Rather than carving jack-o'-lanterns this Halloween, break with tradition and paint your pumpkins instead. Not only will they last longer if they're not cut open, but since no sharp tools are involved, even the littlest kids can get in on the act. And the painting patterns can be used on plastic, wooden, or papier-mâché pumpkins, too. Thorough general directions explain how to choose the perfect pumpkin, extend its life, transfer patterns, apply the paint, and add embellishments like hair (yarn, fur, ribbon, wire, straw, polyester stuffing), and even give some carving tips.
Full patterns are provided for each of the many designs, which range from the appropriately spooky (witches, werewolves, mummies, monsters, haunted houses, a very effective Grim Reaper whose orange silhouette leers out of a black background) to the silly (clowns, barnyard animals, goofy grinning faces) to the country-décor style (autumn leaves, sunflowers, plaids). Some of the more involved designs may take a little practice, but most are fairly easy. --Amy Handy