Pumpkins for Halloween are a long-held tradition, and are also a naturally eco-friendly decoration.  They are easy to find during the fall harvest season, cheap to buy, and come in lots of sizes and shapes.  Here are a few ways to use them to make your Halloween festivities really earth friendly this year.

Start by make an event out of selecting your pumpkins.  If you are fortunate enough to live in an area that is within driving distance of the countryside, try to locate a farmer who has a pumpkin patch you can visit to select your pumpkin at the source.

Some farmers make a point of opening up their pumpkin patches to the public, and even offer corn mazes and hay rides for extra entertainment.  You and your family or friends can make a whole day trip out visiting the country side to enjoy the autumn scenery.

Be sure to bring your camera to photograph the fun. Make a game out of seeing who can be the first to spot the biggest, the smallest, the most perfect and the oddest-shaped pumpkins.  Then take photos of each other next to your discoveries.  You can bring some of your findings home for more festivities, and you will have pictures for your album of the ones that were too big fit in your car.

That same evening, or even a week or two later, you can have a pumpkin carving party.  Start with some big blank sheets of paper and crayons or markers to draw practice designs.  Even the youngest in your group can safely join in drawing pumpkin pictures.  Get creative and experiment on paper with traditional, spooky, funny or abstract designs.  Plan it so that each person has a pumpkin to carve.

Or if you have some talented carvers in your group, have everyone participate in the designing, and then have the group choose the final designs but let the pumpkin artists do the actual carving.  When they are finished, show them off and admire the grinning and glowing jack-o-lantern artwork by installing candles and having a proper display in a darkened room.

Be sure to save the insides of all of the pumpkins that you carve. If you’re really into cooking, you can make delicious side dishes, pies and quick breads from the pumpkin pulp.  But if cooking and baking is too much fuss for you, at least do yourself a favor and gather up the pumpkin seeds.  After you clean them off, spread them in a thin layer onto a cookie sheet and season them with sea salt.  Then bake them in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until they are golden and toasted.  Let them cool, and then enjoy their crunchy goodness as a healthy natural snack.

After Halloween is over, you can add the remainder of the pumpkin to your compost heap (or give it to a neighbor for theirs).  From start to finish, pumpkins are really the perfect green Halloween entertainment and decoration.  They provide a feast for the eyes and mouth, and feed the earth when they’re done.