Not to be a Halloween Scrooge or anything but it boggles my mind that Americans spent about $7 billion dollars last Halloween. It'll probably be higher this year and yes, that could be equivalent to a GDP of a small country.
Sure, this type of spending can stimulate our lackluster economy right now but I can think of other meaningful ways to spend money than on cheap costumes and decorations for one-time use. So, to be less wasteful and eco-friendly, I make a point of making homemade costumes and decorations by reusing many things around the house. It’s fun and gets your creative mind going to make things rather than buy decorations. And especially when you get kids involved, they love how their creations turn out!
One of the easiest decorations to make is a luminary using a glass jar that you would normally toss into the recycling bin. And you can use flameless battery-operated flickering lights instead of candles to avoid potentially toxic fumes and to prevent fire around trick-or-treaters. And what would even be greener is to use solar-powered walkway garden lamp light bulbs. They are inexpensive to purchase at any home improvement center and they cost nothing to light up. Just leave the lamp out during the day to get charged up and you are good to use them in the luminaries!
To make a Solar-Powered Jack-O-Lantern you’ll need:
• Glass bowl with a wide mouth opening
• Solar-powered walkway lamp light bulb
• Spray paint
• Permanent marker
• Gloves and mask
• Newspaper or cardboard to cover the work area
1. Wear a mask and gloves and line the work area.
2. In a well-ventilated area, spray paint the outside of a wide mouth fish bowl or a flower vase with non-toxic spray paint.
3. Then, paint the facial features with permanent markers.
4. Unscrew the top portion of the walkway lamp and insert the solar- powered light bulb into the glass bowl.
And, introducingggg……Solar-Powered Jack-O-Lanterns to scare off your trick-or-treaters! Or, even better, keep them safe on your porch.
But once they leave the porch, what then? You can upcycle mason jars, salsa or spaghetti sauce jars into super cool translucent luminaries to light up the walkway. To make Glass Jar Walkway Luminaries, you’ll need:
• White crafting glue that will dry clear
• Food coloring
• Empty glass jars
• Sponge paint applicator
• Newspaper to cover the work area
1. Place a few drops of orange food coloring into glue in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Make a darker orange hue because as it dries on the glass jar, it will become lighter.
2. Paint outside the jar with a sponge paint applicator. Coat a few more times after it’s dried to make sure it’s covered.
3. Another method is to pour a few tablespoons of the glue inside the jar and swirl it around to coat completely. This will take longer to dry.
4. You can draw facial features or leave them plain. Either way, add candles or flameless candles and voilà, you've got twin luminaries!
To make Mummified Luminaries you’ll need:
• Empty glass jars
• Gauze or cheesecloth
• Permanent marker
1. Line the table with newspaper - it’ll get messy.
2. Cut the gauze or cheese cloth strips about 1-2” wide cut in workable lengths. I like using about 6 inches in lengths at a time.
3. Mix flour and water to make a consistency of thick gravy. I used unbleached whole wheat flour for this because it has tiny black specs and darker in color and I wanted the color of the lanterns to look like aged mummies. Depending on how many glasses you are using and how big they are, the amount of flour and water you’ll need will vary.
4. Once you have a smooth flour and water mixture, soak the gauze strips in the glue. Gently squeeze out the glue mixture from the strips so that they are not dripping but moist.
5. Start covering the jar with strips in an irregular pattern. No one expects mummies to be perfectly wrapped, so, don’t be a perfectionist. It’s ok to be less uniform.
6. When the jar is completely covered, let it dry overnight.
7. Cut out the eyes and mouths with black construction paper and glue them on. Or you can use a permanent market and draw them in. Whatever is easiest for you. Easy peasy, right?
And now, you have a collection of various upcycled glass jar luminaries that will stay with you forever. Have a Happy Eco-Friendly Halloween!
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