20+ Pumpkin Decorating Ideas for Halloween

Disco Fever
Laura Moss
Whether you're looking for a bit of pumpkin carving inspiration or a few no-carve pumpkin ideas, these frightfully creative jack-o'-lanterns are so easy to make it's scary.
Photograph by Ronald Andren
Photograph by Ronald Andren

Lashes and 'Staches

Here's a simple way to give your pumpkins lots of personality without carving them: Use double-sided tape to attach cutout card stock eyelashes and a mustache (or try eyebrows, sideburns, or a goatee). If your couple will be spending time in an uncovered area outside, use craft foam instead of paper.

Jonny Valiant
Jonny Valiant

Well Spun

Push black brads into the side of a pumpkin and use yarn to spin a spidery spiral.

Photograph by Ronald Andren
Photograph by Ronald Andren

Veggie Heads

Create a colorful clan by securing surplus garden produce onto pumpkins with toothpicks. If the pumpkin's rind is too tough for toothpicks to pierce, drill holes for them with a metal skewer.

Photograph by Ronald Andren
Photograph by Ronald Andren

Stack-o'-Lantern

These jacks may look rather precarious, but they're actually held up by a fence post. First, pound a steel U-post firmly into the ground. Carve a 4- to 5-inch-wide hole in the top and bottom of several pumpkins (as many as it takes to cover the length of the post). Leave one with its top intact. Clean out the insides, then carve faces. Carefully thread them onto the post, ending with the pumpkin that has the intact top. To light your stack, place a glow stick or battery-operated candle inside each pumpkin.

Photograph by Laura Moss
Photograph by Laura Moss

Think Beyond Orange!

Add Dots: Cut a circle from a foam sponge and dab it in a shallow dish of paint. Press the dot directly onto your pumpkin, or onto a white stripe that you previously painted (and let dry).

Make 'Em White: Paint your pumpkins with a couple of coats of white craft paint and let them dry. Use markers and paint pens to add squiggles and squares or even to write a short Halloween story.

Make 'Em Black: Cover pumpkins with a couple of coats of black craft paint. Draw on the dry surface with chalk or a white paint marker.

Laura Moss
Laura Moss

Hop on Pop

With just a few props, turn a trio of squash into an adorably funny tableau.

For this project, choose three pumpkins that stack well and remove the stems. Place an infant's newsboy cap on the son (at the top of the stack). For the dad, cut craft fur into a shaggy toupee. The daughter gets a simple yarn wig, which you make by winding yarn around a large book to form a thick loop. Tie two pieces of yarn around the loop about 6 inches apart. Cut the loop at a point opposite the 6-inch tied section; the ties become the starting points for the braids. Braid the yarn, then secure the ends with ribbon.

Once the hair and hat are in place, use craft paint to add simple faces. Stack them up, using circles of nonslip shelf liner in between the pumpkin heads to help them stay put.

This craft transforms pumpkins into people. With just a few supplies and a little imagination, you can create some new friends for your front porch this Halloween.

Laura Moss
Laura Moss

Binky Babies

For these sweet, sleepy babes, start with small round pumpkins. For each, cut the nipple from a pacifier and attach the base to the pumpkin with pins, pressing them through any holes in the pacifier. Add eyes with black marker. Top with a baby's cap or, if there's a long curly stem, tie on a ribbon bow.

Made in minutes, these cutie-pie pumpkins add sweetness to your Halloween décor.

Laura Moss
Laura Moss

Brad New

This design couldn't be easier: just press a pattern of scrapbooking brads into your pumpkins.

Laura Moss
Laura Moss

Junk Foodies

Punk'in: Rock out with this character's cheese-puff mohawk and taffy tongue. Start with a traditionally carved jack-o'-lantern. With a rolling pin, flatten a piece of taffy (we used Laffy Taffy) into a tongue shape and place it inside the mouth. Use hot glue (an adult's job) to attach his cheese-puff hairdo.

Well-groomed: The dapper opposite of his punk'in brother, this fancy gent sports a huge black licorice mustache. Start by cutting a mustache shape from heavy cardboard. Use hot glue (an adult's job) to attach lengths of black licorice to the cardboard, bending them to follow the shape, as shown. Trim the candy pieces as you go. Edge the shape with the licorice as well. Carve eyes and a wide mouth into the pumpkin, then attach the mustache and two licorice eyebrows with pins.

Laura Moss
Laura Moss

Disco Fever

Get your Halloween party started with a mirror-ball pumpkin. Lay strips of metallic silver duct tape onto parchment paper, then cut the tape into squares. Peel off the backing and stick the squares in place. For greater realism, use smaller squares near the top and bottom of the pumpkin, as shown.

Did your children get a little eager at the pumpkin patch this year? Use those extras to create an adorable and kooky pumpkin caterpillar to greet your Halloween guests.

