You know that song “If Every Day Could Be Christmas“? I wish every day could be Halloween.

My mom used to say that Halloween is the best holiday—it’s non-religious and non-patriotic, so it doesn’t exclude anybody. It’s just people celebrating all of the best moments of childhood: staying up late, gorging on yummy treats, and playing pretend.

Admittedly, going crazy with decorations, candy, and costumes is one of my guiltiest pleasures about Halloween. And I’m not alone: Americans this year will spend $7.4 billion on Halloween consumption. (That’s $77.52 per person!)

I confess: I know I’ve spent more than my fair share on Halloween over the years. As a fire dancer, Halloween is my busy season—I work parties every night in October, and so I accumulate a lot of waste from costume and prop changes. Cheap plastic decorations from the Halloween mega-store? I’ve been there.

But Halloween doesn’t have to be a big-waste holiday, for me or for you. My dance troupe and I have learned a lot about getting crafty and getting thrifty this fall, and it’s got me excited to share what I know!

Here are four tricks (and treats) to a waste-free (and hopefully inexpensive) Halloween:

1. Candy

Candy is unavoidable. C’mon! It’s Halloween! Every kid wants candy, as evidenced by the 600 million pounds ($1.9 billion dollars’ worth) of candy Americans buy during Halloween season.

But if you’re going to shell out on treats this season, you might as well make sure they are waste- and guilt-free treats.

Green Halloween offers a full list of all-natural, organic candy that is ethically sourced and packaged. There also lists of treats for those poor souls out there who can’t or won’t eat chocolate—such as organic fruit strips and honey sticks.

My personal favorite goody on this list is Endangered Species Chocolate—this company donates 10% of net profits to organizations devoted to protecting wildlife and humanitarian efforts. It is also stamped with pretty much every certification you can imagine: Endangered Species Chocolate is Rainforest Alliance certified, Non-GMO Project Verified, entirely vegan, gluten-free, and kosher.

My favorite bar? Almond butter crème-filled dark chocolate. Oh my word. But if you’re handing out little candies to the kids, you can buy boxes of .35oz. Organic Bites.

It should be noted that these products are more expensive than ordinary, inorganic M&M’s that you find in convenience stores—but in my opinion, the little more you spend on price is worth the experience of eating Earth-friendly yum-yums.

You can also upcycle candy bar wrappers into crafts and decorations for next year—take a spin through ecouterre or Pinterest to get inspired.

2. Decorations

Decorations account for over 28% of all Halloween spending. And of course, the holiday season wouldn’t be the same without pumpkins. Pumpkins are a harvest-time staple—in 2012, we spent roughly $149 million on nearly 19,000 tons of pumpkins. But what’s there to do with a Jack-O-Lantern after it’s carved and lit?

Don’t let it go to waste! Rethink how you use the pumpkin: you can compost, bury, or cook your pumpkin—or even use your porch gourd as a beer keg.

And as for other decorations, consider not buying single-use home Halloween décor—make your own instead! You can use the advanced search bars on sites like Pinterest to filter just upcycled project ideas.

I also like to use is craftgawker.com—browse through ideas for Halloween food, styles, and dwellings, and check out entire sections devoted to “upcycled” projects.

3. The Creepy Stuff

Are you planning on going as a zombie? Maybe a vampire? Or absolutely anything that feasts on human flesh? Don’t pay for the little toxic tubes of fake blood or “brains”. You can make massive quantities of edible fake guts using simple ingredients in your kitchen—all you need is water, corn syrup, food coloring, and chocolate syrup.

To prepare for this ghoulish delight, whip up a batch of the recipe, and wrap up packets of the goo in saran wrap. You can easily hide packets in the palm of your hand, and then crush it while gently applying it to someone’s throat. The fact that the fake blood is not only edible but also very tasty makes it easy to pretend to feast on somebody’s flesh.

To mix in some fake organs, add chopped-up tomatoes to the fake blood.

4. Costumes

Need a costume, but don’t have the moolah for something new? There are entire groups online dedicated to Halloween costume clothescycles.

People post photos and descriptions of used costumes that they are willing to sell or trade. If you want to buy an item, most people accept money sent to them via Paypal or Venmo, and then they will send it to you in the mail. Presto.

Of course, you can always browse your local thrift shop for cheap, used, waste-free goodies. Or my personal favorite place to score cheap spooky finds—your local Halloween mega store dumpster.


 Thalia Patrinos is known as Tippy to her friends, because she is light on her feet (and it’s easier to pronounce). She is a writer by day, fire dancer by night. Tippy floats between NYC, DC, and Baltimore—constantly trying to find ways to make her impact on the world small and sweet. Check out her performance troupe, or examine her other artistic creations via her blog or her tumblr.