The Great Pumpkin (Party)

Carving pumpkins may be classic, but decorating means the whole family can get in on the fun. Here’s how to throw a community pumpkin decorating bash that will be the perfect warm up for Halloween. From decorating tips to snacks, we have you covered.

Set the Stage


Before the party, decorate a handful of pumpkins to artfully display around your home or the community clubhouse. If the weather cooperates, outdoor common areas can be perfect. You want to inspire your guests, so go big – and small. Decorate pumpkins and gourds of varying sizes to give people different ideas for their own creations. Get a head count ahead of time – you’ll want plenty of pumpkins to go around. Smaller pumpkins are ideal for kids – easier to carry around – so get a good variety. Or ask your guests to BYOP – bring your own pumpkin. If you’re supplying, get pumpkins with stems still attached. They won’t spoil as quickly, and the stems can be surprisingly versatile. Arrange a little “pumpkin patch,” and let guests choose a pumpkin when they show up.

Set up workstations – card tables or picnic tables work well. Toss down sheets of craft paper or a few layers of newspaper and lay out plenty of supplies. Think paints and brushes, markers, feathers, beads, glitter, sequins, buttons, googley eyes, ribbons, twine, gauze, glue dots, spray adhesive and Halloween bits like vampire teeth, spiders, fake fingernails, decals and other odds and ends. Keep the crafty stuff in one area, and set up a carving station somewhere else. Set out the sharp tools in buckets, and make sure to supply plenty of paper bags for all those slimy pumpkin innards. Print out a fun selection of templates for the diehard carvers in your community.

Perfect Pumpkins


  • Painted pumpkins – Dress up a cheery trio of pumpkins with gold, white and black spray paint. Simple and stunning as is, or go for broke with a glittery topping.
  • Pumpkins with a message – Paint pens make spooky or seasonal messages a snap, especially over solid painted pumpkins. Write your message lightly in pencil, then go over the top with your pen for a perfect finish.
  • Mummy pumpkins – A quick coat of spray adhesive with a gauze wrapping makes the perfect mummy. Add a pair of googley eyes for giggles.

Other Details


It’s a party, so don’t skimp on the decorating! Spiders and webs, witches’ hats and brooms and a cauldron for drinks make everything more fun. A festive playlist (obviously, Thriller is a must) instantly sets the right tone, and you’ll need drinks and nibbles too. Freshly popped popcorn in paper cones is never a mistake, especially if you sprinkle crisp sage and salt over the top. Just microwave a handful of sage in a single layer on a plate (about two to two and a half minutes), then crumble, sprinkle and toss to combine. Other classic goodies? Try dips in a small, hollowed out pumpkin with cut up veggies and chips, sugar cookies in pumpkin and ghost shapes, a rustic apple tart, bowls of Halloween candy and warm apple cider. Done!