How to Hold a Zero Waste Halloween Party

Here is how you can hold, decorate, dress up and cater for your own zero waste Halloween party by making the most of resources you already have around the home.

zero waste halloween

Often associated with greed, commercialism and over consumption, Halloween has never been seen as an eco friendly celebration. In fact, almost as much money is spent at Halloween as Christmas on food, brand new costumes and decorations. The majority of these soon find themselves heading straight for landfill sites as soon as the event is over- a truly scary thought! But really, there is no need to spend a penny at this time of year, and a successful Halloween party is entirely possible without spending money and generating waste. Here is how you can hold, decorate, dress up and cater for your own zero waste Halloween party by making the most of resources you already have around the home.




Dressing up is one of the most popular elements of Halloween, with children and adults alike embracing the chance to get creative and dress completely differently to how they would the rest of the year. The tradition stems from superstition that the dead would walk the streets on October 31st and people would disguise themselves to keep themselves safe from scary spirits. Nowadays, the superstition has died out, but the practice of dressing up is as popular as ever.


Fancy dress costumes can be expensive and wasteful, often being thrown away once the night is over, and usually made from a range of non recyclable and even toxic plastics. Make your Halloween more resourceful and creative by making your own costume from materials around the house, or look in a charity shop for something suitable. For inspiration on making your own Halloween fancy dress costume, take a look at this article.




The nights are drawing in much quicker, so why not make the most of all the extra darkness to create a spooky backdrop to your party? Most shops will sell all kinds of plastic streamers, cobwebs, cheap ornaments and even animatronics which contain non-recyclable plastics, but a dark room lit with candles or LED lights creates a far more eerie atmosphere. Plus, it saves money on costly decorations and electricity! Other decoration ideas include:


  • Dead autumn leaves and branches- collect them from a park or the garden and use to create eerie centrepieces and ornaments for around the house
  • Traditional pumpkin lanterns- use the pumpkins innards to make a delicious stew or pumpkin pie. Carving lanterns into faces can be great fun, and the whole lantern can be composted once finished with.
  • Draw your own monsters, skeletons and other ghostly designs and pin them up around the house. They’ll look extra spooky against the backdrop of a candlelit room, and can be reused or recycled afterwards.




Getting the food right is one of the most important parts of making your zero waste Halloween party both eco friendly and enjoyable. With the nights getting darker and colder, Halloween is a great opportunity to cook some hearty, warming dishes such as stews, broths and curries. Use local, seasonal ingredients such as potatoes, turnips, button mushrooms, parsnips, carrots and onions to make delicious organic dishes which are sure to be popular with your guests. For desert, try cooking with clementines, pears or winter berries.


For party drinks, save on packaging by buying large bottles of juice or pop to pour into glasses or reusable plastic tumblers. The same can be done with alcoholic drinks instead of buying crates of individual cans or bottles. To keep up the Halloween theme, try brewing alcoholic and soft drink witch’s cauldrons of punch using different juices and sliced fruits. Use a ladle to serve in smaller glasses for all your guests to try.


Keep your party zero waste by providing reuseable crockery plates and cutlery instead of the usual disposable paper and plastic, meaning no waste to end up in landfill sites for hundreds of years!


Trick or Treat


The concept of trick or treat has been loved and loathed by parents across the western world, but this tradition, which is often associated with greed and materialism, needn’t be overcomplicated or filled with waste. Instead of handing out wrapped sweets and pre-packaged cakes, try baking your own cupcakes and decorate with home made icing. Cookies and shortbread can be made easily, and cut into the shapes of ghosts, witches etc to continue the Halloween theme. Organic and Fair Trade confectionery companies often cater for Halloween, so keep a few packs on hand to give out to trick or treaters. As a kinder option to children’s teeth and tummies, hand out seasonal fruit to add some healthier variety to their stash of goodies.


Activities and entertainment


So the house is decorated and the guests have arrived- but how do you keep them entertained whilst still keeping your party eco friendly? Halloween is a great time to look back to traditions of the past, so old fashioned games such as apple bobbing still go down particularly well amongst adults and children. If you’re holding a children’s party, put a spooky twist on traditional party games such as musical monsters (musical statues), ghost hunts around the house and garden, wink murder or pin the tail on the witch’s cat. Make a playlist of spooky songs and play them in the back

Image sourced: Anders Lageras

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