The 9 Easiest, Cleverest Pumpkin Carving Ideas

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Meghan Splawn)

The idea of carving pumpkins for Halloween can be downright scary. Not only is it messy (all those guts and seeds!) but thanks to Pinterest, designs are also becoming more and more complicated. Gone are the days of the simple goofy-looking jack-o’-lantern, Now everyone’s all about gruesome faces, intricate designs, and even carved quotations.

While we love a good masterpiece as much as the next person, there’s something to be said for a design that can be done quickly — and easily. In that spirit, we’ve rounded up 9 carving ideas that won’t take you a (witching) hour to complete. Here’s what you should do.

1. Turn it into an ice bucket.

If you can draw a circle, you can turn a pumpkin into an ice bucket. You just have to cut the top off and line it with a bowl. It’s totally carved (you took a knife to it!) and you turned it into something practical, too.

(Image credit: Heartwood Tribe)

2. Make it a terrarium.

Carve a big circle on the side of your pumpkin, then core out the guts and you have an instant terrarium, like this one from Heartwood Tribe. If only caring for succulents were just as easy.

See more: DIY Pumpkin Terrarium at Heartwood Tribe

(Image credit: Kara’s Party Ideas)

3. Use marquee lights.

Terrible at drawing bubble letters? Just use marquee lights instead. Kara, from Kara’s Party Ideas, suggests tracing the letter onto your pumpkin first. Carefully cut it out out and then push the light into the opening. The shorter the word, the less time it will take you, obviously. We vote for boo.

Get the steps: DIY Marquee Light Letter Pumpkins at Kara’s Party Ideas

(Image credit: Women’s Day)

4. Turn pumpkins into candle holders.

This eerie display from Women’sDay is basically the world’s easiest jack-o’-lantern. What? It’s a pumpkin and it has a candle! At the top of the pumpkin, carve a circle wide enough to fit your chosen pillar candle. As the candle wax melts down, the spooky scene will only get creepier — even more so if you choose black candles!

Read more: Halloween Craft How-to: Candle Pumpkins at Women’sDay

5. Drill a few holes.

Another idea from Martha Stewart, this mouse motel calls for just a few holes. Core out the inside and add a few (plastic!) pet rodents.

6. Carve a constellation.

These celestial designs from Design*Sponge were created using a small drill bit (for the “stars”) and a v-chisel (you could use a paring knife) to connect the constellation. You’ll want to empty out the interior of the pumpkin so you can light it from within. Add a coat of black paint to help your glow-y creation really stand out.

7. Add fangs.

These cheeky fanged guys from Martha Stewart make us LOL. For a playful take on a spooky vampires, carve a rectangle into mini pumpkins to form a “mouth.” Then, fill it with plastic fangs (found at any dollar or costume store) and add thumbtack “eyes.”

8. Use cookie cutters as stencils.

Instead of stressing out over a free-handed design or keeping a stencil in place, just use a cookie cutter. The folks over at Refinery29 prove it couldn’t be easier: Simply select your shape, then hammer it into your pumpkin until it cuts all the way through.

9. Add lots of candy.

Carve out any shape mouth you want and then use toothpicks to attach candy, which will be come the “teeth” and “eyes.” Food Network Magazine nailed it with these silly expressions.

How are you planning to carve your pumpkins this year?