80 Creative Pumpkin Carving Ideas for Halloween
From spooky to sweet, these pumpkin carving ideas are sure to turn heads this Halloween!
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Halloween pumpkin carving ideas that are a scream
Nothing says Halloween like a jack-o’-lantern lighting up the night from your porch with some great pumpkin carving ideas. Whether you prefer the characteristic toothy grin, spooky Halloween monsters or a totally different picture, you’ll love the endless possibilities in these easy pumpkin carving ideas. And while some of them require a little extra skill, others are surprisingly simple but absolutely showstopping.
Gather your supplies
Some people use pumpkin carving templates to design their pumpkins, while others decide to free-hand it and draw their own designs. You can even use your pumpkins as building blocks to create elaborate works of art. Whatever your style, start by gathering your pumpkin-carving supplies:
- Pencil and paper to sketch out a design
- Pumpkin stencil kit with the design you want
- Permanent markers to draw the design on the pumpkin
- Carving tools or knives
- Pumpkin gutter (optional)
- Large spoon for scooping out the insides
- Baking sheet or bowl to put the scraps in
- Paint and paintbrushes (if you’re going the painting route)
- Any other tools, like a drill, corer or scraper
- LED candle
- And the pumpkin, of course, from your favorite local pumpkin patch
Pro tip: Don’t throw out the “guts” of the pumpkin! You can cook the seeds to snack on, or bake with the pulp if you don’t want to buy canned pumpkin for those delicious seasonal recipes. Want to skip the carving this year? We also have loads of fun and easy no-carve pumpkin decorating ideas you’ll love. But first, take a look at these unique pumpkin carving ideas that will totally level up your Halloween.
Grim reaper pumpkin
Not sure what to do with a slightly misshapen pumpkin? Use it for this grim reaper design for an unsettling, extra spooky feel. It can also provide some inspiration if you’re looking for a scary Halloween costume.
This Frankenstein pumpkin (yes, yes, Frankenstein was the scientist, not the monster—we know) uses a combination of painting and carving techniques to bring out the beast. If you already knew that monster fact, see if you can answer these Halloween trivia questions next.
Sugar skull pumpkin
Patient carvers will love this Day of the Dead design. The gorgeous pumpkin is an homage to the sugar skull, but it’s one of those pumpkin carving ideas that’s a work of art in its own right.
Mommy, daddy and baby pumpkin
For your little one’s first Halloween, you’ll want to pick up an adorable baby costume, of course. You can also celebrate the milestone with this cute jack-o’-lantern carved with a loving ghost family.
Fright night pumpkin
People who enjoy the spookiness of the holiday will love this scary-fun reminder of the dark side of Halloween. Passersby might speed up when they see those hands reaching out for them! Here are more outdoor Halloween decorations that will terrify the neighbors.
Dead rising pumpkin
Pumpkins aren’t just for porches! Use three pumpkins (one for the head and each hand) to decorate your lawn with a bit of flair—er, scare. Add some assorted graveyard decor to take the spookiness up another notch. These creepy photos will also give you the chills.
Haunted house pumpkin
Here’s a boo-tiful and creative pumpkin carving idea that will make an excellent impression on the neighbors. Bonus points if you incorporate the haunted house theme into your other Halloween decorations.
Art deco pumpkin
Pumpkin carving is a seriously underestimated art form. This jack-o’-lantern would look gorgeous any time of year, but it’s especially festive in the fall. It would also make a great centerpiece at an upscale Halloween party.
Bats and witches pumpkin
Can’t decide whether to carve bats or witches? Do both! This cute Halloween scene tells a whole story with just a few simple figures.
Cat in the fishbowl pumpkin
Why shouldn’t kitties have a little fun on Halloween too? This clever pumpkin shows a grinning cat getting ready to play a fishy trick … or, rather, get a fishy treat. If you’re a pet owner, you won’t want to miss these cat Halloween costumes (even if your cat wishes you did).
Folksy painted pumpkin
Arts-and-crafts lovers will get a kick out of this combination pumpkin. It’s carved with a fun design and then tole-painted in a folksy style for a whimsical Halloween look.
We don’t know what you did, but this cleverly carved pumpkin is totally judging you.
Celtic knot pumpkin
Early pagan people, including the Celts, played a big part in the origin of Halloween and many of our favorite traditions. Honor that heritage with this beautiful, artistic pumpkin carving design. By the way, here’s how Halloween is celebrated around the world.
Mouse house pumpkin
Carve a pumpkin into a tiny cottage home perfect for pint-size woodland creatures. Add a door, windows and some flowers on top for an adorable abode.
The Wizard of Oz pumpkin
If you’re a pumpkin carving all-star, this will be your magnum opus. Pay tribute to the classic film with Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and more, and impress those trick-or-treaters (and their parents!). While The Wizard of Oz isn’t a Halloween movie per se, we’re always up for a viewing.
