Since Clara’s still a few years off from knife-wielding age, we still scratch our heads each year for a toddler-friendly way for her to be involved in the pumpkin decorating process. When she was 5 months old we borrowed the outline of her hand to inspire a lady-like Jack-o-Lantern (a Jill-o-Lantern perhaps?)
Last year we took advantage of her new-found dexterity and let her finger paint some pumpkins that we had strategically taped off ahead of time to later reveal some designs.
And since she had so much fun last year (and we loved how they turned out) we did a slight twist on that idea by making tissue paper “sticker” pumpkins this year.
Anyone who follows us on instagram knows that Clara is obsessed with stickers. And although a pumpkin covered in her usual fare of Snoopys and Barneys would have been fun, we thought it might be even more exciting to try our hand at something we could customize. So we decided to make our own “stickers” with the help of some colorful tissue paper and good ol’ Mod Podge that we already had on hand.
Sherry used some leftover tissue paper from Clara’s pink-and-orange birthday party and cut a bunch of large and small circles using, of all things, a roll of electrical tape as her guide (tracing the outside made the big ones, and tracing the inside made the small ones). Use what you got, right?
Then I basically just used a big paintbrush to coat the pumpkin with a thin layer of Mod Podge as Clara placed the tissue dots wherever she pleased. It was really that simple.
We spotted (pun!) these pumpkins at Kroger, and knew they would be awesome (we thought a lighter colored pumpkin would help all of the colors show up since sheer orange and pink dots on an orange pumpkin might be harder to see). Although they might look like typical white pumpkins, they actually have a hint of orangey-pink to them, so it’s a fun twist. Plus a portion of proceeds went to breast cancer research, so that was pretty great too.
You can see that the tissue did crinkle a bit as it went down. Bumpy pumpkin surface + toddler fingers = nothing perfectly smooth. But we didn’t mind, we were just happy she was having fun. I did occasionally dab some extra Mod Podge over top to help them stay down, which seemed to help.
The best part was that Clara was IN LOVE with the project. I realize she doesn’t look particularly gleeful in these photos, but it’s because she was so focused on it. She asked several times that night if we could do it again. Plus, we appreciated that it wasn’t nearly as messy as we had anticipated (note the table covered in craft paper). I probably ended up with more Mod Podge on me than she did (I did accidentally stick my forearm in it once) but since it’s basically Elmer’s Glue, it washed off easily with plain water.
We did two pumpkins in total, but the fun didn’t stop there. There were so many extra tissue dots that Clara kept on playing (sorting them, lining them up, singing to them, putting them on her head…).
After she went to bed that night Sherry did a full coat of Mod Podge over the pumpkins just to ensure that all of the edges got adhered. The bonus was that it also gave the whole thing a nice smooth and glossy feel.
We think they’re really fun- especially since we just used what we had around the house and came up with something sticker-ish for our sticker-obsessed girl. So if you have any toddlers who are into stickers, this could be a fun weekend project (and tissue paper is only around 99 cents, so it’s pretty cheap too).
I attempted to get a cute picture of Clara sitting next to her pumpkin creations, but there was little interest in being still. And yes, she’s wearing the same shirt from the day before. We had dressed her in it as the “it’s ok to get messy” shirt for the project, but since it survived so well it became the next day’s outfit when paired with the skirt of her choosing.
The most interaction I could get out of Clara was her singing “Rock-A-Bye, Baby” to them while swinging the glider-bench back and forth.
Then she discovered a broom nearby and it was like the pumpkins never existed. When a girl’s gotta sweep, a girl’s gotta sweep!
And if you’re looking for some easy pumpkin paper crafts, our friends at Childhood Magic have a free pumpkin printable that you could use in a variety of ways and give kids of all skill levels an easy way to help you decorate for fall.
Psst – Sherry wants me to mention that for the first time ever she’s attempting to DIY certain aspects of Clara & Burger’s costumes this year, so we’ll keep you posted and share some pics as soon as they’re done (most likely right on Halloween if I know my wife…).
I’m so going to do this and I don’t even have kids yet! My husband and I hosted a pumpkin carving party a few weekends ago so this is on the docket for next year! :-) Thanks, Petersiks!
Haha, I love it!
