How I Made an Epic Halloween Mantle from Ordinary Household Items
Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. You get to dress up, eat candy, and there's no Catholic guilt. Wahoo!
But... what's a girl to do when her favorite holiday is seemingly at odds with her new commitment to saving the planet? Think about all those pumpkins headed to the landfill, where nothing apparently is biodegrading, the endless candy wrappers, and plastic decorations shipped in from God-knows-where that we toss from year to year.
Is there a more eco-friendly approach to Halloween? Could I do better? I lay in bed pondering this thought and then hit on an idea.
I've been obsessed with apothecary decor since a recent Asheville trip landed us at the Crow & Quill.
Imagine your eccentric great aunt Sally served boozy cocktails and had a jazz band, and you'll have an idea of the interior. So I took a stroll around my house with fresh eyes and a morning cup of coffee and realized that aside from the pumpkins and some flowers...
I had everything
I needed for an epic Halloween.
And you probably do, too!
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Here's what I used for my spooky apothecary look for a more eco-friendly Halloween:
vintage pharmacy bottles (mason jars or clean bottles from your recycling would work well too, and here's a blog post on how to rough them up, if you're so inclined)
tablecloth, rags (sheets, table runners, etc would work just as well)
twigs (OK, basically I repurposed a rose bush I recently killed. We can't all be Martha.)
Here's the before picture. (Heeeey pup!)
The most important place to start, for my picky little witchy self, was the color palette. I knew I wanted to do something more minimalist and monochrome this year, so I decided to go with black, white, and GREEN. Orange can be the new black every other day of the year.
Then it was off to get the pumpkins.
Buying pumpkins isn't typically eco-friendly, unfortunately.
But I am going to compost them all, and you should too!
Go for the lumpy ones!
Those weird gourds hanging and dangling off the mantle is one of my favorite parts of this easy DIY Halloween mantle. And remember, gourds will translate really well to Thanksgiving table settings or decor.
The second step was grabbing some Baby's Breath and wheat.
The Baby's Breath smells amazing and dries well, and the wheat will also be easy to repurpose for Thanksgiving. Eucalyptus or rosemary would have been equally as cool, or dark roses!
Or if you're on even more of a budget than I am, any bundled greenery would work. It will just look even creepier as it dries.
Things were coming together well! I had bottles, flowers, and some killer pumpkins. I even found gourds that were so dark green, they were nearly black. But they didn't show up well against the dark brick of my home, so I decided to go a little Ms. Havisham with the place and drape everything with some white rags and a small tablecloth.
Once I had the cloth up, I remembered I had last year's mice and raven cut outs - I had printed templates off the internet and traced them on construction paper - somewhere in the depths of the carport closet. THAT corner of Moore Manor is permanently decorated for Halloween. Egads!
But if you're not up for the manual labor of cutting out silhouettes, I think the display would be even cooler with old photos from a thrift/antique store. They're usually only $0.50 - $1.00 each. Or just rip some pages out of an old book!
I was going to throw some vintage-style labels on the bottles that you can print online or draw yourself... but I work for a living. Ain't nobody got time for that.
Still, my decorations looked SO CLOSE but still not quiiiiiiite done. I wandered outside, coffee in hand, to try to figure out what was missing.
Fortunately, I just killed a rose bush.
Martha would be horrified.
A few snips of the dead plant, some pruning of it's neglected neighbor, and a fair amount of swearing (the murdered rose bush exacted a thorny posthumous revenge, foul shrubbery), and I was ready to add my final touches.
The spiky, threatening greenery added the perfect ominous air, and I couldn't help thinking, as I gazed on my little paper ravens, that Poe would have been proud. Not bad, for household items!
Here's how it's a win: this year's decorations are things I already own and plan to continue owning, or they're compostable. The only trash generated was the cellophane on the flowers. Is it fully eco-friendly? ...Nope. But it's certainly a step forward! And as Donnie DeSanti so aptly said, it's about the celebrating the small wins, not trying to change your entire life in a week.
Apothecary theme not for you? Looking for something simpler? Try these ideas from Queen Martha herself: