Mess-free Painted Pumpkins

Discover a fun and simple way to paint pumpkins without making a mess! Great for toddlers and preschoolers and for teaching about the colors. #fall #halloween #paintedpumpkins

Fall is such a fun time of year, especially with little ones. But, carving pumpkins is hard and messy with little ones, especially the toddler and preschooler crowds.


We’re often told to paint pumpkins instead, but sometimes, we just don’t want the mess of paint, or we want to do an activity with more than one little one and not have a lot of clean up to do afterwards.


Enter a new approach to painted pumpkins!



  • Box or tray with high sides (Amazon boxes work great!)
  • Paint
  • Pumpkin
  • Waxed paper, aluminum foil or something to set your pumpkin on to dry
  • Baby wipes or rags just in case



  1. Let your child choose the paint colors. If you’re worried about a brown pumpkin from too many colors, narrow down the colors for them and let them choose among colors that’ll blend well together. Hint: white goes with everything!
  2. Put the pumpkin in the box or tray.
  3. For each color, ask your child where they’d like you to put the paint. Squirt, dob, or otherwise put gobs of paint where they tell you to.
  4. Once the pumpkin is covered in paint (not totally covered, as you’ll be rolling it, but has enough for it to mix together and make pretty colors), start rolling the pumpkin around the box or tray by moving the box. You’ll probably need to help your little one, but even letting them put their hands on the box makes them feel involved. Remember that a pumpkin isn’t perfectly round and they can be heavy, so they’re not the easiest to roll.
  5. Let your little one decide when it’s time to stop rolling the pumpkin around.
  6. Take the pumpkin out and place it on the waxed paper or something similar to dry. If you have a lot of paint on the top, it’ll take over night to fully drip down and dry.
  7. Optional: when dry, add gems, jewels, stickers, draw a face, or otherwise decorate your pumpkin IF desired.


We used this method with 4 kids (6yo, 4yo, 3yo, 3yo), and it took about 30-45 minutes to paint pumpkins. Because we had gobs of paint (and because I can’t resist an opportunity to teach or waste less), we took prints of each kid’s pumpkin tracks by placing a blank piece of paper over the gobs of paint and lifting. We let it dry and we’ll use it to make cards, put a frame over and make fall leaves or something like that.

Mess-free pumpkin painting activity for toddlers. Click through to learn more about this quick and easy way to practice colors while #paintingpumpkins from Lessons and Learning for Littles.

Other mess-free ideas for painting pumpkins:

  1. Get the miniature pumpkins and put in a gallon-sized ziploc bag with paint. Squish or roll it around.
  2. Try watering down paint and squirting the pumpkin. Note: this is best done outside and depending on what kind paint you use, the paint might not stick, so this one’s truly an experiment and not something I know works from personal experience.


How do you like to decorate with pumpkins?


Have you checked out these easy, Fun Fall Activities? (Click here for 21 Fun Fall Activities that are toddler friendly)