Happy Halloween! Plus Party Playlist

Halloween Party Decor

Happy Halloween from What to do with Lemons!

It’s our favorite day of the year, so you know we’re excited! We are also pretty busy, so today, instead of a regular post, we put together a list of songs to get your Halloween off to a fun and festive start! You can add these to your party playlist to supplement the classics like Thriller and The Monster Mash. We promise it will set the best Halloween vibe. Happy Haunting, witches!

1) Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll
2) Gnarles Barkley – The Boogie Monster
3) The Squirrel Nut Zippers – Hell
4) Kanye West – Monster
5) Shakira – She Wolf
6) Danny Elfman – Kidnap the Sandy Claws
7) Muse – Supermassive Black Hole
8) Talking Heads – Psycho Killer
9) Queens of the Stone Age – Burn the Witch
10) Bastille – Bad Blood
11) The Cranberries – Zombie
12) Fleetwood Mac – Black Magic Woman
13) Roky Erickson – Night of the Vampire
14) KC and the Sunshine Band – I’m your Boogie Man
15) Big Data – Dangerous

Let us know what you think, and tell us what songs are your Halloween favorites!

Blood Bar: 3 Halloween Cocktails

Frankenmelon Cocktail

1) The Frankenmelon:

This creepy concoction is a mash-up of flavors made with 1.5 oz of vodka, 1 oz of melon liquor, and topped off with 3 oz of ginger ale. Shake vodka and melon liquor over ice and strain into a chilled glass. Top with cold ginger ale and add creepy garnishes like a spider ice cube or a gummy worm.

To make the blood dripping rim, mix equal parts corn syrup and strawberry syrup in a small sauce pan. Boil on medium high for about 2 minutes. Allow this mixture to cool fully (it will thicken as it cools). Paint onto the inside rim of your glass using a spoon or small paint brush.

Blood Sample Vodka Shots

2) Blood Sample Shooters:

Spook your guests with these layered vodka shots that are made to look like separated blood samples. The “red blood cells” are made from raspberry puree and the “serum” from vodka mixed with a splash of orange juice.

To make, cook down some frozen raspberries along with a few spoonfuls of sugar over medium heat, just until the sugar dissolves. Blend to make a puree, then strain out seeds using a mesh strainer. Pour an inch or so of raspberry puree into the bottom of each test-tube shooter glass. Mix 1.5 oz of vodka with a small splash of orange juice, and slowly pour down the side of the tube to layer.

Halloween Shots
Serve these chilled. The raspberry puree acts as a kind of “chaser” for the vodka shot!

Blood Drop Gin & Tonic

3) Blood Drop

This one is an eerie looking twist on a classic gin and tonic. Prepare the blood-dripping rim the same way as described above, then pour 1 oz of grenadine into the bottom of the glass. Slowly pour 1.5 oz of your favorite gin (or vodka if you prefer) down the side of the glass to float on top of the denser layer of grenadine. Gently top off with Tonic water so as not to stir up the “blood drop” at the bottom.

The most fun part about this one is that tonic water will glow under a blacklight, making this classic combination perfect for a Halloween party! Cheers!

Blood Drop Glowing Cocktail

Halloween Bar Snacks: Spicy Pumpkin Seeds Two Ways

Halloween Bar Snacks

Did you know we’re having Halloween parties??!  Just because they’re in different places, doesn’t mean we can’t work on a dish together!  Hayley will be making some pretty spooky cocktails to serve her guests this weekend (stay tuned for the post!), and so I thought I’d come up with some festive snacks to go along with them.  Pumpkin seeds are a nutty tasting alternative to nuts, and take no time to roast, season, and enjoy!  I decided on a spicy cajun version and a sweet, pumpkin spiced version, but the options are truly limitless.  I recommend using the raw, green seeds in this recipe – they puff up like popcorn, and have a great crunch!


-raw pumpkin seeds

-olive oil

-cajun spices


-ground cinnamon, clove, ginger, and nutmeg (or ground pumpkin spice)

-brown sugar

Spiced Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and take out two sheet pans.  For the hot-spiced seeds: Mix 2t of cajun spices with 1T olive oil for each cup of pumpkin seeds.  Pour over seeds, toss to coat, and spread out in sheet pan.  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, tossing after 10.  For the pumpkin spiced seeds: Toss 1T of melted butter with 1 cup of pumpkin seeds, and bake just like the hot-spiced seeds.  Mix 2T brown sugar with a total of 2t pumpkin spice, and set aside.  When the seeds are toasted (20 minutes later), toss the warm seeds in the pumpkin spiced mixture, and enjoy!  The first time I made these, I mixed the butter and the sugar with the seeds so the sugars could “caramelize” in the oven for the entire 20 minutes…and by “caramelize,” I mean the sugar burned…not too flavorful.  Make sure you toss to coat the hot seeds in the sugar POST roasting!

