5 Festive Pumpkin Decorating Ideas (No Carving Required!)

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While carving pumpkins can be fun, let's face it – it's messy. Not only that, but maneuvering a sharp knife through a thick pumpkin is dangerous, especially for young children. So put away that knife. Here are five easy ways to decorate a pumpkin that do not involve pulling slimy strings and seeds from the shell. And they are so stylish, you will want to display them well past Halloween.

Things You'll Need

  • Pumpkins
  • Decorative scrapbook paper
  • Decoupage medium
  • Foam brush
  • Decorative ribbon
  • Duck tape
  • Hobby knife
  • Fabric
  • Rubber band
  • Raffia ribbon
  • Felt
  • Craft glue
  • Chalky finish paint
  • Dimensional paint in squeeze bottles
  • Rhinestones
  • Masking tape
  • Chalkboard spray paint
  • Vinyl decal
5 Stylish No-Carve Pumpkin Decorating Ideas
5 Stylish No-Carve Pumpkin Decorating Ideas (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Decoupage Pumpkins

Step 1

To decoupage a pumpkin with paper, it's important to cut pieces of paper so they will fit over the curves of the pumpkin. Let's create a template for this purpose. Tape a piece of paper to the pumpkin, and trace the grooves of the pumpkin with a marker. You do not have to be perfect here, as grooves around the pumpkin are not evenly spaced. This step just gives you a general shape for your template, which will be narrow at the top, widening as you go down, and then tapering again at the bottom.

Create a template
Create a template (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 2

Using the template, cut pieces of decorative scrapbook paper. Scrapbook paper is recommended because of the myriad designs, and because it is colorfast when wet. Two paper designs were used for this pumpkin.

Cut paper using the template
Cut paper using the template (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 3

Apply decoupage medium with a foam brush to one section of the pumpkin. Decoupage medium can be found at arts and crafts stores.

Apply decoupage medium to one section
Apply decoupage medium to one section (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 4

Immerse a section of paper in a container of water for about five seconds. The water relaxes the paper so it can conform more easily to the shape of the pumpkin.

Soak the paper in water
Soak the paper in water (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 5

Place the wet paper on the section of the pumpkin that's been painted with decoupage medium. Use your fingers to press down the wet paper against the pumpkin and remove any air bubbles.

Place the wet paper on the pumpkin
Place the wet paper on the pumpkin (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 6

Continue gluing paper around the pumpkin, first applying decoupage medium to the pumpkin, wetting the paper, and then positioning the wet paper onto the pumpkin. Overlap the paper wedges so no parts of the pumpkin show through.

Overlap paper sections
Overlap paper sections (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 7

Once the entire pumpkin is covered with paper, seal the pumpkin with more decoupage medium. Apply the medium to the top section of the pumpkin and let it dry. Then turn the pumpkin on its side and seal the bottom of the pumpkin.

Seal the pumpkin
Seal the pumpkin (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 8

When the pumpkin is completely dry, glue some ribbon to where the seams of the paper meet. The ribbon hides imperfections in the seams while accentuating the alternating paper designs.

Cover seams with ribbon
Cover seams with ribbon (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 9

Tie a coordinating ribbon to the stem, and your pumpkin is a work of art. You can play with different paper designs to fit the theme of your own Halloween decor, whether it's elegant, scary or goofy.

Finish with a coordinating ribbon
Finish with a coordinating ribbon (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Duck Tape Chevron Pumpkins

Step 1

Duck tape is an easy way to completely cover a pumpkin with color, and the shiny nature of the duck tape gives the pumpkin a glossy look. Apply strips of duck tape from top to bottom all around the pumpkin, overlapping the strips as you go along.

Cover the pumpkin with duck tape
Cover the pumpkin with duck tape (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 2

Using a hobby knife, remove any duck tape that covers the stem.

Remove duck tape around the stem
Remove duck tape around the stem (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 3

For the chevron pattern, select duck, masking or electrical tape that is about one inch thick, as the narrower tape will be easier to work with. Cut small sections of tape and piece them together to make a row of zig zags. Pumpkins have grooves and irregular shapes, so there is no possible way for your chevron pattern to be perfect as it goes around the pumpkin. Make peace with this fact, and it will save you much frustration.

Make a chevron pattern with tape
Make a chevron pattern with tape (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 4

Underneath the first row of chevrons, create another row that is parallel to it. It is helpful to miter the corners of the tape pieces so they line up at the corners.

Create another row of chevrons
Create another row of chevrons (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 5

Assemble pieces of tape at the top of the pumpkin to create a row of chevrons parallel to the middle row. Notice how irregular the pattern is at the top. That's OK! It's part of the pumpkin's charm.

