23 Creative No-Carve Pumpkin Ideas That Are as Good as Any Jack-O'-Lantern

Put aside your carving knife and get out your craft supplies instead.

No carve pumpkin ideas - three decorated painted pumpkins
Photo: Getty Images

The traditional Halloween decoration may be a carved pumpkin, but we have news for you: No-carve pumpkins can look just as good as—if not better than—the carved pumpkin of your dreams. If you already have your pumpkin-carving stencils picked out for the year, get carving, but if you want to avoid the pumpkin guts, sharp knives, and almost inevitable disappointment of a cut gone wrong, no-carve pumpkin ideas may be the best choice for you this October.

The beauty of no-carve pumpkin designs is that they can be painted, engraved, embedded, pasted-on, and more. So, if your crafting skills lie in more traditional forms of decoration, no-carve pumpkins are definitely the way to go. No-carve options are also the safer alternative when decorating pumpkins with kids, keeping little fingers far from the sharp knives and poke tools. Another perk of no-carve pumpkins? Your pumpkins might last longer. Any pumpkin carver has experienced the saggy, mushy, bug-infested consequences of carving a pumpkin too early, but with no-carve pumpkins, that's much less likely to happen—and when it happens, it'll happen much later. You can even put these no-carve decorations into practice with fake or craft pumpkins, which won't rot and can be used year after year.

Below, find 23 no-carve pumpkin ideas that will give you all the inspiration you need to create beautiful, impressive pumpkins this Halloween and fall, whether you want to go all-in on the crafting supplies or would prefer something easy.

Pumpkin Painting Ideas

01 of 23

Drip Pumpkins

No carve pumpkin ideas - Drip Pumpkins
Emily Kinni

This no-carve pumpkin idea has endless room for interpretation. Pick your favorite color scheme—spooky, metallic, rainbow, whatever!—and get to work.

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Acrylic paint
  • Pliers
  • Long-reach lighter
  • Box of crayons (You can stay within the Halloween color scheme, or use a rainbow of shades that will look festive all season long.)

How-to:

  1. Paint your pumpkin, and let it dry. While waiting, remove the wrappers of each crayon.
  2. Use the pliers to hold the crayon above the pumpkin. Then, use the lighter to melt the crayon down the side.
  3. Don't worry if it's not perfect—the "splatter" effect is all about getting a little messy.

Developed by Morgan Levine.

02 of 23

Spider Web Pumpkins

No-carve pumpkin ideas - Spiderweb Pumpkins
Jessica Gregg

Nothing beats the awesomeness of a hot glue gun when it comes to crafting (it's easy to use, too!). You won't care about any of those excess glue strings with this no-carve pumpkin idea because the more melted glue and glue strings, the better. The hot glue gun is like a stencil you don't have to pre-cut or stick on—just let your hands squeeze the trigger, and start designing—the hot glue gun will do the rest!

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkins
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue sticks
  • Spray paint in dark blue, teal, and aqua

How-to:

  1. Using a hot glue gun, create spider web designs on the pumpkin. You can create large, medium, and small webs, and even a spider hanging from a web. You will find the hot glue ooze is really fun to make webs with.
  2. The glue will quickly dry, so once the design is set, spray the spray paint in a well-ventilated area over the webs. You can make each web a different color, or create an ombré effect over one large web.
  3. Wait about 20 minutes for the paint to dry, and then carefully remove the hot glue gun webs. It will easily peel off the pumpkin to reveal your cool web design.

Developed by Jessica Gregg.

03 of 23

Pun-kins

No carve pumpkin ideas - Paint-­Pen Pun Pumpkins
Philip Friedman; Styling: Blake Ramsey

If your wit relies on wordplay, have a little fun with these written pumpkin decorations.

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Highlighter
  • Paper towels
  • Paint pens in at least two colors

How-to:

  1. Sketch a punny phrase (we recommend a Halloween pun) onto the surface of the pumpkin using a highlighter. Use a damp paper towel to erase any mistakes.
  2. Using a paint pen, trace over the guidelines and fill in the letters. Outline each letter with a paint pen in a contrasting color.
04 of 23

Chalkboard Pumpkins

No carve pumpkin ideas - Chalkboard pumpkins
Don Penny; Styling by Vanessa Boer

Can't commit to one look for the season? Thanks to chalkboard paint, nothing needs to be permanent.

