21 Fun, Easy Ways to Celebrate Low-Waste Halloween

Halloween is an exciting holiday filled with games, treats and spooky costumes. Unfortunately, it often creates a scary amount of waste. From plastic candy wrappers to flimsy single-use costumes, many Halloween activities end up sending excessive waste to the landfill. 

Luckily, celebrating a more sustainable Halloween doesn’t mean giving up your favorite traditions. With these low-waste Halloween ideas, you can have a fun, memorable holiday without creating a negative impact on the planet. 

Zero-Waste Halloween Activities for Kids

Get into the spirit with these quick low-waste Halloween activities and crafts. They use simple household supplies and only take a few minutes to prep. And they encourage your child to tap into their creativity and imagination!

Halloween Countdown Chain

Prep time: 5-7 minutes

You’ll need:

  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Stapler

Growing up, my family always made paper chains to count down the days until Christmas. We loved tearing off a piece every morning and seeing the big day get closer. You can make a Halloween countdown chain worthy of being rattled by any ghost!

At the beginning of the month, cut out 31 small strips of paper. Try upcycling old printer paper, newspaper or past school papers. 

Next, make them into rings one at a time using staples or a staple-free stapler. Loop each ring through the previous one to create a chain. Each day, tear off one ring to count down to Halloween. Remember to recycle or compost the paper after use.

Shadow Puppet Show

Prep time: 2 minutes

You’ll need:

  • A sheet and chairs or a blank wall
  • A flashlight
  • Background music (optional)

In a darkened room, drape a sheet over two chairs. Prop a flashlight on a pillow or book and turn on some Halloween-themed background noise. Then use your hands to create a puppet show. You can retell a favorite scary story or make up something new.

Paper Bag Monsters

Prep time: 2 minutes

You’ll need:

  • Paper bags
  • Crayons, colored pencils or markers
  • Other decorating supplies (optional)

Give your child a paper bag and decorating supplies. Turn the bag upside down and draw eyes above the fold, then draw a mouth inside the fold. When they’re finished creating their monster, help them put their hand inside and make the monster talk. 

Roll-the-Dice Creature Drawings

Prep time: 2 minutes

You’ll need: 

  • Dice
  • Paper
  • Crayons, colored pencils or markers

This activity is a great way to practice counting, small motor skills and creative thinking. On a piece of paper, draw a shape for a body. Next, roll the dice for each body part and draw that number. You may end up with a creature with six heads and one eye, or one head and six eyes. Either way, it’s sure to bring on some giggles!

Ghostly Slime

Prep time: 5 minutes

You’ll need: 

  • Cornstarch
  • Water
  • A medium-sized bowl
  • Spoons or measuring cups

Mix 1½ cups of cornstarch into 1 cup of cold water to form a thick paste. This ghostly slime can mimic a liquid or a solid, so it makes a great sensory activity for kids ages three and up. 

You can give your child spoons, measuring cups or small cups to use with the slime. After they play, the slime is easy to clean up. You can wipe it up with a cloth or let it dry and use a broom or vacuum cleaner.

Invisible Ink Messages

Activity from The Art of Manliness

Prep time: 10 minutes

You’ll need: 

  • Paper
  • Spoon or small whisk
  • Small paintbrush
  • Medium paintbrush
  • Two small bowls
  • Newspaper
  • Apron or paint shirt (optional)

For the invisible ink:

  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda

For the reagent:

  • ½ cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder

Write and reveal secret messages with this easy invisible ink recipe. You could even draw an invisible treasure map!

First, place several layers of newspaper on the table to prevent liquid from soaking through. Next, whisk together ½ cup water and 1 tablespoon baking soda in a small bowl. Let your child draw, write or paint invisible messages with a small paintbrush. When they’re finished, allow it to dry fully for about 15 minutes. 

Then create the reagent by mixing ½ cup rubbing alcohol and 1 teaspoon turmeric powder. Using a medium-sized paintbrush, spread the reagent across the paper and watch your child’s secret message appear.

