The Adventure Starts Here: How to Host a Pumpkin Painting Party

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How to Host a Pumpkin Painting Party

This is the third year we've painted pumpkins with Noah.  The first year was when he was about to turn 2 and we used washable paint.  While it was great for his age, we couldn't put the pumpkins outside or else they'd be washed clean with the first rain.  Last year, we decided to use acrylic paints and even invited Chris' parents over for a morning of painting.  We had so much fun that we've decided to make this a family tradition and invited Nonna & Granddad over again for a Pumpkin Painting Party.  Each year I learn something new, so I thought it would be helpful for me to share my pumpkin painting wisdom with you...

Setting up...

The setup is so important whether you are having a few people over or a large party.  And it's especially true when hosting a Pumpkin Painting Party.  There are a few things to consider, like where you will do the actual painting and the supplies that you will need.  While I would love to paint pumpkins outside, the weather here can be very unpredictable this time of year.  So instead of worrying about whether it's going to rain or be windy, I plan to paint inside and set up accordingly.  But if you can do it outside, go for it!  Since we were using acrylic paints (otherwise known as non-washable), I made sure to cover my table with a plastic Halloween tablecloth that I found at Target.  Noah is a very neat kid, but if yours are not or are doing this with multiple kids, I would suggest covering your floor as well.   And since this is a Halloween activity, I added my "Trick or Treat" garland to my already Fall decorated buffet table.  

Trick or Treat garland - mine is a few years old, here's the current version

The supplies...

First up, you need to buy your pumpkins.  We usually buy them about a week before our party and keep them in our garage until the day of.  For painting, we find the medium size pumpkins work best. Too small and you don't have much room to get creative, but too large of a pumpkin might overwhelm your guests with all the possibilities.  I suggest getting a few more than you need in case one ends up going bad before your party... I speak from experience!  However, we also get a few large pumpkins so that we can do some carving as well.

When it comes to decorating the pumpkins, you'll want to give your guests lots of options.  I had bought a variety pack of acrylic paints last year, and while they were great, we used up all of the primary colors.  I realized this the day before our party, so I ran out to Michaels and picked up larger bottles of red, orange (which would look nice on white pumpkins), yellow, green, blue, purple, and black paint.  We also ended up using some of the browns from the kit I bought last year.  In addition to acrylic paint, I bought some paint markers.  While we didn't end up using them this year, they are great for writing things on your pumpkins.

I also put out a variety of paint brushes.  At the last minute, I put out some round sponge brushes that I thought would work well with making polka dots.  There were only 3 brushes as they were leftover from a previous art project I did with Noah.  Originally I thought the regular paint brushes would be preferred, but it turns out everyone liked the round sponge brushes better.  So I will definitely be buying a lot more for next year's painting party!  

And so that everyone can have their own paint, I set out these little paint palettes that can hold 6 different colors.  I like how it helps people take just a little bit of paint and limit the amount of waste.  I gave everyone a paper towel and a water dish so they could rinse off their brushes when switching colors.  I then made sure to keep a roll of paper towels nearby... Noah definitely needed more than one paper towel!  

Some painters tape and washi tape work well if you want to do a paint resist type design.  I personally like the look of a taped initial where you paint around it.   Stickers are also fun to use, especially when young kids are involved.  If you are creative, you could even use some tissue paper and mod podge and decoupage your pumpkin... maybe that's what I'll do next year!  If you are hosting a party with all adults, you could even use a hot glue gun to attach ribbon and jewels.   The sky is the limit when you decorate your pumpkins, so make sure you supply your guests with the materials to get creative!  

While not necessary for adults, a smock was a must for Noah.  I have loved these reusable art smocks for a long time, but they are absolutely perfect for these painting parties.  Especially since acrylic paint isn't washable, I didn't want to risk him ruining his clothes.  And it definitely came in handy when Noah reached his arm across his pumpkin and smeared red paint across the arm of his smock.  While it didn't come out of the smock, I'm just glad it wasn't his shirt!  And in case adults do want to protect their clothing, I would recommend suggesting they bring their own apron to the party (like my in-laws did) when you invite them.  

The food!

As with any party, food is very important.  Since we were hosting this Pumpkin Painting Party on a Sunday morning, we opted to serve breakfast food.  We kept it simple by getting some fresh bagels, Halloween donuts, and I made some pumpkin muffins that morning.  And since we were getting a little heavy on the baked goods, we also put out some watermelon.  Serve some coffee and orange juice and you are all set.  

We have found it's best to eat first and paint after.  Noah was growing a little impatient with us and wanted to get right to painting, but this pumpkin donut was a great distraction ;)  And I definitely don't advise eating while painting.  Painting can get a little messy and you definitely don't want to get paint on your bagel!   

