It’s more than just pumpkins, it’s fall. I love this time of year.
Fall seems to see the end of summer and say, ‘woah, let’s slow down a bit.’ The crazy rush of plans and travel usually (hopefully) slows this time of year, and friends and family gather together inside to enjoy each other’s company.
While pumpkin-spice-everything and crunchy leaves are great, I really love fall because it brings people back together. Fall is the beginning of ‘cozy season’ and I can’t get enough of it (until, of course, Christmas comes around!).
That being said, as we all head back inside to enjoy time with our families we might as well make our surroundings look as beautiful and welcoming as possible. Right?!
I’m a firm believer that if you’re going to do something you might as well do it right*. Which usually in my book means as close to perfection as possible.
I might take that saying a bit to the extreme. But nonetheless… here are my thoughts on “Perfecting the Pumpkin”.
Every September I have so much fun pulling out all of my fall and Halloween decorations. Garlands of leaves and bowls filled with preserved gourds are my way of deliberately inviting fall inside my home. It’s my cue to family and friends that I’m glad they’re here with me and I want them to enjoy fall and their time here as much as I do. Decorating my home for fall is one way of extending a warm welcome.
Silly? Maybe. But I think it makes my home feel more inviting and comfortable. I truly want my guests to feel welcome and while decorations are no replacement for a gracious hostess I do think they can add to that feeling. I want my house to say, ‘relax. Kick your feet up and stay awhile’ without me having to say a word.
I also enjoy decorating for fall because my two-year-old son enjoys the decorations. He has a specific, self-proclaimed pumpkin (“Henry’s Pumpkin”) in the family room that he loves to point out.
As a kid, I remember the jack O’lantern faces we would make and stick on the kitchen windows. I remember waking up the morning after Thanksgiving to a pile of pancakes on top of our special Christmas china. My mom would serve every meal on those (hand-wash-only) dishes until December 26th. I remember holidays being more than special. They were magical. That’s what I want to create for my family.
*I can’t stress enough that I enjoy the process and end result of decorating my home. If it’s not your thing more power to you! Stick a jack O’lantern in the front porch and call it good! There’s no right or wrong way to “do” a season. This post is simply about my experience!*
First Step: Mums the Word
I love the bright highlighter yellow color. It’s probably my favorite because it looks the best with my blue and white pots. Whatever color mum you prefer there’s just something about adding that bright pop of color when everything else starts turning brown.
Don’t forget to “deadhead” your mums. Those old blooms will re-bloom as long as you pop the old flowers off! This process also has the added benefit of reminding me of my childhood. Remember picking dandelions and popping their heads off?
Second Step: Polishing Pumpkins
I’m going to let you in on a little Secret that might make you think I’m crazy… I clean and polish my pumpkins with floor polish. They look spectacular and it helps to preserve the pumpkin for the whole season.**
First fill up a big tub with water and add two tablespoons of bleach per gallon. Submerge each pumpkin (carved or un-carved) for 2 minutes to kill off all the bacteria on the pumpkins. Let the pumpkins dry completely. At that point you can display your pumpkins and the bleach soak will make them last longer.
You can go the extra mile and polish them with floor polish (but it has to be this specific one: Pledge Floor Care Polish). This step really amps up the shine factor making your pumpkins more noticeable and helps them last even longer.
**side note: this process does NOT protect your pumpkins from getting smashed by teenagers at 4am like mine were last year **
Step 3: Decorate your Pumpkins
I’m a sucker for a classic carved jack O’lantern. You know, the ones with triangles for eyes?
I’m not going to pretend that you need a tutorial on carving a pumpkin. I’m also not good enough with a carving knife to think I can teach anyone anything about that.
But this year I had a ton of painting faux pumpkins with milk paint. It was a fun relaxing way to end a couple nights in mid-September and really got me in the mood for fall!
The milk paint gave a beautiful matte finish to the pumpkins. Similar to chalk paint.
Might I suggest a ‘Pumpkins and Pinot’ party with your friends?!
Step Four: Involve your Kids
This is the most important step. Get your kids excited about fall! Make wonderful memories and start new traditions. This is the stuff that really matters.
Have your kids paint and carve pumpkins with you. The messier the better! Don’t forget to scoop out the “goop” and roast the seeds!
I’m planning to have my son paint a faux pumpkin to save for later years. Nostalgia gets me every time.
Make pumpkin muffins (or cupcakes if you frost them. If you go that route I’d suggest cream cheese frosting) decorate fall cookies! Roast some marshmallows and enjoy the crisp fall nights.
Read every Halloween/Fall/Thanksgiving book together that you can get your hands on! Some of our favorites are:
Little Blue Truck’s Halloween
Sheep Trick or Treat
Hooray for Halloween, Curious George
Pete the Cat: Trick or Pete
Room on the Broom
The Apple Pie Tree
We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt
My Leaf Book
We also did some adorable fall crafts this season. Two of my favorites are the Farm Sensory Barn and Leaf Prints.
My son, Henry, hosted a play date for his friends (really their moms ) to make these cute barns out of milk cartons. I filled a big Rubbermaid bin up with un-popped popcorn Kernels (total choking hazard… so watch your kids) and farm animals. The kids had a blast with the kernels (we played outside so I will probably have some corn stalks growing next to my patio in the spring) and Henry loves scooping the corn and filling up his tractors! It’s also great for hand eye coordination!
We also had a great time making “leaf prints” with fallen leaves. I love watching my son’s appreciation of nature and the world around him grow while I tell him about the trees and we hunt for leaves.