Pumpkins can be so much more than a spooky face

  • By Leanne Italie Associated Press
  • Friday, October 18, 2013 1:44pm
  • Life

When is a pumpkin not a pumpkin? When it’s a jack-o’-lantern, sure, but Halloween’s jolly orange elf can be so much more.

“For me, it’s like my favorite time of year when you see them out in the marketplace,” said Marcie McGoldrick, editorial director of holiday and crafts for Martha Stewart Living magazine.

Whether outside or at a party, pumpkins are an “icon of the season that people really try to transform every year,” she said. “It’s always fun to see what people do.”

Some ultra-easy ways to show off pumpkins:

Pumpkin vases

How about scooping out the insides and poking in your favorite seasonal flowers? Try orange Chinese lantern flowers. Or go for scary flourishes such as faux flies and snakes wending through wilty blood-red roses. Fill with dirt and use a pumpkin as a planter that can go straight into the ground after a few days on Halloween duty. Arrange small pumpkins, colorful gourds, Indian corn and crunchy leaves in a window box.

Pumpkin bowling

Decorate butternut squash like bowling pins and set them up on grass to entertain kids. Arm your young guests with a smaller variety, sugar pumpkins, leaving the stems on for easy slinging down the “lane,” McGoldrick suggests. Another good kid game: pumpkin leap frog, she said.

Pumpkin coolers

Cut a carving pumpkin open about a third down from the stem, or wide enough to accommodate wine, beer and soda. Clean and fill with ice. Insert a plastic or glass bowl to prevent leakage or softening as ice melts. Carve out toothy jags around the lip for effect. You can paint the pumpkin ghostly white or spooky black and adorn with store-bought webs crawling with faux spiders.

Pumpkin bird feeders

Why should humans have all the pumpkin fun? Create bird feeders by poking holes along the pumpkin’s sides for hanging with rope by a tree branch, or just leave one sitting on a fence post. Scoop and cut a wide hole or scoop, clean and cut smaller holes with perches. Any seed and any size would work. Live in deer country? They’d appreciate a pumpkin, too.

Pumpkin candle holders

Pumpkins are often set alight by votive candles, but try poking holes and turning them into candlesticks. Especially festive later this year for American Jews who want to turn their pumpkins into nine-candle menorahs as Thanksgiving falls on the night for lighting Hanukkah’s second candle. Or cut out the stem and nestle a little tea candle in the crook of an uncut pumpkin. Find a tall, narrow one and add an inexpensive glass hurricane top to be lit by a votive candle.

Pumpkin servers

Cut, scoop, clean and brush insides with oil. Season and bake on a baking sheet as individual servers for soup. Or use them raw for crudites or candy. Punch bowl? Yes, with a regular bowl inside. McGoldrick said individual servings of stew might also be good in a seasoned, softened pumpkin bowl.

More in Life

Did you know? Bats edition

Worthwhile Everett library reading and viewing about bats of the animal, sport and hero varieties.

The pros’ snow: Lake Tahoe a big draw for skiers of all stripes

North Lake Tahoe is home to one of the largest concentrations of ski resorts in North America.

How birds stay alive in winter and what you can do to help

When the weather turns chilly, columnist Sharon Wootton’s thoughts turn to birds coping with cold.

Sweden’s Glass Country sparkles like a hand-blown bauble

You can blame my Norwegian heritage, but I’m not so hot on… Continue reading

Don’t get scammed: Think before you click on email links

An email that was supposedly from iTunes is a scam that targeted busy parents.

Teen idol David Cassidy remains in Florida hospital

The former pop star is dealing with multiple organ failure.

Don’t forbid friendship with back-talking neighbor kid

Q: Our 8-year-old has suddenly developed a very sassy mouth. She picked… Continue reading

How to maintain your life’s balance amid change

Columnist Paul Schoenfeld shares some techniques for working toward a sense of stability.

Most Read