Pumpkin of any shape and size
Various types of fruits and vegetables. In this video, Jane Ward uses parsnips, asparagus, apples and collard greens. Don't be afraid to use your creativity and experiment with different fruits and vegetables.


1. Establish which side of the pumpkin you would like to use to as the face.
2. Begin by establishing where your main features (ie, eyes, nose, mouth) will be. Once you have decided, pierce the fruit or vegetable with a toothpick. (note: depending on how heavy your fruit or vegetable may be, you might need more than one toothpicks)
3. Begin to place your extra features also using toothpicks. For hair, Ward uses collard greens, but you could use broccoli florets or maybe even some twigs or vines.

Recipe courtesy of Jane Ward, 2012.

Carving a pumpkin can get a little nerve wracking for parents with small children. Using knives and scraping out pumpkins can be a dangerous, and quite messy, activity. Novelist and food blogger, Jane Ward, shares a safe and fun alternative to decorating pumpkins.

Inspired by some of the left over fruits and vegetables found in her home, Ward suggests using some left overs to decorate your pumpkins this Halloween. Says Ward, "It's a great project to get kids involved with. No knives, nothing sharp and no carving."

Just like with carving a pumpkin, the possibilities are endless for what kind of character you can create. Ward highly encourages you to get creative with the fruits and vegetables you use for your pumpkin's features. From cucumbers and carrots to apples and radishes, don't be afraid to experiment and make your pumpkin really come alive.

Today I'm going to show you how to make a fantastic Halloween centerpiece for your table, or a decoration for your house. It's a great project. We've got one done here, and we're going to replicate this right now. It's a great project to get kids involved with.

It uses just a pumpkin and some vegetables that you have around the house. And no knives, nothing sharp, no carving. The pumpkin will be intact after you're done, so you can just disassemble it and eat it, turn it into a pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread or pumpkin soup.

So we're going to just start with this big pumpkin here. This guy is a little lopsided. Pumpkins grow on the field, and the part that they grow on usually gets a little flat. So what I like to do first is just look around the pumpkin and decide which is the good surface to work on. And I kind of like this smooth front here. So I'm going to work on that.

All we need really are any sort of vegetable and fruit-- we're going to be making a face like you see here-- and some toothpicks. And we're going to get going first by putting the nose on here. And if you think about this, it's a little bit like making a snowman.

We're going to take a parsnip and use a parsnip as the nose. And we just put the toothpick in one side there. And I like this big one because we've got a big pumpkin to work on. And I'll just put that sort of up and center on the front of the pumpkin, and we have that there. Once you have the nose on there and it sets your center, you can work around it and build out from it.

So the next thing we're going to do is make a couple of eyes for this pumpkin person. And I'm going to use these apples. And these just kind of came from-- they fell off the tree. We have a combination of different things-- crab apples, small apples. You can use anything you find around. You could use radishes for eyes, on some of the smaller pumpkins would be a great idea. On something this large, you want something a little larger. So we've got these couple of apples here.

And if you hold them this way, this end looks like the center of the eye, so that's the way we're going to face it out. And again with the toothpick, and we're just going to kind of put that right in there. And then we put a toothpick in the other one, try and match them up a little bit, see how we go. And then we're going to put them on either side of the nose, just above, sort of close together. Make them look really goofy. Goofy is good.

Kids will love this activity. It's something you can do if you want to keep them occupied while you're getting the house ready for a Halloween party, and they can be part of the whole decor. It's something you could do for a birthday party for them that falls around Halloween. And it's an activity for a group of kids. It would be fantastic too. It just keeps everybody involved and excited about what's going on in the holiday. So we've got the eyes on there. As you see, he's beginning to take some shape.

The next thing I'm going to work on is the hair. We've got a number of different things we can do here for the hair. We've got some collard greens. Kale would be great, if you have kale in your refrigerator, the curly kind of kale would make beautiful curly hair.

We also have some broccoli. You could break off florets of the broccoli and possibly do-- I'm not going to try this one today, but just to give you an idea-- do kind of tufts of curly hair, like so. Maybe that would look kind of fun if you made a little crown of curly broccoli hair.

But let's stick with the kale today-- or the collard greens today. These are a little flatter. And what we're going to do is just kind of take the greens and strip them off the stalks if we can. There we go. We'll make these flat leaves for the hair.

We'll need a few. These ones have already been stripped off pretty much. And then this one. Break that. You can make him have as much hair or as little hair as you like. And we will take the toothpicks. And this time, I'm going to break the toothpicks in half and just use a half side. I'll show you a little trick, because these toothpicks can be a little pointy. And if you're pressing down with your thumb, if you've got a child working on this at home, you want them to poke themselves.

So what we're going to do with this-- we have one flat end and one pointed end. So we're going to take-- we'll just kind of give them layers of hair here. We're going to take our toothpick, put the pointy end in, and use just a spoon, so kids can even do this. You don't have to have anything sharp poking them. Just use the edge of the spoon to push it in. And that will hold that in place.

I want to get one that's similar size on the other side. I love his hair already. It looks great. I'll just put that in there. And then maybe break off some and make a little layers there. There we go. I broke it a little bit, but that's OK. We'll just start over with a new one. I think I got that in the stem end. It's a little bit hard for me to get it in there.

So that's beginning to take shape. I'll show you and we'll do the last one here. So you can see that. Try that one on, just give it a little bit of a layered look. Last one. That's in there. Wipe that off. Good. Perfect.

So now he's some beautiful hair, beautiful leafy hair. He's got a couple of really goofy eyes and a big long nose. And I'm going to turn him around. And I'll show you a trick for-- this guy, actually, it looks like he's going to come off a little bit. So I'm going to just refasten him here. There we go.

Trick for the mouth. Whatever you use for the leafy greens, they all have a stem. You could use chard or kale. But it's got the stalk that we stripped off, you could just sort of bend and turn into a mouth. And you can make a nice smile. And take a couple of these toothpicks again, break them in half and just kind of poke that through there on one end. And then poke one through on the other end.

And then we'll give him-- I'm just going to position that as a nice mouth, get that lined up. And once you like where you've got it lined up, you can use your spoon or your spoon handle to press it in. There we go.

Something that would really be nice here is if you had Swiss chard and it had the pretty colored stems, you could use the red for the mouth. That would be really nice. But you can also use your imagination. Whatever you have at home is your raw materials to work with. So use that imagination, and use whatever you have. Because that's going to be the most economical thing.

But there we've got the pumpkin. He's all set for the table. You could have one large one and you could have the kids make individual small ones decorated in the way they like. And once you're done, you just remove all the vegetables and you've got a pumpkin that is ready to cook and ready to eat. In the meantime, you've made a fantastic centerpiece and you've had a great activity for the family.

So I urge you to give this a try. It's extremely easy. You saw how quickly we put that together. And it's a lot of fun, even for those of us who aren't always big craft people. This is something that can be done really easily with no tools, and your own imagination. So enjoy this. Put it on a table and everyone else will enjoy it too.

Garden Inspired Pumpkin Decorating
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