To create these pumpkins as pictured on our October 2012 cover: Choose three flat-bottomed pumpkins in graduated sizes and different colors. (No need to hollow them out.) Using a ¾-inch hole-saw bit, drill circles in desired pattern. Switch drilled plugs between pumpkins of different colors. We pushed the plugs slightly below the skin for a 3-D effect. Using a wood-carving gouge or tip of a vegetable peeler, cut random swirls.
Fluttering butterflies alight on pumpkins in this attractive fall centerpiece. We spray-painted faux butterflies from a crafts store all black for a sophisticated look, then trimmed their wires to press into the pumpkins’ skin. A harlequinlike mask adds whimsy.
We got the notion to decorate an assortment of pumpkins during a trip to the local fabric store. A warty gourd took on black spots when we hot-glued on assorted sized buttons. Other buttons march down a white pumpkin like a fancy shirtfront; white bead-head straight pins secure them and color coordinate the look. Those same pins daintily trail down the sides of a small orange pumpkin; while measuring tapes and rickrack pair for measureless possibilities on another when attached with glue or pins. But we really love our last idea: We pinned on a zipper and removed the “lid” of a large pumpkin to create its unzipped look.
We can't resist a little skin-crawling fun! Plastic spiders wander over pumpkins draped in ripped cheesecloth. “Hairy” cording feels a bit like a spider’s trail on another. Add a faux crow, and you’ve set the proper spooky mood for Halloween.
Trendy animal-print ribbon and duct tape dress pumpkins in fashion-forward style. We applied stripes of black electrical tape and zebra duct tape on a white gourd. Tiger- and leopard-print ribbon segments fit between grooves to form a checkerboard (applied with fabric glue) on our larger pumpkin.
Put together a Halloween outdoor display like this one—featured on the October 2009 cover of Midwest Living®—using a weathered wheelbarrow as a base.
Stuff the bottom of the wheelbarrow with newspaper. Add a mix of pumpkins, gourds, fall leaf branches and bittersweet vines. Paint a friendly message on your pumpkins, if you like.
Cast a distinctly regional spell on your Halloween pumpkins with designs that represent some of our favorite Midwest icons!
Our online collection includes the barn, maple leaf and lighthouse pictured, plus stencils of a log cabin, ear of corn, deer, eagle, pinecone, sunflower and wheat -- all designed specifically for Midwest Living. Use a combination of cutouts and etchings for your designs. Click below to browse our designs and download free patterns.
Create a striking pumpkin grouping with traditional orange pumpkins and black paint.
Use masking tape to create desired patterns (cover areas you want to remain the pumpkin color). Spray-paint pumpkins black; remove tape to reveal design. Paint your favorite Halloween sayings between stripes. Create dots in black-painted areas by drilling holes with a cup drill bit.
An assortment of cattails, leaves, seasonal berries and orange tulips creates a memorable autumn display for a sideboard or table centerpiece. Posing the cornucopia in pretty white Lumina pumpkins adds a sophisticated surprise.
Remove the tops of the pumpkins and hollow out the insides to make fall vases. Place a watertight container inside each pumpkin to keep flowers fresh and prevent pumpkins from getting soggy.
Display your favorite fall foliage colors with simple decoupage (gluing flat objects or pictures to a surface). Real leaves applied to a white pumpkin set a sophisticated scene.
Set leaves between paper towels and flatten them under a book for at least five days. Then brush decoupage glue on a white pumpkin. Arrange the leaves on the pumpkin's surface. Cut small slits along the edges of the leaves as you go, so they'll fit the pumpkin's contours. To finish, coat the decorated surface in decoupage glue.
Create black-and-orange etched designs on three or four pumpkins for a bewitching display. Carve out one to hold a vase full of flowers.
To start, spray-paint the pumpkins a matte black finish. (Protect the stems with tape.) When the pumpkins are dry, use a paring knife to scrape away the painted surface in vertical or horizontal lines. Or etch a simple shape or pattern, such as the sun or a zigzag.
Combine two fall favorites by turning a pumpkin into a bursting-with-mums flower arrangement.
Begin carving as you would with a jack-o-lantern. Carefully cut a lid (keep the stem!) and remove the seeds and pulp. Using a drill or nail, poke small holes around the shell, just wide enough to insert flower stems. Select mums in oranges, reds and golds. Cut the stems about a half inch from the flower head, long enough to poke into the hole. Space holes so adjoining flowers cover the pumpkin flesh. Start at the top, and work your way down until the pumpkin is covered.
The number of mums you need depends on the sizes of the blooms and your pumpkin. Keep the inside of the pumpkin moist; flowers will last two or three days.
A painted crow makes an appropriate Halloween appearance in a birdbath lined with twigs or a grapevine wreath.
Send your guests a spooky message with this towering display.
Sketch the outline of the letters freehand, then scrape off the pumpkin skin to highlight each letter. Stack the pumpkins on a dowel near your entryway.
Whimsical dots create a two-tone or multicolor design with season-long appeal.
Use a plunger-type apple corer to punch out circles from an assortment of pumpkins and winter squash. Tapping the plunger with a rubber mallet helps push the corer through tough pumpkin shells. Then re-insert the circles in contrasting-color pumpkins. Mix and match the circles from different pumpkins to create polka-dot patterns, or discard circles to let light glow through your design.
Go all-out for a party with imaginative displays of pumpkin-inspired fall decorations. The next slides show how to craft the projects shown at left and other pumpkin party creations that will impress your guests.
Miniature Baby Boo, Jack-Be-Little and Sweetie Pie pumpkins become perfect candleholders when hollowed out for votives. We used old pitchforks, rake heads and an antique apple picker as simple wall sconces. (Safety note: Never leave burning candles unattended.)