Be kind pumpkin
Use your jack-o’-lantern to spread kindness instead of chaos this year with this sweet reminder for more treats than tricks. Letter stencils make this pumpkin carving idea easy.
Honestly, what’s scarier than your internet being slow or your Wi-Fi going down altogether? Ahhh! Show your sense of humor with this hilariously terrifying pumpkin.
Howling wolf pumpkin
This ferocious pumpkin will inspire trick-or-treaters to do some howling of their own on Halloween night. Top your creation with a witch’s hat and stretch some fake cobwebs over it to add an extra spooky flair.
Stargazing cat pumpkin
This is a purr-fect pumpkin carving idea for cat lovers. If you’re really a cat person and you’re looking for a simple costume, draw some whiskers and a black nose on yourself for a super easy Halloween makeup idea. And don’t forget the ears, of course!
This creative design will make the neighbors do a double take when walking past your yard. Hidden wooden dowels will hold all your pumpkins together to create this spooky skeleton.
“Happy Halloween” pumpkins
This easy jack-o’-lantern idea offers an elevated look, especially when you place some of the pumpkins on bales of hay. Use stencils or free-hand your letters—just make sure you get enough pumpkins to spell out the whole message! These Halloween quotes will also put you in the spooky spirit.
A floating mummy head in a box? Super creepy!
Honor your fur baby with this paws-itively adorable stencil design. You can also customize your pumpkin to match your pooch or other pet. And don’t forget to get your pup a Halloween dog costume!
Pumpkin cannibals? Why not! Take a walk on the scary side with this toothy design. All you need is a normal-size pumpkin, a small pumpkin (carve your own or use a premade tiny gourd), some toothpicks and a little creativity.
Harry Potter fans, this one’s for you! Pay tribute to everyone’s favorite house elf with this pumpkin.
Baby Yoda pumpkin
Looking for a pumpkin that’s out of this world? This is the way. Everyone will say “awww” when they see the standout star of The Mandalorian on your pumpkin.
Spotted and painted pumpkin
Want to try something different? This stunning pumpkin carving idea is pretty simple but super effective. Simply paint your pumpkin with white or black acrylic paint, drill or carve some holes in a cool pattern, and add candles. Voila! You have a centerpiece that looks like it came from a pricey store.
We love decor that multitasks! That hollowed-out pumpkin makes an excellent vase for seasonal flowers like mums. Put it on your porch, your mantel or your table for the perfect autumnal accent.
This adorable pumpkin works for both Halloween and Thanksgiving decor. Carve it into a wee pilgrim house or church, and decorate with figurines and fall foliage. (Pro tip: Spray your jack-o’-lantern with bleach and keep it in cool temps to make it last longer. Here’s how long carved pumpkins typically last.)
A naked sun? A magic ball? This skinned jack-o’-lantern is a creative and easy way to carve a pumpkin everyone will be enchanted by. The key is to light it brightly from within.
Creeping witch pumpkin
Tiny witches will love seeing this pumpkin when they come to the door to trick-or-treat! Wondering what time trick-or-treating starts? We have the answer.
Prettily patterned pumpkin
Some of us only want to decorate once per season, and this beautifully crafted pumpkin is another one that works for both Halloween and Thanksgiving. Carve a simple leaf design all over your pumpkin, then paint it a rustic white.
Ruth Bader Gourdsberg pumpkin
This Ruth Bader Ginsberg gourd is an homage to the woman herself but also a way to make a somewhat subtle political statement. Her black robe, lace collar and bun also make an easily recognizable Halloween costume for women.
This pumpkin combines a traditional jack-o’-lantern face with cat ears and whiskers for a spooky combo. Place it on top of a stone statue for a full-body effect.
Where the Wild Things Are pumpkin
Let the wild rumpus start! This fun pumpkin carving idea based on everyone’s favorite children’s book is sure to get some smiles from kids and nostalgic adults alike.
Moon and stars pumpkin
There’s something magical about a fall evening, with a big harvest moon and stars filling the sky. Bring that magic to your porch with this celestial pumpkin carving idea.
This pumpkin looks good enough to eat … and it is, because it’s not actually a pumpkin! For this design, you’ll be carving up a hamburger bun to make jack-o’-lantern eyes, adding a stem, and then cleverly layering cheese on the burger to look like teeth. Add all the fixings, and you have the perfect Halloween meal!
Simple and ghastly? Check and check. Bonus: It’s one of the simpler designs to carve, making it perfect for kids. Sing these Halloween songs while you work together for a memorable family moment.
The Shining pumpkin
Inspired by one of our favorite Stephen King horror movies, this pumpkin will have the adults in the neighborhood saying “Heeeere’s Johnny!” in their best Jack Nicholson impression every time they pass by.