Cajun Spiced Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

Sweet and salty…the perfect combination – recognize the glasses?

Double Take: Halloween Photo Booth

Halloween photo booth DIY

This year we will both be hosting Halloween parties…and on the same day! Naturally, we’ve been discussing our plans for the festivities, and how we could keep our friends entertained and in theme. We decided that the one thing almost everyone wants to do at a costume party is… take photos! You just have to document all those awesome get-ups, and with social media these days, you know those pictures are going to get shared all over! #Halloween. So being the crafty devils that we are, we thought we would each make a DIY “photo-booth” for our party goers!

We knew we would have drastically different interpretations of this idea, so it made the perfect subject for our October “Double-Take” feature! The two of us have always had very different styles when it comes to Halloween. One of us loves the scary stuff, the other one loves the cute! We’re betting you can probably guess who is who after checking out the final results.

Take One:

Halloween Photobooth Props

Katie made photo booth props so guests in costume can “dress up” like traditional halloween characters.


halloween photo booth props diy

I used colored foam sheets, long cardboard lolly-pop sticks, paint, glue dots, hot glue, scrap cardboard, and an x-acto knife. I started out by drawing a stencil of a mask on some scrap cardboard, and cut it out with an x-acto knife.  Using that as a template, I cut out different colors of foam for the main piece of the masks, and used glue dots to stick them together.  I painted the white lollypop sticks black, and fastened them to the masks using hot glue.  This was really simple, and really fun. I stuck with non-scary themed halloween characters…Frankenstein, a witch, cat ears, an owl, a pumpkin, and a skull (I also made a stencil for that one) – that’s how I do my halloween.  For a backdrop, I taped decorative sheets of card stock to our kitchen door, made and hung tissue paper-poofs on the side, and kept an old black frame near by as an added touch.  Can’t wait to see the pictures we take next week!


Take Two:

Hayley made a blood-spattered backdrop and number placards so that party guests can take Halloween mugshots!

Halloween mug shot

I tend to go for a creepier Halloween aesthetic, full of spiders, blood, and skulls, so my interpretation of this project was just a little darker, but a lot of fun! I measured and painted lines onto a flat white sheet, then splattered it up with a generous amount of theatrical blood! For the ID signs, I cut a piece of black foam board into four rectangles and stenciled on some numbers and lettering in white paint. This “photo booth” will be great for group OR individual shots, and it documents the year and occasion right in the photo! All the different costumes will make for some interesting criminal mischief! Luckily I had a few hunky models around to help me test it out this week.


What are you doing for Halloween this year? Snap a picture of your costume or Halloween DIY and tag us @whattodowithlemons with the hashtag #WTDWLemons ! We would love to see what you’ve made!

Mini Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins

mini pumpkin doughnut muffins

I know what you’re thinking: are they doughnuts or are they muffins? Well, they are a little bit of both! The taste of a doughnut with the moist texture of a muffin, and just a bit healthier because they are baked and not fried in hot oil. So good. So cute. How could anyone resist!? Here’s how to make them:

(makes about 4 dozen)
– 3 eggs
– 1/2 cup canola oil
– 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
– 1/4 cup brown sugar
– 1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp ground ginger
– 1/4 tsp ground clove
– 2 tsp salt
– 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1 3/4 cup flour
– super fine sugar and more cinnamon for coating

baking with pumpkin
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Place all ingredients except flour into a large mixing bowl and stir until well combined. Make sure no lumps of brown sugar remain. Add in flour, and stir until just combined.

rounded tablespoons
Spray a mini muffin tray with non-stick baking spray, then spoon your batter by rounded tablespoons to fill each cup. You’ll want them to be about 2/3 of the way full. Place them on the top rack of the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

While your first batch is baking away, mix up some cinnamon sugar coating in a large ziplock bag. Aim for roughly a 3:1 mixture of super fine sugar to cinnamon, but there’s no need to be precise.

perfectly imperfect
Remove muffin tray from the oven and allow to cool for a minute or two in the pan before dumping onto a wire cooling rack. They almost look like doughnut holes! Just a little less spherical.

