You know how to carve a classic jack-o'-lantern and now you're ready to try something a little different and special this Halloween. Enter: the pumpkin stencil, your ticket to something clever, Instagrammable, and original.
Here are 10 of our favorite free Halloween pumpkin stencils that are both impressive and often easy. Try carving your house numbers in a trio of pumpkins, or a snapshot of the constellations — then light it up for a spooky evening.
If you're trying to be on trend, this year seems to be all about fortune tellers, astrology, and the occult.
Just don't forget to take all the appropriate steps to preserve your pumpkin masterpiece and keep that carved gourd fresh!
See how to keep a pumpkin fresh: The Best Ways Make a Carved Halloween Pumpkin Last Longer
So why not riff on that with a galaxy pumpkin? You can trace and carve your zodiac sign or another favorite constellation using this printable map, which is easy to turn into a DIY stencil. It worked for Mary at 17 Apart. Oh, and Martha Stewart, the "Queen Of Halloween" herself.
This skull design is inspired by the marvelous folk art traditions of Mexico's Día de los Muertos. You can find the design at Pumpkin Stencils. Yes, sugar skulls are known for their bright, crazy colors, but I do think they translate to pumpkins as well.
Flames are super simple to carve, and you could probably freehand fire, but this stencil will make it easier to crank out a bunch of flames quickly. And then you can cluster them outside and "make" a bonfire as if you were the first one to think of it. I won't tell a soul.
I've seen painted emoji pumpkins, but you can absolutely carve them, too. BHG has a bunch of the most popular emoji stencils (kissy face, thumbs up, pizza), but the ghost is definitely the most appropriate for Halloween. Paint your pumpkin black for extra contrast. You could also carve up a few extra pumpkins to make an emoji message for trick-or-treaters to decode.
Speaking of messages, I do love a good festive phrase pumpkin. The Pumpkin Lady has a whole "Hallowords" category with the usual suspects — "Boo," "Eek," etc. — plus some punny stuff like "Fa Boolous" and "It's Wonderfall."
Animals are always a safe bet. This year, classic Halloween silhouettes and motifs are back in style, so you could try a retro black cat or owl. Vintage-look designs are much simpler than some of the intricate patterns out there today, so these are good projects for beginners.
Another fairly simple but fun idea is carving your house numbers into a couple of pumpkins. You could fit them all onto one pumpkin, or enlarge your digits so they're big enough to put one on each pumpkin and then stack 'em up.
Of course, there's more of your typical Halloween fare, ranging from witches and mummies to vampires and spider webs. I like a spider web because it's super graphic and a quick read. Yes, the lines can be a little close together, but even if you mess up the design a little bit, everyone will still know what it is.
Finally, leave it to ThinkGeek to get all meta with their pumpkins on pumpkins on pumpkins stencil. They've compiled 44 other tech-meets-geek templates available, if you're into that sort of thing.
So go pick your pattern and get carving!