Get your carving tools out, because we have 31 ways—from spooky to elegant to jolly—to make your house Halloween ready.
A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but a few words can have major impact. Carve a message on your pumpkin. Southern Living Associate Garden Editor Rebecca Bull Reed created this work of art and added the wise words “Spooky is what you think you see.” What do you see?
Keep the designs simple, especially when you’re working with children. A crescent moon and a star make expressive eyes. A triangle nose is classic. Tip: Cut the opening in the top at a 45-degree angle so it will have something to rest on. Do not cut straight down, because the lid will fall into the gutted pumpkin.
You don’t have to stick with traditional holiday images. Create a masterpiece based on something a little more highbrow. A rendition of The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh elevates this pumpkin to museum quality. Create a design like this by scraping away the pumpkin’s outer shell rather than cutting a hole through it. The pumpkin wall should be about 1 inch thick to allow light to shine through.
The black cat is a classic Halloween image, and the rounded opening has the look of a glowing moon behind this fierce feline. Tape a stencil to your pumpkin, and use the tip of a nail or ice pick to poke small holes along the lines of the design. Remove the stencil, and use a sharp knife to cut between the holes.
Why should your jack-o’-lantern always be deprived of a body? Stack two pumpkins to give your display more presence. Carve the body to look like a shirt, and give Jack a spiky hairdo.
Add some Polynesian flair to your Halloween gathering. Create a tiki design by scraping away the pumpkin’s outer flesh. Props increase the fun factor. Look for oversize paper umbrellas and drinking straws at a party-supply store.
Give trick-or-treaters a warm welcome with a family of friendly pumpkin people. Purchase pumpkins in graduated sizes that
will stack easily. Look for ones with large, unbroken stems and unique markings. Get creative, and carve faces in the smallest
pumpkins that will make your guests grin. Try using the stem as a nose, or bring out the paints, and let kids make their mark
on the project.
To assemble your pumpkin person, stack three pumpkins and insert a long wooden dowel down the center. Dress your pumpkin people in the season’s best apparel. Raffia scarves, dried lotus pod buttons, twig arms, and flower hats are all great ways to complete this creative look.
Give a jack-o’-lantern extra glow with some vegetable oil or petroleum jelly. Apply a small amount to the outer skin with a paper towel after you have finished carving.
Pick up mini pumpkins from the grocery store, and put them to good use. With these simple steps, it’s easy to do.
Let your home state inspire you. This pumpkin celebrates South Carolina by copying the palmetto tree and crescent moon seen on the state flag. You could also do the team logo of your alma mater or an outline of your state.
Have you been somewhere cool lately or just wish you could get away? Carve a postcard-worthy icon such as Notre-Dame Cathedral into your pumpkin.
It’s a pumpkin-eat-pumpkin world out there. To get this look, you will need one large pumpkin and one small pumpkin. Carve an expression of fear into the smaller one. Hold the small pumpkin up to where the large one’s mouth will be, and trace around it. Be careful not to cut the mouth too big. You want the small pumpkin to fit snugly so that it won’t roll out. Carve sinister eyes into your big pumpkin. This guy is a cannibal, after all.
Regardless of your age, you’ll have a ball carving these irresistibly adorable ‘Wee-B-Little’ pumpkins. Try these tips when
working with pint-sized pumpkins.
For a hit at your next party, trade fire for ice as your pumpkin filling of choice. Cut the top from a large, wide pumpkin
with a serrated knife, and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Line the bottom and sides of the pumpkin with a 2-gallon zip-top
plastic bag. Fill the bag with ice and assorted beverages.
Get the entire street involved. Pumpkins lined up along walkways and sidewalks will make your block the most popular trick-or-treating destination in the neighborhood.
