We know our readers have been busy collecting beautiful winter squash and gourds from the garden. These autumn harvests make tasty treats, but you can put them to great use outside thekitchen! Get creative. The unique shapeof these seasonal plants makes them perfect for DIY projects. Looking for inspiration? We’ve got a few fun ideas below. Whether you grew a bountiful crop in your own garden this year, or you picked up a few at the local farmer’s  market, we encourage you to make the most of winter squash and gourds! These projects are super simple and show off the beauty of these unique plants.

1. Gourd garlandTools:Miniature gourds, a drill with a fine bit, twine

Directions:Use a drill to make a hole in the center of each gourd. After threading twine through a needle, run it through each hole and knot it on both sides of each gourd. Leave about six inches between gourds. If desired, paint gourds to suit your style. Spruce up your home by hanging the garland from nails or tacks, indoors or outdoors.

2. Bird feederJust as gourds start sprouting in the garden, our feathered friends start to lose their natural food supply. Once reliable nutrient sources are no longer available as the weather turns crisp, and birds are forced to search elsewhere at meal time. This is where you and your gourds come in.

Get friendly with the birds in your garden by building a bird feeder from gourds. This project is relatively simple and produces a lovely bird feeder that’s perfect for small birds like finches and pine siskins. Fill the feeder with cracked corn, peanut butter, shelled sunflower seeds and/or fruit, and you’ll have one happy bird family. Directions for this DIY are here.

3. Winter Squash CandlesSmall winter squashes are perfect for candles.This project is actually simpleóno drills required! Just get yourself a squash(or several) and some beeswax or paraffin candle wax. Acorn and hubbard squashwork best. Youíll also need some wax color tablets: we suggest using somepretty fall hues like purple, orange and yellow! Complete instructions formaking gourd candles are here.

4. Gourd BowlHere’s a novel idea: make a bowl out of a gourd! These shapely fruits (yes, technically gourds are in the fruit family!) make for excellent decorative pieces in the living room or kitchen. They’re also functional! Use your gourd bowl to store items in your office or as a serving dish. The options are endless!

For tips on picking out the right kind of gourd for a bowl, check out this video. For step-by-step instructions on making a bowl, visit this site.