While they are still warm, toss them in your bag of cinnamon sugar about 4 or 5 at a time and shake shake shake!

pumkin doughnut muffin bites
This is one of the easiest and tastiest pumpkin recipes I have tried so far! Be sure to sample a few while they are fresh and warm. I think they are best served aside a cold glass of milk or apple cider! Happy pumpkin season!

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour.

Apple Butter Chicken Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios


Apple butter doesn’t always have to be spread on toast, or mixed in muffins or streusels.  When paired with the right ingredients – goat cheese, pistachios, persimmons, apple butter – you can enjoy the sweet cinnamon taste with any meal!  Here, I replaced chicken salad’s usual mayo binder with apple butter, added some herbed goat cheese to cut the sweetness, pistachios for an added crunch, and persimmons for texture.  Persimmons are a fruit that look like tomatoes, but are heartier and slightly sweeter – a great compliment to the soft cheese and crunchy pistachios.  Plus, they’re orange…and best in October! This salad is simple, fresh, and very fall.



-salad greens

-persimmons (or something in the orange color family…apricots?)

-tomatoes (I used kumato, but heirloom would also add nice color)

-goat cheese, room temperature

-raw, shelled pistachios

-cooked, shredded chicken

-apple butter

-dried herbs (I used oregano, parsley, sage)

-salt & pepper



We’ll start with the herbed goat cheese.  Using a spoon, mix your goat cheese (1oz. per salad) with 1t dried spices – make sure you crush the dried herbs before you mix them in.  You can do this in advance, and let the cheese pick up the flavors for a few days.  Don’t like goat cheese? That’s fine – choose the cheese you like best.  A crumbly feta will still hold the herbs well, or if you’re not into herbs try a hard, shaved cheese like parmesan!  Take the shredded chicken, and mix in the apple butter.  I don’t like a ton of “dressing” on my salad, so I used about 2T.  Next, shell the pistachios, cut the persimmons, tomatoes, and lettuce, and plate your salad!


This lunch makes Monday so much more bearable…can’t wait!

3 Easy DIY Halloween Props

Halloween Party

Katie and I are both hosting Halloween Parties this year. On the same day in fact, but almost two hundred miles apart! I love a well-themed party, so I’ve been busy with a few fun projects to ramp up my Halloween décor this year. Today I’m going to share a few really easy DIY Halloween props that will make your holiday display EXTRA spooky!

1. Blood Dripping Candles

DIY bloody candles
These gruesome blood dripping candles are very dramatic, and extremely quick and easy to make! Great news for horror lovers. To make them, you’ll need two white stick candles and one red stick candle. Simply light the red candle and hold upside down over a propped up white candle. Allow the red wax to melt and drip down the top and sides of the white candle. The candle sticks I used are cheap glass holders from the dollar store that I painted with black and silver for a wrought iron look.

2. Painted Branch Centerpiece

DIY Halloween Centerpiece
You can make a creepy looking centerpiece to liven up your Halloween table scape with just some bare branches from your yard and a can of black spray paint! Select some dry, spindly looking branches and give them a coat of black spray paint. Then prop them up in a vase with some kind of filler like spanish moss or dried leaves. For added effect, throw in some cobwebs, plastic bones or spiders, and a dark creature hanging from the branches.

3. Poison Apothecary Bottles

DIY Halloween prop poison bottles
You can easily make your bar or mantle into Snape’s potions class with some deadly looking DIY poison bottles. Gather some empty bottles and jars in varying shapes and sizes and give them an aged look with some craft paint and Mod Podge. Vintage looking labels can be found all over the internet (there are tons on Pinterest!). I just printed and cut mine out, then roughed up the edges and glued them onto the bottles. Finish off with some corks, twine, or creepy crawlies.

What To Do With: Delicata Squash


Just like my Pumpkin Spiced Latte confession, I commit another Fall flavor faux pas annually that I guess I should own up to. I don’t like squash. Almost at all.  I LOVE pumpkin (a squash, I know), but that’s where I draw the line.  Butternut squash soup, bisque, gnocchi…not for me.  I used to be a huge spaghetti squash fan, but after eating so much of it last season it has to be cooked a certain way for me to like it.  So, when I saw this interesting squash in the grocery store I almost immediately passed it by.  But having never heard of Delicata Squash, (and it being on super sale in the store) I decided to buy a few and see what I could do with it.

