Best Pumpkin Carving and Decorating Ideas

Whether you are throwing a pumpkin carving and decorating party or just doing a few pumpkins with the kids, you might be tired of the same grinning jack-o-lanterns. Instead of sticking with classic designs, it’s time to spice up your pumpkin decorating and use your creativity to come up with something truly unique. Creatively carved or decorated pumpkins can be the perfect addition to your Halloween or Thanksgiving decorations. You can find carving tools in your store, so use these ideas to get your creative juices flowing and make the most unique jack-o-lanterns on the block.

1. Etch the pumpkin.

In traditional pumpkin carving, after cleaning out the inside of the pumpkin, you cut all the way through the thick skin, to create a face or design. Instead of making clean cuts all the way through the skin, why not just peel off the outer layer of the pumpkin rind, creating an etched design. Not only does this allow you to create a much more intricate design, the candle shining through the etching is a great effect. Just make sure to leave the top off of your pumpkin, or the candle won’t have enough air to stay lit.

2. Make vampire pumpkins.

If you don’t have a lot of time (or carving skill), you can use this easy idea to create charmingly frightening vampire pumpkins. All you have to do is get a set of fake, plastic vampire teeth and cute out an appropriately sized hole on your pumpkin. Then, slide the teeth into place. You can give them a little extra room on the top and bottom, so that it looks like your pumpkin is getting ready to take a bite out of unsuspecting trick-or-treaters.

3. Turn your pumpkins into tombstones.

If you want to fill your yard with glowing pumpkins, use the etching technique above to create tombstones on the face of your pumpkins. Tall pumpkins work best for this project. Pick some fun names and use pictures of real tombstones as guides to turn your pumpkins into authentic-looking grave markers. Once you’ve finished all of your stones, arranged them in your yard.

4. Lace them up!

Want a classy, but still gothic addition to your Halloween party? Find some lace fabric at your local craft store and wrap your pumpkin in it. If you can find spider web lace, your pumpkin will be both spooky and elegant. The best fabric will have a dark, opaque pattern with a fairly transparent background—you want to be able to see the pumpkin through the fabric. Simply wrap the fabric around the pumpkin and secure it at the top with a ribbon, or to leave the stem showing, cut a piece that is as tall as your pumpkin and fits all the way around, and secure it with hot glue around the back and stem.

5. Make zombie pumpkins.

Vampires are great—but what about some zombie pumpkins? Grab some plastic eyeballs from our store and some sickly-looking pumpkins. Classic orange will work, but if you can find cream pumpkins—even better. You can even use acrylic paint to turn your pumpkin green, if you are feeling industrious. Then, carve out eye sockets to accommodate the eyeballs—these look best if the eyeballs are popping out from the pumpkin a little, with the sockets in a funnel shape (larger on the surface, and dwindling the deeper you carve into the pumpkin), so that the eyes look hollow and tired. Add a squiggly mouth to top off the design.

6. Make witchy pumpkins.

This project is especially great if your pumpkins have warts or other malformations. Carefully remove the stem from the cap of your pumpkin—you’re going to want to use this as your witch’s nose. Then, after cleaning out the seeds and strings inside, carve a ghoulish grinning face with sharp teeth and piercing eyes. Again, you can use a layer of paint to take your with pumpkin to the next level, before hot-gluing the step onto the pumpkin as the witch’s nose.

7. Go mini.

If you want to try many different designs, but don’t want to pay major bucks for an army of large pumpkins, try picking small, cute little pumpkins. These lend themselves to a myriad of decorating options, and they cost far less than giant pumpkins. You can etch some, carve some, paint some, etc.

8. Bejewel it!

Instead of taking the knife to your cleaned out pumpkin, why not try the drill? From your local craft store, get a bag of glass gems, and then find a bit on your drill that roughly matches the size of those gems, or that, with a couple of drills in the same area, can create a channel the right size. Then, start drilling! You don’t want the gems to fall into the pumpkin, but you do want them to sit securely. Use a little bit of glue to hold them in place. With a candle inside, your pumpkin will glitter and glow and definitely be the most unique pumpkin on the block.

9. A house for a mouse.

This idea combines two Halloween classics—mice and pumpkins. Get a family of plastic mice or rats and carve holes in your pumpkin large enough for the critters. Have them peeking out from inside the pumpkin and scattered around the sides and top.

10. All that glitters is pumpkin.

For a distinctly fabulous twist on the classic pumpkin, why not try glittering your pumpkins? It’s as easy as using a paintbrush to cover your pumpkin is white glue, and then sprinkling them with whatever color of glitter your prefer. Choose fall colors for a pumpkin that will transfer nicely from Halloween to Thanksgiving. As long as you don’t cut the pumpkins, they will last that long!