In Ireland and Scotland, people have used decorations with pumpkins for centuries, primarily as the quintessential Halloween decoration, the jack-o-lantern. Come autumn, spooky and delightful pumpkins alike haunt the doorsteps of many U.S. homes. While the traditional jack-o-lantern is carved, painted pumpkins offer a low-mess alternative that is safe for pumpkin enthusiasts of all ages.
Rich and Flo Newman of TagYerit have proven that, although possibly the most obvious use of the painted pumpkin, painting faces on pumpkins doesn't have to be dull. The music duo's webpage is full of dozens of wacky and weird painted pumpkins sent in by pumpkin painters from all over the U.S. The ugly, odd and misshapen pumpkins overlooked in the pumpkin patch because they aren't suitable for carving often make the best pumpkins for painting faces. Lumps and inconsistent shapes become noses, brows and distinctive facial shapes. Of course, even the perfect, round pumpkin can become a pirate, witch or alien fit for startling trick-or-treaters at your door.
Pumpkin Snack Bowl
A seasonal alternative to cheap and ecologically unfriendly plastic bowls, serving candy and snacks in bowl crafted from a pumpkin adds a festive touch to your Halloween party table setting. Begin by cutting a pumpkin in half and removing the guts and seeds. Bake the pumpkin in a 375 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes and, when cooled enough to handle, scrape the rest of the flesh from the inside of the pumpkin. Decorate your bowl with a border or paint it with a bold color to match your party's theme. Halloween- and autumn-themed stencils make decoration easy for those less artistically inclined. You can prepare smaller pumpkins similarly and use them to hold arrangements of autumn flowers and leaves.
Pumpkins aren't just suitable decorations for Halloween. Thanksgiving and other harvest celebrations are also fitting occasions for showcasing the classic harvest fruit. Choose a medium-sized round pumpkin, and look for a stem that forms a shape like a bird's head. Paint the stem as the turkey head and cover the pumpkin with a layer of brown paint to act as the body. Create a fan of colorful feathers out of heavy paper--or use real turkey feathers, if you have access to them--and glue them to the back of your turkey to create a harvest-themed table centerpiece.
If you're not terribly adept with a paintbrush or want some quick pumpkin decorations for your home or party, stencils provide a quick and simple way to create a painted pumpkin. Find seasonal stencils at a craft store or create your own by printing out images and carefully cutting them out. Tape the stencil onto your pumpkin and trace the shape with a pencil, then paint inside the outlines with a solid color. For a Halloween theme, paint a yellow moon and stencil an arching black cat or broomstick-riding witch on top of it. For a harvest or autumn theme, stencil leaf shapes and paint them with autumnal colors.