The 73 Best Pumpkin Carving Ideas We've Seen This Year

illuminated halloween at dusk
73 Creative Pumpkin Carving Ideas To Try This FallSean Duan - Getty Images

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There are many different things that can mark the beginning of fall: the first fallen leaf, your first pumpkin spice latte, and especially the first carved pumpkin. The unofficial mascot of Halloween, a carved pumpkin is a great activity that the whole family can enjoy. Plus, you're left with some pretty great decor pieces (and snack materials) when you're done. The journey from your local pumpkin patch to the display on your front porch may be a long one (especially for the pumpkin), but there's still one very important question: what will you carve onto the pumpkin's surface? Will you opt for scary sights like witches' cauldrons and black cats or a sweeter version with silly faces and fall foliage? Luckily, we have some creative pumpkin carving ideas to inspire your jack-o'-lantern this year.

First things first: To prevent a huge mess, we recommend lining your carving surface with old newspapers and leaving a bowl off to the side for those slimy pumpkin guts. Be sure to separate the seeds and save them for a delicious fall snack for your upcoming scary movie marathons.

Whether your pumpkin design is intricate or simple, it's best to use a craft knife or serrated knife meant for pumpkin carving to ensure the cleanest lines. Prior to carving, you can either choose to mark up your design with a permanent marker or pin a paper stencil to the pumpkin's surface.

Decision paralysis is real, and when you're carving a pumpkin there isn't much room for error, so we're here to help. Ahead, we're highlighting 73 of the best pumpkin carving ideas you'll love no matter how you like to celebrate Halloween.

Witch's Brew Pumpkin

Anyone who loves a detailed design will be up for tackling this pumpkin carving idea: a witch stirring the brew in her cauldron as smoke spews out.

illuminated halloween at dusk
Sean Duan - Getty Images

Toothy Grin Pumpkin

Give your pumpkin the biggest toothy grin this Halloween. Depending on what you do with the eyes, you can either make it look friendly or frightening.

Bo Zaunders - Getty Images

Modern Cat Pumpkin

If you want something on the subtle side, consider re-creating this pumpkin featuring a bunch of mini cats by using a power drill. Get the tutorial from Handmade Charlotte.

cat pumpkin
Handmade Charlotte

Skull Pumpkin

A skull face is sure to creep out anyone who glances at it. Use a skull stencil to guide your carving or print an illustration of a skull and use scissors to create your own.

skull of jack o lantern
Mary Smyth - Getty Images

Ceramic-Inspired Pumpkins

Take inspiration from these ceramic displays by carving small leaves and droplets into your pumpkins in an abstract botanical pattern that feels like it flows.

halloween decorations, hand crafted ceramic pumpkins
Natasha Breen - Getty Images

Pineapple Pumpkin

Transform a pumpkin into a creepy version of a realistic pineapple. Start by carving the eyes and the face (with or without making holes), and then tap into your painting skills. Use green felt to fashion the crown.

halloween's pineapple at garden
Isabel Pavia - Getty Images

RV Pumpkin

For a project that requires two pumpkins and squash detailing, look no further than this RV creation by Togo RV. It'll look especially cute sitting outside the front door of a trailer.

rv pumpkin
Togo RV

Black Spray-Painted Pumpkin

For a slight twist on the classic jack-o'-lantern carving, use black spray paint to cover the inside of your pumpkin. Let some of the paint seep outside the eyes for an extra-ominous look.

pumpkin with black spray paint
Ksenia Yakovleva via Unsplash

Cute Cat Pumpkin

If you're not into the whole scariness of Halloween and you consider yourself a cat lover, opt for carving a cute cat pumpkin. This one by Ladyface Blog even features little feet and ears.

cat pumpkin
Ladyface Blog

Impaled Fence Pumpkins

This row of fencing featuring carved pumpkins with impaled faces will surely scare off anyone who passes your home. Use a hammer to give overripe pumpkins a smushed look or toss them on the ground—but be careful not to completely crack them!

row of carved pumpkins impaled on fence
Bernie DeChant - Getty Images

Scared Pumpkin

Not all carved pumpkins have to be creepy or happy—they can be scared, too! This one looks like he's just seen a ghost.

scared pumpkin carving
Bianca Ackermann via Unsplash

Be Kind Pumpkin

Spread good vibes this season by carving sweet sayings into your pumpkin. Mention kindness, generosity, happiness, love, or well wishes to greet all trick-or-treaters with a pleasant surprise.

jack o lantern pumpkins illuminated outside a house at night, one with flower cutouts and the other with the words be kind
EyeWolf - Getty Images

Mickey Mouse Pumpkin

While Studio DIY crafted this Mickey Mouse decor out of faux pumpkins, why not use the concept on real ones? The tutorial includes printable stencils to make it easy.

mickey mouse pumpkin
Studio DIY

Thorny Pumpkin

When you have themed dishes to match, a spiky jack-o'-lantern can make a great centerpiece or party platter accent. A linoleum cutter etches the design into the pumpkin without cutting all the way through for a design that glows; hollow it out from the bottom to insert an LED tea light.

