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So many gourds, so little time! Here are 4 creative ways to use them this fall

Just because Halloween is over, doesn’t mean it’s time to retire gourds altogether. Along with your corn stalk decor pieces, these plants, which include pumpkins and squashes, make for beautiful decoration supplies through Thanksgiving. Luckily, they’ll be in season everywhere this season, so you’ll find them in abundance as you hit up your grocery store or farmers market. Whether you have leftovers from autumn recipes or you want easy-to-access fall decor, here are four creative ways to incorporate gourds in your home this autumn.

Gourd assortment

Turn them into lanterns

Who said that gourd lanterns have to end with Halloween? In addition to (or instead of) orange pumpkins as jack-o-lanterns, try other colored pumpkins and squashes to create festive lanterns. Start by scrubbing the outside of your gourd with soap and water. Then, cut off the base and scoop out as much of the insides as possible. Trace your designs onto your pumpkin with a pencil and cut them out using a pumpkin carving kit or power drill. Afterward, jazz up the surface of your lantern with mineral oil for shine. To minimize the fire hazard factor, pop in string Christmas lights or an LED tea light instead of a candle.

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Of course, it helps to work with dried gourds, although completely dried gourds should be prepared for next year instead of immediate use. If you’re wondering how to dry out a gourd for crafts, it’s actually not too complicated. You’ll want to start by cleaning the outside of your gourd thoroughly and letting it dry for about a week in a well-ventilated area. Then, leave them in a dry, dark place to cure for about six months, making sure to rotate them every few weeks.

Other quick alternatives to preserving your gourds include spritzing them with bleach water or rubbing petroleum jelly onto them. If you’re going down these routes, make sure not to put any fire sources inside your gourd.

Make a planter

Making a vase with your gourd is essentially the same as making the aforementioned lantern. You’ll want to clean the outside and scoop out the insides as possible. (To get even more garden use out of your gourd, don’t forget to toss the seeds and pulp into your compost bin!) Instead of popping in a light source, add your favorite plant or flowers. To avoid spreading mold to your houseplant, keep your plant inside its nursery pot with a saucer underneath it. If you’re going with the vase route, you can pick out fall flowers such as chrysanthemums, sunflowers, and pansies to play up the autumn vibes.

Make a bird feeder

Yes, you can absolutely make a bird feeder from a gourd and replace it with a cone for winter holiday fare later! All it takes is sawing off the bottom third of your gourd and scooping out the pulp and seeds. Then, grab a few feet of twine to create a macramé hanger. (See more specific instructions on how here.) Place your gourd into the hanger and drop in bird seeds. Tie it to a tree or some other structure in your yard, and you should be good to go. Instead of a hanger, you can also drill two holes on the sides of your gourd and tie secure knots on both ends.

Thanksgiving gourds

Use them as Thanksgiving table pieces

This idea is probably the least involved way to use your fall gourds since it doesn’t require any carving or cutting. If you have miniature gourds in your garden or come across them at your local garden center, pop them onto your dining table for effortless fall vibes. For extra visual interest, mix and match shades of white, orange, and yellow as well as bumpy and smooth textures.

When you have guests visiting for Thanksgiving, place your gourds next to leaves, corn stalks, candles, and name tags on your dinner table or in guest rooms to elevate your autumn decor game. You can even draw on your gourds with paint and glitter pens, but they should be good to go all on their own. There are many different ways to arrange them — nest them inside a basket for a cornucopia, or lay them across the center of your table.

There’s no easier way to decorate during autumn than with gourds. Not only can you eat them, but you can also get crafty with them. Their sturdy shells make them the perfect material for projects such as bird feeders, lanterns, and planters. If you want a straightforward way to make your Thanksgiving table feel cozy and elegant, line them up for centerpieces. You’ll be one of those people saying “oh my gourd” in no time!

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