Painted pumpkins offer the fun of seasonal decorations without the mess of traditional carving. To put your painting in the spotlight, add your designs to unusual squash or pumpkin cultivars, like this striking blue-green Jarrahdale pumpkin at left.
To paint any pumpkin, start with one that is clean and dry. Lightly sand the surface and apply paint sealer to prevent flaking. Create a design with stencils and acrylic paint, such as the leaf stencil and orange and white paints used here, then finish with a top-coat sealer.
Like working with a three-dimensional quilt, you can mix and match cut shapes from different-colored pumpkins for a custom look. At left, orange squares make a checkerboard pattern in a white Lumina pumpkin.
Scoop out the insides, then cut identical shapes out of two pumpkins. Switch the pieces.
It's important that pieces to be exchanged are of the same size. For a precise edge, you can use tools such as metal cookie cutters, biscuit cutters and an apple corer to help with your cutting. For a more handcrafted look, design your own template.
Set a seasonal scene on your porch or patio using our patchwork and paint techniques to create a beautiful grouping of pumpkins. Add flowers, fall leaves, small pumpkins and fresh vegetables to embellish your inspiring display.
Use antique keys (secured with long straight pins) to create seasonal messages, such as FALL or EEK, on your pumpkins.
White pumpkins encircled by bittersweet vine and set along an orange table runner create a striking table arrangement.
Painted bats (or bats cut from black construction paper) look spooky on your doorstep or inside.
An assortment of mini pumpkins and fresh fall leaves creates a pretty fall window swag.
Knot your fall bounty on a length of rustic twine, and swag across your panes to frame a pretty autumn view.
Pair all-white or orange-stripe pumpkins with white tableware for a soft, elegant look.
All-white pumpkin varieties include 'Lumina', 'Baby Boo' and 'Moonshine'. Try 'Lil' Pump-Ke-Mon' for a miniature pumpkin with creamy color accented by bright orange stripes.
Give pumpkins a dash of extra color with rickrack or ribbon from your local fabric shop.
A simple but elegant painted stencil decorates this pumpkin.
A painted black cat chases three mice on pumpkins lined up atop an outdoor wall. Get shapes from clipartguide.com or another website. Print, cut out, and tape to pumpkin. Trace around shape, remove paper, then paint inside your lines.
A jarful of black buttons and a bottle of glue can give any pumpkin a ghostly message. Finish with a bow on top.
We created faces with eyes, mouths, noses and eyebrows cut from black construction paper and glued to pumpkins. If you want to make a whole scene, use construction paper to make a fence, moon and crows behind your pumpkins; attach with removable double-side tape or temporary adhesive that won't damage your walls.
Glue your favorite dried leaves on pumpkins in a variety of patterns.
Create a fresh-from-the-patch table runner in just a couple of minutes.
Arrange a line of miniature pumpkins or gourds down the center of the table and weave a ribbon around them. Top with a bittersweet stem.
Turn miniature pumpkins into tabletop topiaries accented with raffia bows.
Hot-glue a piece of Styrofoam into a 4-inch terra-cotta pot. Push a sharpened dowel or tree branch into the bottom of a miniature pumpkin, and push the other end into the Styrofoam. Secure with glue if needed. Spread dried beans or peas over the top of the Styrofoam, gluing if necessary. Tie a raffia bow around the dowel just below the pumpkin.
Create these cute, almost-good-enough-to-eat pumpkins with spray paint.
Make a fuss-free centerpiece by displaying several pumpkins or gourds on the table.
Our arrangement uses a long white platter, but a basket or tray would work well, too. Add a few leaves, berry clusters or flowers for color and texture.
Greet your guests at the door with a pumpkin house-number sign.
Stack small, medium and large Cinderella pumpkins (remove stems, except for the top one). Then use a stencil and crafts knife to trace the outlines of your address numbers. Scrape the pumpkin skin out of the stenciled numbers, revealing the lighter pumpkin flesh underneath.
Small pumpkins add a fresh touch to a fall table setting. And they're not afraid to work as place cards while they're looking pretty.
Start by inscribing colorful leaves with your guests' names. Then tie the foliage to mini pumpkins with raffia or twine.
A pumpkin "basket" makes an imaginative centerpiece for a fall table.
Here, a large pumpkin holds an arrangement of fall flowers and berries, as well as a white candle nestled in the center. Hollow out the pumpkin, then place a block of wet floral foam inside. Position a pillar candle in the foam and surround with fall blooms.
Summer still blooms when you translate flower motifs to autumn pumpkins.
Use an apple corer to cut flower centers, and carve petal designs with a triangle clay loop tool, available at some crafts stores or through pottery supply stores online. Swap flower centers among different-color pumpkins for whimsical contrast.
For carving: The quintessential pumpkin has a rich orange hue, medium to large size and strong handle. Look for varieties such as Howden Field (15-30 pounds), Magic Lantern (15-25 pounds) and Autumn Gold (8-15 pounds).
For painting: Pumpkins with smooth skins are best for painting or decoupage. Try varieties such as Lumina (10-15 pounds, white) or Baby Pam (4-5 pounds, orange).
For color contrast: Pumpkins look artsy in exotic and two-tone colors; no additional ornamentation needed. Look for Cinderella (25-30 pounds, dark orange/red color with deep ridges, Jarrahdale (9 pounds, with blue/green or slate gray skin), Hooligan (miniature with orange and white mottled colors), Fairytale (15 pounds, with rich mahogany brown color) and Batwing (1/4 pound, with orange and green coloring).
Click below for more great fall and Halloween decorating ideas!