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Newspaper
  • Damp rag
  • Chalkboard spray paint
  • Chalk
  • Pencil (for Cat)
  • Scissors (for Cat)
  • Black construction paper (for Cat)
  • Glue gun (for Cat)

Ghost how-to:

  1. Take supplies to a well-ventilated area and place newspapers on a flat surface. Before beginning, wipe pumpkin with a damp rag to remove any dirt.
  2. Hold pumpkin by the stem and spray the entire surface area. Allow pumpkin to dry, and then apply a second coat. Stand and let dry for at least 24 hours. Once dry, take your chalk and start drawing.

Cat how-to:

  1. Take supplies to a well-ventilated area and place newspapers on a flat surface. Before beginning, wipe pumpkin with a damp rag to remove any dirt.
  2. Hold pumpkin by the stem and spray the entire surface area. Allow pumpkin to dry, and then apply a second coat. Stand and let dry for at least 24 hours. Once dry, take your chalk and start drawing.
  3. Create Cat's ears by tracing two triangles on a piece of black construction paper. Cut out.
  4. Make a flap on each triangle by making a ¼-inch fold on the longest side of the triangle. Cut a slit in the middle of each flap so the ears will sit on the rounded pumpkin.
  5. Glue ear flaps on either side of the stem. Break out the chalk and draw Cat's face.
05 of 23

Metallic Pumpkins

No carve pumpkin ideas - Metallic Pumpkins
Emily Kinni

Gold, silver, or bronze and sophisticated enough to sit on the mantel or step in as a table arrangement: This year's harvest gets the Midas touch.

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Damp rag
  • Newspaper
  • Metallic spray paint

How-to:

  1. Find a well-ventilated area and cover your workspace with newspaper first. You'll want a smooth surface to spray, so remove any dirt with a damp rag.
  2. Holding the pumpkin by the stem, spray the entire surface area until every inch is covered. Allow the pumpkin to dry, and then apply a second coat. Let dry for at least 24 hours. Note: The more coats you apply, the darker the color will appear.
  3. The metallic look is special enough on its own, but if you want to draw over it, use paint pens to create your own design.

Developed by Morgan Levine.

06 of 23

Thumbprint Pumpkin

No carve pumpkin ideas - Thumbprint Monsters
Jessica Gregg

Grab the entire family for this pumpkin decorating activity. It's time to let the kids get messy and leave their fingerprints all over the pumpkin. There are no fingerprints too small large, small, round, or thin for this project—every fingerprint makes the cutest, more colorful monsters ever!

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Acrylic paint in pink, yellow, green, blue, purple, and red
  • Paintbrush
  • Sharpie in black

How-to:

  1. Paint a thin to medium layer of paint on your thumb, or any fingertips, with the colors of your choice and press it on to the pumpkin.
  2. Continue until the pumpkin is covered in polka dots of fingerprints.
  3. Once the paint is dry, begin to make silly faces, eyeballs, feet, and wobbly hands with a Sharpie marker on the fingerprints to make mini monsters.

Developed by Jessica Gregg.

07 of 23

Stamped Pumpkins

No carve pumpkin ideas - Geometric Makeup-­Sponge Pumpkins
Philip Friedman; Styling: Blake Ramsey

As easy as stamping, this no-carve pumpkin idea is a great activity for the whole family. Give each kid a pumpkin, distribute paint, and let the creative juices flow.

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Makeup sponges in a variety of shapes
  • Scissors
  • Acrylic paint in a range of colors
  • Scrap paper

How-To:

  1. Choose a variety of makeup sponges in geometric shapes, or use a pair of scissors to trim sponges into different shapes.
  2. Dip the sponge into a shallow dish of acrylic paint, then blot on a scrap piece of paper until the sponge is evenly coated with a thin layer of paint. For a bolder look, paint the pumpkin first, let it dry, and then stamp on contrasting colors.
  3. Stamp the sponge onto the pumpkin surface, starting near the stem and working down to the bottom of the pumpkin. Reapply paint to the sponge as needed, and wash the sponge thoroughly or switch to a fresh sponge when changing colors.
08 of 23

Dotted Pumpkins

No carve pumpkin ideas - Dotted Pumpkins
Emily Kinni

For a zany look that works any time of year, try decorating your pumpkin with a colorful assortment of polka-dots.

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint pens
  • Paint brush
  • Circle template

How-to:

  1. Paint your pumpkin one solid color (we chose white so that all colors showed up easily!)
  2. Choose a color scheme, and use the circle template to trace dots on the pumpkins. They can be different sizes for a more whimsical pattern, or the same size in a neat and organized pattern. You can even trace circles within bigger circles for a creative spin.
  3. Fill in the circles with your paint pen.

