Pumpkin carvers have really upped their game in recent years - even publishing coffee table books featuring photos of amazing, tricked-out pumpkin art. You don't need to be a pumpkin-carving Picasso to think outside the typical jack-o'-lantern box, you just need a little spark to get you going.
HowStuffWorks and TLC have teamed up to make sure you have five good ideas to start with. Now it's just up to you to personalize it. Read on!
A Work of Art
Take a cue from your local museum and transform this year's pumpkin into a famous work of art, or at least a decent replication of one of your favorites.
OK, we don't mean you should try for lofty pieces from the masters, like recreating the Sistine Chapel's ceiling on an oblate fruit, although all the power to you if that's your aspiration. Consider focusing on a single detail of a famous art piece, such as a face or simple scene. Paintings such as Mona Lisa and her famous smile or something spooky like Edvard Munch's The Scream fit the pumpkin face nicely, and if you're lucky there will be a downloadable stencil waiting for you online.
Every year you wonder: What should I do with this year's pumpkin that makes it stand out from the rest in the 'hood? If only you could think without all that barking behind you!
Wait. That's an idea. Transform your pumpkin into a likeness of your pet, or of your favorite pet breed.
Carve a glowing pet-o-lantern or break out the acrylic paints. If you're nervous about painting or carving freehand, take a photo of your pet and use a photo editing program on your computer to turn it into a stencil. Or, turn to the Web, where you'll find plenty pictures of your favorite breed. Print and use as your stencil template.
All In The Family
Instead of carving jack-o'-lanterns or little glowing monsters, trade your pumpkin stencils for the family portrait. Have each member of the family carve (or paint, depending on ages and carving comfort levels) a pumpkin version of him or herself, and be sure to allow for interpretation!
While pumpkin hunting, have each family member to choose a pumpkin that most resembles themselves. Alternatively, choose them by size of each family member: small for the little ones, medium for teens and large pumpkins for adults.
When it's time to decorate, keep not only carving tools and paints on hand but other crafty accessories such as plastic glasses, cotton or yarn for hair and maybe a tie for dad.
You don't always need to pull out the carving tools, paints or markers to put together a unique pumpkin. Go snowman-style and stack your gourds artistically.
Collect small varieties of gourds and use them, or pieces of them, as facial elements and accessories. Try a spoon gourd for a nose, crown of thorn gourds as a hat or maybe warties as ears to add flair and texture to your pumpkin head. And don't stop with gourds. Root vegetables such as carrots (consider the purple variety instead of traditional orange) make great appendages too!
Small gourds and vegetables can be held in place with toothpicks but heavier ones will need more support. For those, give bamboo fondue sticks a try.
Make a statement with your pumpkin this year and carve a world leader, historical figure or your favorite celebrity's face. (Brad Pitt on your doorstep? Why not!)
There's a good change there's a stencil already available of the celebrity you want to carve as a celeb-o-lantern. Or search the Web to find and download celebrity photos to use as templates for your pumpkin masterpiece.
- Cartoon characters
- Famous dancers or theater performers
Or, Go Loyal
Don't have a favorite celeb, but are brand loyal? What about a Nike swoosh or a Dolce & Gabbana logo? Or, go the alumni route and carve your school's mascot.