Gourds are plentiful during Halloween and come in many different shapes and colors.  They are definitely a sign of fall and winter on the way as they ripen during this time of the year.  When gourds are planted in the garden, they often supply the gardener with enough to give to family, friends and neighbors as they are so prolific.  Use some of them as is for fall centerpieces and decorations, but take a few and make them into cute little ghouls, ghosts, witches and more by painting them. 

You can use gourds two different ways.  Paint the ones you pick out of the garden right away, but be aware that these will not be permanent.  The gourd will tend to rot over time.  You can also save gourds that can be dried, like larger bird house gourds, and go through the drying process to use them next year.  These are permanent.  It is best to do simple painting on the gourds that have not been dried and do a little more complicated painting on the ones you plan to keep year after year. 

To paint gourds you will need some supplies:

  • Gourds
  • White spray paint
  • Acrylic paint in colors you wish to use
  • Paint brush
  • Black permanent marker
  • Mod Podge or Clear Acrylic Spray
  • Various decorative objects like raffia, glitter, ribbon, etc.


Always wash gourds even if they have been dried before trying to paint them.  Use a scrub brush to get dirt that sticks to them off.  Use dish washing liquid if soap is needed.  Make sure the gourds are perfectly dry before continuing. 

Some gourds have bright colors in green, orange and a pale yellow and some are white.  It is best to spray them with acrylic spray paint in white before trying to paint them so that the color won’t show through.  Place the gourds in a large box that you don’t need and spray them all over, stem and all, with the spray paint.  Do a second coat to make sure all areas are covered.  Let them dry before continuing.

Paint the gourd however you wish.  You can make round gourds pumpkins and paint them orange.  Make a black cat’s face on another round one.  The ones that are pear shaped make great ghosts as do the type that have long necks. Once the background is painted, use the permanent marker to add details.  You can also make eyes, noses and mouths with the marker.   If you are good at tole painting, use the gourd as a canvas and paint on witches, ghouls and other Halloween type motifs. 

When the paint has dried, either paint on some mod podge to seal the gourd or spray with a clear acrylic spray.  This will keep the fresh gourds from rotting fast and it is essential for the dried gourds to keep them sealed.  Sprinkle some glitter on the gourds while still wet to give them a little sparkle if you desire.  You can make some bows with raffia or ribbon and glue them to the painted gourds to decorate them even further. 

Decorating Ideas

1) Just paint eyes and an open mouth with a permanent marker on white gourds to make cute little ghosts.

2) Round gourds make very nice pumpkins.  Paint them orange and make lines with a marker down from the stem to the bottom like the sections of a pumpkin.  Make the eyes, nose and mouth with paint or a permanent marker. 

3) The gourds that have a round bottom and long neck bulb at the top can make interesting painted gourds.  Make them witches with the skirt as the bottom round part and the torso and head on the neck-like part.  Make a witches hat from construction paper and glue it on the top.

4) Use the same type of gourd and paint the bottom like a pumpkin and the top like a black cat sitting on top of the pumpkin. 

5) Paint round or oblong gourds that sit upright like candy corn.  The very top should be white, the middle orange and the very bottom yellow

6) Take a Shenot Crown of Thorns gourd (Cucurbita maxima) to make a really cute ghost.  These gourds have a round top and what look like fingers at the bottom.  Paint it white and draw a face on it and the fingers look like fringy appendages of the ghost. 

7) Be creative and make your own work of art on gourds.  You can drill holes in some of the sturdier stemmed types and insert a look of ribbon to hang or just set them in a basket on your table.  Use the unpainted gourds alongside them to make a great Halloween centerpiece.

Image credit for gourds in photo: Pixabay

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