To cook the squash, cut down the center and scoop the guts out with a spoon.  You can roast the seeds, or discard.  Place the squash on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes if in halves, or 25-30 minutes if in smaller slices or dices.  Delicata Squash is much more mild in flavor than a butternut squash, and tastes more like a sweet potato.  I was pleasantly surprised!  Also, there’s no need to peel this squash – you can eat the skin!

1) Pureed Sweet Delicata Squash

I started off the squash experiment with something I thought would be safe – everything tastes better sweeter.  I roasted the squash with some molasses for about 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven, about 1T per medium squash.  After the squash cooled, I used a spoon to scoop the flesh away from the skin, added about another tablespoon of molasses, half a tablespoon of cinnamon, half a teaspoon of each nutmeg, ginger, and clove, and pureed in a food processor.  I was left with this wonderful fall spiced spread that I’ve added to yogurt, spread on toast, and used as a dip for some ripe pears.  This was so delicious, and very reminiscent of a pumpkin pie filling – maybe I’ll use the leftovers in a crispy pastry!



2) Garlic Roasted Smashed Delicata Squash

This side dish was AWESOME.  Roast the squash the same as you would the sweet puree, but brush with olive oil and some garlic powder instead of molasses.  Cool, scoop, and mash with salt and pepper.  I really liked keeping some of the dish on the chunky side to add texture.  It’s even really great for those of us who eat with their eyes.  You get great color from the natural caramelization of the squash. This would make a great alternative to a traditional mashed potato or sweet potato bake for any fall holiday – it’s sweet AND salty, and so good!


3) Roasted Delicata Squash “Fries”

After having success with two tasty dishes, I thought I should try to keep things simple and stick to the flavors of the squash itself.  I cut this raw squash in slices (less than half inch), brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with pepper, and baked it in a 400 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes, turning every 10.  These little “fries” were a perfect substitute to hash browns with my morning eggs.  They were semi-crispy on the outside and smooth and creamy on the inside.  I finished them off with a little grated parmesan and devoured immediately.  I couldn’t believe it – I actually found a roasted squash I liked!  I will definitely be making these again for a fall appetizer.IMG_9688

DIY Skull Stud Earrings

DIY skull earrings

If you know me, you know that I LOVE Halloween, and you probably also know that I have a lot of quirky jewelry. I made these little skull stud earrings recently and they are perfectly my style. They are a little bit Dia de los Muertos, a little Jack Skellington, and lots of fun! I’ll be wearing them all of October because I like to stretch my favorite holiday as long as I can. Scroll on to find out how to make them!

polymer clay earrings
To make a pair of your own you will need: white polymer clay, stud earring backs, all-purpose glue, black paint, and some clear polyurethane coating. Other fun paint colors or rhinestones are optional add-ons. You’ll need a few simple tools as well: a chopstick or dull pencil, a knife, a small paintbrush, q-tips, and an oven.

1) Start out by rolling two small spheres of clay, a little larger than a pea. Pinch each sphere slightly on one side and then flatten, making an oval shape that is wider on one end. The narrower end will be the jaw of your skull. Press in a bit on the bottom to flatten the “chin” of your skull shape.
2) Next, use a dull knife to create some “teeth” and two vertical “nostrils.” Use the chopstick to make two oval shaped indents for the eye sockets.
3) Bake these clay pieces according to the package directions.

DIY clay earrings
4) After your skull pieces are hardened and cooled, use a small paintbrush to fill in the features with black paint. Don’t worry about staying inside the lines, we will neaten things up in the next step.
5) Using a q-tip dipped in a bit of nail polish remover, gently buff off any paint on the raised surface of your skull, leaving only the indented features painted. If you want a glossy look, add a coat of clear polyurethane sealer on top.

attaching earring backs
6) Glue the earring posts onto the back of your clay skulls with an all-purpose glue. Once the glue is dry they’re all done! You could definitely try out other halloween shapes as well, like candy corns or black cats. The possibilities are endless.

Polymer clay skull earrings

Quick Mulled Wine with Baked Spiced Oranges

Quick Mulled Orange Wine

When we were at school, Hayley and I would go to a German festival with our friends and get a glass of hot, mulled wine.  It was spicy and sweet, and was the perfect drink to warm you from the inside out – it just tasted like fall!  I really wanted to make some for myself, but to be honest, I wasn’t really excited about making a syrup and stewing fruit.  Sometimes you just can’t wait for your wine!  This quick mulled wine combines warm spices with sweet baked oranges and is the perfect drink for a fall evening.  I also tried the oranges in hot passion fruit tea, and even ate some by themselves at work.  They are so, so good! The smell of the oranges baking in the oven brought back so many memories, and really got me ready for the season.  You’ve got to try this!!

