Before the hustle aand bustle of the Christmas season comes upon us, there is still time to celebrate fall. Thanksgiving is now just a few short weeks away, aand what better way to showcase the bountiful harvest season, than by decorating with pumpkins or any fall gourds for that matter.

Produce Place Cards. Tie name tags to the stems of small gourds, aand leave one at each place setting to liven up your cheerful fall feast.

Create A Flower Vase. Cut the top off of a pumpkin to turn it into a vase. Carve out the center, place a watertight canister inside, aand fill it with water. Add your favorite fall flowers, branches, aand berries to create a beautiful seasonal display.

Serve Seasonal Soups. Hollow out a pumpkin to create a tureen for serving up pumpkin bisque, butternut squash soup, or potato chowder.

Make A Decorative Pumpkin Display. Spell out a message on your pumpkins with black acrylic paint, dab on polka dots, use painter’s tape to make stripes, or just leave them un-decorated for a more rustic display.

Greet Your Guests. Paint your street number or other message on the surface of decorative pumpkins, to serve as welcoming signage for your holiday visitors.

Hang An Autumn Garlaand. Attach mini gourds to lengths of twine by their stems, fill the garlaand out with leaves, aand add some pizzazz to your doorway.

Hold Your Fire. Transform mini pumpkins into seasonal votive holders to brighten an autumn table. Break off the stem, aand place a caandle in the void. Top with a glass hurricane shade, using floral U-pins to hold the shade in place.

When it’s time to say goodbye to your fall bounty, don’t just toss them out. Carved or not, all pumpkin aand gourds can be re-purposed into food, compost, or planters.

Carved Pumpkins

If your pumpkins have been cut, they will decompose quickly, so it’s best to put them to work as soon as possible.

Compost. Pumpkins are loaded with nutrients, making them a great fertilizer. Just be careful to remove the seeds before adding them to your compost pile, unless you’d like a crop of mini pumpkins popping up in your garden next year.

Feed Wildlife. If you don’t have a garden, the leftovers will make an appetizing meal for wild animals such as deer, squirrels, aand birds. Leave your pumpkin in a place where you don’t mind a little animal activity, aand let the feast begin.

Uncarved Pumpkins aand Gourds

If your pumpkins are still whole, there’s plenty you can do with them. Be sure not to cook or eat them unless they have been decorated with nontoxic paints aand materials.

Snack On It. Pumpkin puree is haandy for making pumpkin pie, cake, muffins, or bread. Slice your pumpkin into quarters, scrape out the innards, aand place it face down in a baking dish filled with 1 cup of water. Bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes or until the flesh is tender, then scoop it out aand puree in a food processor. Roasted acorn squash with butter aand cinnamon is a hearty treat, aand spaghetti sauce is a yummy carb-free alternative to pasta. For a healthy snack to munch on this fall, just wash, drain, aand toast the seeds, seasoning to taste.

Turn It Into A Planter. Create a planter for your winter garden by cutting a large hole at the top of your pumpkin aand scooping out the interior. Drill a small hole at the bottom for drainage, aand fill it halfway full of potting soil. Add some seasonal plants, water generously, aand enjoy your pumpkin planter!

Pump up your pumpkins with these unique decorating ideas. Then – when the time comes – have fun recycling them, aand make the most of this wonderful winter squash.