DAM staff decorating pumpkin for Halloween

7 Tips for Planning an Office Halloween Pumpkin-Carving Contest (Photos)

The Denver Art Museum recently held a staff pumpkin-carving contest that was a lot of fun and really got people motivated (see the photos in the slide show below to see how creative we got). If your employees or coworkers would like to follow suit, here are a few wickedly simple steps to follow to help ensure your pumpkin-carving event is as successful as ours was:

1. Don’t underestimate the power of competition. Even if you think you don’t have any imaginative people in your office, there is nothing like healthy competition to get those creative juices flowing. People will show their true competitive spirit, even if it is only for pride.

2. Supply as many tools and decorations at your staff’s disposal as possible. The DAM happens to have the education department’s prep closet at our fingertips. However, if you don’t have access to a closetful of supplies, don’t fear. Providing pumpkin-carving kits, like the ones that are sold in stores, should be plenty for people to work with.

3. Create a few categories for other staffers to vote for the final masterpieces. It’s just too hard to decide which one is “the best.” Recommendations include: scariest, funniest, most creative, best use of materials, grossest, most neatly stenciled, etc. Creating the categories in advance also will give people time to come up with their game plan.

4. Plan for easier cleanup by setting up a deseeding station. Ours proved to be very handy. Everyone gutted their pumpkins in one location before taking them to their carving tables. Seeds were relegated to one area discouraging any unruly seed behavior. This also helped our facilities crew (who are the best in the business, BTW) with cleanup after the event was over. Aprons also come in handy.

5. Set up an accoutrement station. This area included everything from paint to feathers, to glitter, and any other bits and bobs that could be used for decorative purposes.

6. Remember it’s not a party without snacks. Keep the competitive masses fueled, but also invite other staff that are not carving or decorating to join the fun. And, who are we kidding, everyone likes free snacks.

7. Throw out the ideas for traditional pumpkins. Pink-feathered jack o'lanterns? Why not. Let people do what they want. When the staff feels like they can create without boundaries, they will. I think all of the finished pumpkins from our staff paint that picture.

Happy carving!

A DAM employee using a stencil to create a Frida Kahlo pumpkin.

This team used a drill to create their Vance Kirkland-inspired pumpkin.

Note the plastic covering the carving table. Another way to help with cleaning up.

Great work, ladies!

We had cookies, kettle corn, and fruit kabobs for snacks.

Erika made a fairy house.

Inspired by the popular Fox Games artwork by Sandy Skoglund (which is no longer on view).

Inspired by Heavenly Toaster by Luis Tapia.

Pumpkin Woman Rolls On, inspired by Mud Woman Rolls On by Roxanne Swentzell, won for the best DAM-collection-inspired pumpkin.

Winner of the funniest pumpkin.

Winner in the scariest pumpkin category.

This Brilliant-inspired pumpkin won best in show.

This Vance Kirkland-inspired pumpkin won in the most creative category.

Facebook followers voted for this Frida Kahlo pumpkin as their favorite.

Erin Ross is the executive project manager in the administration department at the Denver Art Museum. Erin has been at the DAM since 2013 and her favorite artwork that has been on view here is Waterloo Bridge by Claude Monet.

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