Think of “Halloween” and what images come to mind? Surely the majestic pumpkin is one of them? Although delicious, they’re totally underrated for most of the year. But this is the time of year when they shine! Not only are they a source of nutrition for your family, but they’re also a source of entertainment too. What more could we ask of this humble vegetable?
I’ve made no secret about the fact I love celebrating Halloween with kids. They want to get involved in everything, which includes pumpkin carving. Unfortunately, my kids are too young to be handling knives or implements that are large or sharp enough to carve pumpkins. Until they are, we decorate pumpkins instead.
Here we’ve collected a few pumpkin decorating ideas that you could try with your little ones and their friends.
Pick your own pumpkins
First, you need some pumpkins! From October you should be able to find pumpkins easily so when you go to choose some, take your kids with you. I always let my little ones choose their own as it’s part of the fun. Pumpkins last for ages, so until we’re ready to carve them I let the kids keep their pumpkins in their room. Although this usually lasts about one day!
One of the best ways to decorate pumpkins is with coloured paints. Try kids non-toxic paints mixed with a little PVA glue (try half and half) to make it stick to the pumpkin when it’s dry. For older children that aren’t going to eat the paint or cover themselves with it, acrylic or spray paints work really well.
If you’re choosing pumpkins to paint, you could go for the lighter varieties. White pumpkins are perfect for painting.
Another great way for tots to decorate pumpkins is with stickers. There’s no mess which is a bonus, and they can redesign it as many times as you want. There are so many fun stickers, but even with plain stickers like circles, squares and stars you can make fun designs.
Fancy dress wigs look hilarious on pumpkins, especially tinsel ones. Why not create the perfect Halloween fancy dress and make a face to match the wig? You might need to cut a hole in it to fit it over the stem, but if you decorate your pumpkin with it every year then it’s worth the sacrifice!
This has to be one of the easiest ways to decorate a pumpkin, and it’s less messy than paint. There are recommendations for Sharpie paint pens and Elmers paint pens as they glide on and stay on. I haven’t, but you could also try Posca pens as they generally write on most things easily.
Mr Pumpkin Head
Inspired by Mr Potato Head but Halloween themed. If you want to chop and change your pumpkin design, try doing a Mr/Mrs Pumpkin Head. Draw your designs out on paper; the nose, mouth, eyes, eyebrows and accessories. Then, cut them out and arrange them in different combinations on your pumpkins. Get the kids to see how many different faces they can come up with using a combination of features. Zombies, vampires, witches, ghosts and ghouls all mixed together are surprisingly creepy!
You can change them as many times as you want, having fun with Mr/Mrs Potato Pumpkin for days before you eat it!
Preparing to decorate your pumpkins
Before decorating the pumpkins, unless we’re just using stickers, we put a big old waterproof cover on the table. There’s also a cloth on stand by for spillages.
All of the art materials get placed down in the middle of the table for the kids to share. Sometimes if there’s a long afternoon ahead, I get the kids to practice their designs on paper first so they can try out some ideas. Having some crayons and coloured pencils around will give children who’ve finished something to do.
Tip: Some perfectionists could take forever decorating pumpkins but others will finish in a few minutes, so it’s always good to have some spares.
If you and your little ones are decorating pumpkins this Halloween, we’d love to check out your designs. Tag us on Instagram @matchstick_monkey with your most ghoulish creations!