FARGO - Decorating pumpkins doesn't need to be ghoulish, or goopy.

Instead of carving a traditional jack-o-lantern, crafters can use pumpkins as canvases for different decorating techniques.

Want proof? Just check out Pumpkin Alley at Buffalo River Pumpkin Patch east of Glyndon, Minn. It features about a dozen pumpkins decorated by Mindy Halvorson, who owns the patch with her husband, Mike.

"I don't carve them because they wouldn't last the six weeks I need them to last," Mindy Halvorson says.

Instead, she uses decorating techniques she's found in magazines or online. Website Pinterest has increasingly become a source of inspiration.

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She used black puff paint to create swirls on a pumpkin she painted white. On another, glued-on buttons spell "boo."

Halvorson paints some pumpkins to look like popular characters, like Angry Birds or Hello Kitty.

She created a cowgirl by painting on a face and attaching a hair-adorned headband she found at a dollar store. She says felt embellishments also work to perk up the pumpkins.

"Things like that, you can pick up inexpensively and glue on or pin on to make them look at little more exciting," she says.

Another trick Halvorson has tried is to cut circle and star shapes out of contact paper, using her Cricut die-cutting machine. She adheres the shapes to the pumpkin, spray paints it, and then peels off the contact paper, leaving the circles and stars in relief. She notes this would also work well with letters.

"Paint will chip off if they're handled a lot, so spraying them with an acrylic sealer helps a little bit," Halvorson says. "Make sure they're not tossed around."

Cute uncarved pumpkins can be found at Unglued, the handmade crafts store in downtown Fargo. Like Halvorson, Ashley Morken, an Unglued founder, didn't want the pumpkins to rot before Halloween.

Gold glitter covers half a pumpkin, adhered with Mod Podge and sealed with hairspray. Glittery midcentury star shapes were formed on another gourd with Elmer's glue and a toothpick.

Masking tape and two coats of white primer paint was used to make Chevron stripes on one pumpkin. Morken says making sure the points were precise was time-consuming.

Morken also took a look at Pinterest for inspiration. Chalkboard paint was used in several, she says. She noticed a lot of pumpkins painted with moustaches.

Arrows were another common motif. "Arrows are super fun right now," Morken says.


The SheSays staff tried out some fun non-knife pumpkin decorating techniques. Here's a rundown on how-to achieve the looks.

Decoupage Décor

This technique works best on large pumpkins with smooth sides.


  • Modge Podge (Or save tons of money by making your own using 1-to-1 ratio of craft glue and water. Store in a recycled pasta or Mason jar)
  • Sponge brush
  • Newspaper, magazines or fabric scraps
  • Glitter adhesive spray
  • Glitter


Protect work surface with newspaper.

Apply Modge Podge to pumpkin's surface and smooth on first scrap, using the sponge brush (or your fingers if you're willing to get a little messy).

Continue layering pieces around pumpkin. Once it's completely covered, let dry a few hours.

Spray with adhesive and sprinkle glitter over entire surface; let dry. Repeat if necessary.

Spray another coat of adhesive to prevent glitter from flaking off.

Chalk it up

A blackboard pumpkin is a fast effect that allows your indecisive decorators to erase and start over.


  • Chalkboard spray paint (available at Walmart and area craft stores)
  • Chalk


In a well-ventilated area, spread several sheets of newspaper on the ground.

Following the directions on the can, spray pumpkin's surface. Two or three coats seem to give the best coverage.

Let dry overnight before drawing or writing on surface.

Spots and blocks

Painting pumpkins isn't anything new, but use geometric shapes give your gourd a trendy twist.


  • Acrylic paint in various colors
  • Spray paint
  • Paint brush
  • Painters tape
  • Recycled wine cork


If you want, coat the entire pumpkin with spray paint and let dry.

Use painters tape to section off color blocks; several layers of acrylic paint are likely needed. Let dry and remove tape carefully.

Or use an old wine cork to apply polka dots.

Cut off one end of the cork with a sharp knife to ensure the stamping surface is flat. Dip in paint and press firmly onto pumpkin's surface. This technique works best on a smooth pumpkin.