Pumpkin Walk

Prep time: 15-20 minutes

You’ll need: 

  • Upcycled paper
  • Markers
  • A small bowl
  • Tape
  • Mini pumpkins or gourds
  • Music

Note: This activity works best with a small group. 

Write numbers on papers and tape them in a circle on the floor. Write the same numbers on small slips of paper and place them in a bowl. Have children line up on the papers and play Halloween-themed music. 

When the music plays, children walk around the circle. When the music stops, they stop on a paper. Draw a number from the bowl and let the child on that number pick a pumpkin or gourd!

Spider Webs

Prep time: 2 minutes

You’ll need:

  • Yarn
  • A hat loom

Tie one end of the yarn to a spoke on the hat loom, then let your child loop it around the spokes to create their own spooky spider web. After they’ve finished, show them how to wind the yarn back into a ball so the “spider” can use it again.

Window Graveyard

Prep time: 2 minutes

You’ll need: 

Use window-safe crayons or markers to decorate. Your child can create an eerie graveyard with tombstones, ghosts or other creatures. Drawing on a window instead of paper makes it extra fun!

Easy Low-Waste Halloween Snacks & Recipes

Halloween may be synonymous with candy, but there are other tasty ways to celebrate. These recipes all take under 20 minutes to make and are deliciously low-waste. You can create an extra spooky atmosphere at meals by using natural beeswax candles for lighting. 

Dinner in a Pumpkin

Recipe from Tastes Better from Scratch

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 55 minutes

Serves: 5

You’ll need:

  • 1 medium pumpkin (or 2 smaller pumpkin pie pumpkins)
  • 1 pound ground beef (sub black beans for vegetarians)
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup carrot, diced
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 2 cups wild rice, cooked (or use brown rice or quinoa)

For the Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth (sub vegetable broth for vegetarians)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

This hearty meal is a perfect way to fuel up for trick-or-treating. You can roast the seeds after scooping the pumpkin clean (see recipe below) and enjoy the delicious flavors of fall. 

Get the full recipe here.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Prep time: 5 minutes

You’ll need:

  • Raw pumpkin seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper or other seasonings

Pumpkin seeds are rich in key nutrients like iron, magnesium, zinc and antioxidants. They’re also a great source of protein and fiber. Roasting the seeds from your pumpkins helps you reduce waste, too. 

To remove any leftover pumpkin guts, rinse the seeds in a colander under cool water and separate them from the strings. Then add the strings to your compost pile.

Next, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Drizzle 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil onto a sheet or roasting pan, then add the pumpkin seeds. Toss to coat and spread in a single layer. 

Roast the seeds for 5-20 minutes, or until they begin to brown. Let them cool, then toss with seasonings of your choice and enjoy.

Witch’s Brew

Prep time: 5 minutes

Serves: 6-8

You’ll need: 

  • 1-2 lbs of dry ice
  • 2 liters of the beverage of your choice
  • Large glass bowl or cast iron pot
  • Ladle
  • Rubber gloves
  • Tongs

My childhood friend’s birthday was on Halloween and she had this bubbling brew at her party every year. Her mom always wore a witch hat and scooped it out with a cackle!

Using gloves and tongs, place dry ice in the bottom of a thick glass bowl or a cast iron pot. Add the beverage combination of your choice, such as apple cider, sparkling water or lemonade. Serve using a ladle (witch hat and cackling are optional).

Ghostbuster Hot Cocoa

Prep time: 5 minutes active time, 2-5 hours freezing time

You’ll need: 

Warm up on a chilly October evening with this supernatural drink. Don’t worry, there’s no ectoplasm required. Kids will love watching the ghost melt away, and they won’t have to wait so long for their hot cocoa to cool.

Freeze milk, cream or non-dairy milk in an ice cube tray. Once your cubes are completely frozen, pour a steaming mug of hot chocolate. Then add a “ghost” cube and watch it melt away. Stir and enjoy!

