Kid holding knife while carving pumpkins
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14 Easy Pumpkin Carving Ideas For Beginners

Yes, your porch can look awesome this year.

We have all walked by those houses during Halloween season. You know the ones, where the pumpkins are intricately carved and truly eye-popping. There are so many creative designs that leave you reaching for your camera and wondering at the artistry that a person can show with just a simple carved pumpkin. For the less artistically-inclined among us, though, all of this carving magic can leave us feeling a bit discouraged. But fear not — these Halloween carving ideas for beginners are truly easy enough for anyone to pull off.

Pumpkin carving is one of those things that seems like you ought to be able to do — how hard can it be? But the image of the adorable pumpkin you had in your head when you started carving might not match the slightly askew face that’s staring back at your from your orange companion once you’re done. I’ve only ever tried to make the basic jack-o’-lantern, with the triangle eyes and open mouth, and I’ve never really surpassed making a pumpkin that looked like it was carve by a small child. This year, these super easy pumpkin carving ideas and easy design templates will help you display your pumpkins with pride. Just like there’s nothing wrong with having an easy Halloween costume, there’s no shame in going the easy route with pumpkins. The important thing is that you have some Halloween fun.

Beginner Pumpkin Carving Tips

  • Get an actual pumpkin carving kit.

Sure, you have kitchen knives around, but pumpkin carving kits will have the precise serrated knife and the right type of spoon for getting the seeds and goop out of that gourd. Buy it once, pull it out every Halloween — it’s worth the (small) investment. If you don’t want to get the kit, make sure that you use a super-sharp knife — particularly bigger pumpkins can have very thick skin.

  • Draw your design first.

It’s much easier to make sure your design is the right size and shape when you draw it on the pumpkin with a washable marker first. Wash and dry your pumpkin thoroughly, and then get sketching.

  • Think beyond the “face” designs.

Designs that are supposed to look like faces are the least forgiving, and can quickly tip over into weird-looking territory. Making letters, patterns, or shapes can help you get a cool-looking pumpkin without trying to get symmetrical-looking face.

  • Don’t carve more than a week in advance.

Even if the weather turns cooler, it’s best to wait until pretty close to Halloween if you want your pumpkins to stay fresh for trick-or-treaters.

  • Don’t worry if it’s not perfect.

Most of us aren’t Pinterest-worthy crafters, and most of us aren’t good at things we only do once a year. Pumpkin carving is more about the process than the product. Just have fun with it.


Help your pumpkins get some self-care in with these spa designs

Even it it’s been a while since you’ve seen the inside of a spa, this design might make you smile. All you need is a small towel, star cookie cutters, and a sharp knife to make the smile. The paint is optional, but adds a cute touch. You’ll want to use battery-operated tea lights to light this one up, since the towel wouldn’t mix well with real fire.


A pumpkin that’s a “hole” lot of fun

If you have more patience than skill, this gorgeous pumpkin might be for you. An electric drill will make the even, perfect holes that can either spell out a word or just make hypnotizing swirls. To make the design turn out perfectly, use a Sharpie to place the dots where you want them to go before you start carving.


A gross-out pumpkin carving idea perfect for middle schoolers

If you have a kid in your house who thinks the height of humor is a puke joke, this is the pumpkin for you. This pumpkin’s face doesn’t have to look beautiful, since they’re clearly very ill. All you need to carve is eyes and a large hole for the mouth, then put all the slimy and gooshy stuff that’s inside the pumpkin on display. Instantly, you have a pumpkin that even middle schoolers who are too cool for Halloween will love.


An easy carved design that will still be the star of the show

The supplies for this easy carving idea for beginners are super simple: A hammer and a star cookie cutter is all you need, and you’re on your way. Just hammer the star-shaped cookie cutter into your scooped-out pumpkin, then carefully pull it out. You can put tons of stars or just a few — either way, this pumpkin is going to light up the night.


