The Great Pumpkin: 31 Ideas for Fall Fun

Fall wouldn’t be complete without that family trip to pick the perfect pumpkin. Then let the jack-o’-lantern carving, seed roasting, and pie baking begin! What else can you do with pumpkins? Pumpkin bowling, anyone? What about tasting pumpkin cheesecake? Kids will enjoy building character pumpkins or making a messy, oozing pumpkin. Whether hosting a fall bash or spending time with family, here are 31 ways to celebrate America’s favorite gourd.

Carved Pumpkin Ideas

Nothing says fall like a lit-up jack-o’-lantern. Carve a traditional pumpkin, or if you want to try something new this year, here are some ideas:

1. Create a fun, oozing pumpkin and watch foam erupt from its carved mouth and eyes. Check out Steve Spangler’s website to make one.

2. Not sure about your design and carving skills? Try a pattern and stencil. Look for an inexpensive stencil and carving kit in-store or online.

3. Hammer metal cookie cutters into a hollow pumpkin and then pop out the shapes to make your own unique design.

4. Instead of a candle, put a glow stick in your carved pumpkin for an eerie, neon effect.

No-Carve Pumpkin Ideas

If you want your pumpkin to last through the season, or you don’t want to deal with the mess of carving a pumpkin, there are plenty of fun no-carve options!

5. Make a nail art pumpkin. Draw a design on your pumpkin then hammer nails into the design. Either leave the nails as is, or decorate with thread to make a string art pumpkin.

6. Create pumpkin people that represent favorite book or movie characters. For example, one big pumpkin and two small gourds on the side could be Princess Leia. Paint a pumpkin green to make Yoda!

7. Are you a sports lover? Paint a baseball, basketball, volleyball, soccer ball, or softball pumpkin.

8. Paint on animal faces. Pick a pumpkin with a long stem, add white paint and glitter, and poof! The pumpkin becomes a unicorn!

Pumpkin Play

Creative pumpkin games make any gathering a blast. Try one of these or convert a favorite game into pumpkin play.

9. Bowl with pumpkins. Set up water bottles in the grass as pins. Use small, lightweight pumpkins without stems as pumpkin bowling balls. See who can knock down the most pins!

10. Play pumpkin putt-putt. Use pumpkins to make an obstacle course. With golf clubs, putt around the pumpkins, or make one big pumpkin that has a wide-open mouth to putt into. Make the game even more challenging by using a tiny pumpkin as the golf ball.

11. Jump, slide, or go diagonal with pumpkins and play pumpkin checkers on the lawn. One person can use white pumpkins and the other can use orange.

12. Take turns playing pumpkin tic-tac-toe. Mark off a tic-tac-toe grid with tape inside or chalk outside. Paint or draw Xs and Os on pumpkins and see who wins.

Creative Containers

For your next party or family night, try some of these unique containers for your tablescape.

13. Serve soup in pumpkin bowls. Go with a traditional family favorite or in honor of fall, make pumpkin or squash soup. You can even use the top as a lid to keep the soup warm.

14. Light up the room with pumpkin candle holders. Use mini pumpkins for candlesticks and bigger pumpkins for jar candles.

15. Fill a large, hollowed out pumpkin with ice and use as an ice bucket.

16. Tap a hollowed out pumpkin with a nozzle, and turn it into a drink dispenser.

Dazzle with Décor

Get creative inside and outside with these pumpkin decorations.

17. Make a festive vase. Scoop the insides out, fill the pumpkin with floral foam, and stick faux or real flowers in the foam.

18. Dress up the fireplace mantel. Use painted pumpkins and bows or write letters on several little pumpkins to spell words such as “gather” or “happy fall.”

19. Use mini pumpkins as place holders for a fall dinner. Use a toothpick or cardholder with a sharp end and stick it in the pumpkin. Attach a name card.

20. Make a pumpkin topiary for inside or outside.

21. Layer pumpkins from top to bottom on porch steps.

Spruce up the Garden

Keep the garden alive during fall with these great ideas.

22. Make an outdoor pumpkin planter. Hollow out a pumpkin and fill with soil and hardy flowers like mums or pansies.

23. Feed the birds! Fill a pumpkin with seeds and leave it in the yard.

24. Make garden compost. Let the kids have a blast by smashing up a rotting pumpkin. Pitch the pieces in the compost pile or scatter the pumpkin pieces over soil, cover with leaves, and let nature take it from there.

25. Plan to grow your pumpkin for next year from this year’s seeds. Rinse seeds, spread out, and let dry for several weeks. Store them in an envelope in a dry, cool place to plant next year.

Pumpkin Delicacies

Trail mix, cocktails and, cheesecake, oh my! These ideas go beyond mere pie.

26. Roast sweet and salty pumpkin seeds by adding brown sugar and sea salt. You can also roast seeds with olive oil and your favorite seasoning—think cinnamon, ginger, garlic salt, seasoning salt, pepper, or grated cheese. Experiment to find your favorite flavor.

27. Create your own fall trail mix. Sprinkle roasted pumpkin seeds in granola and throw in some other favorite ingredients like raisins or nuts.

28. Bake a traditional pumpkin pie.

29. Pie isn’t your thing? Try pumpkin bread, cheesecake, cookies, or butter.

30. Did you know you can make pumpkin cocktails? Search online for fun mocktails for the kids and cocktails for the adults.

31. Pumpkin isn’t just for dessert! Get the kids in the kitchen and make pasta, soup, chili, hummus, sauce, and more!

Pumpkin Pointers

While all pumpkin is edible, varieties of pumpkin that are good for carving into jack-o’-lanterns aren’t the best for making into pumpkin treats. Look for a pumpkin that is specifically for baking. Some types to try are Sugar Pie, Cinderella, Blue Hubbard, or Long Island Cheese.

To extend the life of a carved pumpkin, soak it in a bleach water solution. Add one teaspoon bleach to one gallon water. Wipe the pumpkin down with it, or using the same bleach to water ratio, fill a sink or small tub and submerge the pumpkin for two hours. Dry the pumpkin well and store in a cool space. After you carve, seal all the carved areas with petroleum jelly.

To help an uncarved pumpkin last through the fall, clean or soak with the bleach water solution. Keep the pumpkin off of concrete or the ground. When not in use, store in a cool space, between 50 and 60 degrees. If you use these tips, an uncarved pumpkin can last up to three months!