10 Fall Pumpkin Party Ideas & Tips for Families in 2024

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Last Updated on June 4, 2024 by Sarah McCubbin

Do you need pumpkin party ideas and tips for an event for the whole family? Have you ever wanted to plan a pumpkin party but weren’t sure where to start? Thankfully, planning can be quite easy when you choose to stick to a simple script without a lot of expense!

Growing up I have a lot of really good memories of when my family would go to someone’s house with a group of friends and we would carve pumpkins and do a hayride. We would have a cider and donuts, roast marshmallows and have a potluck dinner. It was a ton of fun as a kid! When my kids started in a homeschool co-op, I quickly realized that I wanted a fall party to be something that they got to experience.

As many parents know, most activities truly center around the kids. That is to be expected. However, as parents who are investing a lot of time, energy, and money in the educational process, you want to find a way to build relationships between other parents as well. That is why I love things like fall pumpkin carving parties.

pumpkin party ideas

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These kinds of activities are great way for people to hang out as a whole family and also to connect with new families who might not know as many people. They’re fun! They’re great for all ages and they’re very easy for anyone to plan. They don’t have to be expensive and people can participate at the level that they feel comfortable. So today I want to share with you how to go about planning a fall pumpkin party if that’s something that you want.

Pick your group

Who are the people you are going to invite to your party? In general, especially with kids, it is best to stick to inviting people who are already in the same circle. For example…You could invite your son’s football team…or all the kids in youth group. Maybe you do it with your family so that is the group you invite.

If you invite the football team…and the youth group and your family, it just isn’t going to feel as cohesive. People don’t know each other so there can be a level of awkwardness. Of course you can do whatever you want, but having an awareness of this can be helpful.

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Pick your date.

I live in Northeast Ohio and pretty much anytime in October is a good date. The beginning of October is warmer and by the end the weather is kind of iffy. So I prefer to pick a date around the first 2 weeks of October. If you live in a different part of the world, you’ll want to pick a date when pumpkins are actually available.

For example, around here after October 31st you can’t find pumpkins so you don’t want to plan a fall pumpkin carving party in November. Also, if you plan them too early, it might be difficult to find pumpkins as well. So you know your area pick a date that works for your area.

Pick a location

We have had fall pumpkin carving parties at a variety of locations.

Plan a party in your home

When we were new homeschoolers I invited our homeschool co-op to come to our house for a fall pumpkin carving party. We used sign up genius to have families sign up to bring a food item and and of course they also needed to bring pumpkins. Some people brought games as well.

That worked really well until our group grew too large. My house is not huge and I only have one bathroom that people can use on the main floor. We had 75 people at my house for a pumpkin carving party on a cold October day with one bathroom and that’s when I realized that maybe we needed to find a different location.

The only downside of having it my home (aside from it not being big enough eventually) was that I had to clean my house BEFORE and AFTER the party. Of course the upside was that I cleaned my house!!

pumpkin party ideas

Plan a party at a park

After a few years at my house, we moved our pumpkin carving party to a local park. The park in my city has a park shelter that you can reserve for $20, so we reserved that park shelter. It was great because it was right next to a playground.

This shelter had a fireplace and we could have fires and roast marshmallows but it was also sheltered in case it rained. Since it was right next to the playground. The only downside to having it at a park was that it had a porta pot bathroom…and it was still outside so if the weather was really cold, there was no place to take little kids to warm up.

Just like the party that we would have at our house, we would have families sign up to bring food, paper products and drinks etc. I recommend that you have people sign up to bring at least two things. That can be side dish and a dessert. Or maybe somebody signs up to bring two side dishes. But have people bring two things so you have enough food.

Party at an indoor shelter

One of the families in our homeschool group owns a local campground. On that property there is a building that they rent out for wedding showers and family reunions and things like that. So we started having our pumpkin carving party at that campground because it had great indoor space and outdoor space. It had bathrooms and places for the kids to run around and it was less public than the local park.

Our local metro park system has shelters that are similar to this that can be rented for around $150 to $200, so that is a good option to consider if you are trying to have a party somewhere with indoor and outdoor space.

Any of these locations really worked fine for having a pumpkin carving party. The important thing is to look at what you have and start with what you have and don’t let that stop you from getting together with people.

It’s easy to think that our house or are gathering space isn’t perfect for what we’re planning and let that stop us, but I assure you for something like a pumpkin carving party, people are looking to get together in the fall and your space being perfect isn’t important.

Use SignUpGenius to create your invite

Once you have picked your date and location, you will want to use something like SignUpGenius.com to help you plan and set up your pumpkin carving party event. Of course, you can choose to provide all the food, decorations and pumpkins yourself, but if you are doing this more in a potluck style, then you’ll want to use this website.

For the sign ups, I would encourage you to divide your food categories into the following areas :

  • Main dish
  • Side dish
  • Desserts
  • Salads
  • Drinks
  • Soups

You may also want to include places for people to sign up for:

  • Games
  • Decorations
  • or Anything Else!

As you set up your sign up, you will want to decide how many of each item you think you’ll need.

Plan to expect each family to bring two to three things.

Decide how many main dishes you want and how many side dishes etc

Make sure you fill out, sign up genius with the number of main dishes, side dishes, desserts that you want.

You can always go back and change the number of dishes you want later.