Developed by Morgan Levine.

09 of 23

Pumpkin Turned Vase

No carve pumpkin ideas - Flower Centerpiece Pumpkin
Jessica Gregg

Trendy foliage inspired by a non-traditional fall color palette makes this no-carve pumpkin centerpiece swoon-worthy. There is no watering necessary with this arrangement. The cotton stem is a nod to the farmhouse chic designer Joanna Gaines—we all want to have a little Gaines in us when it comes to our home decor, right? An added bonus is that this pumpkin can be made prior to company arriving, and the flowers will last forever.

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Faux floral stems, such as eucalyptus, cotton, peony, mum, rabbit's ear, and maroon tree leaves from a craft store
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue
  • Chalk paint
  • Acrylic paint
  • Foam paintbrush
  • Bristle brush

How-to:

  1. With the foam paintbrush, paint the pumpkin with chalk paint. Let dry and paint one more layer.
  2. Once the chalk paint is dry, use the bristle brush and paint the pumpkin with the Cactus color. Be sure to wipe the excess paint on a paper towel before painting—this will create a texture all over the pumpkin.
  3. Begin to hot glue the flowers on top of the pumpkin. Start with the leaves, and when the base is full, glue the cotton stem, and finally top it off with the flowers. This arrangement can be made however you like, so play around with it until you like what you see, and begin to glue in layers.

Developed by Jessica Gregg.

10 of 23

Splatter Paint Pumpkins

No carve pumpkin ideas - Splatter Paint Pumpkins
Philip Friedman; Styling: Blake Ramsey

Splatter paint may be the most fun option for decorating your pumpkins. Go wild, and be prepared to love the results.

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Acrylic paint in at least two colors
  • Paint brush
  • Natural sea sponge
  • Scrap paper

How-to:

  1. Paint the pumpkin a solid color and let dry completely.
  2. Choose paint in a contrasting color, and slowly mix in a small amount of water. Using a flicking motion, splatter the pumpkin with paint using a paintbrush. If the paint isn't thin enough to splatter, slowly stir in more water.
  3. To add sponge prints to the pumpkin, dab a natural sea sponge (found at crafts supply stores) into the paint. Blot the sponge on a scrap piece of paper before pressing it onto the pumpkin.
11 of 23

Pushpin Pumpkin

No carve pumpkin ideas - Push Pin Pumpkin
Emily Kinni

Give a favorite home office supply new turf to play on while personalizing pumpkins with your monogram, house number, or an original pattern.

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Colorful or patterned pushpins
  • Acrylic paint or spray paint
  • Dry erase marker

How-to:

  1. Paint your pumpkin with acrylic or spray paint, and let it dry.
  2. Decide what pattern you want to follow—you can outline it lightly with the dry erase marker if you want the lines to be perfectly even or you want to do a letter or number.
  3. Push the pins into the surface of the pumpkin. It's a tedious task, but the outcome is incredibly cute.

Developed by Morgan Levine.

12 of 23

Black and White Pumpkins

No carve pumpkin ideas - Black and White Pumpkins
Jessica Gregg

Just because you're decorating pumpkins in the fall, it doesn't mean you have to keep the pumpkins orange. You can have a chic, modern pumpkin by swapping the carving tool for a paintbrush. Create a woodland scene like this one, or add your favorite quote, pattern, or a monogram. (Halloween quotes are a great option.) The classic black and white colors will catch everyone's eye.

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkins
  • White spray paint
  • Black acrylic paint
  • Sharpie oil-based paint marker
  • Paintbrush

How-to:

  1. Spray paint the pumpkin white.
  2. With a fine-tipped paintbrush in hand, paint a woodland scene on the pumpkin with black paint. The pumpkin is your canvas to make a beautiful piece of art! The white Sharpie paint marker is a great tool if you need to paint white on top of the black, like we did for the fur and eyelashes on the mama bear.

Developed by Jessica Gregg.

13 of 23

Floral Stenciled Pumpkin

No carve pumpkin ideas - Floral Stencil Pumpkins
Philip Friedman; Styling: Blake Ramsey

For the steady-handed, a pumpkin with a pretty print is a great craft with beautiful results.

