Carving pumpkins is a memorable Halloween tradition providing hours of fun, memories and decorations to brighten up the Halloween season. If you’re like me, the thought of throwing out those gorgeous pumpkins so soon after spending so much time and effort in their creation is the saddest part of Halloween. Most carved pumpkins will last several weeks after Halloween, especially in cooler climates. Choose non-Halloween specific designs and you can let your carved pumpkins continue to brighten your porch through Thanksgiving.
Starry Night – Stars are a simple, cheerful design with no specific holiday connotations, other than the Christmas Star. Use star-shaped cookies cutters in a variety of designs and sizes to trace the shapes all around your pumpkin. Instead of a Jack-O-Lantern with only one side lit, place stars all around the pumpkin, like a Chinese lantern. Cut out all the stars with a narrow, sharp knife. Trim excess pumpkin flesh from the inside of the pumpkin, around each hole, to allow more light through. Use colored, battery-operated lights in greens, pinks, blues or purples to light your porch in non-Halloween hues.
Game Day Pumpkins – Make your Jack-O-Lantern a patron fan of your favorite football team. You can transform a Halloween Jack by adding a team hat and painting the outside in team colors. Or carve team motifs into your pumpkin instead of a Jack-O-Lantern face. For example, Saints fans can have a host of fleur-de-lis pumpkins, Bengals can have pumpkin tigers, or Cowboys can have blue-painted pumpkins with large five-pointed star cut-outs. If your kids play sports locally, vamp up your Halloween pumpkins with local team spirit and mascot themes. Add sports yard flags and other decorations to go with the carved pumpkins and increase recognition of your theme.
Turkey Flip – Get a two-fer with your Halloween pumpkins, without sacrificing a Halloween design. Let your kids make the scariest, spookiest Jack-O-Lanterns they want and proudly display them throughout the Halloween season. November 1, have another pumpkin decorating session. Gather small branches with beautiful, colorful fall leaves. Turn the pumpkins around so the un-carved backs face the road or front yard. Arrange the colorful branches in the “back” of the pumpkin (in the face holes that are now in the back). Decorate the un-carved side of the pumpkin to look like turkey’s head. You can cut a small hole and insert a turkey neck make from another branch or let your kids trace the head and neck on construction paper. Add a small, red beard. The colorful, leaves should fan out around the back like the turkey tail.
Pumpkin Address – Carve pumpkins a festive address marker for your holiday season. Place a three-foot, wooden or metal stake in the yard near your mailbox or front walk. Carve out three small pumpkins. Remove a piece from the back of each one and scoop out all the inside materials. On the front of each pumpkin, use a stencil to trace one number of your address. (If you have a two or four number address, adjust the number of pumpkins you use.) Cut out the number. Stack the pumpkins by piercing them on the stake. Place a small, battery-operated candle through the back hole in each pumpkin. Your glowing address will greet party-goers, friends and family all season long. Add branches of fresh, fall leaves once a week to keep the look fresh and seasonal, with no Halloween after-taste.
Go Floral – Take a nod from Martha Stewart and use your pumpkins as indoor flower vases, centerpieces and outdoor plant pots. For indoor vases, use small pumpkins. Carve out the top and insides. Place bunches of fresh flowers inside and fill with water. Use a mixture of these for centerpieces throughout the fall season, including Thanksgiving. For outdoor flower pots, carve the top and bottom “lids” off the pumpkin. Place a potted plant inside the pumpkin, so it’s bottom rests on the ground. (If you carve a circle out of the bottom, the plant can sit and drain on the ground, but will look like it’s growing out of the pumpkin shell.)