Laura Moss
Laura Moss

Knitty-Gritty

For this preppy argyle look, first tap several horizontal rows of nails into your pumpkin. Tie a length of yarn to one nail, then wind it around the nail heads to form a zigzag. Tie the end off at the starting nail. Repeat with various colors of yarn.

Give a pumpkin an argyle look with this simple, no-carve Halloween idea.

Laura Moss
Laura Moss

Light-Headed

Our pumpkin's spiky hairdo is truly electrifying, courtesy of a strand of white holiday lights. Start by carving a jack-o'-lantern design into your pumpkin and cut a hole in back for the plug. Then, using an electric drill with a bit slightly smaller in diameter than the light bulbs, make a dozen or so holes in the top. Insert the lights through the holes from the inside out and place the rest of the strand inside the pumpkin's body.

A string of electric lights makes this pumpkin a real show-stopper!

Laura Moss
Laura Moss

The Boo Zoo

Mouse: Choose a small pumpkin with a long stem for the tail. Cut facial features and ears from card stock. Attach the back of the ears to the pumpkin with small pieces of duct tape. Use tacky glue to secure the rest of the face.

Cat: Using the same method as for the mouse, make the face and ears. For the body, cover an oatmeal canister with black paper. With tacky glue, add paper legs and a tail. Rest the pumpkin head on top.

Elephant: Choose a round pumpkin with a long stem for the trunk. Use the methods given for the mouse and the cat to create the head and body.

Turn a small pumpkin into a cute black cat with no carving (and no mess!).

Alexandra Grablewski
Alexandra Grablewski

Masked Pumpkins

Adorn your tabletop with one of our pet projects: a pair of trick-or-treating pumpkins. The decoration is hauntingly simple to make using our online templates:

  • Trace a mask shape onto a sheet of stiff felt and trace the accompanying elements onto adhesive-backed felt.
  • Cut out and assemble the pieces.
  • To ensure the mask stays in place, adhere two adhesive-backed Velcro coins to the back of the mask, by the eyes. Place the corresponding coins on top and remove the backing. Press the mask onto the pumpkin.
  • Use glue dots to attach googly eyes. For the dog, add a pom-pom nose; for the cat, attach embroidery-thread whiskers.

 

Jonny Valiant
Jonny Valiant

Friendly Frankenstein

Why the sad face? This Frankenstein has real staples stuck in his forehead.

Jonny Valiant
Jonny Valiant

Tightly Wound

Turn pumpkins into mummies by wrapping them in white crepe-paper streamers and then gluing on pom-pom eyes.

Jonny Valiant
Jonny Valiant

Witch Pumpkin

A twisted pumpkin stem doubles as a crooked nose for this sparkly witch.

Watch this video to learn how to dress up your traditional pumpkin for Halloween! Turn a long-stemmed pumpkin on its side for the perfect witch nose!

Watch this video to learn how to dress up your traditional pumpkin for Halloween! Turn a long-stemmed pumpkin on its side for the perfect witch nose!

Jonny Valiant
Jonny Valiant

Freaky Streaks

Kids will adore dripping a few coats of brightly colored paint over round pumpkins.

Sparkly Squash

Use a paintbrush to spread lightly watered-down glue on your pumpkin and then shake fine glitter over it for a high-shine design.

Jonny Valiant
Jonny Valiant

Tricked Out

Treat a family of pumpkins to these seriously sweet faces. Use hot glue to attach classic candies, like licorice swirls, candy corn, and jelly beans.

Jonny Valiant
Jonny Valiant

Ghost Town

Build a multistory pumpkin village where ghosts and goblins can live happily together.

Jonny Valiant
Jonny Valiant

Etched Pumpkin

Use a linoleum cutter to etch a playful message for trick-or-treaters into the side of a pumpkin.

Learn how to make an etched pumpkin for Halloween.

Watch this video to learn how to etch letters or numbers into the surface of a pumpkin. It's so easy and there's no messy seeds and pulp to deal with.

Jonny Valiant
Jonny Valiant

Stained Glass Pumpkin

Let the kids help make the "stained glass windows" by adhering self-laminating sheets to construction paper.

Watch this video to learn how to carve a pumpkin to look like stained glass. This is one pumpkin project that you can involve the kids!

Watch this video to learn how to carve a pumpkin to look like stained glass. This is one pumpkin project that you can involve the kids!

Originally published in the October 2012 issue of Parents magazine.

Dane Tashima
Dane Tashima

More Inspiration: No-Carve Pumpkin Ideas

If you're not in the mood to get out the carving knife or deal with a whole mess of seeds and orange guts, look no further than our round up of easy no-carve pumpkin ideas. Not only are they less mess, they are so easy that kids can take the lead decorating this Halloween. 

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