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No-Carve Pumpkin Decorating Ideas

These artsy pumpkins are just as spirited as traditional jack-o'-lanterns—and they won't leave you with a gooey mess to clean up. So put down the carving knives and get crafty with chalk, paint, washi tape, and more.

Decorative Tape Pumpkins

Stick it on, and you're done! That's how easy these pumpkins embellished with decorative tape can be. Simply adhere different widths and patterns of Japanese washi tapes horizontally or vertically to clean and dry pumpkins. Want to take it up a notch? Use pinking shears to cut glitter tape into thin strips to create the look of rickrack; use it solo or to edge washi tape stripes. To make circles, slightly overlap edges of two different strips of wide washi tape on waxed paper, punch a 1-inch circle from the two strips; remove from waxed paper and stick the circle on a pumpkin. Tip: For a polished look, paint the stem in a coordinating color before adhering the tape to the pumpkin.

Splatter-Painted Pumpkins

You'll be channeling Jackson Pollock with these splatter-painted minis. They made their debut in the "Painterly Pumpkins" story in the October 2020 issue of Better Homes & Gardens, and are worth revisiting as a fun-for-all-ages activity. Cover the pumpkin stem with masking tape, and paint mini pumpkins in various colors. Then let the fun begin! Dip and flick paintbrushes into watered-down acrylic paints to splatter the pumpkins. To contain splatters, place pumpkins in a large cardboard box—and work outdoors if you can. Let the pumpkins dry on waxed paper.

Tinsel Monster Pumpkins

Kids will have fun taking the lead on these hairy monsters. They're more silly than spooky, and more crafty than artsy. Cut a hole in the center of a tinsel wig (find them in party stores), slip it over a pumpkin stem, and give the monster-in-the-making a haircut to shore up the tinsel. Make eyes from ping-pong balls; use round black stickers for pupils and cut-in-half cupcake liners for eyelids. Cut teeth from white crafts foam. Adhere the pieces to the tinsel wig with glue dots.

Chalk and Yarn Pumpkins

If you're a Halloween purist who craves black and orange, these pumpkins are for you. Take your pick of two different chalk designs, or opt for some easy yarn art to create a time stamp that nods to the big day.

Chalk pumpkins: Use a foam brush to paint a clean pumpkin and stem with black chalkboard paint; when dry, apply a second coat. For the jack-o'-lantern pumpkin, rub a layer of orange chalk over the pumpkin. Make an outline of the facial features with chalk, then fill in. For the striated pumpkin, rub orange chalk along the pumpkin ridges, letting the ridges create the design. If desired, use a spray fixative to protect the design. You can also use workable fixative spray while filling in different layers of chalk.

Yarn art pumpkin: An artificial pumpkin keeps this project easy. Print a "31" (or other number or letters) from a computer, sized to the pumpkin. Tape the pattern to the pumpkin, then use a thin nail or awl to poke holes about every ½ inch along the outer edges of the design. (If the design is curvy, space the holes closer.) Remove the pattern. Insert mini brads into the holes, leaving space for yarn to wrap around. Tie black yarn around the first brad, and continue on to wrap the other brads and create the outline.

Etched Pumpkins

Etching a design in the skin of a pumpkin is a happy middle ground—you can dig in a bit (you'll need a few tools) without spending time gutting the pumpkin and doing tricky precision carving. The spider web design was created with wood-carving gouges that scraped strips of the outer layer of skin. A potter's loop tool created the rounded scales of the pinecone design. In addition to the unique looks, etching keeps the pumpkin fresher longer than it would if you had gone all the way through the skin.

Stenciled Pumpkins

You won't have to ditch the pumpkins after Halloween with these artsy stenciled ones. The leaf designs can take you through Thanksgiving. Adhere a self-adhesive stencil to a clean, dry pumpkin; press the stencil edges firmly to avoid paint bleeding. Use a small stencil brush and acrylic crafts paint to stencil the design, then carefully remove the stencil. Tip: Lightly scuffing the pumpkin wth fine-grit sandpaper before you begin will help the paint adhere better.

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