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Floral stencil
  • Acrylic paint
  • Foam dabber or small sponge

How-to:

  1. Hold a floral stencil securely against the pumpkin surface, then dab on a thin layer of acrylic paint using a foam dabber or small sponge. Work on one small section at a time, while holding the stencil securely in each area. To avoid smudging, let each section of the design dry for a few minutes before moving on to the next one.
14 of 23

Geometric Pumpkins

geometric pumpkin
Emily Kinni

Geometric patterns and metallics make these no-carve pumpkins feel ultra modern, but you can also go spookier with a different palette.

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Acrylic paint
  • Spray paint
  • Paint pens (We like the look of metallic pens on white paint, but if you'd like something a little spookier, feel free to use black paint and orange or gold pens.)

How-to:

  1. Paint or spray paint your pumpkin, and let it dry.
  2. Because the pumpkin is round, it's easiest to draw stripes or triangles free hand with paint pens.
  3. After the paint pens dry, you can embellish corners or edges with thumbtacks or any other crafts you have lying around.

Developed by Morgan Levine.

15 of 23

Mini Pumpkin Cactus Garden

No carve pumpkin ideas - Mini Cactus Garden Pumpkins
Jessica Gregg

Planting cacti is a fantastic low-maintenance plant option for those who lack a green thumb. Well, just like a garden, this DIY mini pumpkin cacti garden is a great option for those who lack artistic skill. This simple no-carve pumpkin is made with cacti-patterned napkins, and the end result is a lovely cacti garden that won't poke anyone!

What you'll need:

  • Mini pumpkins
  • White acrylic paint
  • Foam paintbrush
  • Cactus napkins
  • Mod Podge
  • Scissors

How-to:

  1. Paint the pumpkins with two coats of white acrylic paint.
  2. Separate the thin, top layer of the napkin from the other layers. It's likely a 2 to 3 ply napkin, and each layer can be easily separated.
  3. Cut out the mini cactus. The cut does not need to be perfect. You can cut around the cactus, leaving some of the excess napkin.
  4. Once the paint on the pumpkin is completely dry, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge (the size of the cactus) and gently press the cactus on to the pumpkin. Smooth out all edges and bubbles with your finger without tearing the napkin.
  5. Paint a moderate layer of Mod Podge over the entire cactus. Initially it will appear milky white, but don't worry, it dries clear.

Developed by Jessica Gregg.

16 of 23

Falling Leaves Pumpkins

No carve pumpkin ideas - Leaf Pumpkins
Philip Friedman; Styling: Blake Ramsey

Go full-fall with this no-carve pumpkin idea, which celebrates fallen leaves and can be as autumnal or as spooky as you wish.

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Acrylic paint and paint brush
  • Collected leaves (or a leaf stencil)
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Paint pen

How-to:

  1. Paint the pumpkin a solid color and allow it to dry completely, or about one hour.
  2. Collect fallen leaves from the backyard and trace the outline of the leaves onto the pumpkin surface using a ballpoint pen.
  3. Fill in the outlines with acrylic paint and let dry. If desired, outline the leaves with a paint pen and draw on veins.
17 of 23

Boo-tiful Pumpkin

No carve pumpkin ideas - Neon No Carve Pumpkin
Jessica Gregg

Your no-carve pumpkin will be glowing in no time with this DIY neon sign. You don't have to be an electrician to make this. If you can curve wire, use a hot glue gun, and load batteries in a small battery pack, you can make this DIY neon sign in no time. Light up the night (and your pumpkin) this fall.

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Black acrylic paint
  • Wire, pliable with hands
  • Neon el wire, 9 feet
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue

How-to:

  1. Design the word Boo on Microsoft Word in a script font, and then print.
  2. With the wire in hand, follow the lines of the word Boo. In other words, you're tracing each letter of the word Boo with the wire, so the wire will look just like the printed word.
  3. Hot glue the el wire to the boo script wire. You will have excess el wire. You can cut it (not at the battery pack end), or wrap the wire to the back of the pumpkin. To keep the wire sign in place on the pumpkin, make small hoops with the end of the wire on each side of the word, and use a tack to hold it in place.
  4. Velcro the battery pack to the back of the pumpkin, or set the battery pack behind the pumpkin on the table.
  5. Turn it on, and watch it glow.

Developed by Jessica Gregg.

Pumpkin Decorating Ideas

18 of 23

Sweet Pumpkin

No carve pumpkin ideas - candy pumpkin
Don Penny; Styling by Vanessa Boer

A perfect example of what to do with that extra stash of Halloween sweets. Just one thing: Don't eat the props.

