Cheap, Sophisticated DIY Halloween Decor (Zero Waste)

What’s an eco-blogger to do during a 6 day hurricane evacuation? Get a jump start on building a cheap DIY Halloween mantle!

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Last year I pulled off dark and creepy apothecary themed Halloween decorations pretty much without buying a thing - except for my pumpkins and flowers. It proved to me that all you need is a little creativity! To anyone who thinking they simply don’t have the time - how much time did you spend in traffic on the way to the store? Or looking for a parking spot?

My mother collects just about everything under the sun, especially natural things. (Love you, mom!) This made making this year’s Halloween mantle a snap, but got me thinking: couldn’t everyone do this?

Cheap, Sophisticated DIY Halloween Decor (Zero Waste)

The answer is yes, absolutely. Especially if you own a SCOBY, good Lord.

  • Save yourself some money.

  • Use compostable ingredients or items from the kitchen.

  • Use things you already own. (You do own enough things already, I promise.)

  • Save the planet.

  • Take a break from consumerism.

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*This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click through and give the product a whirl, I get a tiny fee for spreading the news at no extra cost to you.

Before you get started, decide on a look.

If you have kids, you may want to go with brighter colors and a sillier feel. Black and white is always a classic favorite. I love a sophisticated spooky, so I went with earth tones.

Also, I was decorating my mother’s home and not trying to terrify the neighbors… or move the artwork.

Cheap, Sophisticated DIY Halloween Decor (Zero Waste)
Cheap, Sophisticated DIY Halloween Decor (Zero Waste)

What You’ll Need For Your Cheap and Sophisticated Witch’s Workshop Halloween Decor:

  • assorted used candles in your chosen color pallette, candlesticks (optional)

  • various mason jars, vases, glass food jars without labels, apothecary jars

  • glass cake stand (optional) and various boxes

  • twigs

  • dried flowers (baby’s breath, roses, mums, or anything from the garden)

  • thumb tacks or small nails

  • old books (or decorative paper to fold over covers)

  • other natural elements: feathers, crystals, rocks, dried grasses, wheat, loose tea, sundried tomatoes, tomatillo husks, moss, dried mushrooms, etc… NOW IS THE TIME TO SHOWCASE THAT SCOBY, Y’ALL.

  • fabric for draping: last year I used old rags, this year I used leftover mesh from the crafting heap. Vintage linens, cheese cloths, table runners, sheets, or doilies would work perfectly.

  • torn paper for jar labels/spells (if desired)

  • any leftover plastic spiders/rats/silhouettes from last year

Cheap, Sophisticated DIY Halloween Decor (Zero Waste)
Cheap, Sophisticated DIY Halloween Decor (Zero Waste)

What I used:

  • mesh fabric

  • vases, boxes, used pillar candles, brass candle holders

  • various crystals and rock souvenirs from family vacations

  • my grandmother’s books

  • dried lemongrass flowers, dried baby’s breath, tomatillo skins, twigs, dried flowers

  • feathers

Getting Started:

  1. Decide what areas of your mantle or home you want your Halloween decor to encompass. I wanted it to be large and a centerpiece but not cluttered or overly symmetrical.

  2. Drape fabric. Secure with tacks or nails (tape is likely to fall). Mantles are easier for draping because they often have hidden nails for Christmas decorations. Consider draping any art you don’t want to relocate for the holiday if it conflicts with your color palette or theme.

  3. Choose your focal point. I went with a vintage cake stand I dug out of the garage and a bird’s nest. (I realize most people don’t just have birds’ nests laying around. But you COULD do dried flowers, a jar of twig “wands” or large mason jar with “spell components” such as sundried tomatoes (troll ears, anyone"?) or a SCOBY (captured spirit?!). A candelabra or sconce with melted wax on top of a stack of books would be beautiful.

  4. Place loose natural elements in jars, boxes, vases as desired. Label with torn pieces of paper taped to jars using double stick tape - or tucked into display in front of jars.

  5. Arrange jars and boxes along mantle or table, using books to create height and vary the skyline of your display. If you don’t have vintage books, consider wrapping covers of books with artisan paper or dye new paper by dipping in tea. Let paper dry, then cover books.

  6. Add in any traditional Halloween decorations like spiders, rubber mice, or silhouettes you may have on hand.

  7. Step back and review mantle. Add dried flowers, vines, candlesticks where needed to flush out the predetermined area you’d like your display to encompass. I tucked the dried Baby’s Breath and lemongrass flowering fronds along the edges and corners of the mantle to soften my overall look.

The best part of this cheap DIY Halloween decor was that it was all things my mom owns or has collected. The dried okra, flowers, twigs, feathers, dried lemongrass fronds, and tomatillo skills are easily compostable, but everything else just goes back on the shelf… save for the crafting mesh, spiders, and lone mouse.

It felt really good to pull off a mantle not only without spending a dime but without creating any trash!

Does anyone else have any zero waste Halloween ideas? Leave them in the comments below!

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Cheap, Sophisticated DIY Halloween Decor (Zero Waste)
Cheap, Sophisticated DIY Halloween Decor (Zero Waste)
Cheap, Sophisticated DIY Halloween Decor (Zero Waste)
Cheap, Sophisticated DIY Halloween Decor (Zero Waste)