How to Decorate for Halloween in a way that is Wildlife-Friendly

Written by Katie Downey
Updated: October 31, 2023
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It’s that time of year again. It’s time to break out your best Halloween decorations and make your house the spookiest on the street. Trick-or-treaters love a properly decorated home, and it truly is a fun time for everyone involved. Some ways are wildlife-friendly, and some are dangerous and should be avoided. In this article, we will talk about some of the best wildlife, pet, and environmentally friendly ways to decorate your home for Halloween, and also, what NOT to do. These suggestions cover the type of decorations that are reusable year after year and won’t leave you penniless. Everyone wins this round. Now, let’s talk spooky.

Some of the Best Wildlife Friendly Decorations

carve pumpkins for Halloween

Pumpkins are a great Halloween decoration as long as you dispose of them correctly.

©alexkich/iStock via Getty Images

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Some of the best Halloween decorations can be made or grown. The best decorations are the kind with sentimental value wrapped around tradition. Depending on what part of the world or state in the US you live in, your idea of Halloween decorations may differ a bit from house to house. One thing we can all do is be more conscientious when it comes to the environment and the wildlife around us.

Pumpkins

fairytale pumpkin growing in garden

Pumpkins are a symbol of Halloween, and their arrival lets everyone know the holiday is drawing near.

©SierraLemon/Shutterstock.com

On one hand, pumpkins are all-natural, grow from the soil, and tend to break down on their own. But did you know they are also harmful to some wildlife when you dump them in the woods, believing you are feeding the wildlife a tasty snack? They make excellent decorations, and the fun had picking those special yearly pumpkins can be the highlight of the season.

If the pumpkins are not painted or coated with anything, like so many grocery store pumpkins are, they are fine to break down on their own. They can also be covered with soil in the hopes of growing your very own special pumpkins next spooky season. Another fun way to recycle the pumpkins once Halloween is past is to take them to a farm where the animals can enjoy a special snack.

Sometimes Good Intentions Go Sour

A dog trick-or-treats in a ghost costume.

Harming wildlife isn’t part of the true Halloween spirit.

©Javier Brosch/Shutterstock.com

On the other hand, pumpkins can be seriously harmful to some wildlife when dumped into the woods. Many people do this thinking they are providing wildlife with a delicious snack. The pumpkins might be tasty but can cause severe consequences for wildlife. This is especially true if the pumpkins are painted, are coated in a waxy substance, or contain pesticides.
If you live in the UK, this is the time of year when hedgehogs are storing up fat and preparing for their hibernation. Hedgehogs who eat the pumpkin will experience major tummy trouble with diarrhea and dehydration. This means they will struggle to put weight on and may die from it or not make it through winter.
In the US, feeding wildlife pumpkins is okay if they are free of paint and other harmful substances. Too much of a good thing can still cause constipation, diarrhea, and stomach upset.

Fake Spider Webbing

A boxwood bush that is covered with fake spiderwebs. There are plastic insects and spiders on top of the cobwebs.

Just say “no” to faux spider webbing.

©Jaclyn Vernace/Shutterstock.com

One of the most popular and harmful Halloween decorations is the faux spider webbing. It might give your home a super spooky look, but if wildlife becomes entangled, it will take an especially ominous turn. This stuff is bad news, no matter how you look at it. When hung on bushes or anywhere outside, it creates a deathtrap for birds and other wildlife. Birds can easily become tangled in it and die when they are not able to free themselves from the strong strings. It can also trap bees, spiders, and other insects, which will slowly die while trapped in it.

Alternative to Dangerous Acrylic Webbing

If you still want to make a spider’s web outdoors, try using old sheets or pillowcases and cut strips of material. Once you have a bunch of thin strips of fabric, arrange them however you’d like on the side of your house or wherever else you need a bit of extra spookiness.
A new favorite is to weave your web using yarn! Use thumbtacks to hold the spooky web of deception in place and set it up on the outside of your house, garage, trees, or wherever your spidey heart desires. This can also be a great way to teach children how much time, patience, and creativity goes into every spider’s web.
Another way is to use washable paint or chalk to draw spiderwebs along your home or even your driveway and for extra creepiness, set up a spooky light to shine on it on Halloween night. Get creative and make some spiders go along with it using spray-painted tennis balls with googly eyes glued on and thick pipe cleaners for legs. If you choose the driveway or sidewalk approach, have lots of little and giant spiders appear to be crawling toward the trick-or-treaters!

Bales of Straw or Hay

Bale, Hay, Agricultural Field, Sunset, Agriculture

The options are endless when choosing to decorate with square or round bales of hay or straw.

©iStock.com/Artush

Surely, you’ve seen others use bales of hay or straw when decorating for Halloween. If the hay is unpainted, reuse it throughout Autumn for decorating or scatter it throughout your yard to provide good coverage for grass seed after the holidays.

If you choose to paint a round bale to look like a pumpkin or bat, it will last for a while and can be repainted to be different Fall symbols after Halloween. Please do not give the bale to animals once it sits in the rain. It will primarily be not animal friendly if you do choose to spray paint it unless it is a large round bale and you can remove the painted section entirely.

