Like every Mom on the planet, I am busy.  Every. Single. Day.

Some days I have difficulty finding time to shower, so it’s no surprise when holidays come around, I often leave the stuff I love – like festive décor – until the very last minute. And, it usually means there’s nothing left on the store shelves when I go hunting for a fun centerpiece.

On the upside, this has caused me to think outside the box and be content with simple decorations, instead of obsessing over complicated DIY projects.

Keeping it simple has many benefits – my kids get more involved because they can create basic crafts on their own, without my help (or with very little assistance) and the supplies required for most projects are very inexpensive and easy-to-find.

In fact, I was inspired to write this post today while on a trip to the grocery store. I was drawn to a beautiful display of mini pumpkins and thought they would make a great addition to our dining room table. My son helped me pick out “the best ones ever” (he was so proud!) and then we started planning all of the fun things we could do with them.

Here are a few fun ways to use mini pumpkins and gourds…

Make a Pumpkin Family

  • Choose graduated sizes of mini pumpkins, then cut the stem off of each pumpkin
  • Stack them on top of each other; place the biggest one on the bottom, and work up from there
  • The head can be decorated with a Sharpie marker and embellishments added. Tip: the eyes, ears and arms from a Mr. Potato Head toy can be used to dress up your pumpkin family

Make Mini Jack-O-Lanterns

  • No cutting required (perfect for little ones!)
  • Draw faces on pumpkins, encouraging kids to think outside the box. Try drawing a favourite animal’s face, or even a member of the family, on their pumpkin. It doesn’t have to be scary!
  • Use commonly found materials like pipe cleaners, noodles, feathers and googley eyes to add 3D elements to them. Tip: using various materials to decorate your pumpkin is a great way to teach kids about sculpture as an art form

Make a Papier-mâché Bowl to Display the Gourds

  • Blow up a balloon to the desired width of your bowl, then cover the bottom half of the balloon with strips of paper saturated in papier-mâché glue. (Click here for a papier-mâché tutorial.)
  • After 2-3 days, it will be dry and stiff… perfect for decorating.
  • Place an interesting selection of gourds and pumpkins in the bowl for a festive Thanksgiving or autumn display

We’d love to see your Thanksgiving and Halloween decorations. Feel free to share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Be sure to tag us so we can ooh and ahh over them!

Lisa is a writer, social media consultant and small business owner. She’s a crafty, DIY-loving, fashionista who loves to unwind with a good manicure and an afternoon spent at a museum. Her husband, two kids and dog keep her pretty busy, but in her spare time, you can find her blogging at Fab Frugal Mama.