The cutest ever DIY guest post by my sister, Johanna Bless. Can’t wait to make a few of these myself as a centerpiece for our Thanksgiving table spread!
Pumpkin carving evokes child-like feelings and memories that may be too nostalgic to replace, but once you make one of these succulent-topped pumpkins, you may have a new favorite fall craft. Their whimsical sophistication takes pumpkin decorating to a whole new level. They’d make perfect centerpieces for Thanksgiving, or memorable hostess gifts throughout the fall season. All you need are pumpkins, succulents, garden clippers, a hot glue gun, and a little creativity!
Instead of just making one pumpkin with succulents from my garden, I decided to host a Moms’ Craft Night for friends. I have an active toddler, and am about to pop with baby #2, so why not just throw a little party into the mix of pregnant-house-project-nesting?
I’m incredibly grateful I did. It was exactly the cozy evening with sweet friends that I hoped for! (And a surprisingly relaxing hostess gig.) This classy harvest craft requires very little set-up or prep work. I actually got to do things that day like clean our house, bake a cranberry torte cake, and shower! Everyone asked for the cranberry torte cake recipe, so I’ve included it at the end of this post. It’s been my family’s go-to fall dessert since I was a kid because it’s basically a dump cake, but beautifully festive, and has a perfect balance of sweet and tart—winning in all departments.
With the number of friends coming, I needed more succulents than what our garden could supply, so I bought two variety packs at a hardware store and a couple of mamas brought more from their gardens. The only instructions I provided were a few pictures for reference, and everyone made the most beautiful creations without any tutorial. So don’t be intimidated!
The result on the white pumpkins were my favorite because they allow the red hues in the succulents to really pop, but the orange pumpkins are classics! The green hues of the succulents beautifully complimented blush-colored fairytale pumpkins that a couple mamas brought to decorate. I even feel like the monochromatic effect of succulents on those light blue-green cinderella pumpkins would be striking. Essentially, you just can’t go wrong arranging trendy botanical blooms atop autumn’s most darling squash.
One of the many great attributes of succulents: the leftovers won’t be wasted because they are the most forgiving transplants. Or, if you’re having way too much fun, you can keep going back to your porch for more pumpkins throughout your toddler’s epic nap the next day, and end up with a whole patch of succulent-frosted pumpkins on your table.
I hope you find as much joy as I did in harvesting your creativity, and even more satisfaction in sharing your bounty with loved ones!
Pumpkin Succulent Decorating Tips:
- Use small succulents—like tiny. If you can, bring your pumpkin to the store with you for reference. Succulents that are too large won’t look proportionate. You may be surprised by how few succulents you actually need.
- Choose a variety of succulent types, colors, and values. Rosettes anchor the groupings and are the show-stoppers, but I like how the longer “fillers” provide a nice dimensional element.
- Stem or no stem? Try it both ways! Longer pumpkin stems add a fun element of drama, but are harder to come by and can be an element of focus you have to work around. No stem allows the succulents to have all the attention.
- Don’t pull strongly-rooted succulent rosettes from the soil, cut off the rosettes at the bottom of bloom. Many types of succulents can easily be snapped off their stems.
- Start by placing your largest rosettes on the pumpkin, and then fill in around and under them. Strategize/arrange a couple steps ahead before hot-gluing each one on as you go.
Fresh Cranberry Torte Cake Recipe:
2 C Fresh Cranberries*
½ C Sugar
½ C Walnuts or Pecans (chopped)
1 C Sugar
1 C Flour
1/2 C Butter (melted)
Preheat oven to 325. Grease a pie pan. Whisk the eggs and melted butter, stir in the flour and 1 cup of sugar. In a separate bowl, mix the ½ cup of sugar, cranberries* and nuts. Toss. (I gently mix them in the bottom of the pie pan—fewer dishes!) Put the cranberry mixture into the bottom of a greased pie pan and pour the batter on top. Bake for 60 minutes. Best served warm (with vanilla ice cream), but also so good for breakfast the next morning!
*You can buy cranberries fresh, seasonally, and throw the whole bag in the freezer for a later date. Rinse cranberries in a strainer, and pick out the ones that are obviously rotten with large dents and black spots. You can use them frozen, but they may float to the top during the baking process, making it harder to determine when the cake is done and changing the way the layers settle. This happened to me the evening of the party and it was still delicious, just a slightly different textural result.