Avoid pumpkin fails: 6 easy ways to make amazing jack o' lanterns with your kids

The cheat sheet how to make unique and easy jack o’ lanterns

September 25th, 2013
jack o' lantern fail

Jack o’ lantern fail, exhibit A.

Jack o' lantern fail

Sad pumpkin, smirking child. Jack o’ lantern fail, exhibit B.

By Aimee Heckel

Martha Stewart isn’t magical. She just knows a few crafty tricks.

Making beautiful jack o’ lanterns with your kids can be one of the fall’s greatest challenges — between keeping your kids from impaling themselves with the knife, scrubbing pumpkin guts off every surface in your house and a final product that is usually much more depressing than scary.

See jack o’ lantern fail, exhibits A and B.

Put that on your porch and see what kind of letters you get from your HOA.

No more sticky humiliation. This year, follow these six easy cheats and have the snazziest pumpkin on the block. Best of all: They’re all safe and easy enough for kids of all ages.

1. Use paint instead of a carving knife. Parents.com recommends painting your pumpkins a solid white or solid black and then painting on the details. Cut a sponge into a circle (or any shape), dip it into paint and press it on your pumpkin for a perfect and easy detail. It’s like a stamp, but with paint. Easy enough for any age kid to handle.

Find painting sponges in fun pre-cut shapes (hearts, butterflies, bees, flowers) at Oriental Trading — $6.99 for a dozen.

Save money on Oriental Trading purchases with coupons here. Read more articles about Oriental Trading here.

2. Decorate with markers. Draw directly on the orange pumpkin, or paint it a solid color and go to town. Consider using stencils.

3. Consider unique color combos. A black and white pumpkin is not traditional, but definitely striking.

4. Make a chalkboard pumpkin. Paint with black paint or chalkboard paint. Then change the pumpkin’s face every day with chalk, or write a special message — maybe a countdown of days until Halloween.

5. Accent with stickers. No mess or sharp edges here. Use puffy flower stickers, spooky ghosts or let your kids pick out their own sticker decorations that match their costume. Don’t forget puffy letters for each kid to spell their name on their pumpkin. Basically, anything you can scrapbook with, you can put on a pumpkin. Don’t limit your creativity.

6. Stencils: the best-kept secret. Few of us are perfect artists. Stencils are our best friend. Check out Country Living’s amazing pumpkin village using pre-made stencils.

Want to save money on other products for your kids? Check out these coupons for babies and kids.

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Aimee's passion for storytelling has brought her around the world as a journalist, writing award-winning news articles about Haiti and Uganda. Aimee studied international journalism at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, and she majored in journalism and German at Colorado State University. When she's not writing stories for a Colorado newspaper, she travels and volunteers for Think Humanity, her family's nonprofit that helps refugees and disadvantaged people in Africa. She's also a mom, a wife and a furious bargain-hunter. Reach out to her at AimeeHeckel.com, find her travel board on Pinterest, follow her on Twitter, or ping her on Google+.

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