Alternatively, you can wrap the round bale in baling plastic wrap and decorate the plastic without ever harming the actual hay. Reuse the hay for animal feed or bedding when it’s time as a Halloween decoration has finished.

Old Clothing and Scarecrows

A terrible forest sorcerer with a canvas bag on his head and in a sackcloth robe stands in a dense forest with a black raven on his hand. Scarecrow. Halloween Tales. Horror, thriller.

A spooky scarecrow is easy to create and costs very little.

©Kiselev Andrey Valerevich/Shutterstock.com

Since we’re on the subject of straw and hay, why not use some of it for an extra spooky scarecrow to send chills up the children’s spines? Making a scarecrow is fun to do alone or with children and just takes a little creativity. It’s also highly sustainable since you can use old clothes along with straw to create the body of the scarecrow. Later on, you can recycle the scarecrow into an Autumn scarecrow. Scatter the straw on the ground, and reuse the clothing next year.

If you want to make it extra spooky, add a scary Halloween mask and some burlap for clothing. Get as creatively spooky as you can handle, then set the scarecrow somewhere ominous where trick-or-treaters will need to be brave enough to walk past.

The ghost is covered with a white ghostly sheet in the autumn gloomy forest. A spooky white ghost peeks out from behind a tree

Sheet ghosts are a lovable and timeless classic.

©Yav_Olha/Shutterstock.com

Sheets aren’t just for sleeping on! Use some old sheets that are just taking up space in your closet to make some adorably creepy ghosts around your yard. Bonus points for using tattered sheets! All you need to make this dream become reality is (of course) the sheet, a metal coat hanger, and something to use as the head. This can be a newspaper, a ball, round foam to stick flowers in, or even another old sheet. Use the coat hanger to make spooky arms, as seen in the photo, and a string, ribbon, metal, or whatever you see fit to hang the ghost from a tree, bush, or your house. Don’t forget to add some black eye holes and recycle them for next Halloween when you finish.

Bats From Recycled Cardboard

Paper bats and witch cutout on brick wall. Halloween decor

Cutout bats are an easy and reusable way to decorate for Halloween.

©New Africa/Shutterstock.com

This is an easy and fun decoration that anyone can do, and you don’t have to cut out bats. Try making pumpkins, witches, monsters, and whatever else you can come up with. This is a fun project to do with children or friends. All you need is your recycling container and some scissors.

Get out whatever cardboard you have and color it with markers, or for an easier way, spray paint it! If you choose to use spray paint, you can create designs and multicolored bats. When finished cutting out your Halloween decor, use a thumb tack, some string, or tape to fix your creations on the house or anywhere you want an extra dose of spookiness.

Monster Doorways

Halloween pumpkins and decorations outside a house

A fun doorway is always a great way to celebrate the season.

©Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

Creating a spooky or fun Halloween doorway is another fun, creative, and cost-effective way to get into the Halloween spirit. Check out some photos of homemade door decorations online, and get ready for the spooky ideas to flood your mind. Since trick-or-treaters will all be walking up to your door, keep it kid-friendly and fun with creepy pumpkin or monster faces.

If you are feeling extra creative, make some faces to use for your garage, shed, parked vehicle, fence, or anything else you can think of. Bring the faces to “light” by setting up a solar Halloween light to shine on your artwork. Another idea to try out is the reverse or “silhouette” effect. Simply tape the used cardboard onto your windows and put orange, purple, or green lights up behind them on Halloween night. This works better if the cardboard is black, which you can paint or spray paint, or you can go with the true recycled theme and leave it “as is.”

Lollipop Ghosts

Halloween lollipop ghosts on gray concrete background, horizontal orientation

Lollipop ghosts are fun for children and adults!

©Inna Limanskaya/Shutterstock.com

The innocence and sweetness of lollipop ghosts have been fun for children for many decades! If you don’t want to use lollipops, you can always stuff a big pom-pom into a white handkerchief for a longer-lasting effect. Don’t forget to add googly eyes!

There are many fun ways to showcase your art and spooky ghost-making skills with this project. Choose some Halloween-themed ribbon to tie the ghosts’ heads into place, and string them together with some burlap twine to make a banner on your bushes and trees for an incredible outdoor look. You can also use paper clips to organize them however you’d like.

Use your witchy smarts and devise a fun Halloween ghost-themed school treat for all the youngsters in the class. Consider trying to jazz it up a step more by setting up a pan of deep-dish rice crispy treats dressed to look like a graveyard. Add the happy lollipop ghosts sticking out so they appear like they are floating. Some black cats and zombies would be spooktacular, too!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Inna Limanskaya/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Katie Downey is a writer for A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on wildlife, arachnids and insects. Katie has been writing and researching animals for more than a decade. Katie worked in animal rescue and rehabilitation with handicapped cats and farm animals for many years. As a resident of North Carolina, Katie enjoys exploring nature with her son, educating others on the positive role that insects and spiders play in the ecosystem and raising jumping spiders.

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