Get the tutorial at Country Living.

Thorn Pumpkin
Country Living

Baby Yoda Pumpkin

Baby Yoda has been an inspiration for everything from pet Halloween costumes to Amazon Echo Dot stands, so why not let the beloved character take the spotlight on your pumpkin?

baby yoda

Instagram Pumpkin

This pumpkin is definitely Instagram worthy. Carve bats around the social media app logo and stick an orange smoking canister inside for a spooky effect.

instagram pumpkin
Sam via Unsplash

Cottage Pumpkin

While this pumpkin carving is meant to be a haunted house, you can easily play down its spooky vibes by removing the bats and adding a few flowers around the home to set a lovely, magical cottage scene.

carved pumpkin with haunted house
Brandon Goldman - Getty Images

Eyeball Pumpkin

What's creepier than a single detailed eye? Make it feel like something's always watching your front yard with this eyeball pumpkin. Bonus: Add another pumpkin next to it with very sharp-looking teeth to enhance the spookiness.

two artistically carved jack o lantern pumpkins
Floriana - Getty Images

Puking Pumpkin

Make use of your pumpkin's guts this year by literally putting them on display to give off the impression your pumpkin is puking its guts out.

carved pumpkin
Navid Baraty / Getty Images - Getty Images

Zombie Pumpkin

Another creepy take: a pumpkin with an exposed brain made of a smaller, white pumpkin.

a halloween pumpkin with a brain
Photography by Keith Getter (all rights reserved) - Getty Images

Googly Eye Pumpkin

Carve googly eyes on your pumpkin, add a tongue, and you'll have a silly-looking display in no time. Kids are sure to love this fun one!

pumpkins decorated with faces with eyes and mouths
Photography by paulgmccabe - Getty Images

Mad Cat Pumpkin

Alice in Wonderland fans will appreciate this Cheshire cat–inspired pumpkin carving idea. That distinctive, mischievous grin never fails to spook.

mad cat and bat lanterns shine on halloween night
Csaba Tökölyi - Getty Images

Heart Eyes Pumpkin

A heart-shaped cookie cutter is all you need to make this adorable pumpkin—that is unless you'd prefer to freehand it! Add a soft side smile for extra cuteness.

carved pumpkins on table during halloween
Kathrin Raedel / EyeEm - Getty Images

Evil Tree Trunk Pumpkin

Instead of carving this intricate evil tree trunk design, all you have to do is place a printout of it over a giant oval carved into your pumpkin. Light it up with an LED candle, and you'll be set.

tree trunk pumpkin design

Tiny, Colorful Pumpkins

Give mini white pumpkins carved with classic jack-o'-lantern faces a vibrant twist by dying them with food coloring. Arrange them on a cake plate an instant centerpiece.

Get the tutorial at Family Chic.

Colored Mini Pumpkins
Family Chic

Tinker Bell Pumpkin

Add a bit of fairy magic to your Halloween celebration with a pumpkin carving that resembles Tinker Bell and her iconic pixie dust.

Get the tutorial at Instructables.

tinker bell pumpkin

Hungry Pumpkin

This two-in-one pumpkin is scary, creative, and funny all at once—the Halloween trifecta. The tricky part (you know, beyond having A-plus carving skills) is cutting the mouth just the right size to fit a smaller gourd. You can help hold it in place with toothpicks.

Close-Up Of Jack O Lantern On Window Sill During Halloween
T L / EyeEm - Getty Images

Witch Hat Pumpkin

Why not mash up two classic Halloween symbols—a pumpkin and a witch hat—with this fairly simple design? FYI, you can buy a printable PDF to help you out if you don't want to freehand it.

hat carved into pumpkin

Haunted House Pumpkin

Carve a spooky scene by making a topsy-turvy haunted house surrounded by an eerie tree, flying bats, and a mini graveyard.

pumpkin carving haunted house

Trick or Treat Pumpkin

This eerie design is much more intriguing to look at than a pumpkin that simply says trick or treat on it or only features one or two ghosts. Give this intricate carving a try…if you dare!

