6 Fun Ways to Make Use of Those Leftover Jack-o’-lanterns and Gourds

Don’t just toss those decaying jack-o-lanterns and the decorative gourds that have run their course! There’s lots of creative things that you can do with them, including educational activities, crafts, and ones that even help the environment.

Bury it!

Rotting Jack-o'-lantern
Don’t throw this sad face away!

Let kids get messy digging a hole and place the pumpkin in there. It will decompose and add nutrients to the soil!

Create a backyard buffet

Chop the pumpkin up in small pieces and set it out in your yard or in a nearby forest to create a feeding frenzy for squirrels, deer and other wildlife.

Make a pumpkin planter

Pumpkin Planter
Image source: Garden Therapy

After carving your pumpkin, dip it into a vinegar solution of one part vinegar, four parts water. This will keep it from rotting too quickly. After Halloween, fill it with soil (you can put a burlap cloth inside it if yours has lots of holes from carving to stop the soil from coming out of the openings. Plant a fall bloom like mums, and voila! A fun planter. You can bury the stem top.

Host a “Pumpkin Smash”!

Release some energy by demolishing your jack-o’-lanterns. Invite friends or neighbors over and have them bring demolition tools like hammers or just stomp on them. You can also climb up a ladder and drop them from the top to see how easily they break open. You can compost all the pieces once done!

Feed the birds

Cut the jack-o’-lantern into a bowl shape and fill it with bird feed. You can simply place it on the ground and then watch for birds to come and devour their food! You can also make

Gourd Bird Feeder
Image source: Kitchen Counter Chronicle

hanging bird feeders with gourds. Slice the gourd in half, width-wise, to create a bowl shape. Spoon out the insides. Carefully poke two long wooden skewers into and through the sides of the gourd so that they cross in the middle, leaving about 2 inches of each skewer on the outside of the gourd. Tie twine or thick string to each 2 inch piece of skewer – make sure knots are strong. Tie the four ends of strings together, leaving extra string at the end so that you are able to tie it around a branch. Fill with bird feed and place outside a window for winter bird watching!


Gourd prints

Slice your gourd in half from top to bottom. You can leave seeds in our scoop them out; leaving the seeds in will create a more textured stamp. Put different colored paints in paper plates, and dip the flat part of gourd in them. Stamp the gourd onto paper to make fun designs. Have fun mixing up colors to create a cool printmaking project! 

Kim Hinkley
Kim is a mom of two toddlers, Hank and Ike. She's called both Chicago and San Francisco home, but moved to Madison after reconnecting with her college sweetheart (now her husband) after a 9-year hiatus. After a year of staying at home full-time, she's back "at the office" as the Curriculum & Programming Director at The Well Preschool. She periodically guest lectures on the importance of play for adults in UW-Madison's Consuming Happiness course. When she's not chasing after her sons, she tries to relax with pilates, random craft classes, wine and exercises her newfound love of bingo whenever possible.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here