade costumes. Face paint and head-to-toe in your chosen animals colour and you are set. If you want you can pick up a dance unitard in almost any colour as your base. Then add feather boas for wings and tails, or make a cape with this cape pattern that has an animal head as the hood. Some animals you can try- lions and tigers, flamingos, peacocks, owls, bats, and bears.

A Witch:

Using the same cape pattern from the animals and vampires, you can easily turn it into a cape for a witch. Wear a black dress or (top and skirt), tights and then grab a hat and a broom and you are set!

Other Ideas:

Have fun with makeup, biodegradable glitter, and colourful wigs to make some fun memorable, one-of-a-kind costumes like rock stars, robots, a person from the future, a person from the past (think decades 1920s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s), aliens, mermaids, wizards, elves, gnomes, trolls, other mythical creatures like unicorns.

If You Must Buy Something…

You may not be able to find what you want second-hand. And you may not have access to a sewing maching to make exactly what you want, but there is an alternative. Consider looking at Etsy for unique, handmade costumes and accessories. It may not be the most sustainable option, but it’s better than the cheap, mass-produced costumes you find in the shops. By shopping with Etsy, you support a small business and you get carbon-neutral shipping.

Don’t Be Part of the Scary Statistics

Halloween costumes don’t have to be a source of waste if we think about second-hand Halloween costumes and making them with items we already have.

If you use items you wear day to day, you won’t be throwing your costume away at the end of the evening.

If you use items like boas and other accessories, they can easily be added to a dressing up box when Halloween is over or repurposed for other costumes later (think nativity plays and World Book Day).

And if you purchased an item already that you don’t plan to keep, consider reselling them to someone that would use it again on apps like Vinted.com and Depop.com. Not only will you reduce your waste, but you can put a couple quid back in your pocket.

Have a Happy (and Safe) Halloween and let me know in the comments what cool ideas you came up with for DIY Halloween costumes.

17 Unique Valentine’s Day Gifts (And Why You Should Avoid Roses)

Valentine’s Day.

That holiday that creates pressure to be uncharacteristically over-the-top romantic using red roses and chocolates.

Well, if you are ready to try something different you’ve come to the right place.

Here you will find enough unique gift ideas to get you through several Valentine’s Days and probably some anniversaries, too.

But first, please, no more cut flowers and roses.

I’ve been reading How Bad Are Bananas by Mike Berners-Lee and have completely changed my outlook on bouquets of flowers which just happen to be the universal symbol for Valentine’s Day.

According to Berners-Lee, a single, out-of-season rose (aka roses in February) effects climate change potentially as much as four and a half kilos of bananas being shipped from thousands of miles away.

Then if you think about the amount of land and resources being used to grow the roses; land and resources that could be growing food and you are talking a big impact in the name of romance.

And finally, when you actually buy the flowers, they are generally still wrapped in plastic that can’t be recycled.

Not so romantic now, huh?

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So, here are 17 alternatives that are still romantic, will last longer, and be more fun to receive.

1. Handwritten Bracelet

Write a special message in your best handwriting and Etsy will turn it into a handwritten bracelet. A sentimental gift that can last as long as your love. You can even order one in rose gold for a bit of traditional symbolism.

2. What I Love About You Journals

Along the same lines as the handwritten bracelet, this is a handwritten journal that will be not only romantic, but potentially hilarious as you get a chance to show off your drawing skills. Stick figures, anyone?

A fun keepsake that the recipient can look at when she needs cheering up or is missing you.

3. A Love Map

Another unique Valentine’s Day gift that will last longer than a rose, the love map can be any significant place to mark a significant point in your relationship- where you met, first kiss, first “I love you’s,” cities where you’ve lived together, and so on.

4. Star Map

Again, with maps, but this time-maps of the stars. You give a date and time when your relationship started and you will see what the stars above may have looked like at that moment. The moment was written in the stars. Cheesy! But so romantic.

5. Have Your Song Turned into Art

Maybe you both have a song that you sing together, a song that reminds you of each other, or a song from a significant moment like a first dance. Whatever the song have it turned into a beautiful, contemporary piece of soundwave art that will remind you of each other when you see it, but give you an earworm as well.

