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Pumpkin Decorating Made Easy

10 No-Carve Approaches to Halloween

Maybe you grew up carving Jack-o-lanterns and want your kids to experience this cherished Halloween tradition. Carving pumpkins can be a gooey blast for the whole family. But, for many, the sticky mess and time commitment can be among the most frightening elements of Halloween!

Don’t be scared to try a simpler decorating approach. Just select a pumpkin (or several) ─ explore various colors, shapes, and sizes ─ and embellish away! For best results, choose one with a smooth, unblemished surface. Wash the pumpkin with mild soap and water and allow it to dry overnight before adorning. Most of the following no-carve designs work best on medium-sized to smallish pumpkins. Try these:

Polk-a-Dots Galore

Present young children with a pumpkin and pile of sticky felt circles. Show them how to adhere the circles to the pumpkin and let them follow suit. Polk-a-dots are the simplest approach for little ghosts and goblins, but you can also aim for a traditional look by using black felt stripes and shapes on the classic orange pumpkin.

Glittering Globe

Coat a pumpkin in a layer of Mod Podge or white glue; then sprinkle it with glitter. If you want a variety of colors (in a pattern), coat only a portion of the pumpkin before sprinkling the glitter over that portion. Note: catch excess glitter on newspaper and pour it back into container for re-use. For best results, let sections dry between applying additional colors.

Painted Lady

If you want a painted pumpkin to last, coat it with a layer of varnish or sealer first in a well-ventilated area. Flip the pumpkin over onto a bowl or jar to paint the bottom. When dry, turn it over to paint remainder. Apply two coats of acrylic paint or opt for chalkboard paint. Finish with another layer of varnish (chalkboard painted pumpkins can go unvarnished).

Glitter-Paint Combo

Follow previous painting instructions. Then, when completely dry, apply glitter to the stem only. Or, use blue painter’s tape to create designs on the pumpkin and apply glue and glitter for added sparkle.

Wrapped Up

Turn your pumpkin into a spider web by wrapping it randomly with thick white twine. Hot glue a large black spider onto the web to finish the design! For a mummified look, cut cheesecloth into long, wide strips. Fold strips to double thickness and spray with fabric stiffener. When dry, wrap strips around the pumpkin, leaving the top and bottom clean. Secure strips with hot glue. Adhere googly eyes and wrap with additional strips so eyes peek out. Cut away a thin mouth and dab inside with black paint. When dry, coat fabric with glow-in-the-dark craft paint.

Doodle Work-of-Art

Teens who enjoy drawing will relish the opportunity to create seasonal masterpieces. Utilize a supply of colors or varying thickness of black Sharpie markers. Colored designs work well on white pumpkins and black art looks great on orange pumpkins. Varnish afterwards to maximize the shelf life of the final product.

Drippy Look

First, spread out newspaper to catch excess. Unwrap crayons (assorted colors) ─ consider autumn colors for an orange pumpkin or ghoulish colors for a white pumpkin. On the top of the pumpkin (beside stem), adhere crayons with a thick, white, nonflammable glue. Let dry. Using a hair dryer (on high heat), melt crayons until satisfied.

Collaged Gourd

First, paint stem (if desired). Then choose tissue paper, old book pages, fabric quilting scraps, etc. and cut material into squares or strips. Apply a layer of Mod Podge under and over material; smooth material with fingers. Once dry, add embellishments such as ribbon.


Paint pumpkin with two coats of paint. Then, starting at the stem, work your way down the sides of the pumpkin with gem stickers and/or adhesive letters (for a monogrammed effect). Create an evenly spaced all-over pattern or a dripping-with-gems appearance.


First, paint pumpkin and/or stem if desired. Once dry, stamp white tissue paper using archival quality ink with images of your choice. Allow ink to dry thoroughly; then Mod Podge tissue to the pumpkin.