Our Jack Skellington Team-Building Pumpkin Showpiece

Sometimes team-building exercises can take you to the most unexpected places.

During our Customer Service Appreciation Week, our department and several others were challenged to a pumpkin-decorating contest. Each area received one (1) pumpkin, some bottles of paint, three paintbrushes in different sizes, a sheet or two of random Halloween stickers, probably some other art stuff I never even glanced at, and a few days’ advance notice in case we wanted time to formulate a strategy and bring our own art supplies and accessories. Once our allotted time began, we had ninety minutes to go from plain pumpkin to polished pièce de résistance, and with only one rule: no carving. Presumably the company has plans for all the pumpkin guts after the festivities end.

My team landed on the idea of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Pumpkin Skellington!

It wasn’t my idea, but I was perfectly fine paying respects to one of my son’s favorite holiday movies. My chief contribution was the recreation of Spiral Hill on the back. Our project leader penciled in the basic outlines for the front and back images, but I had the privilege of painting the Hill itself, even though I don’t think I’ve painted a picture since 1989.

Nightmare Pumpkin!

Between my atrophied art skills, the natural pumpkin bumps that complicate any linework attempts, and the wobbly TV dinner table we used as our sculpting stand, this was no simple matter of swirling a black paintbrush around like Bob Ross with a Spirograph and taking instant pride in our happy little hill. The ghost, pumpkin, and googly-eyes stickers aren’t covering up as many flaws as you’d think. They’re value-added ambiance, and we went to conscious lengths to let each sticker clique tell its own story in the context of Halloween Town, as opposed to the amateur decorator’s approach of covering the entire pumpkin with evenly spaced stickers like a tacky Halloween checkerboard.

We know the moon should be larger, bordering on all-consuming, but for some reason we had no yellow paint. We had no time to protest the omission in our supplies, and no hobby shops within a five-mile radius with early-morning hours. If anyone asks, our story is the lone moon sticker was an intentional nod to subtlety and refinement. Consider them a counterpoint to the four light-powered bobble-heads serving as Jack’s tableside attendants.

Contest voting by a select committee wasn’t scheduled to start until after I left work today. I have no idea if we won, and I’m fuzzy on whether or not grand prizes were at stake. As we engaged in the creative process, a few passersby recognized the large head of Jack Skellington and joyously approved. Several onlookers have never seen this 1993 stop-motion animated film and thought we were making up weird ghosty thingies. To improve our chances of connecting with the voters, after I took these photos our project leader penned a small, quasi-calligraphic “TIM BURTON’S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS” paper placard and placed it on the side. It’s my fervent hope that the sign encouraged any stumped voters to look it up on their phones and realize they’ve seen these images before, possibly the last time they went Christmas shopping for their grandkids at Hot Topic.

If all else fails, I’m hoping they award us bonus points for that painted hill. Curlicues may look easy to paint, but at that delicate size I assure you they’re not. If we come in last place, I’m filing a complaint and demanding my fair share of the pumpkin guts.

5 responses

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    • Thanks! Sadly, we lost the contest to other competitors who went with more familiar motifs. The fanciest I saw was a Cinderella pumpkin carriage, complete with the princess herself, a fancy horsie to pull it, and they even brought in a castle from home. That seems like overkill, but there was no rule against it.


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