Angie @ The Country Chic Cottage says
These are adorable! I love it! I was going to tell you that they have a new kid friendly formula of Mod Podge. If anyone is worried about their kiddos touching the podge. :)
Thanks! Ours is non-toxic, so maybe it’s the kid kind? The industry secret is that Mod Podge is Elmer’s Glue, just in a jug. Exact same smell, consistency, and non-toxic ingredients for kiddos).
Clara is too cute and I love seeing glimpses of the way you guys parent her in your videos. I’m older than many of your readers and while I love the decorating ideas I think I enjoy the Clara videos and pictures just as much! I have enjoyed every age my kids have been, but those toddler years were just too sweet! I think you already know this, but savor every day while she is little. The years just fly by!
Aw thanks Jett! I can’t believe she’s 2.5 already! It goes so fast!
Totally random. For some reason John has always reminded me of (re: not looked just like, just reminded) the twins that sing with Brandi Carlile. I just saw her in Portland (she’s amazing live), and she put on instagram a photo of her niece Jo that tours with them, when she came to the State Theater. That first photo of Clara and Jo look very similar. :)
LOVE Brandi! She was just announced as an act on the Rock Boat (www.therockboat.com) – a cruise that my husband and I go on every year and I’m so excited!
HAIR!!! Clara’s hair!!
Kenz @ Interiors By Kenz says
I love how you incorporate Clara in pumpkins every year, but the pumpkins still look chic and stylish.
That’s how I KNOW you are creative geniuses!
My goodness, sweet little Clara has really been growing by leaps and bounds! She looks more mature in every video you post. (I’m totally jealous of her hair growth, by the way. My hair has been falling out for health reasons… Clara, care to share your secret with me?)
Love the pumpkins, they look awesome! Good job, Clara!
Clara’s hair is a true mystery! Lately she has been loving peanut butter and hummus so maybe that’s her secret? Mine falls out when I’m prego (at least when I had Clara) and nursing, so I want to know the secret too!
I was terrified of this whole losing hair thing so I looked it up. From what I read on pregnancy/parenting sites from professionals, I guess your hair stops falling out during pregnancy (and we actually lose quite a bit of hair a day regularly). So times that loss by 9 months of not losing it, and then when your system kicks back in you’re losing all of the hair you would have, plus your regular amount. Fannnnntastic. At least it’s good to know that (for most women) it’s not some hormone imbalance or what not.
Hummus must be Clara’s secret! I eat lots of peanut butter and it doesn’t seem to be helping, haha.
I’m struggling with anemia/low iron, and that can cause hair loss. Even if you’re not anemic, you can lose hair if your iron level declines (which is common during pregnancy and after giving birth). Chickpeas have a high iron content, so maybe that really is what’s helping Clara’s hair!
Yup, I get anemic when prego/breast feeding (borderline) so that must be it.
I am so doing this tomorrow! GREAT idea! We’re having a pumpkin-carving party, and now instead of just having to watch, Jonathan (a month older than Clara) can decorate his own pumpkin! My five-year-old just asked if she could do it too! Thanks!!!!
Love those, so cute! I am doing your weekly photos idea with my daughter. We are on week 48 and it is getting almost impossible to keep her on the blanket. She is rolling over and taking off before I can get one shot. How did you guys do it? I’m not giving up since I made it this far but it was way easier when she was littler!
We tried to dangle things over her head to keep her interested or talk and sing to her- anything to keep her from wiggling away! Haha. Sometimes giving her something to hold helped (ex: play with this small item so you don’t want to roll around). Good luck!
Sadly our pumpkin adventures haven’t been going so well! For the first year ever we have a lovely back porch and did a little fall display of flowers and pumpkins for us to enjoy, but it seems some very hungry squirrels in our neighborhood are also enjoying it. They have completely eaten or just walked away with three and a half of our small pumpkins so far, and are starting to snack on the two larger ones! We’ll have to carve them soon before the squirrels do it for us! I hope your Halloween is not too affected by the storm. Stay safe!
Aw man, sorry about those squirrel invaders! And thanks for the storm well-wishes! We’re nervous but hopefully it won’t be too bad. Fingers crossed!
LOVE. love love love. :)
Kelsey Brown says
What a great idea!