Not all gifts need to last forever as a keepsake.

Making your own hamper can be as individual as your partner. You can spend as much or as little as you want. You can make it themed. Think of it as a Date Night In, in a box.

The box or basket can be something you already have and use scarves for the base and wrapping.

Assuming you pick goodies your partner will use up, this can be a great minimalist-style gift with little to no waste depending how careful you are at finding plastic free items.

Good thing you have this list!

6. The Cinema Hamper

Put in a DVD (easily found second-hand with no packaging) or a picture of your online rental along with some popcorn, a candy treat for each of you, and maybe a cozy, recycled wool blanket to snuggle in on the couch.

Order some take-away so no one has to cook (unless you want to). And you are set for a night in. If you have young kids, you both know how rare this experience is now!

Easily turn the gift into a night out with cinema vouchers instead.

7. The Relaxing Hamper

Create a spa evening for two by putting together some rose scented soap, yummy smelling heart-shaped bath bombs, some massage oil and either scented soy wax candles or a diffuser with some essential oil.

Relax in the bath, exchange massages, and see where it takes you. No aphrodisiac necessary.

8. The Saucy Hamper

This is similar to the Relaxing Hamper, but with a little extra something. Grab a Gin and Tonic Hamper, or Prosecco and Clementine and throw in a small (or big) bottle of the real thing. A Saucier version of the relaxing hamper, but since you’re home, no one has to drive so you both can let loose.

9. The Chef Hamper

Making a meal together can be fun. Lee and I used to cook together when I still lived in California. We’d pick a recipe and make it together. For me it was an early lunch and for him a late T. But it worked.

Find a recipe and maybe handwrite it on a cute recipe card to keep and make again.

Throw in some ingredients and maybe a personalised wooden spoon and a couple of aprons, and you both can cook up some love in the kitchen. How and where you decide to eat it is up to you.

10. The Inner Child Hamper aka Sundae Hamper

Find a couple of cute soda fountain glasses, tall spoons, an ice cream scoop, chocolate sauce, and any other toppings of your choice and you can have an ice cream sundae party for two big kids.

Ok, so maybe we want to be a little more adult for this holiday. And maybe you want to get out of the house.

Memories make the best presents, can cost as much or as little as you want and- if they’re good ones-will last a lifetime.

So here are some unique Valentine’s Day date ideas besides a “romantic meal” for two.

11. Chocolate Making Class

Why buy chocolates when you can make them together and eat them together?

Potentially messy fun and a sweet experience.

12. Make Rings

Instead of buying jewellery, make it! This could also be an interesting way to “pop the question” if you are so inclined.

Already married? This could be a fun anniversary gift and then renew your vows.

13. Winemaking

Sampling your creations along the way could call for a night out as well or at least a taxi. Lunch is included as well as a tasting of award-winning creations in case yours aren’t as stellar.

14. Stargazing

Get away from the light pollution to spend an evening under the stars. Peaceful, romantic, and a chance to cuddle if there’s a chill in the air.

15. Surf, Pizza, and Prosecco for Two

What’s not to like? A beach day, pizza, and prosecco! Unique Valentine’s Day gift for the win!

16. Canoeing for Two

Maybe you prefer to stay out of the water.

So, working as a team to canoe a canal could be fun and if you have a large meal after, you can enjoy it knowing you got some exercise in as well.

17. Swing Dancing

Dancing is so much fun. I took ballroom dancing for a year and a half and all walks of life were in there having a ball. Give it a try and you may have a new hobby to enjoy as well.

Experiences are only limited to your imagination. It’s a thoughtful gift and memorable.

They are my favourite to receive. They don’t have to be extravagant or expensive- taking a yoga class, or getting a couples massage are great choices for getting out and doing something besides dinner and drinks.

If these particular experiences aren’t in your area you can search Travelzoo, Airbnb, and Groupon for experiences by region and there are tons out there!

Hopefully you have found the list inspiring and made planning Valentine’s Day a little easier.

Oh, and if you get a card, avoid the glitter so it can be recycled.

Let me know in the comments below some of the best gifts you received for Valentine’s Day? How about the worst?