Growing up in 1980s North East England, we did not have pumpkins at Halloween. We followed the Irish jack-o’-lantern folktale and Halloween tradition of hollowing out a turnip. Rather, our parents would carve it for us because believe me a tough old turnip is not soft enough to scoop!
We would carry the little boulders around on our spooky adventures to light the way, and would persistently be plunged into darkness as the flame on our candles was snuffed out by a lake of molten wax. Yes, small children carried around ACTUAL FIRE in 1980s England. This is even more terrifying when you consider the flammable nature of a Halloween costume. Mind you, back then our vampire capes and witches dresses were commonly comprised of a black plastic bin liner cut jagged around the ‘hemline’ with neck and arm holes hacked out. Though I’m not sure that makes live flame in children’s hands any less terrifying… Hey, ho, it was Halloween night.
As we hunted ghosts around the ruins of Hylton Castle, it became a race as to whether the string handle would first cut through the sides of the weighty turnip, or into our cold little fingers. Still, we had fun…
Though ‘Stingy Jack’ from the Irish tale would never have even seen a pumpkin, I just cannot deny the appeal. They were a big bright visual that us British 80s kids were intrigued by through American TV shows and movies. These days this plump Native American fruit is commonplace in our supermarkets too, so I have gathered together a few of my favourite creations to get your spooky juices flowing!
If you would prefer to avoid the messy carving out stage altogether–and who would blame you–there are a whole host of tricks to help achieve amazing results without ever picking up a kitchen knife. No-carve pumpkin designs are especially handy when you’re creating a jack-o’-lantern display using multiples, or when time is of the essence. They’re a fast way to fill up a Halloween party decor scheme or a themed event.
1. Painted Jack-O’-Lantern
For starters, how about a painted pumpkin? You can slosh it on with a brush or fast track your finish using spray paint. Monochrome paint designs are an absolute winner for the season, the single colour is super fast to apply and visually bold.
On a ghostly white background paint black silhouettes of giant bugs, spider webs, bats and snakes. On a midnight black background, paint skulls and spirits or add creepy messages in a variety of gothic typography styles. Print letter templates out from your home computer for a professional finish.
2. Chalkboard Pumpkin
For a quicker typographical fix, how about a chalkboard pumpkin that you can change on a whim or by the day? All you need is a can of chalkboard paint and a liquid chalk marker pen. Once the chalkboard paint is dry, you can make as many changes as you like. You can even use it as a Halloween countdown calendar to your haunted house party time!
3. Lace Covered Pumpkins
Take a haberdasher’s approach to your Halloween fruit by clothing them in fancy fishnet-stocking material, or by pulling on a leg of lacy pantyhose for a chic and effortless result.
With the help of a glue-gun you could also attach lengths of thin ribbon along the pumpkins natural creases for an extra fruity finish. Ooh la la! Pumpkins have never looked so sultry!
4. Rhinestone Pumpkins
If you like a bit of glitz and glam decor you can create sparkling designs by applying rhinestones with a glue-gun too. Try applying them in a scattered design using various sized rhinestones, or use the creases as your guide for a more controlled approach.
If you’re feeling particularly arty you could stick on the stones in a cobweb design and complete the look with a big fake spider rocking the rhinestone look too, like an eight-legged Elvis. If you’re no good a freehanding a design then print out a templates of spooky creatures and follow the outlines, or fill at will.
5. Nailed It!
Punching nails or furniture tacks into your pumpkin is another a quick and cool way to achieve a shiny, shimmering outline across the surface. If you’re not too confident in your design skills then draw yourself some subtle guidelines to follow (that wont be visible on the finished product) before you start punching them in.
6. Halloween Fairy Lights Using Pumpkin Patterns
Make fairy lights out of your jack-o’-lanterns by using different sized drill bits to create twinkling patterns.
Of course, you will have to scoop out the goop in order to site a light source for this quick pumpkin decorating tip but the effect is well worth the bit of added effort. Experiment with pumpkin patterns as wild or as subtle as you like to emit different amounts of light.
The Legend of The Jack-O’-Lantern
Have fun with your pumpkins but remember that the Halloween legend of Jack originally led to the carving of many types of veggies to ward off wandering evil spirits. So, you could even try experimenting with more of your surplus five-a-day!