You can keep your spooky ghosts and ghoulish goblins— give me all the pumpkins! Okay, okay… Honestly though, as much as I hate to say it— I’m really not the biggest fan of the pumpkin flavors that are so popular this season. But I think I can redeem myself in a world of squash-crazed bloggers with my utter adoration of the pumpkin itself. I mean, just check out my dining room in the image below! If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.
When I was a kid, the only time I was allowed to use a Sharpie marker was at pumpkin carving time. After scooping out the insides and separating the seeds from the orange goo, my brother and I would, with great exhilaration, wield our dangerously permanent markers and carefully draw the designs we wanted on our pumpkins. Meanwhile, Mom would make hot chocolate as Dad checked on the pumpkin seeds roasting in the oven. It was a special time. I think I usually just drew out pretty basic jack-o’-lantern designs, and then Dad would take over with the carving knife to make my designs a reality.
These days, pumpkin carving is still fun, but pumpkin decorating is a lot easier. Plus, pumpkins last a lot longer when they’re not carved. I always seem to let jack-o’-lanterns turn mushy before getting rid of them (because who likes throwing away pumpkins? No one!). So this year I decided to skip the carving all together. I invited my (now adult) brother and his girlfriend over to help us decorate our pumpkin loot, and we had so much fun! I put out baskets full of paint and supplies, and we had a grand ol’ time listening to Ella Fitzgerald, sipping wine, eating cookies, and decorating a pumpkin or two.
Check out the easy no-carve designs we did below!
My favorite technique for pumpkin decorating is definitely a simple paint job. When arranged together on a door stoop or mantel, a variety of paint techniques can create a visually stunning display.
Gold Leaf Paint // Painting a pumpkin with gold leaf paint creates a bit of glamour. Glamorous pumpkins? They’re not just for Cinderella stories, folks. Phil free-hand painted the top left pumpkin using the natural vertical lines of the pumpkin as his guide.
Bold Stripes & Puffy Paint // The pumpkin next to the gold one was gloriously squatty and warty. All it needed was some white paint to make it over. I used larger white stripes to contrast the gold-painted pumpkin to the left, and accented those stripes with white puffy paint. It made an interesting, sophisticated-looking design without being complicated to paint.
Puffy Paint Lace // Puffy paint was a lot of fun to work with when decorating our pumpkins. I easily drew a lace-like pattern with white puffy paint on this light colored pumpkin above left. The paint did take a few hours to dry, though, so be careful when moving it! I smudged mine a bit.
Painted House Numbers // Rather than attempting to free-hand numbers onto a pumpkin, I printed out large numbers, cut them out from the paper, and traced around them onto the pumpkin with a black marker. Then I filled it in with black paint. Pretty easy! It will look great on my brother’s front stoop.
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Sponge Painted Pumpkins // This little guy got a nice coat of white paint (brushed on acrylic craft paint), including the stem. Then dots were created by dipping a sponge paint dabber in gold leaf paint. The smaller dots were made with a pencil eraser! Then I pushed in brads to accent the larger dots. To give detail to the stem, it was given a light brush coat of gold paint too.
Stenciled Pumpkins // I love the intricate, yet graphic look that stenciling gives. I bought a set of craft stencils which worked beautifully on the pumpkins. They are already sticky, and can even stretch to conform to the curve of the pumpkin. Perfect! The possibilities are endless when it comes to stenciling.
Embellished pumpkins are easy to decorate, and because there’s no paint involved, they can be easily altered according to your whims. I think all of these pumpkins coordinate nicely and would work beautifully to create a long tablescape for a dinner party.
Floral Dots // Pop the head off some plastic daisies or mums to make quirky flower-dotted pumpkins. I adhered my flowers with glue dots, but you could use straight pins instead.
Twine & Rope Designs // Nailheads secure twine or rope to give graphic detail to these pumpkins. This design looks complex, but it was so quick and easy to achieve! Just wrap the twine around the first nailhead and push it into place to get started. Leave the other nailheads loose until the design is complete, then push them into place.
Nailheads // Pushing nailheads into the skin of a pumpkin is so quick and easy. You can do something as simple as random dots or make patterns with the nailhead placements. Depending on how many nailheads you want to use, this look works better with small and medium pumpkins.
Garlands // Wrapping a fall garland around a pumpkin is also very simple, but creates an elegant, whimsical look that makes a beautiful table centerpiece. I used straight pins to secure the garlands, and then bent the wire twigs to make it look a bit more natural and carefree.
Decoupage Leaves // Decoupaging pumpkins can be difficult because of its spherical shape, but I was determined to decorate this squatty pumpkin with leaves if it was the last thing I did. I found the trick was to work with the natural way the leaf bends and curves, and to use straight pins to hold the leaf in place as you brush a top coat of Mod Podge on it. As the Mod Podge began to set up, I brushed more on top of it to really get the leaves to lay flat.
Corn Husks // Want a more naturally looking striped pumpkin? Corn husks are the way to go. Unless you can find long corn husks, this look works best with smaller pumpkins. I found my corn husks in the Mexican food aisle of my local grocery store, then cut them to size, and used Mod Podge and brads to hold them in place.
How festive do these guys look? I think they look magical! The mix of embellished, painted, and gold leafed pumpkins is such a fun way to decorate for the season.
I love the way all of the painted pumpkins have turned my home into a wonderland of autumn, but my absolute favorite? Why, that would have to be the gold painted pumpkin above. Don’t you think Phil did a good job with that one? Which one’s your favorite? –Mandi
Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella of the Signature Collection and Pearl from the Fresh Collection.
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