Planner Smarts: Pumpkin Decor from Coach to First Class

If you've been enjoying fall in NYC this year, you may have noticed that Halloween seems to have turned intoCarved Pumpkin virtually a month-long event, spilling over into November as well. With the season expanding rapidly and pumpkins for sale on every corner, there's only one thing to do: carve them! Or better yet, think like a planner and hire a professional to turn out a few inspired designs for your next October/November event. A group of professionally carved pumpkins - featuring the image of your client's new product or logo - glowing on tabletops will make for a show-stopping decor element that's sure to give even the most jaded event guest a bit of a seasonal thrill.

So, where to get a show-stopper gourd? Call in the pumpkin-carving cavalry. In NYC, the team of sculptors at Maniac Pumpkin Carvers have become the go-to guys for over-the-top pumpkins, hand-carved just 24-hours before delivery to insure freshness. To the west, there's the "Picasso of Pumpkins," Arizona-based Ray Villifane, who carves up exceptional works of temporary pumpkin art that's been featured at the White House, on Martha Stewart and CBS News. If a portrait-in-pumpkin of the CEO is on your agenda, then take a look at the amazing work of the "Pumpkin Geek" Alex Wer, the California artist whose recent pumpkin tribute to Steve Jobs made headlines.

Consider yourself more the DYI type? Then take a tip from the pros and skip the flimsy, party store-bought pumpkin carving kits. Instead, pick up some actual wood-carving tools at the local hardware store, so you can carve the gourds without needing to bust out a chainsaw. In addition to the usual large, sharp, knives and wood-working tools, consider adding apple corers, potato peelers, paring knives and grapefruit spoons to help even the beginner to sculpt and carve pumpkins as precisely as a pro. Need some artistic inspiration? Take a look at the Huffington Post's Art-Inspired Pumpkin Carving Ideas, From Munch To Warhol slide show.

No time to carve? Then you can still add a seasonal touch and dress up table settings inexpensively with jack-be-little pumpkins. In less than a minute, you can carve a small barrel shape through the center of the mini-pumpkin, drop in a candle or battery-operated tea light and voila! You've got instant table decor.

Need to contain your costs when budgets are tight? Read Event Smarts: 5 Painless Ways to Trim F & B Costs.

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