Witch Hat Ice Cream

Prep time: 5 minutes

You’ll need:

  • Ice cream cones
  • Ice cream or sorbet
  • Toppings (optional)

Turn ice cream into a sweet little witch by scooping it into a small cup or bowl and placing an upside-down ice cream cone on top. Add any extra toppings you like and enjoy.


Prep time: 10 minutes


You’ll need:

  • 8 slices of bread
  • ½ cup milk of your choice
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or oil
  • Fruit, coconut, chocolate chips or other toppings

Help your child unleash their inner mad scientist by creating an edible monster for breakfast (or lunch or dinner). 

Preheat a skillet on medium heat and add butter or oil. In a shallow bowl or small pan, whisk together milk, eggs, cinnamon and vanilla. Dip bread slices into the mixture one at a time, coating both sides. Cook on each side until golden brown. Repeat with the remaining slices.

Then, let your child decorate their Franken-toast with cut fruit, shredded coconut, chocolate chips or other toppings. 

Halloween Trail Mix

Prep time: 5 minutes

Serves: 6 ½ cup servings

You’ll need: 

  • 1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks
  • ½ cup dried apple slices or other dried fruit
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup toasted coconut flakes (optional)

This snack mix combines healthy fats, fiber and sweetness for an irresistible treat kids and adults will love to munch on. In a medium bowl, toss all ingredients together and portion into reusable silicone snack bags.

Tangerine Jack-o-Lanterns

Prep time: 2 minutes

You’ll need:

  • Tangerines
  • Permanent marker

Make miniature jack-o-lanterns you can take on the go with this quick craft. Use a permanent marker to draw pumpkin faces on tangerines. These also make a healthy, plastic-free alternative to candy for trick-or-treaters!

For more plastic-free(ish) ideas for trick-or-treaters, check out this post.

Inspiration for Eco-Friendly Halloween Costumes

Dressing up is one of my family’s favorite parts of Halloween. Unfortunately, most costumes are made with synthetic fabric and plastic props. And since Halloween costumes are often used just once, they quickly end up in landfills. 

The good news is that with a bit of time and creativity, you can create unique, eco-friendly Halloween costumes. Here are some ideas to get the Halloween looks your kids love without creating extra waste.


Before you go to the store, try shopping for costumes in your own closet! You can hunt around the house for supplies and create a costume without buying anything new.


Buying secondhand helps divert waste from landfills and give items a new life. It’s also easier on your budget than expensive novelty costumes. Start browsing early and don’t limit your search to the Halloween section. With a few secondhand finds, you can create a costume that’s truly one-of-a-kind.

Ask Around

Check with family, friends or neighbors to see if they have costumes you can borrow. This is another way you can reduce waste, and it saves you from having to store old costumes afterward! 

5 Easy DIY Costumes

If your child isn’t sure what they want to dress up as, here are five quick costume ideas that use items you probably have at home.

  • Scientist: Swim goggles, an old white dress shirt, rubber gloves, an empty bottle with colored water and a homemade lab ID tag
  • Artist: Apron, paintbrushes, a painting palette (make your own by cutting an oval from cardboard and making a finger hole) and a beanie or beret
  • Zookeeper: Fishing or camping vest, baseball cap, walkie talkie, nametag and a small stuffed animal
  • Chef: Apron, chef’s hat (make your own from paper), whisk or spoon, string tied to two small fruits and vegetables to put over their shoulder (optional)
  • Athlete: Sports jersey, shorts, tennis shoes, sweatband, water bottle and a medal (make your own with cardboard, gold paint and a lanyard or string)

Don’t be afraid to mix things up and get creative. You can also use eco-friendly paints or makeup to add extra flair to your child’s costume.

Wishing You a Sustainably Spooky Halloween

We hope these ideas help you feel inspired to celebrate a uniquely low-waste Halloween. It’s difficult to eliminate waste from this holiday completely, so don’t pressure yourself to be perfect. Instead, have fun while working toward sustainability. That way, you can create lasting memories you and your kids will treasure long after their candy is gone. 

Do you have a favorite Halloween tradition? Have you found other sustainable swaps to make it a greener holiday? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!