Have fun!

If you've prepared for messes and set out all your supplies, you should really be able to sit back and relax.  I'm always amazed how into it everyone gets.  Chris always surprises me with the intricate designs he does, finding a picture on his phone to copy.  Last year he made a Mets pumpkin (since they were in the playoffs) and this year he chose to make a Superman pumpkin (since Noah is really into superheroes).  I'm always impressed with how they turn out!  I usually end up decorating a pretty simple pumpkin (this year I chose polka dots) and then turn my attention to taking photos.  This year however, I decorated two pumpkins.  After taking photos, Chris suggested that Noah make a camo (his favorite) pumpkin.  For some reason, Noah wasn't interested at first.  But I loved the idea, so I decided to do it.  I pulled out a few shades of brown from the paint set we had from last year as well as some green and black paint and just started painting blobs of each color all over the pumpkin.  Noah's interest was peaked and ended up helping me... he loved blending the colors together and it turned out great!  

Noah is really turning out to be quite the artist.  He painted his pumpkins all on his own this year.  He came up with the ideas and executed them himself.  I love his use of color and how he added "feet" and "ears" to his smiley and sad faced pumpkins.  And while I'm used to him being a pro at writing his name on paper, we were all impressed at how well he did with a paintbrush on a pumpkin!  The only thing he could work on is using less paint on his brush... he ended up needing a lot of paper towels!  

This whole pumpkin painting tradition started because I thought Noah was too young to be involved with the carving process.  And while we still love to paint pumpkins, Noah is now old enough and interested in carving a pumpkin as well.  So after we were done painting, Noah, Chris and Nonna got to work on cleaning out our big pumpkin so we could carve it.  Last year we carved an F for our last name, but this year Noah requested a traditional pumpkin face.  I was actually surprised at how Noah got into cleaning out the pumpkin... he usually doesn't like getting messy like that.   Meanwhile, I set the painted pumpkins on some kraft paper to let dry and my father in law helped me clean up all the paint supplies.  

To carve the pumpkin, we use a basic kit that I picked up years ago as well as a sharp kitchen knife.  We used the triangle eyes from the kit as a guide and then let Noah use a permanent marker to trace the triangles onto the pumpkin.  It was actually quite fitting since just last week we started working on Noah drawing his shapes :) 

Originally Noah asked for a traditional Jack-o-Lantern smile, but then Chris suggested a "surprised/scared" mouth and Noah quickly changed his mind.  I think it turned out great, but the best part is how much Noah got into it!  After it was carved, he had fun making faces and posing with the pumpkin.  Then came the game that never ended.  He would place the cut out pieces back into the pumpkin and then stick his hand in the pumpkin and pop them back out.  It was like he was doing a puzzle over and over again :)

Noah's shirt is no longer available on Old Navy's website. 
These are cute options: mummy and dinosaur

After all the pumpkins were painted and carved, we made sure to get a group picture with all of our masterpieces!  I set up the tripod, gave Noah the remote, and had him keep clicking until we got one where no one was blinking.  

Noah painted the three on the left (a smiley face, a sad face, and his name)
On the right - I painted the polka dot and camouflage pumpkins, Chris painted the Superman, and his parents' pumpkins are in the back.

Have you ever done a Pumpkin Painting Party?  Do you prefer to paint or carve your pumpkins?  

*affiliate links may be used...  see my disclosure for more information

Don't forget to link up with both the "All Things Pumpkin" Party 
AND the Tuesday Talk Linkup!


  1. Awww...this is so fun! i love the party. Noah and Chris' faces with the pumpkin is awesome!

  2. How much fun is this! I love that you made this a family activity. Such sweet memories for Noah. We need to do our pumpkin painting/ carving/ whatever we are going to do. The girls keep asking.

  3. I really want to try painting pumpkins this this idea!

  4. Great tips, friend! Everything is so cute and festive, too. I love the pumpkins with the long stems. The odd and different pumpkins always have my heart every time. What a fun family time. Noah is such a blessed little guy to have a family that really pours into him and spends quality time with him. Noah and Chris are complete twins in the surprised pumpkin mouth picture. Too fun! So glad you got the group picture with the pumpkins. It came out great!

  5. I really almost prefer painting to carving! What a fun set up!

  6. What a fun party! I love that you got to do both - paint and carve! Did it take the painted pumpkins long to dry? You had a great set up for everyone so it was obvious by all of the smiles that your guests had a blast. I'm going to have to do this one year :)

  7. We had a pumpkin painting party for Connor's 2nd birthday. It's my favorite birthday thus far.


Blogging tips