Top off the pumpkin with a third row of chevrons
Top off the pumpkin with a third row of chevrons (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 6

Top off the pumpkin with a coordinating ribbon tied around the stem. Use your fingers to smooth out any air bubbles and creases in the tape.

This chevron pumpkin is just ducky
This chevron pumpkin is just ducky (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Fabric-Wrapped Pumpkins

Step 1

One of the easiest and quickest ways to decorate pumpkins is to wrap them in fabric. Cut a piece of fabric so that the fabric extends just past the stem on all sides. A warm plaid flannel fits a fall theme perfectly.

Cut the fabric to fit around the pumpkin
Cut the fabric to fit around the pumpkin (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 2

Pull the fabric up around the pumpkin, securing the top with a rubber band. The excess fabric around the pumpkin will form pleats, which mimic the grooves of the actual pumpkin. Adjust the pleats as necessary so they are uniform in size.

Wrap the pumpkin in fabric
Wrap the pumpkin in fabric (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 3

Tie a raffia bow at the top to cover the rubber band.

Tie a raffia bow
Tie a raffia bow (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 4

Cut leaf shapes out of felt and glue them to top of the pumpkin by the stem.

Glue felt leaves to the top
Glue felt leaves to the top (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 5

Keep the pumpkin in a cool location, and when Thanksgiving comes along, you'll have a fresh pumpkin for cooking. This fabric-wrapped pumpkin also makes a great hostess gift for the holidays.

The perfect hostess gift
The perfect hostess gift (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Faberge-Inspired Paint and Rhinestone Pumpkins

Step 1

One part Faberge egg, one part Cinderella's carriage, these decorated pumpkins add a touch of fantasy to your Halloween decor. First, paint the pumpkin in a pastel-colored chalky finish paint. This type of paint, available at arts and crafts stores, goes on practically any surface without a need for primer. Apply paint to the top portion of the pumpkin, and let it dry before turning the pumpkin on its side and painting the bottom.

Paint the pumpkin with chalky finish paint
Paint the pumpkin with chalky finish paint (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 2

To create patterns on the pumpkin, use dimensional paint in squeeze bottles to get a 3D effect. I selected contrasting colors that glow in the dark, so the design will shine day and night. The squeeze bottles are handy for creating shapes, as people find it easier to draw with a squeeze dispenser than with a brush. I've started with triangles at the top, but you can doodle to your heart's content.

Start drawing with dimensional paint
Start drawing with dimensional paint (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 3

Vary the pattern as you continue down the pumpkin. Scrolls and curly-cues provide nice visual contrast to the angular triangles.

Add scrolls and curly-cues
Add scrolls and curly-cues (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 4

Now it's time for the bling. Apply rhinestones within the shapes using craft glue. Choose quick-drying glue so the rhinestones stay in position without rolling off.

Apply the rhinestones
Apply the rhinestones (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 5

Add a colorful ribbon to the stem for a fanciful finish. Place it in the sun, or with candles nearby, to catch the light in the rhinestones.

Top off with a bow
Top off with a bow (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Chalkboard Pumpkins

Step 1

With this chalkboard pumpkin, black is the new orange. You can use the pumpkin to write messages greeting your guests, or warning visitors to stay away from your haunted house. Start by wrapping the stem of the pumpkin with masking tape so paint doesn't get on it.

Mask off the stem
Mask off the stem (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 2

Apply two to three coats of chalkboard spray paint to the pumpkin. You can use liquid chalkboard paint that comes in bottles as well, but the spray paint is faster and provides a more uniform finish. After the paint is completely dry, turn the pumpkin on its side and spray paint the bottom of the pumpkin.

Apply chalkboard spray paint to the pumpkin
Apply chalkboard spray paint to the pumpkin (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 3

While the chalkboard pumpkin is fine as is, a baroque frame adds a sophisticated touch. For this project, a vinyl decal was made with a die-cutting machine, but you can also buy vinyl decals in crafts stores or online vinyl decal retailers. You can even cut one out of adhesive vinyl with scissors if the pattern is simple. Keep in mind that vinyl decals are meant for flat surfaces, so they will not want to lay flat on the pumpkin. Just press them down and do not worry about creases.

Place a vinyl decal frame on the pumpkin
Place a vinyl decal frame on the pumpkin (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 4

Tie a big white bow on the stem to complement the white frame. Black and white is a very modern Halloween color scheme.

Tie a big bow on top
Tie a big bow on top (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 5

Before using the chalkboard, rub the pumpkin with chalk dust to prime the surface. Now the pumpkin is ready for your messages. Wait, if you didn't write that, who did?!

Prime the surface
Prime the surface (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Tips & Warnings

  • Purchase pumpkins with long stems. Stems are particularly helpful when painting, as you can hold on to the pumpkins without getting paint all over your hands.
  • When spray painting, use eye and mouth protection, and work in a well-ventilated area.
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