Here’s some tips for creating fun jack-o-lantern characters without having to carve the pumpkin. With a few tricks, items found in the fall garden and kitchen pantry work perfectly to create pumpkin people with funny hair and faces.
If you love crafting from natural materials, also see 12 Simply Lovely Nature Crafts.
Make A Fabulous Pumpkin In Less Than 20 Minutes
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. 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.
1. Start with A Pumpkin…Or Not
If you’re lucky, you’ll have choices for colours (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. Anything with the size, colour, and texture you want. Check the produce section of your grocery store. See what talks to you. Just don’t let anyone see you talk back.
2. 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 use stuff here?
Shop in your own home and see what grabs you. I’ve provided lots of ideas below.
3. 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 favourite 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.
4. Super Fast Face Supplies
Forget the carving! You’ve got instant faces all around you. Boo!
If you want to see a lot of ideas first, try a Google image search for ‘pumpkin faces’ and see what you get.
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 (squirrels etc.) might nibble your accessories.
If you cut or carve into the pumpkin, the display time is shorter, as it starts to slowly rot. This might not be a bad thing if you want something gross to display outside.
Additions like walnuts, corn, and acorns may be eaten by pesky admirers.
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. Read over this list and then see ideas for attaching things to your pumpkin.
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, knicknacks, costumes, dog clothes, straw, dried corn, more pumpkins…
5. Ways to Attach Things
When I was a kid we considered these things “cheating”. Are you kidding me? We missed out on so much fun by restricting ourselves that way!
- Electric drill – Super quick way to make holes for inserting accessories or creating a luminary. Keep in mind, anything that opens up the pumpkin, speeds up the rotting process.
- Nails – Don’t want to make a hole for that carrot nose? Nail it on!
- 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?
- Glue Gun – When in doubt, haul out the glue gun (see it at Amazon.com).
TIP: If your pumpkin is cold, apply the glue to the item you’re attaching instead (so it doesn’t harden before a 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 compost for good greens.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