Easy Pumpkin Carving Ideas

Halloween parties and trick-or-treating might be off the cards this year, but fortunately pumpkin carving isn’t. This autumn pumpkin-picking has emerged as a Covid-safe outdoor activity for families, with Britain’s pumpkin farmers reporting roaring sales as people fall in love with the versatile squash.

Nothing is more entertaining than carving your own pumpkin ahead of Halloween but it can be a messy business. Here’s what you need to know about pumpkin carving, inspiration for designs and where the tradition comes from.

I also have No-Carve (Painted) Pumpkin Collection Ideas, Click Here.

I use plastic stencils to create some of the pumpkin faces below, or mix and match them. Plastic stencils are a great choice if you want to make them last year after year, because they are reusable, they are also multifunctional and can be used to create wall decor, too.

Whaline 18 pack of plastic stencils
Whaline pack of plastic stencils

Punk’n

A pumpkin with electrical wire hair, a drawer pull nose, door hinge ears and a padlock earring.

This punk rocker is into heavy metal, with a drawer handle for a nose, door hinges for ears and a solitary lock for an earring. A flat-top hairdo of black electrical wire completes the effect.

Angry Eyes

A pumpkin carved with glaring eyes and a wide open, toothy mouth set on a turquoise chair.

This rather expressive pumpkin has a classic smile even a dentist would find endearing. But what’s behind those eyes?

Hair-Raising Experience

A pumpkin with a scared face and black wire hair looking at a toy spider.

Strands of black electrical wire emanate 180 degrees of emotion for a pumpkin scared out of its gourd. A rather large spider lurking nearby seems to be the cause of all the distress.

Chattering Coward

A pumpkin on the ground carved with a mouth full of rounded teeth and a frightened expression.

This pumpkin is so spooked its teeth are chattering. Fortunately, it’s probably much ado about nothing.

Curly Whirly

A pumpkin with curlicues of black wire for hair carved with a worried expression.

How can anyone resist curls, especially on a pumpkin? Use pumpkin face stencils to carve your jack-o’-lantern. To recreate this bad hair day, wrap black electrical wire around a dowel to form curls. Then insert the wires into holes poked in the top of the pumpkin.

Happy-Go-Lucky

A pumpkin carved with wide eyes and a large v-shaped smile resting on a wooden barrel.

This stitch-mouth pumpkin has the look of utter contentment. And no wonder: It’s waiting with giddy anticipation for Halloween to arrive.

Ginkgo Garland

A pumpkin etched with a garland of gingko leaves resting in a bird bath.

Entwine your pumpkin in carved leaves. Get the free stencil online, trace on the pattern and then cut away the outer skin using pumpkin carving tools.

Pumpkin Path Lights

Three black pumpkins acting as lanterns, with holes drilled to show the glow of L E D lights.

Light up an entry or walkway with these pumpkin lanterns. Use a drill to bore holes into painted pumpkins. Finials complete the lantern illusion. An access opening in back lets you load your lantern with LED tea lights. To hang, pass an eyebolt through the pumpkin and suspend from a shepherd’s hook.

Gourd Goblin

A grinning pumpkin with three round gourds painted as eyes, a gourd nose and gourd arms and hands.

To make this crazy goblin, drill out the sides to insert gourd arms. Add a green gourd nose held in place with dowels, and paint three small gourds to attach on top as eyeballs. Carve a goofy grin to complete the look.

Fall Leaf Pumpkin

A pumpkin etched with a leaf resting in the crook of a tree limb next to a smaller pumpkin.

Let nature inspire your pumpkin carving. This pumpkin’s leaf design mimics the fall leaves around it. Start by attaching the downloadable stencil to the pumpkin with pins or tape. Outline the pattern by poking holes about a quarter of an inch apart with a sharp object, such as a needle or straight pin. (The more complicated the design, the more time this will take.) Remove the paper stencil and scrape out the design. To speed up the process, use an oscillating tool to scrape just the top layer of skin.

Tips: The pumpkin’s glow depends on the thickness of the flesh. For less light, leave the skin thick. For lots of light, scrape until it’s thin.

A video showing how to use Dremel rotary tool and attachments to carve pumpkins.

Owl Pumpkin

A pumpkin etched with an owl head design resting on a white stool with autumn leaves.

Pumpkin carving can be a hoot, especially with this owl design. Download the pattern and attach it to the pumpkin. Outline the pattern by poking holes about a quarter of an inch apart with a pin or other sharp object. Rather than traditional carving, create grooves for the thin lines of the owl’s face. Hold the blade at an angle, and carve on both sides of the outline to create a v-shaped channel.

Batty Pumpkin

A pumpkin with etched eyes and a grinning mouth etched in the shape of a bat with raised wings.

Feeling a little batty? Try this spooktacular pumpkin design that uses a bat shape as the pumpkin’s nose and mouth. Attach the stencil to the pumpkin with a pin or tape. Outline the pattern by poking holes about a quarter of an inch apart with a pin or sharp object. Scrape off the pumpkin’s top layer of flesh. Leave a thin layer of flesh to achieve a two-toned look.

Star-Gazing Cat Pumpkin

A pumpkin etched with the silhouette of a cat looking at three stars.

Skip the traditional jack-o’-lanterns this year. Instead, light your doorway with a new scene. This cat watching the stars is perfect for the season. Use the pattern to trace the scene. Outline the pattern by poking holes about a quarter of an inch apart with a pin or sharp object. Scrape out the sky around the cat and stars.


Whatever design you choose, be sure to save the seeds for a delicious snack recipes. Happy carving!