Tip: limit the number of sign ups in each category and let them fill in. If you need to open up more slots that is fine, but at least you will have some food items coming in each category. If you provide a sign up that is too broad with too many spots for a main dish or too many dessert spots. Those areas may find fill in and you may find that you don't have enough in other categories.
Tip: the hostess should provide all of the paper products.

For one of our homeschool pumpkin carving parties, I have a strong memory of having people sign up to bring forks in another mom was bringing plates. Somebody else was bringing napkins.

Well, the day of the party arrived and we were all setting up and we were actually ready to start eating. We realize that the mom who was bringing the plates hadn’t come. So there was a last minute scramble to figure out if we needed to go to the store or if she was coming late or what was happening. After that, we decided that whoever was hosting the event, whether it was the individual or the group. All the paper products would be provided just to make sure that that was taking care of and we didn’t have that problem again.

pumpkin party ideas

Invite People to the Party!!

Once you have set up your sign up, now it is time to invite people to your party.

I love sign up genius because it gives you a link that you can simply share in your evite or via text message with the people in your group. It makes it simple to share so that people can easily sign up.

You can also set up your sign up genius in a way that lets you input. Everybody’s email addresses and names and they will actually send out reminders for you if you set it up that way. If you plan to use sign up genius for future events, it’s worth setting it up so that it makes communication even easier and people are getting multiple reminders for an event.

Plan Your Decorations

One of the things I love about fall pumpkin carving parties is that it is so easy to decorate for them. Whether you choose to arrange your pumpkins that you are going to later carve as part of your decorations, or whether you grab some corn stalks and flowers decorating doesn’t have to be complicated. The beautiful fall colors easily lend themselves to an outdoor gathering without much extra decoration.

If you’re planning your fall party with a group, you can ask people to sign up to decorate or to bring decorations as part of your sign up genius. We usually choose not to decorate other than table cloths and just go with the outdoor fall ambiance to keep things simple and to keep the cleanup simple.

We have found that when a family has multiple children, it can be a little overwhelming to have so many pumpkins to actually carve so I always try to provide a variety of sharpies. Sometimes we have paint and that way the younger kids can really dive in and decorate their pumpkins easily without being worried about a mess and without having to use sharp tools.

If the idea of carving a bunch of pumpkins is overwhelming for families, invite them to simply bring one pumpkin and work on it together as a family.

Games and Activities

In general, we like to keep the games and activities kind of simple because it seems like kids are able to make their own fun as long as they have a few activities that are kind of pre-planned for them. Of course, if you love doing structured games, you can do as many of those as you would like.

15 Fun Fall Party Games!

Roasting marshmallows

An easy outdoor activity to have for your party is to roast marshmallows. This never seems to get old and everyone loves making s’mores. You can do this over a little small campfire or in a stove or a lot of different ways that fit for each unique environment. If you do this, make sure you sign up to have people bring more ingredients.

Have a Contest!

You can get really creative with pumpkins and turn it into a contest as well. That can be a great way to increase the fun. Have people decorate their pumpkins with pieces of vegetables or flowers or grasses, weeds or whatever else they can come up with from nature and you would be amazed at the creative pumpkins that people come up with.

Once the pumpkins are decorated, place them on a table with a cup in front of them and let people place their votes for their favorite pumpkin. Be sure to have a small prize for the winner.

Of course you can always have several categories so you can give a few prizes.

An easy prize is something like a small gift card or jar filled with candy corn.

Don’t Forget a Picture!!

We’ve been having pumpkin carving parties for about 14 years and one of the best parts is the group photo that we take right as the party is ending. Once all the pumpkins are carved, we have the kids gather them up and get a group photo with the kids and their pumpkins.

Sometimes we set up a tripod and get the moms and dads in the pictures too. We have taken these pictures for many years and its fun to see the kids grow up in them!

Everyone Helps Cleanup

As you are planning your party, be sure to plan for the cleanup. Depending on your location and the number of people, the cleanup can be significant. When you send out your invite, if you are doing this with a group who knows each other, be sure to mention that everyone should help cleanup something before they leave.

Things that need cleaned up include:

  • Packaging up Food
  • Clearing plates and cups
  • Throwing away disposable table cloths
  • Picking up Trash
  • Cleaning up the Pumpkin Carving supplies
  • Gathering up the seeds (some people want to take them home and roast them)
  • Gather up the pumpkin goop and wipe down tables

Send Reminders

I used to think that I was bothering people by sending reminders, but now I realize I’m just doing everyone a favor. Before your event. Be sure to send reminders to people who have RSVP’d and to people who haven’t.

Send the reminder a couple different ways because you never know if someone is getting your email or your text through whatever service you’re using. By sending a reminder a couple of different ways you increase the chances that people actually see it.

If you’re part of a group that doesn’t celebrate Halloween, that is of course totally fine. Having a pumpkin carving party can be a great way to include families of all different backgrounds. It’s a great way to build connections with people in the community, church or in your school or homeschool group!

Sarah McCubbin, founder of Ten Minute Momentum, is dedicated to helping parents confidently parent their kids by teaching life skills, social skills and leadership skills. As a child she was the kid that never quite fit in and is on a mission to help others understand the building blocks we all need to be successful adults. She lives in Ohio with her husband Mike, and 9 kids ranging in age from 5 to 21 where they use homeschool, private school and public schools for their kids education!

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