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Pumpkin carving tips

Carving pumpkins is traditional for Halloween and is a fun activity for adults and children alike. Here are some simple techniques that will make your pumpkin stand out!

First of all, you’ll want to cut a hole around the top or bottom so you can access the insides. Make sure that the entry hole is big enough to put your hand through. It’s important to use a serrated knife and wear cut resistant gloves in case of any mishaps.

Once you’ve made a cut, keep the lid or bottom aside and start spooning or scooping the seeds and flesh out. You can keep this for extra effect afterwards or for cooking. You’re now ready to start carving and decorating your pumpkin!

Contents (click to jump)
1. Use Tools 2. The Pumpkin is your Canvas
3. Add Props 4. Orange is Not the New Black
5. Size Matters 6. Not Just Pumpkins
7. Facial Expressions 8. The More The Merrier
9. Light(n)ing 10. Let Them Hang
11. Etching 12. Split in Half
13. Trick or Treat 14. No Pumpkin? No Problem
15. Look for Inspiration

Use Tools

Just using kitchen knives and apple corers just won’t cut it no more. There are lots of specialised Halloween tools you can buy that are highly effective for making your pumpkin special. They’re generally safer compared to knives and are sized well to manoeuvre through your pumpkin whether big or small.

    • Linoleum tool is good for engraving.
    • Cookie cutters are easy solutions for specific shapes such as stars or circles but require a metal cutter and a mallet.
    • Melon baller for round engravings
    • Scooper to scoop the inside out.

The pumpkin is your canvas.

You don’t have to be an artist or a professional to produce an amazing pumpkin. By using templates or stencils that can be printed off or bought you can get any design outline on your pumpkin! Be sure to not put too much detail in your outline as it can be difficult to see and carve later on. Print out an outline online and wrap it around your pumpkin. You can either use sticky tape or pins to hold it down and then with a drill or piercer, carefully push through the outline until it goes through the pumpkin. Continue this throughout the major points. Once the outline has been completed, you can carve from point to point!

Add Props

Just like a snowman with a carrot nose, it’s a great idea to add props to give life and effect to your pumpkin. Here are some of our Halloween favourites:

      • Twigs to make arms, a bunch of twigs to make hair
      • Witches hats
      • Cobwebs & spider for a creepier effect
      • Toothpicks as teeth
      • Cheesecloth or bandages to make a mummy pumpkin.

Orange is not the new black.

Pumpkins don’t have to be orange. To make your pumpkin unique, you can paint them with a brush or spray can to a different colour for it to stand out. Black, white, or even silver! If you can’t decide on one – by adding some masking tape around the centre and covering up half, you paint one half one colour and the other half another!   

Size matters

Pumpkins come in varying sizes and they’re great for representing different members of the family or to create a ‘Russian doll’ effect by nesting them in order of size. Smaller ones are also great to place on your desk or indoors with larger ones better suited as the ‘main event’ by the front door or in a living room.

According to the Guinness World Records, the largest pumpkin weighs over a ton at 1,190kg! That’s nearly the same weight as a small car. It may take a little longer and bigger tools to carve that pumpkin..!

Not just pumpkins

To get a better range of shapes and sizes to suit your needs, there are plenty of pumpkin alternatives. Butternut squash is a really popular option and the unique shape is a great opportunity to get really creative. There long shape and bulbous bottoms create an elongated face or short bodies.

Orange peppers double up as mini pumpkins and are easier to carve due to their soft skin. Some supermarkets and greengrocers also stock watermelons and pineapple during October and it’s a bonus that you get to eat the fruit inside!

You can reuse old plastic milk jugs as jack o laterns. Use permanent marker to colour a face or spiders and bats. The cloudy white bottle will give a ghost effect and it’s transparent enough for light to shine through when placed inside. Make sure to use electronic lights and not candles.

Facial expressions

Give your jack-o-lantern a personality and attitude with facial expressions. Like humans, the shape of eyes, eyebrows and mouths can dictate the mood of the pumpkin.  Sharp angles on frowns will indicate a more menacing look whereas the more traditional triangle eyes are more friendly.

A smile can be friendly as well as frightening! An ear to ear smile can look like something straight out of a horror movie and the showing of lots of teeth will show something more animalistic.

The more the merrier

Get a few pumpkins together to create a family of pumpkins. One for each member of the family. Using alternatives to pumpkins can create a good variation in shape, size as well as colour. They can be placed bunched together or spread out.

You can have a series of them to make a word (one letter on each pumpkin) or combine a few together to make one big object. If you stacked 2 or 3 pumpkins on top of each other, you can make a pumpkin person – similar to how you’d do with a snowman.

Make sure to choose pumpkins that have a flat bottom and top. You can flatten them further by using your tools. You want the biggest pumpkin on the bottom and smallest pumpkin at the top. To secure them, you can use superglue or hot glue. Another method is to drill holes on the top and bottle and thread strings through to tie them together. Essentially, sewing pumpkins.


Traditionally a tealight in the pumpkin is used but now there’s plenty of safer alternatives. LED tealights now come in various colours and also have the flicker effect that candle light offers. Use different colours to match the style of your pumpkin.

However, lights don’t have to stay on the inside of your pumpkin. Fairy lights can be wrapped around the outside of your pumpkin or scattered on the floor around your pumpkin for added ambience. 

Let them hang

They can be placed anywhere and any levels. On the table, desk at work, hanging from the porch with string, hanging off the wall or just simply on the floor.

Hanging them from a porch at eye level will attract more attention and by using thin and strong fishing wire, they will appear to be floating!


Carving pumpkins can be quite limiting as you can’t add details. By using a chisel or linoleum, you can scrape the top layer of the skin and create a different shade to get more effects.

With the thinner pumpkin wall, the light from within shines through and creates a glowing pumpkin effect.

Split in half

By cutting the pumpkin in half and keeping the top half lifted with toothpicks, you’re able to create the illusion of a skull opening or something coming out from within the pumpkin!

Trick or Treat

Make your pumpkin into a treat container. Empty it out and line it with plastic or a protective material and store sweets inside it. Paint it black for a witches cauldron effect and simply pierce holes and tie together to make a handle which can be hung or simply held.

If you don’t feel like carving, simply piece or drill holes around the around the top and place lollipops or toffee apples hanging out.

No pumpkin? No problem

If you can’t get hold of any pumpkins, that’s no problem! Virtually anything that’s round and orange can be decorated to appear like a pumpkin.

Here are some creative pumpkin solutions that can be fun to make too!

These are great for giving out treats to your trick or treaters and can make great table decorations.

An activity to enjoy with your loved ones and one that lasts longer than a traditional pumpkin! Make sure you use a round balloon.

Some everyday household items that can be made into Halloween decorations.

Look for inspiration

If you see a pumpkin design that you like, copy their style! Look carefully at individuals parts of the pumpkin to see how they have done it and replicate the technique yourself.

If we look at this snail designed pumpkin for example:

At a glance, it may seem like a piece of art but if you break it down, it’s quite simple. There’s 1 pumpkin and 1 butternut squash. The pumpkin has a swirl pattern carved out of it to represent the shell of a snail. The ‘head’ is simply a top half of a butternut squash and it is finished with simple props such as ping pong balls for eyes and a drawn on smile!

Following these techniques, you’ll make a really creative pumpkin whilst remaining safe and having fun. We’re having a contest on our Facebook page for the best pumpkin and the  winner gets a Christmas inflatable decoration. There will be 1 winner from Facebook so head on over and enter both to increase your chances of winning! 

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