17 September 2021 (updated)

Creepy, Crazy, and Creative Pumpkin Carving Ideas

It's spooky season! And you know what that means...it's almost time to turn that decorative front-porch pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern masterpiece! Read on to find some of our ideas for pumpkin carving and decorating!

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Looking for Pumpkin Carving Ideas?

Are you in need of some inspiration? There's so much untapped potential in the un-carved gourds that adorn our front door stoop or haunted houses. Whether you plan to carve a traditional jack-o-lantern or venture into new creative territory with your Halloween decorations, here are some Halloween pumpkin ideas that may inspire you this Halloween!

Six Tips for Your Halloween Pumpkin Carving

  • The key to getting your pumpkin just right is using the right craft knife (and making sure it's sharp). Don't feel like you need to buy something super expensive. The classic $7 pumpkin carving kit you can buy from the store should work fine. My family would also use a fresh box-cutter if we were in a pinch.
  • This year, I've discovered another piece of information that may just be a game-changer: Carving a small hole from the BOTTOM instead of the top of the pumpkin to make it a candleholder or lantern. This way, you can cut out a lot of work trying to put tea light inside by dropping it in.
  • Plan your design on scratch paper before committing, then create a stencil pattern for it (or just freehand it if you're brave). Whether you're using a medium size pumpkin, mini pumpkins, or an extra-large pumpkin, it always helps to have a road map of how you want your pumpkin decorations to look.
  • If you really want to challenge yourself as a carver and go for a more intricate jack-o-lantern, you may want to consider using afoam faux pumpkin (you can find these at craft stores or on Amazon). The foam is easy-to-carve and won't rot like fresh pumpkin.
  • Wait to carve your pumpkin until 3-5 days before Halloween, because they won't last much longer after that. Once you carve them, they begin to decay. If you have to hit pause on carving, tightly wrap the pumpkin in tin foil and store it in the fridge. Don't forget to save the pumpkin seeds for a tasty snack! Or, buy an extra pumpkin that you can use to make a fresh pumpkin pie!
  • Use sewing tracing paper for your own custom design, or a free pattern you find online. You can find sewing tracing paper at most arts and crafts stores. Put the paper between your design and the pumpkin, making sure the paper is facing down onto the pumpkin's surface. Tape down the corners and sides, then trace with a pen.
  • This Halloween season, turn your pumpkin-carving into a festivity with food and drink, spooky music, and fun for the whole family. Invite your friends and turn it into a pumpkin-carving competition! Display your carved pumpkins on a table and have everyone vote on the winner. You may be surprised by who is a master sculptor, but mostly you'll probably just have lots of fun looking at Uncle Tim's attempt at carving the Hulk.

Classic Pumpkin Carving Ideas

You can never go wrong with easy pumpkin carving ideas. It saves a lot of work in the brainpower. A cat pumpkin, a ghost pumpkin, Mickey Mouse, a bat shape, a dog, or even just the classic spooky grin can be enough to make a front porch festive. Toothpicks can make ghoulish teeth, too! Check out this pumpkin trio who can't hear, see, or speak "evil."

What Really Scares You?

Scary pumpkins don't just have to be creepy faces. Listen, it's not an easy world out there. Some of my favorite pumpkins I've seen are the ones that truly hit a nerve. They depict truly horrifying aspects of adulthood like student debt, Wi-Fi down, tax forms, jeans I wore before COVID, check engine lights. All things that make my heart start racing. Don't be afraid to tap into what truly scares you. While there are plenty of stencil templates online, make your own DIY pumpkin carving stencil with a printed picture and box cutter.

What Do You Love?

Do you have a TV show that you're currently obsessed with? A lot of people are into Schitt's Creek right now (we're feeling blessed that the last season dropped early on Netflix). That's why we love these 4 pumpkins portraying the iconic Rose family by @thesmallprint), and we love the added touch of each one lit with a different color. Whether it's a TV show, movie, or character, don't be afraid to put your carving skills to the test and make a pumpkin that showcases your favorite things!

Do the DIY Decoupage!

Have you ever seen a napkin that just felt too pretty to use for dinner? I know I have. That's where Mod Podge comes in handy! We really love this project by Kali (@kbdesign02025)-- pumpkins with a chinoiserie pattern. For this project, plastic pumpkins work too. Coat the pumpkins in Mod Podge, layer on the napkin, and add another coat of glue! Let it dry, and marvel at your masterpiece. You can even add other embellishments like ribbon or fabric. This can be a great idea if you have little ones because it doesn't involve using a knife. You may want to use white pumpkins instead of orange pumpkins for this project, as it provides a better canvas. 

Give the Pumpkin Some Spooky Personality!

One year, my brother had a large pumpkin as a "zombie" biting the head of a smaller pumpkin. Of course, in true teenage boy fashion, there was a bottle of fake blood involved. This larger pumpkin eating a smaller one is a great idea, especially if you give the larger pumpkin some scary teeth!

Pumpkin Carving for the Not-So-Spooky

Some of us are just into fall things, and not as into creepy crawlies or ghosties and ghoulies. And that's okay! For us, that's where these fun fall-themed decorated pumpkins come in! We love this idea by @girl_with_the_green_sofa. It's simple, elegant, and perfect for a rustic fall theme. We also love the idea (by @wovenchildhood) of creating a rustic house for tiny little woodland creatures with natural materials. Collect some sticks, leaves, pinecones, flowers, and hot glue, and create your very own!

We also love this little Pumpkin Fairy House by Ashley from the Woodlark Blog! A tiny bunny on a miniature swing? Could anything be cuter? Check out the tutorial!

Woodlark Blog / @woodlark

If you get really stressed in the fall and feel like you may need a spa day, so does this pumpkin (apparently). Use a marker pen to draw a serene face on your pumpkin, then paint around it with a "mask." Chalk paint gives a good "mask effect" but tempura or acrylic works just as well. Don't forget to add a hair wrap or towel!

Pick a Pattern

Sometimes, all you need is a cool pattern to take your pumpkin to the next level. We love this checkerboard idea, although it would take some pretty serious precision and skill!

Another not-so-scary option is to create a 3-D effect with paper or plastic. We love this idea to incorporate bats, paint, glitter, googly eyes, and a sharpie to create one-of-a-kind pumpkins. The pastel color pallette of these pumpkins, is so stylish, too!

Fun and Functional

You may never see guacamole the same way again if you try this idea! Incorporate your carved pumpkin to look like, he's, well...guacamole-ing into the nachos. Whether people laugh or are disgusted, you can't really go wrong.

For the Artsy Ones Out There

My parents have a ton of colored glass stones from when they went through their mosaic-making phase. The perfect use for them? All you have to do is grab a drill and drill some evenly-spaced holes, and pop the colored stones into the holes. When lit from the inside, the effect of the colored glass stones is simply dreamy!

Get Your Spooky On

What are you waiting for? Head to the pumpkin patch and grab the perfect gourd! Whether your decoration theme is more spooky or festive, there are plenty of DIY ideas to make your boo-tiful pumpkin unique. Be sure to share your favorite pumpkin carving creations, halloween celebrations, and decorations with the ones you love on FamilyApp.



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