Pumpkin People Make Great Halloween Decorations

Put some pumpkin people on your porch this October. This Halloween decorating project requires minimal supplies and provides maximum family fun.

| September/October 1981

  • 071 pumpkin people 4 reading the news
    Neighborhood trick-or-treaters will love your finished pumpkin people!
  • 071 pumpkin people 1 choosing pumpkins
    The sculptors in our clan generally choose the largest squash for a jack-o'-lantern display, and save the smaller specimens to fashion heads for pumpkin people.
  • 071 pumpkin people 2 stuffing pants
    Stuff worn-out wearables with hay (or some other filler material) to form a bulky body.
  • 071 pumpkin people 3 drawing face
    Draw a goofy (or glaring!) grimace.
  • 071 pumpkin people 5 waiting for guests
    Get creative with your Halloween decorating props. For instance, you can deck out your pumpkin people in hats and galoshes.

  • 071 pumpkin people 4 reading the news
  • 071 pumpkin people 1 choosing pumpkins
  • 071 pumpkin people 2 stuffing pants
  • 071 pumpkin people 3 drawing face
  • 071 pumpkin people 5 waiting for guests

On the last lonesome night of October — when the pale moon hangs cold and heavy in the autumn sky — bands of ghoulish creatures shuffle across the brown stubble of the now fallow fields, restlessly wandering from farmhouse to farmhouse. And stranger still the apparitions utter shrieks of "trick or treat," as if trying to scare the last withered leaves down from the branches. It sounds like the time to make some great Halloween decorations!

If your household welcomes this annual visit of ghosts and ghouls and other ghastly haunts that go BUMP in the night, the whole brood will probably enjoy creating a friendly (or scary!) family of pumpkin people to delight your masquerading visitors. This fun-filled Halloween project is so easy that even the youngest tot in your home can help out, and the only materials you'll need are some old clothes, an ample supply of stuffing, a handful of rubber bands, a felt-tipped marking pen, a few well-selected pumpkins from the garden patch and a spark of spooky imagination.

Making Pumpkin People Bodies

Before you can actually begin to construct a host of ghoul-greeters, you'll have to gather enough worn-out wearables to outfit Ma, Pa and Junior Pumpkinhead (as well as, perhaps, a few of his brothers and sisters). The number of members in your pumpkin people family will determine the amount of clothing required. We generally save up a sufficient supply of well-used duds to enable each "sculptor" in our house to fashion one of the life-sized figures. Old trousers or overalls and long-sleeved shirts or blouses are ideal garments to use because, once such toggery is stuffed, the resulting dummies look remarkably lifelike. However, you can deck out Ma Pumpkinhead in a dress if you first clothe her in pants and then drape a frock over the "pantaloon petticoat."

Once you've assembled an adequate quantity of wearing apparel, you can begin shaping the bodies of your squash-headed relations. Fasten a rubber band around the bottom of each pant leg to close off that opening, and then pack the trousers with some filler material (straw, leaves, rags, or wads of crumpled newspaper are all excellent body builders). Next — using that same technique — secure the shirt sleeves at the cuffs and stuff the arms, then button the front and pad out the chest area.

That done, prop the lower portion of the scarecrow-like body in an armchair and rest the upper torso in place on top. At this point, it's a good idea to join the two sections by pinning the trousers to the shirt or blouse in several places. That way, your Halloween house guest will be more likely to stay in one piece. (Since pumpkin people are casual critters and known to be somewhat careless in their dress, let a bit of the shirttail hang out over the dungarees for authenticity.) Finally, punch the stuffing around until your headless haunt is well balanced.

Fashion a Fantastic Face

Here's the step our family enjoys most in the build-a-person process: designing the faces. This is the stage at which you can let your imagination run riot. Bring the heads-to-be in from the garden (small, well-rounded pumpkins with flattened bottoms will be stable and easy to decorate; however, you might want to use a larger, uneven globe to give your creation a unique personality), sponge off the surface dirt and let the spheres dry. (Note that nowhere has the word "cut" been mentioned! Carved and hollowed heads will soon shrivel and mold, so allow your pumpkin folks to keep their seedy brains. Later — when the other jack-o'-lanterns have lost their toothy smiles — your heavy-headed individuals will still be grinning wide.)

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