Baked cinnamon orangesIngredients:

-fresh oranges

-whole cloves, 3 per orange wedge

-ground cinnamon

-dry red wine


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Wash then slice your oranges into six wedges.  Stick three whole cloves into the rind of each wedge, and place on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle cinnamon on both sides of the orange slices, and put in the oven.  Bake for 15 minutes, let cool just to the touch, then squeeze two wedges into a glass.  Place the squeezed wedges in the glass and pour your wine over top.  Enjoy immediately, or let soak overnight – both options are delicious!!

Spiced Oranges in red wine

Bourbon Apple Hand Pies

bourbon apple hand pies

Fall is the absolute best season for fresh baked goods. There’s something about the combination of rich warm flavors like pumpkin, cinnamon, apple, nutmeg, and brown sugar, that makes me feel at peace with the weather getting colder and the days growing shorter. My favorite fall flavor combination by far, is apple and bourbon. I come back to it in some form every year and it’s always a hit with my friends and family who “taste test” for me.

Did you know that whiskey cannot legally be labeled “bourbon” unless it is distilled in the United States? Strongly associated with the American South, Kentucky in particular, bourbon whiskey is a truly American spirit. Combine it with fresh, local apples and you’ve got a perfect match, both in flavor and sentiment (what’s more American than apple pie?).

baking with bourbonI usually make one or two whole Bourbon Apple Pies around this time of year, but this season I decided to try a mini hand-pie version, and I’m very happy with the results! Here is the recipe that I adapted, which can easily be adapted back to a regular pie! (Or just email me if you would like my recipe for a whole pie, I’m happy to share!)

for the crust:
(this will make enough dough for two full-sized double crust pies)
– 5 cups flour
– 2 tsp salt
– 3 tbsp white sugar
– 5 sticks unsalted butter (cold)
– 1/2 cup chilled vodka
– 1/2 cup ice water
– 1 egg for egg wash
– coarse sanding sugar
P.S. – This is double the amount of dough you will need for a traditional double crust pie, so if you are adapting this recipe for a regular round pie, just halve these amounts!

for the filling:
– 5 tart apples
– 3 tbsp bourbon
– 1 cup brown sugar
– 1 tbsp vanilla
– 2 tbsp corn starch
– 1 heaping tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/3 cup milk
pie dough from scratch
Making a good pie dough from scratch can be tricky, but there are a few tips that will help you achieve a nice flakey and buttery crust: 1) Keep all of your wet ingredients nice and cold! The main reason for this is that you don’t want the butter in your dough to melt until it gets to the oven. If you have small, solid chunks of butter within your dough, they will melt in the oven, and release little pockets of steam, creating the flakiness we all love. 2) Replace some of the water in your dough with vodka. The alcohol will evaporate more quickly than the water so your dough will be less prone to sogginess. 3) Use the right tools. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a food processor to mix your dough. After all, our great-grandmothers were making amazing pies without one. My secret weapon is a hand pastry blender. I picked two of them up at a yard sale and now I’m not sure how I ever lived without them!

To make the dough: 1) Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. 2) Cut butter into chunks and add to the flour mixture. 3) Cut through with the pastry blender until well combined, keeping the butter in solid, pea-sized lumps. 4) Add cold vodka and water and fold in with a rubber spatula until homogenous dough forms. 5) Press dough into a ball, wrap in wax paper and chill in refrigerator for one hour.
bourbon apple pie filling
To make the filling: 1) Peel apples and chop into thin, small pieces. These are hand pies, so you want the apple pieces to be much smaller than in a traditional pie. 2) In a saucepan, combine bourbon, brown sugar, and vanilla and slowly bring to a boil. 3) Allow bourbon mixture to boil for a few minutes, stirring gently. This heating will start to caramelize the sugars to bring out a rich flavor and dark amber color (yum!). 4) In a large bowl, sprinkle the corn starch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt over the apples and toss to coat. 5) Pour on the bourbon mixture and milk and stir until apples are evenly coated.