Trick or Treat
Pete Ark - Getty Images

The Death Star Pumpkin

That's no moon! In a galaxy far, far away, there are some seriously cool pumpkins—including this one, which is ideal for advanced pumpkin carvers and Star Wars fans alike.

Red, Orange, Amber, Colorfulness, Sphere, Carmine, World, Lighting accessory, Circle, Symmetry,
Flickr Creative Commons/F. Tronchin

Polka Dot Pumpkin

Channel Tim Burton while giving a pop-art edge to your typical orange gourd. You can also just paint on the polka dots if you don't want to get your hands too dirty.

Get the tutorial at WhipperBerry.

polka dotted carve

Hanging Bats Pumpkin

Instead of going for a basic bat design, carve out an unexpected hanging bat scene. Forgo a tealight in favor of a taller candle that drips or a faux one that looks like it's dripping for another surprising touch.

hanging bats design on pumpkin

Emoji Ghost Pumpkin

Go for a super basic ghost design inspired by the emoji. This easy idea is perfect for pumpkin carving novices and anyone who's in a rush to decorate.

Jack-o'-lantern, trick-or-treat, Orange, Calabaza, Carving, Pumpkin, Light, Lighting, Vegetable, Fruit,
Flickr Creative Commons/Antonio Roberts

Ice Bucket Pumpkin

Not into carving creatures or characters? Simply slice off a side and use your pumpkin to chill wine instead.

Get the tutorial at Everyday Dishes & DIY.

Pumpkin Ice Bucket
Cheryl Style

Tiered Pumpkin

The secret to creating this triple-decker gourd involves toothpicks and colored beads. It'll surely make anyone who passes it stop and wonder what magic was done to it!

Tiered Pumpkin

Multiple Pumpkins

Instead of one large jack-o'-lantern, craft a giant skull from a bunch of mini ones. It's a tedious task but worth the time and effort!

Light, Lighting, Skull, Nightlight, Darkness, Night, Bone, Lighting accessory, Art,
Flickr Creative Commons/Tim Jones

'Game of Thrones' Pumpkin

Artists will take a liking to this Game of Thrones pumpkin carving design featuring Tyrion Lannister and one of his famous quotes.

Facial hair, Amber, Orange, Art, Beard, Moustache, Self-portrait, Handwriting, History, Illustration,
Flickr Creative Commons/Richie S

Racoon Pumpkin

When it comes to creatures of the night, cats and bats tend to dominate the conversation. Why not go the unexpected route with a Halloween pumpkin carving dedicated to raccoons? This one puts on a mean face that'll spook any passerby.

racoon pumpkin

Flickering Fireplace Pumpkins

Sure, you can pile plain pumpkins in the hearth, but candlelit "flames" look so much nicer.

Get the tutorial at Country Living.

Pumpkin Carving Ideas
Country Living

Swirling Vines Pumpkin

To re-create this soft glow, use a lemon zester, clay loop, or linoleum cutter to peel away the top layer of your pumpkin without puncturing the rind.

Get the tutorial at Good Housekeeping.

Pumpkin Carving Ideas
John Kernick

Winding Vines Pumpkin

These carved-out designs can work on your porch well before and after October 31. The autumn leaves will instantly add a seasonal touch to your decor.

Wraparound Leaves
My Home Ideas

Gobbled Up Pumpkin

Place a scared little pumpkin inside your jack-o'-lantern to set a spooky scene fast.

Get the tutorial at Woman's Day.

Pumpkin Carving Ideas
Antonis Achilleos

Pumpkin Lantern

Suspend a hollowed-out pumpkin stuffed with straw and candles from a sturdy rope for a lantern effect.

Get the tutorial at The Poolhouse.

Orange, Amber, Circle, Symmetry, Pumpkin, Creative arts, Still life photography, Gourd, Sphere, Ornament,
The Polohouse

Skeleton Jail Pumpkin

Carve out your pumpkin and stick mini skeletons in it. Add some "jail bars" for a creative (and totally cute) Halloween display.

pumpkin jail
@eve_gesualdo via Instagram

Lit Pumpkin Lanterns

Decorate your jack-o'-lantern with an old-school lamp. Your pumpkins will be both pretty and practical when it comes to lighting up the front porch.

