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Decking out your haunt
Halloween tricks and tips to keep your Halloween green
Crafts Halloween2
A Happy Pumpkin Family was created from “The Best of Martha Stewart Halloween Handbook.” This project is crafted with a minimum of carving and accessorized with natural objects, such as nuts, leaves and berries. The pumpkin tiers are held together with wooden skewers. - photo by Victoria Pearson

Creatures of the Night

When: 2 - 5 p.m Saturday
Where: Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center

Some of the new do-it-yourself ideas for decorating, dressing and snacking this Halloween are downright spellbinding.

"Green Halloween is a national initiative, said Jason West, director of development at the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center. "I think it was a mom who decided that Halloween was not all that environmentally friendly of a holiday. There's so much consumption."

But there are a lot of ways to avoid that trap.

"The Best of Martha Stewart Halloween Handbook," available in many grocery store checkout lines, is billed as a "bookazine" - half book, half magazine.

Decorating highlights include silhouettes that can be made and hung in windows, an idea that could be expanded to include creatures beyond the scary birds of prey that Stewart shows.

And for inside the home, projects include carving peeled apples into shrunken heads.

There's a chapter on pumpkin carving, with about a dozen projects. And entertaining ideas include the clever "piña ghouladas" for adults and "Boo-nilla shakes" for the kids.

A few tricks for decorating the yard? Use cardboard to make tombstones for the lawn and recycle them afterward. Instead of buying synthetic spider webbing, use yarn to make your own web - or just hang the yarn from the ceiling. It feels spooky to walk through in the dark!

"Basically (the initiative) involves two fronts," West said. First, with candy, most people give away candy to trick-or-treaters. You can trade traditional candy for organic candies, or honey sticks. North Georgia has a ton of beekeepers. Honey sticks are a pretty good treat. In addition to that, you can do art supplies, (like) a pack of crayons or bubbles."

Costumes are another way to get creative, especially on a budget.

"The other component, we're suggesting for decorations or costumes, that instead of buying a costume, reuse a costume. For the last month we've had a collection box for old Halloween costumes. What we call a costume swap. You bring an old one in, and take one from the box."

Another book dedicated to Halloween crafts is "Witch Craft" (Quirk Books, 2010), with ideas for handmade accessories, decorations and treats.

Crafts include spider earrings created with glass beads, and a clever idea that morphs a pair of inexpensive, slip-on Mary Janes into black cats, vampires or Frankenstein.

Saturday the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center will be hosting Creatures of the Night Festival & Hike. The event will include Halloween crafts and fun for all ages, followed by a hike through wooded trails full of nocturnal creatures.

So there is no reason you can't have a hauntingly good time and maintain a sense of "Hallo-green."