We glittered our punkins this year. Three year old loved it! Squirt Elmers glue on, rub it in with a cotton ball (or fingers!) Shake any colored glitter on (we got a 4pk of different colors for $2 at the dollar store) and give punkins a shake after they dry so the excess glitter comes off! Easy peasy!
That’s so cute!
Glitter pumpkins? BRILLIANT.
Just out of curiosity, have you been finding glitter EVERYWHERE since? I love glitter but I don’t want to be picking it off things. I wonder if there’s a way to secure it on really good.
(Wait, is it sad how excited I got about glitter pumpkins at 27?)
Kelsey Brown says
Keep ’em outside! ;)
Stephanie B. says
I think there is one real question here: who WAS calling “Daddy’s phone” – Granny or Grammy? ;)
But seriously…what a cute project AND a cute girl!
Hahah! I think it was Grammy!
Cute idea! I, too, was searching for toddler-friendly ways to decorate our pumpkins. We painted on (she had a blast with that). The other was inspired by an idea at Target – where they were selling “Mr. PotatoHead” kits for pumpkins. Since we had a Mr. PotatoHead at home already, I just created small holes in the pumpkin with a skinny knife and my toddler shoved the pieces of her choosing in where she wanted them. I was worried about if it would ooze or get gross quickly, but it’s been almost 2 weeks and so far, so good!
Love your idea. Our family’s tradition is to decorate pumpkins with candy. We use straight pins to hold the candy on. It actually works really well for the kids to do it by themselves.
That video was so cute! My son came over to the computer as I was watching it (he’s the same age as Clara)and he kept waving and saying “hi!”
What a good idea for the pumpkins! For my son this year I painted a thick stripe of chalkboard paint all around the pumpkin and then let him deocrate it with colored chalk. It turned out pretty cute, but yours are just beautiful! Clara is quite the artist! :)
Oooh, that sounds fun!
Heather C says
What a cute/fun/low-stress pumpkin project. If you end up carving another pumpkin, I have to invite you to participate in our little pumpkin project!
We are taking a very unscientific survey to see if there is any correlation between the size of a pumpkin and how many seeds are inside. We got all geeked out, making a “pumpkin pi” and a happy little face so far and the data we’ve collected has been surprising. I thought you guys might enjoy the geekiness too :) Happy Halloween!
LOL. Love the Halloween nerdiness.
Such a great idea! And they’re so pretty! I love the creative ways you get Clara involved with things.
We’ve been talking about the “Frankenstorm” up here in upstate NY too. It’s kind of (okay really) scary because we were hit with the Flood of Doom last year in September so folks in my area are still pretty paranoid about large quantities of rain.
Hope you guys stay safe down there!
BTW – Adorable pumpkins. I believe the seed variety is called “Porcelin Doll” and they are relatively new.
I do not have any kids, but I totally want to do this to some pumpkins….maybe in a more chic color pattern, although the girly me is totally scrambling to do the pink and orange!! So cute guys!
Lauren C says
I love Clara projects!! I’m so excited to have a daughter younger than her. We copy/tweak your ideas a lot. I am at week 43 of our photo project now. You also inspired us to use cloth diapers…no regrets so far.
Cute pumpkins! But…what’s with all the cheerful Halloween stuff?? Halloween is supposed to be scary!! Where are the scary, ghoulish pumpkins?? I totally thought you artsy, zany kids would come up with some sort of awesomely creative spooky masterpiece for Halloween!
We’ve learned the hard way that “scary” is not Clara’s idea of a good time. Maybe in a year or two when she’s better able to distinguish real scary and “fun scary.”
Sarah in Indiana says
What a cute, easy, and adaptable idea for pumpkin decorating!
Rebecca @ the lil house that could says
I live in NJ and Frankenstorm is scaring the crap out of me. Getting the generator ready since our basement flooded with Irene :(
I hope it doesn’t mess with your book tour plans!
Christina @ Homemade Ocean says
PARTY IN MY PUMPKIN!!!! That girl is the sweetest little thing I have ever seen!
These turned out AMAZING…you all are always so innovative! Can’t wait to see the costumes :)
Maribeth Scott says
Heard in the video that Clara has a Granny and a Grammy too! Our 6-month-old obviously doesn’t call them that yet, but I’ve wondered if it would be too confusing. Good to know it has worked for someone else :)
HA! that needs to be in a home depot commercial!
