I looove Halloween, and every year I enjoy the challenge of trying to find affordable, easy, and unique decorations. This is especially important for parties where you want the scene your setting to have a big impact. While you can buy what you need, I like to do a combination of BUY + DIY. I think it makes a good balance between cost and effort.

So what’s up for this season?

Pumpkin People!

Most craft stores (Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, etc.) and some big box stores (Target, Walmart, etc.) carry foam pumpkins, which are cheap and come in assorted sizes. I like to do a variety of shapes and styles to keep visual interest, but you can certainly go for a bunch of the same for a different-yet-dramatic effect. Make sure you shop around for the cheapest, because sometimes a sale isn’t really a good deal. The best thing about foam pumpkins? They don’t rot and stink, so you can re-use them every year. NICE.

While you can decorate your pumpkins any way you want – paint a scene on the side or make them pretty with ribbon – I like faces with character. Humans can’t help but look for and relate to objects that mirror them, such as finding faces in objects or animals. There are entire contests around potato shapes and reports of Elvis burned into toast. Yes, we like finding ourselves in unlikely places. Why not pumpkins? Another bonus to doing faces is the numerous expressions you can use to customize the pumpkins to your party. Kiddie event? Try funny and silly faces. Adult shindig? Go for scared, curious, threatening, or even sexy. If you can think it, you can do it.

NOTE: We’re going to start with faces on plain pumpkins to make it easy for everyone, but if you want to jump ahead to painting your pumpkin (ooo, fancy stepper, you), that’s briefly addressed in the last step. There isn’t much to it other than recommending acrylic paint and plenty of time to dry. Good luck!

Step 1: Get your pumpkin.

Whatever you decide to draw / paint on your pumpkin, first scope out the best spot. If your foam piece has bumps or ridges, you can even work them into your design. Just make sure you know where you’re starting and that the surface is clean. You don’t want your design to fall off because you drew it on dirt. Ew.

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Step 2: Add your design.

Unlike other family members, I am not artistic and can’t just “wing it” with creating a work of art. If you’re like me, try using a pencil to draw your design on first. You don’t like it, just erase it and start over. Once you’re happy with the results, trace over it with a Sharpie / marker / paint pen / whatever floats your boat.

TIP: At a loss for faces? Try using emojis! They’re simple enough that most people will recognize the face and you won’t have to struggle over the design. You can also try searching for “draw a cartoon face” and look at the images. There are some really cute ones out there.

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Step 3: Add accessories.

Ooooo, you didn’t know there would be ACCESSORIES, too? YES! Anything that fits the theme works, whether it’s from your craft box or your costume box. Try felt, googly eyes, chenille stems, feathers, hats, tiaras, boas, tutus, you name it. (You can tell I have a littler girl, haha.) Dressing your pumpkin is part of the fun.

NOTE: Because the pumpkins are made of foam, you cannot use a hot glue gun on them or they will melt. Instead try super glue or even regular school glue if you don’t need it to stick past this season. Just NO HOT GLUE GUN.

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Step 4: Arrange and display!

You did it! If you’re feeling pretty confident after the first pumpkin, you can branch out and try painting your pumpkins in different colors for even more bang. I recommend acrylic paint as it gives a good coat to cover whatever color the pumpkin actually is. (Don’t forget to figure in drying time for the paint *before* you start drawing on the face or applying accessories.) My daughter and I had the silly idea to put costumes on our pumpkins, too, so you can see below Poppy and Branch from the Trolls movie (the pink and blue ones with chenille stems for crazy hair), a witch with a felt hat, a superhero with a tiny red cape, and a startled ghost. She giggles every time she sees them.

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Now you give it a try! What pumpkin design did you create? Feel free to share on our Facebook page!