Skip to main content

6 Pumpkin-Carving Tips for Halloween

Family carving pumpkins using markers and knives.

Don’t think you have the skills to pull off an epic jack-o'-lantern that’ll have the whole neighborhood talking? Think again! With our six pumpkin carving tips, you’ll have every front-door visitor oohing, ahhing, and shrieking with delight this spooky season.

1.    Scavenge Your Kitchen for Spooktacular Tools

Store-bought pumpkin-carving kits offer the basics, but there are plenty of other tools you might already have around your house. Wide metal spoons, for example, are ideal for scooping pumpkin pulp and seeds. A paring knife works well for intricate cutouts, and an ice pick helps poke holes to guide your design. Other tools like lemon zesters, potato peelers, and cookie cutters can be used to achieve scary-good shapes and features.

2.    Cut the Back, Not the Top

It may seem like a common sense pumpkin carving idea to cut the top of a pumpkin to scoop out the seeds and innards. However, if you want your jack-o'-lantern to last as long as possible, you're better off cutting a hole through the back or bottom of the pumpkin. It isn’t just a bunch of hocus pocus—doing this will keep the stem intact, which is responsible for providing the pumpkin with the nutrients and moisture it needs to retain its structural integrity.

3.    Transfer Paper Does the Trick

You can find many pumpkin carving tips and templates online, but transferring those templates to your pumpkin can be frightful. One trick for this is to use sewing paper to transfer the design from your template directly onto your pumpkin. You can find this paper in any arts-and-crafts store, and it's very easy to use. Simply tape the transfer paper between your template and your pumpkin, then trace over the design with a ballpoint pen. From there, you'll have a perfect tracing of your pumpkin design that’ll make the carving job much more manageable.

4.    Raid Your Craft Closet

Boo-tify and jazz up your jack-o-lantern with craft supplies you already own. Think paint, glitter, stickers, pom poms, beads, pipe cleaners, ribbon, and cardboard to name a few. Acrylic and tempera paints tend to be the longest-lasting on pumpkins, but any paint will do. Bonus: You can get the kids involved in the search for kooky accessories—and the entire decoration process.

5.    The Gnarlier, the Better

Whether it's an unsightly dent in your pumpkin or a mistake in your carving, remember that imperfections are at the heart of Halloween. Don’t toss your pumpkin if you accidentally carved an extra eye instead of a nose—just change your design to accommodate the oops. Challenge your family to see who can pick out the most unique pumpkin at the patch and have a skele-ton of fun decorating them together.

6.    Just Say No to Fire

The heat from candles can cause the inside of a jack-o'-lantern to break down and rot quickly. Instead, use a flameless votive inside your pumpkin that won’t give off heat. Many of these also come with automatic timers, so you won't have to manually turn on the lights each night. To get extra thrills and chills from your pumpkin lighting, consider using multi-colored holiday lights or twinkling fairy lights.

Keep the Family Out All Season Long

In addition to learning these pumpkin carving tips, there are plenty of opportunities for outings, new adventures, and exciting discoveries this fall. If you’re looking for activities to do, check out “Your Ultimate Fall Bucket List” for a fresh spin on traditional, season-right excursions.