Fall leaves pumpkin
This stunning pumpkin carving idea requires a little extra work, but it’s so worth it. In the end, you’ll have a lovely jack-o’-lantern that depicts beautiful fall foliage.
Halloween doesn’t have to be scary and serious. Get a little goofy with this silly pumpkin design, and challenge kids to a funny-face contest. These Halloween party games will set the perfect mood too.
Say cheese! This is one of those pumpkin carving designs that’s sure to make trick-or-treaters grin from ear to ear—and make them want to snap a selfie with this guy. For your own social media posts, try these clever Halloween captions.
Witch’s brew pumpkin
Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble. How’s that for a perfect Halloween quote to go with a perfect pumpkin? We don’t know what this witch is whipping up in her cauldron, but it gives us ideas for some scary-good Halloween drinks.
If you’re looking for unique and ultra-creepy pumpkin carving ideas, try these impaled shrunken pumpkin heads. Don’t have a fence? Stick them on an inexpensive graveyard gate decoration.
Toothpick teeth pumpkin
This pumpkin is truly the stuff of nightmares. In addition to some spookily carved eyes and a menacing mouth, all you need is a bunch of toothpicks to pull this together. Add a leftover “snack” on one of the teeth, covered in fake blood. Bonus: Toothpicks in the eyes will help the pumpkin hold its shape longer.
Simple sugar skull pumpkin
Sugar skull designs can be incredibly elaborate—and may be easier to paint on your pumpkin. But if you want to try your hand at carving, this simple design gives you all the fun without the hand cramps.
Mask up pumpkin
What’s scarier than another year of COVID? Topical pumpkin carving ideas come together easily with a disposable mask and some surprised eyes.
Heads will roll pumpkin
An off-kilter pumpkin puts a fun spin on a traditionally carved pumpkin; as far as pumpkin carving ideas go, this one makes this skeleton jack-o’-lantern look even spookier. You’ll roll with laughter, on the other hand, after reading these skeleton puns.
Name that pumpkin
Using letter stencils, carve your names into a pumpkin so everyone knows whose pumpkin it is … or carve your honey’s name for a Valentine in October.
Colorfully lit pumpkins
This is one of the simplest pumpkin carving ideas. Do your regular thing with a few pumpkins, then add some extra pizazz by lighting them up with colorful tea lights that change color throughout the night!
Show off your love for Halloween or your significant other with this easy heart-shaped carving. And check out these couples Halloween costumes to coordinate with your boo on the big night.
Spooky cat pumpkin
Black cats are a fixture in scary Halloween stories, and this pumpkin carving idea offers just the right eerie vibe.
We love a good pun … and a good pumpkin pie. This pumpkin carving idea is for all you math wizards out there. Bonus points if you can actually solve the equation you carve!
We’ll be the first to say it: You’re a total star for attempting to get creative with your pumpkin carving!
Shadow puppet pumpkin
Have your child place their hands in front of a flashlight to make a shadow on a pumpkin. Trace the “shadow puppet,” then carve it into a design unique to your little one. It’s a fun, simple and affordable Halloween DIY decoration.
Has a vampire ever been this adorable? Peeling the pumpkin to show the fangs and eyes is an inspired pumpkin carving idea!
Sweet spider pumpkin
This cute lil’ spider wouldn’t scare a soul! But it definitely would hand out some yummy Halloween treats and might even inspire a fun costume to match.
Mad Catter pumpkin
The Cheshire Cat has nothing on this devilish feline that’s one of the best pumpkin carving ideas we’ve seen.
Nightmare Before Christmas pumpkin
Move over, Jack Skellington—there’s another creepy pumpkin in town! Even kids can create this easy jack-o’-lantern with its oversized round eyes and stitched-together mouth. And they can watch one of the best Disney Halloween movies after they do!
To make a dino-sized impact, carve a triceratops, T.rex or other favorite into the side of a pumpkin. Because why not? Anything goes on Halloween!
Reverse image cat pumpkin
Sometimes Halloween is more about what you don’t see than what you do. This is true for this clever pumpkin, where the design is created by the empty, carved-out spaces—making the cat and stars glow.
Hats off pumpkin
Truly, (witches’) hats off to you for finding this creative pumpkin carving idea! If you love women who put a spell on you, curl up on your couch and watch these witch movies.
Owl be the judge pumpkin
This wise owl will bring a bit of dignity to your Halloween decor. Also, he’s just really cute!
Pumpkin “nose” best
Talk about easy! All you have to do for this clever pumpkin carving idea is turn a pumpkin on its side and use its stem for a nose. Then you can go cute or demonic, depending on how you carve the eyes and mouth.
Oh, no! Is it Halloween already? If you’re still undecided about what to dress up as, check out our mega list of the best Halloween costumes that will be hard to top.
Additional reporting by Kelly Kuehn and Lucie Turkel.