A playhouse pumpkin that’s too cute for words

This mostly-painted and barely-carved pumpkin makes an adorable little home fit for whatever fairies or elves might be flitting about this Halloween. You just scoop out the pumpkin, cut a circle for the window and a square for the door, and paint a house-ish design. This is definitely a great one if you have younger kids who are better with paints than knives.


A creepy design to give your neighbors the heebee-jeebees

As a rat-phobic person, this one really would spook me. To make the holes for this Halloween carving idea, you can use a drill, or just a regular pumpkin carving knife. Then, all you need are some plastic rats to complete the effect of looking like your local pests have made your pumpkin their new home. This is especially perfect if you have a kid who loves the “trick” part of trick-or-treat, and will appreciate the gross-out humor of this design.


A polka-dot Halloween carving idea that looks a lot fancier than it is

This may look like you need expert-level skills to pull it off. And maybe you would have before the invention of electricity, but now we have the electric drill, and these designs are now in anyone’s grasp. Dot patterns are a lot more forgiving than faces — just have fun. The only bummer with this one is that little kids and power tools don’t mix, so this is probably a better fit for big kids.


A red letter pumpkin design

Younger kids often feel a special affinity for the letter that starts their name, so this pumpkin will make them feel special without making you figure out how to carve their whole name on a pumpkin. You can just stencil a bubble letter onto the pumpkin and cut it out with a serrated knife.


A pumpkin that shines with glass beads, lite-brites, or fake jewels

This pumpkin might be the perfect choice if you have a kid in your house who can’t get enough of fake beads of jewels. If you’ve indulged in some 90’s toy nostalgia and have the classic toy Lite Brite around, you could also use them. Once you put a candle inside, the beads will glow in a mesmerizing way.


A pretty and practical pumpkin vase

In terms of carving projects, it doesn’t get much easier than this. The only challenge you’ll have is in picking out some lovely flowers! You just cut off the top of the pumpkin, scoop it out, paint it (if you want — this step is optional) and fill with your favorite flowers. Both real and fake flowers would work just fine, you’ll just want to trim the stems so that the tops of the flowers are just peeking up over the sides. Even if you’ve never been able to get a pumpkin’s face to look right, you can handle this one.


A glittery no-carve pumpkin that truly sparkles

Yes, cleaning up glitter can be a bigger nightmare than any Halloween scare, but you might want to consider an exception to your “no glitter” rule to make this fancy-looking no-carve pumpkin. Even a really simple design will pop with this sparkly shell, which you get by painting the pumpkin with glue and shaking or rolling it in glitter. If you cut out a face, it will look especially cool when the glow of the light of its other pumpkin companions makes it shimmer.


A big pumpkin eating a little pumpkin

This carving idea walks the right line between creepy and fun. All you need are pumpkins of two different sizes. Carve a big open mouth on the big pumpkin, and pop a little pumpkin in there. To add a special touch, you can make the smaller pumpkin look alarmed, if you want to carve it a little bit, too.


A too-cute cat who looks harder than he is

If you’re a cat-loving house, this pumpkin can let everyone know about your love for felines. You can scale this cat up or down — a standard jack-o’-lantern with a cat mouth and whiskers will get across “cat” pretty well, or you can print out cat stencil design to really commit to the design. Even if your cat isn’t perfect, you’ll get lots of points for creativity.


A pumpkin that will give you a jump scare

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To make this design bigger, you could also carve the “B” on one pumpkin, the “Os” on two others, and an exclamation point on the final one — a perfect choice when you have some extra pumpkins that you don’t want to go to waste but can’t come up with a bunch of different faces.

There’s so much pressure for everything crafty that we do as parents to be Pinterest and Instagram-worthy, and to have the most impressive pumpkins on the block. But really, that’s not what our kids are going to remember. What they will remember is if you throw yourself into the project, and display whatever the results are with pride. Happy Halloween!