How to Make a Paper Mache Pumpkin That Lasts Forever

Forget pumpkin picking: Making decorative paper pumpkins can be your new go-to Halloween activity.

Pumpkins are a classic symbol of fall and Halloween season, showing up on nearly every porch or front stoop and lending a little charm to dining tables and entryways alike. But to make these pumpkins truly magical, you'll want to make them everlasting. Pumpkin carving stencils may be cute, but the harsh reality is that carved pumpkins never last as long as you want them to.

When crafted out of paper mache—the classic process of dipping newsprint into a glue-like mixture of flour and water—homemade pumpkins can be summoned from storage and used as decorations year after year. To set these handmade masterpieces apart from the common pumpkin-patch variety, we decoupaged ours with paper napkins in iconic patterns. (You can also use no-carve pumpkin ideas on your decorative pumpkins.)

Two Decorative Paper Mache Pumpkins: One Green and Orange, One Black and White

When topped off with a twisted craft paper stem and a couple of gilded crepe paper leaves, these paper pumpkins start to come alive. Twist the stems together into a vine arrangement along a mantel or line them up on a dining table to create a DIY centerpiece for a Halloween dinner party. Go ahead and leave your pumpkins out until Thanksgiving—these enchanted gourds will never rot. And if you decide to learn how to carve a pumpkin, the crafted pumpkins will look fantastic arranged next to jack-o'-lanterns and spooky designs.

Two Decorative Paper Mache Pumpkins: One Green and Orange, One Black and White
Philip Friedman; Styling: Blake Ramsey

DIY Paper Mache Pumpkin Guide


  • 12-inch balloon
  • 3 rubber bands
  • Flour
  • Blank newsprint (found at office supply stores)
  • Patterned paper napkins (we found ours at Marimekko)
  • Clear craft glue
  • Brown craft paper
  • Gold crepe paper


  1. Inflate a balloon about three-quarters of the way full.
  2. Place a rubber band around the balloon, then add a second so that the two bands form an X at the top and bottom of the pumpkin. Add a third rubber band so that all the bands are evenly spaced, then divide the balloon into segments.
  3. Mix equal parts flour and warm water to create the paper mache paste. Tear the newsprint into approximately 1-by-4-inch strips. Dip the strips into the flour mixture and smooth them onto the balloon. Repeat until the entire surface is covered, leaving a small hole on the opposite side of the balloon knot (this will be the bottom of the pumpkin).
  4. Add a second layer of paper mache. Let dry overnight, then pop the balloon.
  5. Cut out sections from the patterned paper napkins. Decoupage the pieces onto the pumpkin surface by coating one side with glue, smoothing it onto the pumpkin, and then brushing more glue on top. Continue decorating the pumpkin as desired.
  6. Twist a length of craft paper to form a stem and adhere it to the top of the pumpkin. Cut leaf shapes from the crepe paper and glue them onto the stem.
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