Get the tutorial at Country Living.

outdoor halloween decorations
Dana Gallagher

Jar of Fireflies Pumpkin

Summer may be over, but you can still catch lightning bugs. Etch a Mason jar into your pumpkin and attach LED lights inside and out. Use the blinking variety, and they'll look like the real thing.

Get the tutorial at Country Living.

Pumpkin Carving Ideas
Jennifer Causey

Chevron-Style Pumpkin

Take a cue from this pumpkin by Wit & Whistle, which features a classic chevron pattern. The best part about this carving? You don't have to deal with scraping out any pumpkin guts.

Chevron Carved Pumpkin
Wit & Whistle

Squigglies Pumpkin

You can never go wrong with a squiggly pattern. There's no strict way you need to draw the lines, so get creative with it.

Get the tutorial at Country Living.

Swirly Pumpkin on Platter
Country Living

Glowing Alarm Clock Pumpkin

Just don't trust this to actually wake you up in the morning and you'll be good.

Get the tutorial at Built by Kids.

Alarm Clock Pumpkin
Built by Kids

Skeleton Hands Pumpkins

Trim the stem on an oblong-shaped pumpkin after carving out a vertical arm, then place a smaller one on top to complete the skeleton's spooky arm.

Get the tutorial at Country Living.

Skeleton Hands
John Kernick

Abstract Leaves Pumpkin

You can never go wrong with a leaf and pumpkin combo for Halloween or fall.

Get the tutorial at Country Living.

Leaf Pumpkin
Country Living

Wood Grain Pumpkin

Scraping off just the surface saves a ton of time when carving a pumpkin. It also allows you to get more creative with your designs without risking ruining the whole thing. Cut off the bottom to hollow it out if you want to put an LED candle inside.

Get the tutorial at Country Living.

Carved Swirls
Steven Randazzo

Crescent Moon Pumpkin

With a Lite-Brite (remember those?) as his inspiration, designer Paul Lowe punched holes in his pumpkin to create a crescent shape. A power drill makes this quick and easy.

Get the tutorial at Country Living.

Crescent Moon pumpkin
Dana Gallager

Melon Monsters Pumpkins

These are hands down the cutest monsters we've ever seen.

Get the tutorial at Woman's Day.

melon monster pumpkins
Antonis Achilleos

A Spider and Its Web Pumpkin

We know that arachnid is fake, but we're still spooked by this pumpkin design.

See more at Good Housekeeping.

Spider Web Pumpkin
Kimberly Werner

Ghoul Pumpkin

Using white pumpkins is the super-easy way to up your jack-o'-lantern game.

Get the tutorial at Woman's Day.

Scary Face
Antonis Achilleos

Veggie Accents Pumpkin

Gourd-and-berry window boxes are the perfect finishing touches for this charming pumpkin abode.

See more at Good Housekeeping.

Veggie Pumpkin Home
Kim Ludwiczak and Renee Wisniewski

Apple Core Pumpkin

Give your pumpkin an eaten apple makeover for an unexpected look.

See more at Good Housekeeping.

Apple Pumpkin

Elephant Pumpkin

With four minis for feet and a stem for a trunk, this friendly porch elephant is a breeze to craft thanks to skewers and toothpicks.

See more at Woman's Day.

Pumpkin, Calabaza, Vegetable, Still life photography, Still life, Carving, Gourd, Plant, Winter squash, Cucurbita,
Antonis Achilleos

Coyote Scene Pumpkin

Try out this much more sophisticated (and seasonal) take on the traditional elementary school diorama project.

Get the tutorial at Country Living.

Coyote Pumpkin Candles
Trevor Dixon

Evil Witch Pumpkin

A gourd's twisted stem works perfectly as a crooked nose. Plus, this project lets you opt to skip the messy step of scooping out the guts.

Get the tutorial at Woman's Day.

Pumpkin Carving Ideas
Antonis Achilleos

Hen and Chicks Pumpkin

A little bit of chicken wire turns a pumpkin into a mama hen—a baby pumpkin works perfectly for your "mama" pumpkin's chick.

Get the tutorial at Country Living.

Calabaza, Squash, Produce, Orange, Vegetable, Natural foods, Local food, Pumpkin, Winter squash, Whole food,
Brian Woodcock

Wigged Out Pumpkin

If you're a stickler for a traditional face, give your pumpkin a new 'do with a cheeky plant toupee.

Get the tutorial at Woman's Day.

Plant Pumpkin
Antonis Achilleos

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