Tuck a fishbowl into a gutted pumpkin, and fill with bottled drinking water (not tap water from the faucet, distilled, or deionized water). Find creative props at the pet store. This tiny gravestone is perfect. Paint smaller pumpkins black, and stack them up to create a cat. Scrape away flesh to create eyes, and use discarded pieces of the orange pumpkin to make ears. Your fish friends will be purr-fectly frightened. Note: Replace about 20%of the water in your fishbowl with fresh bottled drinking water twice a week. As a bonus, the discarded water is great for plants. Avoid placing the bowl in direct sunlight, and move it indoors if the temperature dips below 65°.
It’s okay if you’re a scaredy-cat―carve something pretty. Light your pumpkin with a scented votive to make it even sweeter. (Never leave lit candles unattended.) Cutting thin lines can be a little tricky; sometimes the line breaks.
Turn your pumpkin on its side. The stem makes a wonderful nose. All you have to do is cut out eyes and a mouth. If the pumpkin is a little too wobbly on its side, cut out some flesh to flatten it. Spaghetti noodles dipped halfway in boiling water for a few seconds make great hair. Stick the uncooked portion into small holes cut in the head.
Create a new twist on tradition with a pumpkin topiary on your porch.
Something evil this way comes? Do as the monkeys would, and see no evil, speak no evil, and hear no evil. Simple garden gloves elevate three jack-o’-lanterns from typical to terrific.
As with any project, success starts with good prep work. Begin at the pumpkin patch. Choose a pumpkin with a steady base and an intact stem. Tip: Do not pick up the pumpkin by the stem because it might break off. Look for a firm pumpkin with no mold. Take care that the pumpkin is large enough to give you room for carving your design.
Whether you’re carving a haunted castle or a creepy ghost, make sure you have the right tools for the job. There are pumpkin-carving kits on the market, but you probably already have the essentials in your kitchen. You’ll need a long knife with a thin blade for cutting the lid and large shapes. Be certain it is sharp. For details, use a small, sharp craft knife. Scoop out the pumpkin with an ice-cream scoop.
Don’t be afraid to draw directly on your pumpkin. Sketch out a design freehand, or use a template. There are plenty of illustrations online that you can print out too (Pumpkin Templates). Tape the pattern to the pumpkin, and trace it. Press hard enough to leave an impression on the flesh, and follow the lines for cutting.
To purchase a carving kit online, visit www.xacto.com. Click on “Products” and then “Cutting Tools.” The variety of blades in the standard woodcarving set will make you a master carver.
This guy looks as if he could use a good meal. If your pumpkin begins to look lifeless, revive it with a little TLC. Soak a dried-up pumpkin in a bucket of water for two to eight hours.
These cookie-cutter pumpkins are anything but run-of-the-mill. They take no time to make and will add a gorgeous glow to your porch or walk. Start by selecting a theme, such as leaves, ghosts, or spiders. Because pumpkins are pretty tough cookies, look for durable cutters made of thick stainless steel (www.cookiecutter.com). Smaller ones work best, as larger designs tend to lose their shape more easily. Preparing the pumpkins is easy as pie. Cut a hole in the bottom instead of the top, and clean out the insides. Place a cookie cutter on the pumpkin. Gently tap the cutter with a rubber mallet until it pushes through the skin. Repeat until you complete your desired design. Then simply place each pumpkin over a small candle, and enjoy the ghoulish glow.
The eyes have it. You don’t need anything more than a pair of eyes to give visitors the willies.
Why not carve your design on the top of the pumpkin instead of the side? Scoop out the insides from the bottom of the pumpkin.
Create a diorama effect. Cut out a large square from the front of your pumpkin. Use that piece to carve a small figure. Use toothpicks to reattach the figure to the side and bottom of the pumpkin.
Creating designs on your pumpkins, like the ones shown here, is easier than you think. Kits are available everywhere–from
dollar stores to high-end kitchen shops–but you really don’t need a kit. Assemble your own with basic kitchen tools such as
a sharp knife, a smaller paring knife, and wide, sturdy spoons to clean out the seeds and stringy pulp. A small handsaw is