Sharpies are quickly becoming the pumpkin-decorating medium of choice for moms who want to avoid the sticky, messy aftermath of pumpkin carving. Easy to apply, permanent marker art sticks with your jack-o'-lantern through wind and rain and allows even the youngest artists to participate -- unlike that traditional Halloween method of slashing into the gourd with a sharp, ungainly knife.
If you're not one of the fortunate few with access to a backyard pumpkin patch, don't despair -- the local farmer's market has just what you're looking for when it comes to design-worthy pumpkins. One key to finding the best pumpkins for your project lies in knowing where you plan to display them. Pumpkins come in every size, from miniature to giant, and all work well with Sharpie art. If you're designing a tablescape, you might want to peruse the mini-pumpkin bin; Sharpie jack-o'-lanterns for the porch steps call for something a little more beefy. If you plan to cook up your pumpkins on the first of November, look for a pretty little sugar pie variety.
Once you're home with your pumpkins, clean them gently with a mild soap and water solution and allow them to dry thoroughly. This is the time to glean design ideas from your favorite crafting magazines or the Internet. Many online sources offer free printable templates for decorating pumpkins -- all of these can be modified for use as a stencil with a permanent marker. Whether you're thinking about decorating a row of winking pumpkins for the porch railing or leaning more toward a whimsical kitten design to please your littlest artist, there's a stencil out there to make your job easier.
Sharpies are much less messy to work with than, say, a huge carving knife. When you choose to decorate pumpkins with ink, you'll avoid all the squishy nastiness that comes from disemboweling the vegetable. You might still encounter a bit of a mess, however, especially if you're working with a staff of artists under the age of 10. It's a good idea to lay down a nice foundation of newspaper or a drop cloth where you plan to work, and be sure to dress participants in old clothes. Have an adequate number of Sharpies on hand, in various colors, to keep the squabbling at bay.
Remember to go bold when drawing faces and designs on pumpkins, especially if you expect your creations to be visible to passers-by. Details such as eyes, mouths and noses need to be large and as dark as you can get them. You might want to draw and color in your design, allow it to dry and then go back over it again to get the most dramatic color. Using a Sharpie to draw on pumpkins is not much different than using it to decorate paper -- it's permanent, which is why stencils are recommended -- but it is a Halloween jack-o'-lantern after all. If your artistic skills are a little bit scary, now is the time to let them shine.