Fairy Pumpkin Cottage
Here at Cedar House Farm, building a pumpkin fairy cottage has quickly become one of my children’s favorite autumn traditions. It is an opportunity for our family to forage in the fresh air, brainstorm and create together with natural materials. It's an opportunity for your children to let their imaginations run wild and for us to witness how much joy outdoor adventures bring them. And the end product provides weeks of imaginary play.
2020 fairy pumpkin cottage.
A simplistic design with a vibrant pumpkin color.
2021 fairy pumpkin cottage.
A busier design with a subtle muted-toned (Jarrahdale) pumpkin color.
2022 fairy pumpkin cottage.
A botanical-themed pumpkin inspired by my new book, The Love Language of Flowers complete with greenhouse replica.
You Will Need
2023 fairy pumpkin cottage.
English cottage-inspired exterior complete with bonfire and well.
- A large sized pumpkin. I recommend a more decorative variety like knucklehead or Jarrahdale to give the cottage a more whimsical feel, however any pumpkin that is accessible to you will certainly work.
- Natural materials (see foraging checklist below.)
- Hot glue gun and a pack of hot glue sticks.
- A candle for lighting the inside. (A battery-operated flameless candle is a great option if this cottage will be used as for imaginary play.)
Foraging for Natural Materials
Once you have your supplies, the next step is to head outside to forage for natural materials to decorate your pumpkin. We have a few acres of wooded land so we were able to gather materials from our property, however a trip to your favorite hiking trail or local park would be great alternatives. Autumn is my absolute favorite time to adventure and forage with me children, as many of the most beautiful treasures have been windblown to the forest floor, giving our tiniest hands the opportunity to discover them. The earthy tones and vibrant leaves never disappoint, and acorns and nuts are plentiful. Foraging is not just for summer!
It is truly magical to see nature through the eyes of a child. They are much closer to the forest floor than us adults and often identify and gather items that we might pass by without noticing. I’ve created a foraging checklist to help start your foraging journey off, however it is not necessary to gather all the items on the list. Instead, lean in the topography of your natural surroundings and the season you are foraging in and let the list be your jumping-off point. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, embrace all the moss and ferns you will find in your backyard. If you live near the sea, perhaps your cottage will be covered in seashells. Have an aspen or birch tree in your backyard? The bark would make beautiful window shutters. In the Midwest? Embrace all those gorgeous vibrant colors your children will find as the leaves fall. Bring a basket and a pair of snips along to make gathering easier.
Fairy Pumpkin Foraging Checklist
- Small thin sticks
- Flowers (fresh or dried)
- Moss and ferns
- Tree bark and windfallen evergreen pieces
- Walnut shells
- Stones and pebbles
These are just a few ideas to get your foragers started on their outdoor scavenger hunt. Let them lead the way. Encourage them to explore as if they are fairies searching the forest floor for items they can use to decorate their cottage or that is marvelously miniature in nature. Don’t forget a basket or two to hold their fairy treasures along the way but be sure that you can safely identify each item before picking it up. This foraging adventure is the heart of this entire project. It's where the children are most excited. Where the wonder of miniature homesteads and whimsical fairy visits comes to life in their imaginations. It's where the memories are made.
Once you’ve gathered your items, give them a little shake to get rid of access dirt and any tiny forest friends who need to find a new home (heads up, eight-legged creatures particularly love pinecones...take it from me!), and then ask the children to sort the materials on a table or other dry, flat surface. This can be done on a porch, the garage floor, or the kitchen table. Just be sure you have an electrical outlet nearby. I offered my children a few baskets and bowls in different sizes to help them organize.
Now that the kids have foraged and sorted their items, it’s time to create! Below is a step-by-step tutorial of how I built the green pumpkin fairy cottage. There is no need to do every (or any) one of these steps. These are just ideas to get you started.
- With a permanent marker, draw out a doorway and a couple windows. They can be any shape you choose. Don't worry if the cuts aren't perfect. You can decorate the edges so any imperfections are hidden.
- Carve a hole in the bottom of the pumpkin to access the inside, and clear out the insides, as you would if you were making a jack-o-lantern. Then cut out the doorway and window holes.
Ask the children to estimate the length and height of each window. Then snap a few twigs to tightly fit into the window holes as shown below to create "window panes." Snap more twigs to frame the windows, adhering the twigs with hot glue.
Using more hot glue, decorate the doorway with flowers, greenery, or anything else your little ones gathered that invites your fairies in to stay a while. Apply the hot glue to the pumpkin and then carefully press the details on.
Add flowers or greenery to the bottom of the windows to create a “flower box” look. You can also add a bit of detail to corners of the windows. If you have fungi that you want to look like they are growing on the pumpkin, add those now too. I added mine with a generous amount of hot glue and they are quite sturdy.
Add moss or greenery to the top of the pumpkin around the stem with hot glue. It could cascade down one side or just act as a mossy “roof”. Then add pops of color, layering more items on top of the moss.
- Lastly, create entrance steps or a ladder for your fairy to walk up. Your pumpkin fairy house is now complete!
If you would like to add more details, you can create a “front yard” by placing your pumpkin cottage on a sheet of heavy cardboard. Cover the cardboard by gluing moss to it and then create miniature details with your remaining foraged items. A bird bath, clothesline, bushes, trees, bench, mailbox, and picket fence are a few ideas. Last year, my kids created a small chicken coop teepee out of sticks. I just love seeing what they come up with! The sky is the limit!
Tip: A bleach wipe will rub off any remaining permanent marker from the pumpkin skin.
This article has been published in the Fall/Winter 2023 Issue of Homestead Mamas Magazine and the Summer 2022 Issue of GreenCraft Magazine.
Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. Cedar House Living LLC receives a small commission for sales generated through these links at no additional cost to you. I use the commissions to further expand my garden, floral, and herbal knowledge so I can continue to share what I learn with you.