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Dry erase marker in a light color
  • Candy: black and white licorice pinwheels; coconut jelly beans; black licorice jelly beans
  • Hot glue gun

How-to:

  1. Using your marker, first create a design. This marker allows you to draw, rinse, and repeat as many times as you'd like. We picked one floral pattern to repeat across the pumpkin.
  2. Once you're happy with your pattern, use your glue gun and adhere the candy to the pumpkin's surface. Set aside to dry for at least 24 hours so that the candy can set in place.
19 of 23

Plaid Pumpkins

No carve pumpkin ideas - Plaid pumpkins
Don Penny; Styling by Vanessa Boer

Move over, Scotch, there's a new tape in town. Washi is similar to masking tape but available in tons of patterns and colors. Ready, set, stick!

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Dry erase marker in a light color (avoid black)
  • Scissors
  • Washi tape

How-to:

  1. Using the dry erase marker, create your design, which will guide you when placing the tape. (The marker is great for this project because it lets you draw, rinse, and repeat!)
  2. Once you're set with your design, begin applying tape to the pumpkin's surface. Try using longer strips when possible, because piecing together too many short strips will look sloppy. For this design, begin at the stem and run your tape down the side of the pumpkin, erasing the markings as you adhere the strips to the surface. Finish at the bottom of the pumpkin. After all of the vertical stripes have been made, apply tape around the circumference of the pumpkin to complete your pattern. (If you'd rather stick with stripes, skip the final crisscross step.)
20 of 23

Paint-Free Pumpkin

No carve pumpkin ideas - sharpie bat pumpkin
Don Penny; Styling by Vanessa Boer

Look what just landed on your pumpkin. No paintbrush (or paint!) required.

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Paper and pencil
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape
  • Permanent Chisel Tip Sharpie in black

How-to:

  1. Draw a bat design on any scrap of paper; cut it out. For this project, stick to classic icons that are easier to recognize and draw. (We also like ghosts, cats, and spiders!)
  2. Tape the paper template to the pumpkin.
  3. Trace your "stencil" with the marker. Then remove the paper and color within the lines using that same permanent marker.
21 of 23

An Easier Jack-O'-Lantern

No carve pumpkin ideas - easy jack-o-lantern smile pumpkin
Don Penny; Styling by Vanessa Boer

Come on, we couldn't go a whole season without seeing this smile. Just like Jack—but a much easier toothless grin to create.

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Black tissue paper
  • Scissors
  • Dry erase marker in a light color
  • Mod Podge
  • Foam brush

How-to:

  1. First, think about the expression you'd like your pumpkin to wear. Start by cutting three triangles (two for the eyes and a smaller one for the nose) out of the tissue paper, and then make a paper half-moon shape for the mouth. Carefully cut out the spots for the missing teeth.
  2. Using the dry erase marker, draw the face as you'd like it to appear.
  3. Dip the brush into the Mod Podge and apply to one side of each piece of tissue paper. Adhere to the spots on the pumpkin where you've made your marks.
22 of 23

'80s Pumpkin

No carve pumpkin ideas - 80s Totally Rad Pumpkin
Jessica Gregg

The '80s are back. This totally rad pumpkin is made with bright vinyl cut into geometric shapes. Put on some good '80s tunes, such as Bon Jovi, Madonna, Michael Jackson, or Journey, and unleash the '80s in you to decorate this pumpkin with color, pattern and funk. It may or may not help to wear neon leg warmers or sweat bands while you design the pumpkin…just saying.

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Vinyl, bright multi color pack
  • Scissors

How-to:

  1. Cut the vinyl into geometric shapes such as triangles, rectangles, and circles. If you want to layer the shapes with black, cut the color vinyl and black at the same time so the shape is the same.
  2. Peel the backing off the vinyl, and begin to press onto the pumpkin. The more colors and shapes, the better!

Developed by Jessica Gregg.

23 of 23

Button Pumpkin

No carve pumpkin ideas - button pumpkin
Don Penny; Styling by Vanessa Boer

Who says pumpkins can't pull off polka dots? You probably have a bunch of buttons that remain unclaimed­­—t­he more mismatched, the better!

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Buttons
  • Hot glue gun

How-to:

  1. Apply hot glue to the back of a button and adhere it to the pumpkin's surface. Hold in place for 5 to 10 seconds to secure. Playful polka dots don't need a specific order, so have fun sticking them wherever you please.
  2. Set aside to dry for at least 24 hours.
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