House & Home

No-Carve Pumpkin Decorating Ideas

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As autumn sets in, the nights are cooler and days are shorter, and pumpkins are waiting in the pumpkin patch. Our fall tradition of decorating our homes with the autumnal colors of orange, yellow and brown is in full swing. Pumpkin carving is a time-honored tradition, but it's time consuming, takes a certain bit of skill and it's only a matter of time before the pumpkin begins to rot. Beyond the knife, there are many ways of dressing up the pumpkin to celebrate the season. Here are a few to get you started:

Sharpie: If you love the classic "Jack-o-lantern" look without the bother of the carving process, simply draw in the eyes, nose and teeth in your favorite scary expression. The pumpkin will last all season. Plus, you've created your roadmap should you wish to carve it out for halloween.
Paint: A little bit of craft paint and some imagination will transform any size pumpkin into a work of art. Because the pumpkin shape is as iconic as it's color, there are no worries about obscuring the theme by painting it in any style you wish. Stripes, colorful zig-zags like a Missoni pattern, and blue and white porcelain patterns are just some of the ideas seen online. How about painting the pumpkins in metallic paints for a rich look, or in a chalk paint for home-spun appeal. With paint you can do silly faces, basic polka-dots or easy to paint ants and spiders crawling all over the place - it would certainly get attention!
Flowers: Decorate a party table with flower covered pumpkins rather than a standard centerpiece. Simply hot glue chrysanthemum flower heads all over the pumpkin. If you prefer, you can use a long pin to secure the pin to the pumpkin.
Yarn: All knitters end up with leftover yarns in their collections. Try wrapping pumpkins in colorful yarns in a mix of patterns. Paint the pumpkin surface with clear dry craft glue and lay the yarn in desired patterns.
Gauze: Pumpkin Mummies? Of course! Simply coat thin gauze strips in craft glue and wrap your pumpkin in otherworldly style. Paint or draw in some eyes peaking out from under the bandages.
Decoupage: Mod Podge and magazines: a great way to decorate your favorite pumpkin in any theme. Create a "stained glass" look by applying colorful papers randomly around the entire surface of the pumpkin and filling in the spaces with black or metallic paint. Excellent, fashionable examples of decoupaged pumpkins can be found on, where blogger Between Naps on the Porch posted super pics of her high fashion pumpkins.
Ribbon: Glue or pin decorative ribbon in different colors and patterns to the "spines" of the pumpkin from the cap to the bottom. Ribbon comes in so many colors, patterns and sizes that it will be easy to find the combination that works with your decor or party theme.
Nailhead trim: Metal upholstery nailhead comes in a variety of finishes, patterns and sizes. Create a one-of-a-kind pumpkins for your interior or exterior with nails and a hammer. Adding a monogram or house number would be a creative way to greet guests or as a personalized hostess gift.
Linda Merrill is an interior designer who works with Boston-area tile contractors and painting contractors.