You may have noticed a pumpkin or two around the neighborhood lately. Okay, maybe more than two. They're everywhere. This means you’ve probably fallen victim to at least a little bit of the hype and purchased some Halloween pumpkins. But what do you do with them in just a few days, when Halloween is in the rearview mirror?

Throwing them away seems like a waste, and it is. There are several other things you can do with your suddenly idle pumpkins:

Make a Hearty Soup Stock

Pumpkins can be used as food, of course. We all know about pumpkin pie, pumpkin bars and roasting pumpkin seeds, but when you’re scooping out the insides of your jack-o'-lantern, take a moment to set the goop aside so you can use it to make a tasty fall soup stock to use in recipes or one of those crisp, “only soup will do” nights.

Simply remove the seeds from the pumpkin “guts,” put the guts in a pot of water, and boil. Add other unwanted vegetable pieces and any desired spices, and boil the whole mess for about a half hour, or until the water changes color. Then all you have to do is strain out the guts and other stuff you added (which you can use in your compost), and boom—you have a tasty, fall-flavored soup stock. You can even freeze it to use later when the pumpkin craze has passed.

Make a Jack-o'-Planter

That jack-o'-lantern on your porch need not waste away, it can become a biodegradable jack-o'-planter so you can extend the Halloween look a little longer. Fill your pumpkin with potting soil (pack it in tight so it doesn’t fall out through the face holes), and get some colorful fall annuals to plant for added color. After a while, the pumpkin will begin to break down; at that point, plant the whole thing in the ground so you can continue to enjoy the flowers as the pumpkin is absorbed into the soil and enjoyed by your other garden plants. This is a great project to have the kids help with, too.

Give Yourself a Facial

Pumpkins aren’t just nutritious to eat, they're also packed with great nutrients for your skin. If you’ve got some pumpkins you didn’t carve (that have stayed fresh), you can make your own pumpkin exfoliating mask or pumpkin body butter. There are several ways to do this. Many of them require a pumpkin puree, so you’ll need to make that first. From there, the possibilities expand and the benefits to your skin are enormous. You get a spa experience and you don’t have to let those decorative pumpkins go to waste.

Build a Birdhouse

This project works better with gourds you may have purchased or kept from your garden, but it can also be done with pumpkins. Once again, you’ll need to use pumpkins you haven’t carved and left sitting outside, because you’ll want them to have a sturdy frame. If you’ve got spares, though, especially those little ones the kids like to pick out, or if you painted faces on your pumpkins instead of carving them up, you can make adorable birdhouses to help your resident tweeters stay warm all winter. There’s only a little carving involved, but you do need to do some prep work so the pumpkin or gourd will stay fresh. Beyond that, it’s up to your own creativity to make festive, happy homes for all your neighborhood birds.

Make Decorations With a Purpose

Don’t let all those little pumpkins just sit on your dining room table and rot. Stock up on those little cuties and make them into something useful like candles and air fresheners. You can make floating candles with mini pumpkins by simply cutting out holes in the tops of them just deep and wide enough for votive candles. You can also make a spicy fall air freshener by carving out a small pumpkin, using an apple corer to make random holes all around it and then coating the inside with your favorite autumn spices. Place a tea light candle on the inside (preferably a beeswax candle) and let the spicy pumpkin scent fill the room.

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