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Get creative with your pumpkins this October!

It’s time to think beyond the basic jack-o’-lantern for Halloween. Instead of spending hours cutting, carving and cleaning up the mess, transform those orange orbs into Halloween happiness with paint, upholstery nails, and a dollop of creativity. These ten spooktacular ideas will have you shrieking with delight.


1. Black & White 

One of the joys of Halloween is that almost anything goes – even using insects as inspiration for seasonal decor. By working with contrasting colors such as black and white, even a giant beetle makes a chic (yet shriek-worthy) Halloween display. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Pick out your favorite pumpkins and wipe down with a wet rag to remove excess dirt
  2. Paint clean pumpkins in bright white.
  3. Use a fine black paint pen to draw the outlines of your chosen insects.  Not the craftiest? This template has you covered.
  4. Fill in the insect design with black paint.

Pro tip: To make a faux wood grain pumpkin to balance out your insect display, make varying concentric rings around a white pumpkin with a wide black paint pen. 


2. Terrifying Trees

Take pumpkin decorating to new heights with this spooky tree tower.

  1. Select three pumpkins that stack well.
  2. Paint them all white, then coat them completely with the paint color of your choice.
  3. Attach the pumpkins to one another with hot glue or construction adhesive.  You could also cut holes in the bottoms of the upper-level pumpkins and use the stems of the lower pumpkins to help keep the stack together.  
  4. Paint the silhouette of a spooky tree that spans the fronts of all three stacked pumpkins.

Not only is this display sure to impress guests during the day, but it’s ghostly glow will shock all that dare to enter.


3. Balloon-dipped 

Make “dipped” pumpkins in 60 seconds or less with this adorable DIY.

  1. Cut the stems off of regular balloons in your favorite colors
  2. Carefully wrap the balloons around the pumpkins
  3. Adjust the balloon to get the desired look. You can pull the balloon all the way up to the top and cover the pumpkin completely or lower it for a more “dipped” look.


4. SpecTACKular 

Nailhead trim looks just as chic on a pumpkin as it does on your favorite armchair. Select a set of upholstery tacks in your favorite shape and shade, such as oil-rubbed bronze or aged brass, then press them into the pumpkin in any pattern you like. Chevrons look especially stunning, but you could create stripes, spider webs, or even a series of ocean waves for an unexpected design. The best part about turning a pumpkin into a studded sensation is that the pumpkin flesh is soft enough to push the tacks in without a mallet.

For the most stunning display, create your designs on an assortment of heirloom pumpkins, selecting unexpected colors such as pale green, gray or white.


5. Colorful Creations

Chalk paints and stencils team up to create a series of oh-so-adorable painted pumpkins each dressed in a dashing display of color. Any pumpkins can be used for this project, but the smaller pie pumpkins provide a compact, consistent shape that works well for this style of decorating.

  1. Clean and dry the pumpkins, then apply paints in stripes, swirls or even ombre patterns.
  2. Stencil designs on them such as flowers, cutesy ghosts or leaves, using unexpected bright colors rather than traditional autumn tones.
  3. Stripes and geometric designs are easy to create using painter’s  tape as the stencil.
  4. For an extra touch, use dimensional fabric paints (aka puffy paint) to hand-draw designs on some of the pumpkins.


6. Get Glowing

Halloween and glow-in-the-dark everything are meant for one another. Create a series of incredibly cool, unusual pumpkins by first painting the pumpkins bright white, then creating designs on them with dimensional glow-in-the-dark paint. Tribal inspired designs create a completely eclectic look, or geek out and paint the pumpkin to look like the death star or the moon.

In the mood to try something completely different? Glow powder gives foam pumpkins a ghostly glow that looks more ethereal than the usual glow paints.  

  1. Use strips of tape to lay out a jack-o’-lantern or ghost face on a pumpkin and tape off the stem.
  2. Set the pumpkin in a cardboard box and apply spray adhesive all over it, wait ten minutes, then apply the glow powder atop the adhesive.
  3. Once finished, apply a spray-on clear coat to protect the powder.  
  4. Remove the tape strips and your spooky pumpkins are ready to go (and glow).

Pro tip: Display the pumpkins in a dark area under a blacklight for the ultimate ghostly glow.


7. Eye Spy

Halloween is the perfect time to get as weird as you want to when it comes to decor. Turn a series of pumpkins into eyeballs for a completely quirky display, perfect for planter pots or along the edges of the front steps. Paint the pumpkins white first (or use white heirloom pumpkins), then paint the colorful iris. Eye color doesn’t have to be natural – after all, it’s Halloween.  Add pupils, detail lines in each iris, then a few white dots within the pupil to show reflected light. Customize the eyes entirely: add red lines for a bloodshot eye or make the pupil an odd shape to denote an alien or monster.


8. Crafty Creatures

A Halloween display isn’t complete without at least one black cat or bat. Transform pumpkins into cats and bats by painting them with black paint (chalkboard paint optional). Small foam pumpkins are ideal for this project, since they’ll last for more than one year.

  1. Make cat ears, eyes, nose and whiskers out of craft foam or stiff felt.
  2. Attach ears by cutting slits in the top of the pumpkin; use craft glue or hot glue to attach the other facial features.

Make a bat by creating two foam bat wings, attaching them by cutting vertical slits in the sides of the pumpkin. Draw a cute (or angry) bat face using a white paint pen. Display bats at different heights around the room for a playful effect.


9. Halloween Meets Spring 

If spooky isn’t your thing, get creative with a pumpkin bouquet!

  1. Cut a hole in the top of your pumpkin and carve out the insides.
  2. Put a water-filled vase or piece of floral foam in the center of the pumpkin.
  3. Create your bouquet of real or faux flowers sprouting from the pumpkin.


10. Stamp of Approval 

Dress up some pumpkins with a coat of patterned paint- made easy with a few stencils! Tape the stencils to the pumpkins in any direction. Lightly brush over them with black acrylic paint, and you’re done. Get creative with your stencil – whether you paint a pattern, word, or spooky figure is up to you!

Whether your Halloween spirit expands through your whole home or you keep your pumpkins contained to the front porch, these spooky and sweet pumpkin decor ideas are sure to spice up your fall this season.

Which of these festive pumpkins will you be crafting this Halloween? Let us know in the comments. 

The Author

Lauren Fernandez

Lauren Fernandez

Assistant Blog Editor for Fracture. Student at the University of Florida with a passion for inspiring quotes and content.