These no-carve pumpkins are quick and easy to create using materials found in your home and garden. With no need to cut the pumpkin open, your creations will last weeks longer than traditional jack-o-lanterns.
Need a Halloween costume? See our garden and nature-themed Halloween costume ideas here.
Quick & Creative No-Carve Pumpkin Ideas
Halloween and autumn pumpkin carving is a fine, old tradition with its own rewards but if you don’t want to spend a lot of time (or money), there’s plenty of ways to get great results in minutes without touching a knife or pumpkin guts. Plus, uncarved pumpkins last a lot longer, of course.
These ideas focus on creating a real (not plastic) pumpkin with a face, in a quick and frugal way, but you could adapt them for anything you like, of course. Pumpkin people, dogs, cats, unicorns, and aliens—anything goes! The goal is fun, right?
Plus, the great news is, you probably already have exactly what you need both to create the face and attach everything together. Quickly.
Start With A Pumpkin Or Squash
If you’re lucky, you’ll have choices for pumpkin and gourd colors (orange, white, striped, variegated) and sizes (from mini to jumbo).
You can also spray paint them for whatever effect you want. I prefer them in their natural state.
Look for pumpkins with the stems still attached. Those make excellent noses and hair.
No Pumpkin, No Problem
Other options include squashes, gourds, watermelon. Unripe items left over in your fall garden are perfect candidates. Anything with the size, color, and texture you want. Check the produce section of your grocery store.
Let Your Supplies Give You Ideas
I’m a big fan of making use of things I have on hand. Seriously, 99% of what we own is rarely ever used so why not repurpose items that are sitting unused for years?
Shop in your own home and see what grabs you. I’ve provided lots of ideas below.
Tell A Story
Once you start gathering supplies, perhaps a theme, storyline, or emotion you want to convey comes to mind.
- Do you want it funny, cute, sad, gruesome, weird, or what?
- Do you want a human face or an animal? Or perhaps an alien or favorite character? Maybe your pumpkin will look like you. Bonus!
Again, it does not have to take a lot of time or work to be fun and creative. Sometimes the random thing you try as a joke turns out to be the best one. Personally, I like them quite simple.
Face & Decorative Material Ideas
Forget the carving! There are so many ways to create faces and embellish your pumpkin.
Try a Google image search for ‘pumpkin faces’ and see what inspires you.
Your choices for how to approach this will depend on how long you want to display the pumpkin (days or weeks), and whether it will be placed where wild things might nibble your accessories.
Un-carved pumpkins decorated with junk (like the corks and keys you see below by Barb Rosen of Our Fairfield Home & Garden) last for weeks or months.
Look over these things in your home and see what sparks ideas.
The list below has more suggestions.
Think about eyes, ears, nose, mouth, horns, hair, pipe, tongue, freckles, arms, legs, wings, tails….
- Halloween masks – That’s about as fast as it gets! Add a mask to your pumpkin and it’s ready to roll.
- Magazine clippings Cut out eyes, noses, mouths (or a celebrity’s face). Attach them with hot glue or straight pins.
- Fruit – Apples, plums, orange slices, dried fruit….
- Veggies – Potatoes, beets, broccoli….
- Nuts and Seeds – Walnuts, acorns, sunflower seeds…
- Processed Foods – Cookies, candies, licorice: anything that holds its shape and gives the effect you like.
- Nature – Pine cones, old flower heads, sticks, stones, stems, grass, leaves, kale, wheat, straw, hay, corn stalks….
- Tools and Utensils – Check your kitchen and tool kit: whisks and cutlery for hair, horns, tongues. Screwdrivers, pliers, hammers – anything goes when you’re junkin’ up a pumpkin.
- Junk Drawer – Pencils, old keys, twist ties, picture hangers, bottle tops, jar lids, coins…. Use it or lose it.
- Paint and Markers – Spray paint and thick acrylic paints work best. You can prime and/or seal (with polyurethane or similar product) the pumpkin first to get a better painting surface.
Another option is to draw or paint your design and then glue or pin it on.
- Wigs, hats, clothes, shoes, toys, knickknacks, costumes, dog clothes, straw, dried corn, more pumpkins…
Ways To Attach Things
I wish I had these tips when I was a kid. Just by using stuff you have around your yard or house, there are so many fun options.
- Electric drill – If you do need to make superficial holes to anchor materials, use a drill bit to control the size and depth of the hole.
- Nails – Don’t want to make a hole for that carrot nose? Nail or glue it on with outdoor adhesive.
- Pins – Smaller items like pieces of pine cone or magazine clippings attach instantly with straight pins.
- Tacks and Pushpins – Use them as part of the decoration and/or to attach things. How about a tacky smile?
- Heated glue dispenser – When in doubt, haul out the heated glue dispenser (see it at Amazon.com).
TIP: If your pumpkin is cold, apply the glue to the item you’re attaching instead, not the pumpkin so it doesn’t harden before the bond is formed.
- Pipes and Wire – These are very useful for attaching several pumpkins together, whether you’re forming a tipsy tower (like the mini pumpkins above) or a caterpillar made from mini pumpkins.
Put It All Together
- The great thing about this super fast pumpkin decorating method is, if you don’t like something, it’s easy to change. Just pull stuff off and try again.
- Play around with a few ideas until you find what you like.
- Combine different materials to come up with something new.
Have fun and I’d love to see what you create.
When you’re all done with your pumpkins, you can toss them in the garden for self-seeding next year or add them to your compost pile.
25 Garden Art Projects & Ideas
by Melissa J. Will
Grab the top garden art DIY projects and tips from Empress of Dirt
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Squashes & Pumpkins
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~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