Anna in Ohio says
Since Logan-Man is only 22 months old, I purchased 3 Mr. Potato Head Pumpkin Push In kits from Target. A ghost, a witch and a devil. He had super fun helping daddy with the rubber mallet to drive the body parts into the mini pumpkins. And bonus, mess free and super cute!
Anna in Ohio says
There’s a picture in this post of Logan and daddy working hard on their pumpkins…
Kim W Rily says
Love that she likes to go to Home Depot. It’s one of the signs Max recognizes (along with CarMax, for obvious reasons). Have you done the Home Depot kids projects weekends? Every Saturday the Home Depot here (and in the one in Virginia, near my folks house too, so I think it’s nationwide) has free kids projects. It usually includes hammering and painting something together, bird house, bird feeder, frame, box, something like that. My kids love it. I think you may have to be 3 to participate, but Max started a teeny bit earlier and we help him out when needed.
That sounds like so much fun! She’d love it!
Ahhh-dorable! Those pumpkins are really eye catching!
I was going to do polka dot holes on my pumpkin this year (using an apple corer). Maybe I’ll combine your idea with mine, and modpodge some tissue paper over the holes so it glows through.
That’s a fun idea!
So cute!!! Love that idea. Also loved watching the video- she is darling, love her expressions.
Ashley @ 7th House on the Left says
She is so stinkin’ cute! So are the pumpkins ;)
So cute! I love the pumpkins and think it’s a great idea that I’ll have to do with my little girl in a couple of years! Right now she’s 6 weeks old so in 2 years she’ll be closer to Clara’s age and this project should be great.
But speaking of babies growing up… I can’t believe how fast Clara’s growing up. Seeing those pics from the past 2 Halloweens is amazing. She went from a little baby to a little girl so fast. On the one hand I can’t wait for my daughter to start walking and talking like Clara since it’s such a crazy cute stage but on the other hand it makes me sad thinking that this little baby stage is going to be all gone so quickly!! I’m tearing up just thinking about it.
Karen F says
awww, what a fun project! you’re so creative. love the concept and that you used what you had. the pumpkins came out SO cute, and I’m glad Clara had fun making them! I think my girls would love this project, too!
we may do some pumpkin carving next week (if the storm doesn’t hit!). We already painted some using painter’s tape, like you did last year!
Good luck with the storm (hope it avoids you), the costume-making, and hope you feel better soon, Sherry (saw the instagram post earlier with the tea)!
Karen F says
also – idea for your second book – seasonal/holiday decorating and projects! you have so many great ideas!
What a great, great idea! Super creative and simple and the result is awesome. Well done!!!
Honestly I hope you don’t mind, but I’m totally doing this with my 2 1/2 year old tonight!! Thank you for such a fantastic idea!!
Breast cancer is terrible. It really is. But it is a disease, not a marketing opportunity. John and Sheri, I hope that you might take a moment and google “breast cancer marketing scams” or click a couple links below. I challenge you to address this, in the age of pink spatulas, pink ribboned batteries, and pink socked football players from the NFL down to peewee divisions.
From that press release, you don’t know what charity benefits or how much is given.
“Participating pumpkin growers have committed to giving a percentage of their proceeds from each pumpkin sold this year to organizations involved in breast cancer research.”
This “pink washing” has gotten out of hand. Our town even has a portion of our trash cans made pink. It’s ludicrous and offensive.
But your polka dot pumpkins are dang cute!!
Let me ad that I know this can be an unpopular opinion. But more and more people are realizing that the only winner in all this are the retailers, marketers, and even the occasional (though growing more prolific) scam artist. If a retailer like Kroger were to choose to not support this mass marketing mess, they would be looked down upon as not supporting breast cancer awareness. Once our town got the pink trash cans, I couldn’t take it anymore. Any chance I get I try to let people know they are getting duped into supporting “charities” that may not actually give that much (often pennies), or are supporting pink labeled products assuming they are supporting a breast cancer charity directly with the purchase of that specific item but if you read the fine print, the corporation donates a flat amount that isn’t at all tied to the product purchase at all. They would have donated anyway. So the only winner is the corporation who duped you into but batteries you didn’t need during October simply because they have a pink ribbon on it.
