What to do with pumpkins after Halloween – 10 ways to use up your gourds

Not sure what to do with pumpkins after Halloween? Gardening experts recommend feeding animals, composting and even baking so that not a scrap goes to waste.

What to do with pumpkins after Halloween
(Image credit: Briana Tozour for Unsplash)

You're not the only one wondering what to do with pumpkins after Halloween.These gorgeous gourds work so hard throughout the holidays and they are the glue of our Halloween decorations after all. But, in a world where we are all looking to be more sustainable, it seems like such a frightful waste to just throw them in the trash after October 31st is done and dusted.

Whether you bought 37 pumpkins to adorn your porch with, or just a few for window ledges and mantlepiece displays, there are lots of different ways to get creative with gourd leftovers – whether you're up for a culinary challenge or looking to care for your garden and the wildlife around your home.

1. Make a pumpkin bird feeder

Such a cute and easy pumpkin leftovers idea! Simply cut the top of your pumpkin off to form a bowl shape, stick some twigs or sticks in the side to give the birds a place to perch, use twine to create something to hang your feeder and there you go. Hang it up and check it's secure and then fill with birdseed. 

Gardening expert Evie Lane from Primrose says 'There’s no need to ditch the pumpkin once you’ve finished carving it, as the large and shallow shape of the pumpkin inside makes for a great natural feeder. Simply cut the top off, hang in your garden using some sturdy string, fill with bird seed and watch your feathered friends tuck in! '

2. Save the seeds to grow your next pumpkins

white and orange pumpkins

(Image credit: Getty)

Whether you're a savvy gardener or not, if you've got spare seeds going from your Jack o'Lantern then you'll be able to grow pumpkins from seed in time for next Halloween.

'If pumpkin seeds aren’t your type of snack, you can store them instead and grow your very own Jack o’Lantern for next year. Briefly rinse the seeds in running water to remove them of any pulp. Once you have your seeds, pick out the biggest ones as these will have a better chance of germinating. Store them in a cool, dry spot for one week then keep them in the fridge and come April, you can plant your pumpkin seeds ready for October.' Says Lane.

3. Feed wildlife

pink pumpkins

(Image credit: Getty)

Although you may have spent a lot of this holiday season fending off wildlife from your outdoor Halloween display and stopping squirrels eating pumpkins, once fright night is over, there's no reason to not give in and let them feed.

Lane explains, 'Many animals can eat pumpkin and it’s a welcome, tasty snack during a season where many animals struggle to find food. Squirrels, foxes and badgers all enjoy the taste of pumpkin – simply chop up the insides and leave in dishes for animals to enjoy.'

'If you’re not a fan of encouraging animals to come to your garden, you can also donate your pumpkins to farms as animal feed – just make sure you’re removing any traces of candle wax before handing over your Jack O’lantern.' 

4. Feed your compost

If you're feeling less creative after all your decor or spooky costume making, a simple way to responsibly take care of your pumpkins post-Halloween is of course to add them to your homemade compost heap or bin so that it can naturally decompose and in time turn into hearty fertilizer for your garden. Digital editor of Real Homes and gardening enthusiast Camille Dubuis-Welch highlights, 'As pumpkins have a thick skin they will take longer to decompose so make sure you chop yours into smaller chunks to speed up the process.'

'Pumpkins are said to be a worm’s favorite food' adds Lane. 'Which is why they make a great composting material. Simply smash up your pumpkin and place in your garden, cover with a few leaves so it doesn’t look unsightly and let nature get to work.'

5. Transform your pumpkins into planters or vases 

Pumpkin flower arrangements

(Image credit: Bloom & Wild)

If your pumpkin has still got enough life in it, use it to create some lovely fall flower displays. Just add some florists foam (or soil if you want to plant up some succulents) and then arrange your flowers. We have a whole guide to creating pumpkin vases so check that out if you want a step by step. 

Lane notes, 'To get longevity out of your pumpkin, make sure you choose plants that prefer the shade, as pumpkins will rot quicker in the sun and let off a nasty stench.'

6. Treat your skin to a fresh face mask

Pumpkins are full of vitamins that are great for your body but are also lovely for your skin – so before you throw out your leftover pumpkin, make a face mask! Scrape out any of the flesh inside and blend to get a puree, then add in 1/2 a tablespoon of honey and 1/2 a tablespoon of milk (you can use an alternative too). Mix it all together, apply to your face and leave for 20 minutes. You'll be glowing like a jack-o-lantern.

7. Feed your pumpkins to your pets 

Did you know pumpkins are great, healthy snacks for your dogs (if they aren' too fussy of course). They are full of vitamins and are a great source of fiber so good for digestion. You could just chop up your leftover pumpkins and give it as an occasional treat, cook it into puree to mix in with their food, you can even freeze the pumpkin cubes for longer-lasting snacks. 

8. DIY a pumpkin spice latte

Dualit Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

(Image credit: Dualit)

A pumpkin classic. You might fork out an hour's salary on one from your fave coffee shop but did you know you can make one at home using your leftover pumpkin? It's simply a case of blending together pumpkin puree, maple syrup, cinnamon, coffee and milk. Easy peasy. 

9. Blend it all up into soup 

Pumpkin soup

(Image credit: Monika Grabkowska/Unsplash)

Our go-to for what to do with pumpkins after Halloween is to make a warming soup. Perfect for a crisp afternoon plus, you can always freeze it too so that you always have some to hand. Simply boil up the flesh with lost of seasoning, stock and maybe a dash of nutmeg, then smooth it in your best blender. For a more flavorsome recipe, try roasting the pumpkin first before combining it with stock to make your soup. Delicious. 

10. Bake a tasty pumpkin loaf

Pumpkin Loaf

(Image credit: ALDI)

And for those with a sweet tooth, pumpkin loaf is another very easy recipe. It has all the flavors you associate with this time of year plus will use up a pumpkin or two. 

What do you do with pumpkins after Halloween for animals?

You can let animals like squirrels, birds and badgers feed on your pumpkins – ensuring you've removed any decorations, candle wax and so on. Of course, if you used any bleach to help keep your pumpkins from rotting over the season or if you painted a pumpkin as opposed to carving it, then you need to keep these out of reach of animals. If yours is au natural then go to town and let them stock up on their nutrients or use them for a little more outdoor entertainment.

How long do you leave pumpkins out after Halloween?

There's no timeline on this, it depends on whether you styled your gourds for Halloween in particular or if they were already part of a fall porch decor display. It also depends on when you first purchased and put them out but usually fresh pumpkins will last for a good 2-3 weeks before they are visually past their best.

Hebe Hatton

Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer before moving to the Livingetc team in 2021 where she took on a role as Digital Editor. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration. When she isn't writing about interiors, she is renovating her own spaces – be it wallpapering a hallway, painting kitchen cupboards or converting a van.