While some people can't wait to get out the carving knife, there are lots of alternative ways to dress up a Halloween pumpkin.
"No carving means less mess," says Katherine Parker, senior digital editor of Better Homes and Gardens magazine.
She suggests painting the pumpkin black before adding cardstock features that will appeal to youngsters. "A tail, ears or bat wings can transform a plain pumpkin into a cute, festive creature."
Other kid-friendly ideas? Swath your pumpkin in pieces of cheesecloth to create a mummy, or clad it in silvery blue paint along with some faux rhinestones and a plastic tiara for a "Frozen" jack-o'-lantern.
Parker says paint pens are an even easier way to decorate pumpkins. "Arrange different-size stenciled pumpkins to create a vignette — like a cat chasing mice, or a spooky message."
For a Gothic, slightly racy look, take a bare pumpkin and apply a black lace stencil. An intricate doily or piece of tulle would create pretty stenciled patterns. Or simply wrap an old pair of fishnet or lace tights around the pumpkin and add a silky bow at the stem.
Go seasonally stylish, without overtly referencing Halloween, by painting your pumpkin and then embellishing it with stripes, chevrons or polka dots in fall hues. Think chocolate brown on cream; carmine on deep yellow; black on white; copper on indigo.
An all-black pumpkin decorated with tiny sequins or crystals in a celestial design creates late-night drama without the scare factor.
Get out the glue gun and add inky black gemstones, glitter or feathers for a custom version of those glammed-up, store-bought pumpkins.
Or wrap your pumpkin from stem to base in vertical strips of paper, ribbon, yarn or washi tape in a fun, fashion-forward design.
Go right outside the traditional Halloween box by painting your pumpkins in an unusual colour — think navy or smoke or olive — and consider a matte rather than glossy paint to up the style ante. Wrap stems in velvety chenille yarn or metallic thread.
If you've got any extra wide-based pillar candle or cake stands at home, you're all set to elevate your creations; spray-paint them glossy black for extra punch.
Whether you're having a party or just went to send greetings of the season, mini pumpkins are a great vehicle. Wrap stems with greenery, colorful twine and a little message or invite tag for the perfect "pumpkintine."
Look for instructions and templates at www.bhg.com , www.instructables.com or www.marthastewart.com , among other resources.
If you aren't crafty, there are some striking jack-o'-lanterns in stores this season.
Add shimmer and shine to your Halloween display with Pottery Barn's lacy glass-mosaic pumpkins, or ones covered with hand-blown glass dots on antiqued silver. Both can be filled with LED lights. Another version, made of orange or black epoxy, comes with the lights already inside. (www.potterybarn.com )
Homegoods has pumpkins made of various natural materials, such as twigs, seed pods and vines. Some are dyed in vibrant fall hues and they have interesting textures. (www.homegoods.com )
Iron forged into jack-o'-lantern shapes gives Crate & Barrel's luminaries a modern vibe; use them indoors as floor or mantel décor with graphic punch. (www.crateandbarrel.com )
Grandin Road's got snazzy, black-and-gold harlequin and polka-dot patterned pumpkins, as well as pre-lit grapevine pumpkins. (www.grandinroad.com )
At Pier 1, there's an oddly appealing mashup of seasonal décor in a black faux pine garland festooned with glittery faux pumpkins and glass balls. (www.pier1.com )
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