Honestly never knew that! Thanks for the tip! We make donations directly to charities as well, so hopefully that helps. My sister in law’s mother died of breast cancer so it’s a cause that’s close to our heart. My brother and his wife do Relay For Life every year :)
Sheri, thanks for acknowledging this. It’s a big fraud being pulled everywhere. I figured with your support of all things “low voc” and habitat reStore etc you would appreciate this tip. Those articles sre only thr tip of the iceburg. So many of my friends think its terrible that I would have this opinion, thinking I’m against research for breast cancer. That couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a huge mass marketing scam. My sister in law and best friend couldn’t take it anymore when they were forced to buy pink socks and shoe covers for their pop Warner football players. All they were told was “it’s for breast cancer awareness and a portion goes to breast cancer charities.”. It’s rediculous. It’s one thing (I guess) for the NFL and big corporate sponsors but it’s so it is opportunistic at the youth level.
Wow, I never thought about it. Thanks again for sharing the info!
Oh my gosh! This is brilliant! My 2.5 yr old would LOVE this! I’m going to have to find some pumpkins…if there are any left!
And the end result is so “Martha Stewart” looking! LOVE it!
Love it! It looks like a great indoor Halloween activity while avoiding the Frankenstorm.
Nicole @ Liberty Belles says
What a fantastic idea! Totally normal to do this with a bunch of my 20-something, single friends…right? :)
I so wish my kids were still small enough to enjoy all of your pumpkin projects. I love them all. I also used to be torn with how to involve them. They always liked putting their hands in the “innards” and scooping it out. One year I found Mr. Potato Head pieces to put in the pumpkins and they loved that. Prepare for what sounds like a “stalkerish” comment, but isn’t: I could just eat Clara up. She is the cutest!!!! Keep the posts involving Clara coming because they really brighten my day!
That Clara video is ADORABLE! She is so so sweet and cute and as so many comments already said, she speaks beautifully.
Just a quick question, and this is probably going to be the highest unrelated-question-to-post-topic ratio you have ever had, but I was browsing some posts from back in the day and your old house and the living/dining room combo you had. I have almost the exact same layout and I want to add those skinny floating shelves to define the dining space like you had as well, but did you ever find that they interfered at all with the people who would sit right under them in terms of getting in and out and hitting your head, etc.? Or was it just unnoticeable, not an issue?
They seemed to be ok since we tried to leave 18″ behind them so they didn’t get in the way.
[email protected] says
So adorable! I’ll be pinning this for future reference and sharing this with my sister because my niece would have so much fun with this (last year for christmas I got her a canvas with a taped of design and some craft paints & her & I made artwork for her room together. Last time I was visiting home she asked me if we could do it again)
Katy (Savvy in the City) says
Home Depot….what a hoot. I just love listening to little kids talk. They are so honest and it really reveals how much thinking goes on in their little heads.
Anne G. says
Hi – I am curious if the Mod Podge is really stinky. I know how careful you guys are about things like VOCs, and I’ve never used Mod Podge before, so I’m just curious! Thanks. LOVE the way the polk-a-dot pumpkins turned out. So pretty.
The secret is that mod podge is non toxic and exactly the same thing as Elmer’s glue (it just comes in a jar) so its great for kids!
…go to Home Depot! She is a girl after my own heart :0) Pumpkins turned out so cute!! Thanks for the inspiration YHL! Praying for your safety during Sandy – so far just a lot of wind and big waves here in Daytona Beach!
Gabriella @ Our Life In Action says
Aww such pretty pumpkins – we are doing ours tonight.
We have a straw broom in our basement and one day he asked if it was majic. So I did what any parent would do and say “Definately! On Halloween, I use it to fly around”…seriously contemplating hanging it in front of the windows with fishing wire…either it will be super cool or scare the begebas out of him.
We have 3 pumpkins from various pumpkin patch visits and i wanted to do something with them…I am so doing this project!
I have boys so it might be as nice as little Ms. Clara’s but I think they will enjoy it! Michaels here I come!
Kim P. says
These are such great ideas! My daughter is almost 5 months old now, and I can’t wait to use these ideas. What a fun way to involve little ones :)