Succulent Pumpkins (Minimalist Halloween Decor)

It’s incredible how fast and furious trends can be. One day you’re saving your allowance for slap bracelets, a decade later everyone has the same Steve Madden black wedge shoes and bootcut black pants, and now no one can announce a pregnancy unless they have a felted block letter sign.

Succulents are one of those current trends. As my favorite podcaster recently said, you can’t walk past a succulent wall without taking an insta. California was rife with succulent plants, and rightly so, as Californians have been in a drought since I was living there back in the 80s as a child. My teeth-brushing habits were forever changed. But, I digress.

Succulents are just that…. so succulent. They are earthy and natural. They put just the right kind of green pop into every season, while remaining utterly low-maintenance. They seem to just match everything and make everything look and feel more organic. I’m already seeing them in Thanksgiving table decor ideas, and I’m not surprised.

I hate decorating for the holidays. I love the feel of Fall, and the feel of Christmas, but the decorating aspect to me has always felt costly, both in time and money. Buying, storing and hanging decorations exhausts me, and yet, walking to a Home Goods this time of year also makes me feel depressed about my life. Why don’t I have pumpkin-themed throw pillows? Where are my platters that say thankful in a thoughtful script? Following minimalism and embracing it over the past year has helped me come to terms with my decoration-hating, and find my own place where my home can feel festive without the angst of buying and storing in massive tupperwares and dedicating weekends to the turnover between seasons.

Where holidays and minimalism have met for me is in decorating organically, using neutral items that have a shelf life. For me, this means fresh flowers in the Spring, and on my table throughout the Summer and Fall. It means multiple pots of fat mums and awkwardly shaped pumpkins during the Fall, and a lot of pine cones and holly in the winter with fresh evergreen.

These succulent pumpkins were my foray into decorating minimally last Fall, and I assembled them, along with my mom, in an afternoon for less than $100 total. I relished giving them away to dear friends, and I pretty much beamed with pride having mine as my centerpiece throughout the holiday season (bonus points for the extra muscle I gained moving it out of the center of the table before dinner most nights.)

When I first saw them, I was convinced that they were carved terrariums – with potting soil, but when I dug deeper, I discovered that they required no carving, no knife skills, simply a glue gun, a handful of succulents of varying shapes and sizes, and some store bought moss to shore up the pumpkins, make them flatter, and give a forest-feel to your pumpkin.

These days, a lot of people sell succulent cuttings for super cheap on Craig’s List and NextDoor, and you can buy moss on Amazon. Here are the how-tos.

Succulent Pumpkins

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(pictured are our materials- spread out)

pumpkin(s) – based on how many you want to make- it’s as easy to make 5-6 as it is to make 1 – white pumpkins and fairytale pumpkins make great canvases

1-3 packages of moss (we got ours at a nursery, but you can buy it on Amazon or at most craft stores)

spray adhesive like this

a glue gun

a variety of succulents and/or air plants

First, use moss to create a base on the top of your pumpkin, using the spray adhesive  to affix it somewhat evenly in the center in patches.

Next, place succulents around the center, turning the pumpkin as you work to ensure your composition is even – work in groups of three for balance. Remember, you can always move or adjust. When you are satisfied, use the glue gun to affix them to the moss.

To finish, use moss, or succulent tendrils, or even eucalyptus branches as a final touch.

Spritz your succulent pumpkin every few days with water, and it will last forever (if you want it to). We removed the succulents from ours in February and used them again in a wreath.

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Designing a Shared Room

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From the moment when our move to Virginia was confirmed, I started planning and dreaming about the kids’ room. I was 95% sure that they would continue to share a room, as they have since George was 5 months old (before that, he bunked with us), but I wasn’t sure which house we would find.¬† So, when we chose this house, I was thrilled that the largest bedroom was big enough to serve as their shared room in addition to a playroom.

I knew I wanted:

  • Matching twin beds, with matching bedding with something gender-specific on each bed
  • A reading nook where we could repurpose the bean bag chair and the IKEA spice racks we painted in California
  • Lots of bins for toys, dress-up clothes, and stuffies
  • A large area for them to play on the floor
  • A dresser so that they could get their own pajamas and underwear out at night

My biggest challenge was finding bedding that was neutral enough to work for both kids, but not boring. I fell in love with this Pottery Barn Kids madras, but agonized over whether it was too girly for GQ. In June, Marilyn and I took a trip to the store and when I found his blue sheets, I knew it was a go. We got the entire set on sale including sheets for both beds.

Next, I had to select beds that would be timeless and wouldn’t break the bank. Having followed Project Junior on insta, I had fallen in love with the Jenny Lind-esque style of these twin beds, and chose these from Wayfair. They were easy to assemble. To start, we haven’t put box springs on the beds. We wanted to make sure the kids wouldn’t fall out first. We’ll add those soon.

Once I had the beds, and the bedding, the rest came together. A local store uses chalk paint to reinvent furniture. We purchased a mid-century dresser from them and it set the blue tone and I think deemphasized the pink in the madras bedding. I love the shape of the dresser and the legs.

My talented mother painted watercolors for above the beds, and we repurposed the Pillowfort animal heads above each headboard.

Finally, I spent weeks trying on rugs, first falling in love with this one from Target, and later selecting a larger one from Wayfair. Bins from Pillowfort rounded out the storage and I’m still working on my plan for this large open wall (stay tuned for a blog post!)

In the end, I’m so happy with the way it turned out. It feels vintage and timeless, but playful and coherent. Tucking my babies in every night, I am a little tempted to climb in, and when they play for hours upstairs, I am reminded that I created this great little space for them!

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