roll, cut, and fill
To assemble hand pies: 1) Roll out dough out onto floured surface and cut out circles. These circles can be any size you want. Mine were about 4 inches in diameter and I simply used a plastic cup to cut them out! 2) In a small bowl, mix up an egg wash with one egg and a tablespoon or so of water. 3) Place a tablespoon of filling onto the center of one circle, and dab a bit of egg wash around the edge. 4) Cover with a second circle of dough, and press around the edge with a fork to seal together. 5) Cut a couple of slits into the top for steam to vent. 6) Brush each mini pie with egg wash and sprinkle some coarse sanding sugar on top.
egg wash and sanding sugar
Arrange your assembled pies onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake in a 425° F oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Allow them to cool and then watch them disappear!
flakey, buttery pie crust


Easy Felt Halloween Coasters

Halloween Themed Felt Coasters

In preparation for the Halloween mixology experiments Hayley and I will be preparing for our parties, I thought I’d come up with another way to make each beverage look more festive – Halloween coasters!  These coasters are super easy, and really fun to make.  They take almost no time to pull together, and can be altered for any party theme.  Plus, they are fairly inexpensive, so if they get put to really good use, you can toss them afterwards and not feel guilty!

Easy Halloween Felt Coasters

You’ll need:

-3D Fabric Paint, any colors you’d like

-sheets of stiff felt – you can get six coasters per standard 9″x12″ sheet

-A sharp utility knife, and a surface to cut on

First, cut your felt into 6 even rectangles – for a standard size, each coaster will be 4″x4.5″.  Next, you get to be creative!  I chose spiderwebs for my theme, and made two different patterns.  To make an easy spider web, start by painting an “X” on your felt.  Then, paint a “+” so that the lines all go through one center point – we will call all of these lines, the “base lines.”  Starting close to the center point, start to connect your base lines with the curved parts of the web, and spiral around the web until you’ve run out of room on the felt.  Let the paint dry.

Spider Web Felt Coaster


DIY Felt Coasters

To make the solo-web coasters more dramatic, I used my utility knife and cut along the curved lines to remove any excess felt.  I will definitely be making these coasters for another holiday – they’re a great last detail to pull the theme together!

Halloween felt Coasters

Paper Mache Pumpkins

paper mache pumpkin

Today I am going to share a fun craft tutorial for making decorative pumpkins out of paper mache! I think the last time I did any paper mache was in elementary school, so I had a lot of fun getting my hands messy with this project and taking a little trip down memory lane. Plus these cute little pumpkins are made entirely of recycled material, so you can feel good about them too. Eat your heart out HomeGoods!

Here’s what you will need to make some of your own:

– plastic grocery bags
– newspaper
– masking tape
– flour
– paint

paper mache pumpkin forms
To make the underlying form, fill a small plastic grocery bag with crumpled up pieces of paper (old magazines or newspaper). When it reaches a size you are happy with, twist the top of the bag and wrap with a piece of masking tape. I used the tied-off end of the bag to form the stem of my pumpkins. Fluff the bag into a round shape, and then use the masking tape to create some grooves to form the lobes of your pumpkin. I wanted mine to be chunky and cartoonish, but for a more realistic looking fruit, make thinner divisions.

To mix up the paper mache paste, mix flour and water until you have a consistency like pancake batter. I didn’t measure, but used roughly a 2:1 mixture of water to flour. Then add a few teaspoons of salt (this prevents any risk of mold). Now lay out some plastic or a drop cloth over your work area, because the next part is going to get messy!

paper mache how-to
Rip up some newspaper into strips and small chunks to use for the paper mache. Start with the top half of your pumpkin, saturating strips of paper with paste and laying them over the form to cover the entire top surface. Once you have one solid layer, let it dry a bit and then keep going! For a sturdy pumpkin, you’ll want 3 or 4 layers of paper. Let the top half dry completely. This will probably take overnight if you are working indoors.

Once the top is completely dry, flip the pumpkin over and rest in a cup or bowl so that you can work without crushing the stem. Cover the bottom of your pumpkin in paper mache, in the same manner as you did the top, and let dry again. (This project will take a couple days to finish!) Once your pumpkin is fully dried, use a utility blade to carefully cut a circle from the bottom, and gently pull out all the paper and plastic inside.

At this point it is ready to paint! It’s a good idea to give the whole thing a coat of white paint as a primer, unless you are painting your pumpkins a dark color. I painted mine a predictable orange this time, but I think next year I will make some black ones!
three paper mache pumpkins
If you want to make this project a little more exciting, you can accessorize your pumpkin with anything you like! You could also bring back that utility knife and cut out a face or design, then place a flameless candle inside. I plan to use mine in my Halloween mantel display.
paper mache pumpkin mantel display