You know what’s more fun than one pumpkin? A couple dozen pumpkins. And while that may be a little over-the-top for your average front-porch or side-table display, we can highly recommend bumping up the number you decorate to three or four. Decorate them with kids, host a painting party with friends, or do it all by your own self to create a display that tells everyone Halloween is your favorite month (yes, we said month) of all. Read on for loads of no-carve pumpkin tips.
NO-CARVE PUMPKIN PAINTING SUPPLIES
Real and/or artificial pumpkins in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors
Matte spray paint (for painting whole pumpkins—get tips here)
Acrylic paint (for painting designs)
Brushes (different sizes and shapes)
Metallic paint pens
Glitter paint or pens
Paint palettes or paper plates
Bowls or cups for water
Newsprint or butcher paper (to cover tables)
Halloween candy (for snacking)
Why no-carve pumpkin painting?
Reason #1: Obviously, they last longer. So if you’re ready to start getting in the spooky spirit the second you flip your calendar to October, you won’t end up with a squishy mess by the time Halloween actually happens.
Reason #2: We like to paint on the artificial ones because they last pretty much forever, then mix them with gorgeous gourds we find at a farmers market. Human eyes can easily pick out too-perfect shapes, and mixing it up makes it harder to spot the difference.
Reason #3: Fake painted squash isn’t nearly as attractive to pesky, ravenous squirrels.
Pick a palette
We kept the traditional black and orange but included fun brights, like pink, burnt red, teal, and white to keep things carefree and playful.
SAMANTHA L.: Even if you’re working with kids, a limited color palette of three or four colors will really help the end result look more sophisticated.
Start with some inspiration
To hold the display together even more, we do a little research and give the artists some trend-driven inspiration. This year was all about color blocking, simple illustrations, and graphic patterns.
ALYSSA G.: I was excited to try painting a smaller pumpkin with some abstract shapes in trendy pinks and blues without doing any pre-work, just to see what happened. I didn’t really feel like bold, abstract shapes and halloween pumpkins would go together—so seeing the end result after I experimented was fun. [See above for the result.]
SAMANTHA: I really loved the color blocking and the mod feel of the trend. Adding pink into any palette for any occasion is okay by me.
KRISTIN S.: I’m generally pretty obsessed with color blocking but I especially loved the pink and red combo.
Plan your pumpkin
SAMANTHA: I photographed the blank pumpkins on my phone and then did some rough sketches and color ways on photoshop. Then once I settled on the design, I printed it to make sure the placement and scale was right.
JEFFREY N.: I wanted to get a feel for what a fresh pattern piece would be, so I used Pinterest for design inspiration. Also, looking up quirky, alternative icons for Halloween helped.
ALYSSA: I did a simple line work drawing for my “Sweet Thang” pumpkin in my sketchbook to get an idea for placement, then tried to draw the same sketch as closely as possible on my pumpkin. And then I just went for it and painted inside (and sometimes outside) the lines.
KRISTIN: I had a general idea that I wanted to do a Matisse-inspired graphic fall leaf pattern on the pumpkin. I wanted to use all the colors since I’m pretty sure that’s what he would have done. But I mostly just went with the flow and got ideas as I was painting. Painting layers of color first and then painting black over top allowed me to not worry about mistakes or mishaps as much. [See above for the result.]
More pro-tips on no-carve pumpkin painting
ALYSSA: Grab your pumpkin by the stem and use that to rotate it and paint from different angles as you make your way around.
KRISTIN: Make mistakes. If you don’t like how something turns out, the worst that can happen is you paint over it or use the back side of the pumpkin.
ALYSSA: I found it helpful to work on a few different pumpkins at the same time so while the paint on one dried I could start another and go back to it later, instead of messing up the layers.
KRISTIN: Suspend judgment until you step back from it and view it from a distance – the shape of the pumpkin can make it challenging to paint extremely “cleanly” and in the moment it might feel terrible. Once you see it in context it looks so much cooler.
JEFFREY: For more controlled linework or shapes, use a colored Sharpie. Or if you’re looking for something expressive and bold, acrylic paint and a thick brush does the job!
Displaying your pumpkins en masse
Vary the size and shapes—try putting a really squatty pumpkin next to a tall/skinny one. Or put a tiny cutie next to a big bad boy.
Mix lettered pumpkins with fun graphic pumpkins with bright solid color pumpkins with bolder icon pumpkins.
You want them to pop against your house color, so picking colors that have good contrast to your porch will make your neighbors do a second-take.
Try using different platters or unique cake stands or modern looking surfaces (cinder block, anyone?) to stack a pumpkin on top of. Maybe an upside-down pot even!
Don’t be afraid of stacking them real tall for your porch. See what fits together and go big. Having a pumpkin with a funky stem on top is a really fun way to top it all off.
We do this every year. Check out more painted pumpkins, elegant pumpkins, black and white pumpkins, Signature-style pumpkins, silly pumpkins, pumpkins decorated with markers, pumpkins inspired by movies, and pumpkins decorated by Hallmark Keepsake artists.
Photography and styling by Erin M. and Nicole C.