'Pumpkin fairy' shares her tips for fall decorating

REYNOLDS, N.D. -- In the dark of the night she comes, carrying pumpkins and gourds for her friends and family members. She arranges the festive fall gifts in a little display along their front steps and leaves without a word.

Stacy Schumacher has decorated a back patio on her prairie farm home with pumpkins and gourds in Reynolds, N.D. Schumacher is known among her friends as the "pumpkin fairy" because she arranges festive fall displays along their front steps and leaves without a word. Photo by John Stennes / Grand Forks Herald

REYNOLDS, N.D. -- In the dark of the night she comes, carrying pumpkins and gourds for her friends and family members. She arranges the festive fall gifts in a little display along their front steps and leaves without a word.

Stacy Schumacher of Reynolds is known as the pumpkin fairy.

"It kind of just started by accident," Schumacher said of her now yearly tradition. She started growing pumpkins and using them to decorate for the autumn season about 15 years ago when her children were young.

"We had the garden space, so I just threw in pumpkins because they're easy to grow," she said. "You just plant them and pick them."

When Schumacher wanted more variety, she started planting more gourds and specialty pumpkins. This year, she grew more than 100 of both. But she doesn't keep all the pumpkins for herself. Schumacher said she shares the pumpkins with about 30 other families. About 10 of them pick out their own and the other 20 she delivers to, creating small front-step displays.


The first time Schumacher delivered the pumpkins, she said, she just set them out on the steps, but her friends said they liked what she had done, so she continued creating simple little displays for her friends and family.

"I usually do it when people aren't home, so that's why my relatives call me the pumpkin fairy," she said. "And, a lot of times it's dark because that's when I get home from work."

Simple, effective

Schumacher's fall decorations are simple, inexpensive and effective. Around the outside of her house, she places white, yellow, orange and green produce in little clusters with a variety of colors, shapes and sizes.

"I like the varied sizes and colors, personally, because I think it makes it a little more fun," she said. "You can just go get a couple pumpkins and a handful of gourds, and you could have a display."

Schumacher pairs these with potted plants, decorative chairs and other fall ornaments that she's collected throughout the years, like metal letters and decorative glass balls.

She said she likes to have a lot of layering with pots and plants of different heights.

"On my front step, I have the tall red pot that I just filled with sticks and twigs from our trees to give the height; and then, I have the taller pot that I put the mum plant in," she said. "These taller things are a great backdrop when I fill in with my pumpkins and gourds."


In her backyard, she artfully scatters pumpkins and gourds throughout the bushes that line the fence. She also angles a red wagon next to the fence and fills it with smaller produce.

"A lot of what I do is pretty simple," she said. "I don't like things too overwhelming ... just accents for the different seasons that compliment my everyday house style."

Chuck Flemmer, store manager at Michael's in Grand Forks, said Pinterest has a ton of fall decorating ideas. He suggested buying pieces of burlap and looking to Pinterest for ideas on how to incorporate it into a fall display.

Whether it's covering a pot in burlap, creating a burlap wreath for the front door or using burlap ribbons for little accents, there are countless projects.

Schumacher took a little inspiration from the social media site this year, as well. Putting her own twist on a Pinterest find, she used a paint maker to draw a decorative "S" for her family's last name on a couple of pumpkins, which were used as the focal point in the displays.


She said painting pumpkins is an easy, mess-free alternative to carving. But, she said she still plans to carve a pumpkin or two toward the end of the month to make the decoration more Halloween specific.

Flemmer said another option is craft pumpkins, which are carve-able foam pumpkins that can be used year after year.


"You can carve your family's last name in them," he said. "A lot of people will do their kids' names or grandkids' names."

Flemmer also suggested using items such as hay bales and scarecrows to create a fun Halloween backdrop.

For those looking to decorate for the first time, Schumacher recommends starting small.

"Just do your front door area if you're looking to start," she said. "A nice mum and a couple pumpkins are perfect."

Quick tips for fall displays

Start small: Start with a simple, concentrated display by the front door.

Create layers: Use pots and plants of different sizes and heights to create a layered backdrop for the pumpkins.

Variety is key: A variety of sizes and colors of pumpkins and gourds will easily create a more interesting display.

Keep it simple: Utilize items you already have to keep the display simple and inexpensive.

Utilize Pinterest: Draw inspiration from Pinterest and home magazines.

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