Frightfully Easy Pumpkin Carving Ideas for Halloween

Make some DIY magic.

As All Hallow’s Eve draws near, it’s the time of year for a trip to the pumpkin patch and an afternoon spent carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns and magical creatures. If you’re stumped on how to turn an ordinary gourd into something spectacular (or, ahem, spook-tacular), let these easy carving ideas inspire you. A fairy house will look magical in the garden, while an elegant leaf design will invite visitors up to the front porch. By following bloggers’ tips and how-tos for creating each project, you’re sure to carve a pumpkin you’ll be proud to set out on Halloween night. For those with more pumpkin carving experience, allow these ideas to spark your creativity, then let your imagination run wild. Several of these projects call for tools outside the typical paring knife (think, power drills and craft knifes) and the designs go beyond the classic toothy jack-o’-lantern grin. Don’t be scared, these creative pumpkin carving ideas are easier than they look.


Pumpkin Family Planters

Photo by Cassidy Tuttle, The House that Lars Built

If you’ve ever helped children carve pumpkins, then you likely know that by the time they carve off the top and clean out the innards, they’re ready to move on to the next activity. Well, lucky for you, the work to create this adorable pumpkin family of succulent planters is nearly done by that point. Just let the printable templates serve as guides for the painted faces, then pot each pumpkin with a succulent plant, which also doubles as the creature’s hair. Have each member of your family make their own, then set the entire crew out on the front stoop to greet trick-or-treaters.

Photo and idea by The House that Lars Built. Find the full how-to here.


Leaf-Carved Everlasting Pumpkins

Photo by Our House Now a Home

If you dread the idea of dealing with gooey pumpkin guts, skip the mess by carving an artificial pumpkin instead. The thin walls and hollow inside of a faux pumpkin also make it easier to carve intricate designs, such as a detailed leaf. Using a printed template as your guide, run the edge of a knife along the leaf outline, working carefully. The finished project is an elegant alternative to a monster face, and it’s pretty enough to stand in for a centerpiece at a dinner party. If kept on a mantel or side table, this autumn accent can be left out until Thanksgiving.

Photo and idea from Our House Now a Home. Follow the full instructions here.


Drilled Pumpkin Lanterns

Photo by Crafty Nest

To create a one-of-a-kind design your neighbors aren’t likely to have, ditch the carving knife for a power drill and drill bits of assorted sizes. Whether you arrange the holes into stripes, flowers, or zig-zags around the surface of the pumpkin, the pattern will turn the pumpkin into a flickering lantern once it’s lit with a candle. For a more exact design, plot out your pattern with a dry erase marker or painter’s tape before you start drilling. To light your design, you can use a real candle (just remember to remove the pumpkin “lid” first), an artificial candle, or even a set of glow sticks.

Photo and idea from Crafty Nest. Find the how-to here.


House Number Pumpkin

Photo by In My Own Style.

For the ultimate front stoop accessory, carve a large pumpkin with your house number. The trick to creating a large display is to print out your house number in a font you like and use a needle or pin to plot the outline of the design on the pumpkin surface. Use the holes as your guide to carve the numbers using a sharp knife, or let a hot knife (available on Amazon for less than $15) do most of the work for you. When the masterpiece is complete, place it on your front porch or set it atop a pedestal in the front yard to guide the way for trick-or-treaters.

Photo and idea from In My Own Style. Find the complete tutorial here.


Illustrated Pumpkins

Photo by Crafty Nest

When it comes time to carve a pumpkin, brainstorming an original, doable design is more than half the challenge. Luckily, the Etsy Blog is making the process easier this year by providing downloadable templates of designs dreamt up by three talented illustrators. Pick the motif that matches your personality and lifestyle—a cute cat face for a pet owner, a playful “Boo” design for a kid’s room—and then hit “print.” To ensure a perfect fit, scale the image to fit the surface of the pumpkin you’re carving. As you cut out the detailed designs, don’t be afraid to take your time and enjoy the process.

Idea from Etsy Journal and photo by Marina Robel. Find the complete instructions and printable templates here.


Constellation Pumpkin

Photo by The Merrythought

Is there any better way to light up your home on one of the most magical nights of the year than with a scattering of stars? To create a constellation pattern across the surface of a pumpkin, use a drill to carve holes and a chisel (or a small, sharp knife) to connect the dots. Print out a constellation pattern online to make the pattern easy to follow, and brush the pumpkin with a couple coats of dark paint so the stars shine even brighter. Consider carving a pumpkin to match each family member’s star sign, then set these celestial beauties where they can be admired.

Idea and photo from The Merrythought, found on Design Sponge. Follow the full how-to here.


Chevron Carved Pumpkins

Photo by Tatertots and Jello

To create designs that can be left out all season and will look fresh long past Halloween, carve everlasting pumpkins (such as Funkins) with geometric patterns. The trick to an evenly spaced design is to use a stencil as a guide for each cut. The precise cuts above were made using a heat knife, but the same effect could be achieved with a sharp knife and a steady hand. To add some glitz to the carved pumpkin, spritz it with gold spray paint. The best part is that when displayed indoors, these carved artificial pumpkins will add some glam to your Halloween decor for years to come.

Photo and idea from Tatertots and Jello. Find the full tutorial here.