By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting
Between the abundance of candy, the cheesy horror films and the desperate search for a costume, Halloween can sometimes be an overlooked opportunity to make social change. Savvy young nonprofit professionals know better, though. Not only are there countless opportunities to stuff yourself silly with seasonal goodies, there are a number of ways to give back to the community, support eco-friendly practices and even be healthier. If you want to use Halloween as an excuse to get more people involved in the causes you care about, read on for fun ideas on how to do just that.
Host a costume swap party
There are a million reasons why I love this concept, but in the interest of brevity I will share with you just a few of my favorite costume swap party ideas. Strict holiday budgets are no reason to miss the Halloween festivities—sharing costumes with friends is a cost effective and eco-friendly way to celebrate. All you need to do is gather your friends and have them bring their unwanted costumes from the last few years. Any costumes left over after you swap can then be donated to local shelters and thrift stores that give back to the community or nonprofits that can redistribute the items to clients. If you do wish to make a monetary donation in addition, make a game of it with friends. Offer to donate a specified amount per costume that your friends bring to be given away and choose a favorite charity together (or give the money to the same organization you give the costumes to), or ask that friends join you in donating the money they would have spent on a new costume to a local nonprofit.
Donate leftover candy
Have you ever been left with a candy hangover after the holidays? If you wake up the day after Halloween feeling sick from all the candy, there is still a way to make good of the situation. Hold an office donation drive (make a game of the event if your office mates enjoy a good competition), collecting leftover candy from kids’ trick or treat bags, parties or from your own stockpile. Children’s Hospital Colorado has 15 spirited ideas for putting leftover candy to use, including giving the candy to Operation Gratitude, which sends the candy to troops overseas, or a participating business (better yet, you can organize your office as a donation center and extend the invitation to friends and clients to drop off candy that you will then donate to a specific cause). You can also find local nonprofits, nursing homes or children’s homes that are accepting candy donations.
Buy fair trade/socially responsible
Do you plan to host a party or give out candy to neighborhood kids? Use your holiday dollars to influence change around the world by buying fair trade and local products. Fair trade chocolates like those from Equal Exchange, a personal favorite of mine, come in a variety of healthy options such a vegan and gluten-free and support fair working conditions. If you’re hosting a party, look for fair trade cocoas and socially responsible treats like those from Women’s Bean Project to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth and use Dreambean soy candles to light your jack-o-lanterns and create a spooky décor.
Halloween fun does not have to come at the expense of the environment, social good, your waistline or your wallet. Young professionals can host the party of the season, give out the highest quality goodies and lead friends and coworkers in supporting great causes, all without sacrificing fun. To learn more about eco-chic Halloween tips, check out this article from the Huffington Post; to get more creative costume and candy ideas, visit Jen and Joey Go Green blog. What are you doing this year to scare up some fun? Let us know by leaving a comment below.