The Goodall Family Pumpkin House for 2015 - with bark steps leading to a lookout tower on top!
On cool fall days, the carved faces of pumpkins peek around many doorways. Traditional pumpkin carving began with an Irish tradition of carving and lighting gourds to ward off evil spirits. When the tradition was adopted within American families, the pumpkin made a better canvas on which to carve spooky Halloween creations.
While the final result of carving is spectacular – should all go as planned – the process can be challenging for some of the more imaginative and younger family members to accomplish independently. To keep the spirit of pumpkin magic in your family’s fall festivities, try a project the whole family can enjoy together: craft a Pumpkin Fairy House! Complex cuts aren’t required, so even your smallest family members can join the excitement.
Last year when faced with the annual question of what to create for the school jack-o-lantern display, my six year old son came up with the idea of building a pumpkin house. As we began to work I was amazed at how he loved making the tiny furniture and ladders from twigs and glue, running from the yard with new natural building materials he discovered. He was so much more involved than in previous years, when he pretty much watched me carve after helping clean out the pumpkin interior.
Our first pumpkin house, from 2014
Think you might like to give it a try?
Begin by taking the whole family for an autumn hike (or explore a wooded park) to find your essential crafting materials. Watch imagination ignite when your littles find acorns, twigs, leaves, and moss that will make marvelous furniture for their fairy house!
The top level lifts off to reveal a tiny table set with acorn bowls, berry soup, and stick spoons. We picked up the birch rounds and sheet moss from a craft store since our Texas climate does not lend itself to moss growth. Upstairs is a loft with neat wool felt bedrolls and moss pillows.
Parents’ jobs are simple: cut open and clean out your pumpkins, then make a few windows and doors. Using a hot glue gun or thick craft glue (like Tacky Glue - allow furniture to dry completely before adding), piece together twigs for ladders and tables, while your children add flair to the interior with mossy carpets and walnut chairs. Budding artists can draw postage stamp sized pictures on scraps of cardboard to adorn the walls. Use stiff twigs as nails to attach items to the interior or exterior of the pumpkin. A little creativity goes a long way - this is one dreamhouse where ideas are not limited by budget!
Once the pumpkin has been decorated with your rustic furniture, light from within with battery-operated votive candles or fairy lights and allow your little ones to admire their exquisite creation. Cleanup is simple - when fall is over, move your biodegradable pumpkin house into a cozy spot in the woods for the fairies or gnomes to move in! The natural materials will provide food for birds and squirrels during the winter.
This fantastic fairy florist and cafe was created by a family at my son's school.
For a fun group event, encourage your neighbors and friends to craft their own pumpkin fairy houses. This year my son's school created an entire pumpkin fairy village! Each family made their own pumpkin house, then they were nestled among leaves and logs along a wooded path and lit by battery operated candles. There was a fairy schoolhouse (complete with playground), a fairy apothecary, two fairy restaurants, and even a fairy bookstore in a giant squash. The finished effect was pure magic, and something no one will soon forget!
Our friends created this charming miniature version of their favorite bookstore in Paris - Shakespeare and Company!
Lighting jack-o-lanterns may have impeded evil spirits once; however, pumpkin fairy houses on your doorstep can invite the warmth of fairy glow and glee to your home and family. From the gathering to the decorating, the whole family creates new memories and new traditions together. If you need more inspiration, check out my Pumpkin Fairy House board on Pinterest. What are your favorite family traditions for fall? I'd love to see your pumpkin creations!