Top Cool Pumpkin Carving Ideas and Decor Tricks for Families

Carved or decorated, fresh from the patch or fake, jack-o'-lanterns are family fun.

There are so many possibilities when it comes to decorating and carving pumpkins. Gone are the days when everyone’s jack-o’-lantern had the same toothy grin and triangular eyes. Heck — you don’t even have to carve it: Paint has replaced carving tools for some popular designs.

But if you still want to get your hands dirty, check out these pumpkin carving ideas. We’ve got everything from scary pumpkin displays to wacky faces sure to make your kids giggle!

Witch ‘o Lantern

Paint your carved pumpkin black and add a hat for a witch-faced pumpkin that will spook trick-or-treaters with these handy tips from

One Sick Pumpkin

One of the most fun parts about carving a pumpkin is scooping out all the sticky guts from inside, but don’t just toss the seed-laden goop! Instead, add a little gross factor to a classic jack-o’-lantern by using the guts as … well guts! Carve out a face with a wide mouth and hang a bit of the stringy orange insides from jack’s mouth. It creates the illusion of vomit or ectoplasm! Is Jack possessed? Or has he just had too much candy? Your neighbors will never know.

Polka Dot Pumpkins

Who says jack-‘o-lanterns have to be spooky? Break out the paint can instead of the carving tools to create these dotty pumpkins from Family Circle. After you paint the pumpkin white and let it dry, use a stencil or sponge and your favorite colors to make a polka dot pattern.

Ghostly Fog Pumpkin

Nothing screams Halloween quite billowing fog. And you can add a bit of that creepy flair to your pumpkin with a little mad science know how. All you need is a large pumpkin, a large glass, some hot water, salt and a bit of dry ice. Clean the pumpkin out, put the glass inside add the dry ice and water, then pop the top back in place.

Candy Pumpkin

Channel Martha Stewart with this pumpkin decorated with marshmallows, licorice and Good & Plenty. This idea, straight from the decorating guru herself, is easy to put together – and clean up!

Nosy Pumpkin

Instead of carving a pumpkin, use the gnarled pumpkin stem as the nose with this idea from You apply use paint or etch out eyes and a mouth using an X-ACTO knife. Make sure when you’re picking out your pumpkin to get a good look at the stem – the more twisted it is, the more unique your final design will be!

Classic Jack ‘o Lantern Templates

Whether you’re looking for an easy design or something more advanced, downloadable patterns that match your carving level are available all over the web. Here, you’ll find everything from the classic carved pumpkin face to pirates to vampires and much more.

Looking for more Halloween fun? Check out our roundup of the best Halloween events in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor or the Metro Parent calendar for more ideas. 

This post was originally published in 2011 and is updated regularly.

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