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Pumpkin Carving Ideas – Jack O Lantern Faces, Creative Designs & More…

Looking for a fun DIY project to do this Halloween? Try making one of these pumpkin carving ideasThey are creative and cute.

There are pumpkin carving designs for various skill levels listed below. Maybe you want a scary jack o lantern, a ghost pumpkin carving or even a Jack Skellington pumpkin carving – not matter your preference, we have you covered.

Any of these pumpkin carving ideas would be a great addition to a festive front porch, or a Halloween party. Let us know if you try one in the comments below.

If you want to give the kids a fun jack o lantern themed activity, get these free jack o lantern coloring pages for them to color while you’re trying one of the pumpkin carving designs below.

A forest at night with 21 lit jack o lanterns and a text overlay above it reading "Head to always the holidays for 15+ creative pumpkin carving ideas".

Pumpkin carving is associated with Halloween, which is no surprise since jack o lanterns are a symbol of Halloween. You might be interested to learn that pumpkins are also associated with Thanksgiving! They are one of the six main symbols of Thanksgiving.

Animal pumpkin carving ideas

Starting off the list, let’s jump right into some animal pumpkin carving ideas. They are some of the more popular pumpkin carving designs along with jack o lantern faces.

A photo of one of the many animal pumpkin carving ideas for Halloween, this one is a crow and the carved pumpkin is on a shelf next to un-carved pumpkins.

This crow pumpkin looks great among all of the un-carved pumpkins. A way to really show off your design is to nestle your carved pumpkin into a patch of plain pumpkins!

Maybe you want to carve something spooky and intricate like the crow above, or maybe you want to do a more simple design. 

Check out the animal pumpkin carving ideas below for more inspiration.

Cat pumpkin carvings

Are you a cat lover? Take a look at these cat pumpkin carvings. Halloween and black cats go hand in hand, since they’re one of the symbols of Halloween. So why not put one on a pumpkin!

Two cat pumpkin carvings lit up against a grey backdrop with paper bats cut out and stuck to it.

You could try making a realistic cat pumpkin design like the one on the left, or a cat jack o lantern like the one on the right. If you want more detailed carving work, you could etch a black cat quote on the pumpkin too.

The more realistic design would be more difficult to carve into a pumpkin, but it looks so neat! 

If you’re a skilled pumpkin carver, I suggest going for the harder design, and if you’re new to carving pumpkins, try the cat jack o lantern from the right side of the photo instead.

Dog pumpkin carving

Do you have a special dog in your life? You could attempt to copy the photo below and put that pooch on a pumpkin.

A dog pumpkin carving of a beagle next to a real life beagle on a grassy lawn.

This pumpkin looks realistic and multi-dimensional because some parts are completely carved through (like the ears), and some parts are only slightly etched away (like the face).

Etching is a great way to carve pumpkins, because it is more forgiving. You can start etching the pumpkin very lightly, and then once you are satisfied with the look, you can carve it deeper to give the design more dimension.

If you love dogs, make sure to check out this post on National Rescue Dog Day with ways to celebrate the day and shelter dog facts.

Owl pumpkin carving

Want to do an animal design, but one that’s a little more unusual than a cat or a dog? Check out this beautiful owl pumpkin carving.

An owl pumpkin carving lit up in darkness.

This pumpkin carving design covers the whole face of the pumpkin. The entire surface is illuminated by the light inside!

Picking a nice round pumpkin is a good idea if you want to try this design. Check out these tips to find the best pumpkins for carving.

If you love owls, check out these easy no-bake chocolate owl cookies. They are a crowd pleaser!

Bat carvings pumpkins

Bats are a main symbol of Halloween. The two go together, just like black cats and Halloween! Check out this bat pumpkin carving below.

Bat carvings pumpkins lit up on a grassy lawn with fall leaves around it.

If you want to carve pumpkins in a way that really celebrates the themes of Halloween, I’d suggest a witch, a ghost, a bat, and a classic jack o lantern!

This bat pumpkin carving is relatively simple to make. Carve the outline of your bat and its wings. After that is done, you can carve the more intricate pieces; the eyes, mouth, and wing details.

This bat is so cute, and not spooky at all! If you want some spooky Halloween decor, make sure to check out this DIY Beetlejuice snake basket!

Nightmare Before Christmas pumpkin carving

The Nightmare Before Christmas is such a great movie, because it can be classified as both a Christmas movie and a Halloween movie.

Three Nightmare Before Christmas pumpkin carvings, one of Oogie Boogie, one of Jack Skellington and one of a flying bat.

It has so many recognizable characters, that no matter who you choose to carve – Oogie Boogie, Jack Skellington, or Sally – people will recognize your pumpkin.

You could make a pumpkin carving of each of the characters, and have a themed set of spooky pumpkins!

If you were going to make a Nightmare Before Christmas pumpkin carving, who would you choose to carve? Let us know in the comments below. 

This post may contain affiliate links. I earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you if you purchase through an affiliate link.

Jack Skellington pumpkin carving

The most obvious choice to pick from the Nightmare Before Christmas, is Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king.

A Jack Skellington pumpkin carving lit up on a table.

The design for a Jack Skellington pumpkin carving is pretty similar to the design of a regular jack o lantern, and isn’t too challenging to make (even for beginners!).

It’s a great pumpkin carving idea because even though it’s easy, it’s still creative and festive.

If you’re new to carving pumpkins, I suggest trying this design. Also, if you need some help carving pumpkins, make sure to check out these pumpkin carving tips.

Oogie Boogie pumpkin

If you think Jack Skellington isn’t terrifying enough for your front porch, make sure to check out this Oogie Boogie pumpkin.

An Oogie Boogie pumpkin carving illuminated by a porch light.

All you have to do is carve the outline of his head and shoulders, and then make a pair of eyes and a creepy smile. 

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Disney movie, so you could make a whole display of evil Disney villains if you’d like. 

Watching Disney movies always makes me feel like a kid again – if you’re looking for other ways to bring back that feeling of youth, check out these be like a child quotes.

Jack o lantern faces

The most well known of all Halloween pumpkin carving ideas is the jack o lantern. There are several different types of faces you can try.

Jack o lantern faces on pumpkins, one of Jack Skellington and the other of a bat hanging upsidown.

Maybe you want a scary jack o lantern, or maybe you prefer happy pumpkin faces. Well you’re in luck, there are examples of both below.

If you’re looking for something to do with all the pumpkin seeds you scoop out of your jack o lantern, check out this recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds.

Since pumpkins don’t last forever, using as much of the pumpkin as you can cuts down on waste.

Classic jack o lantern faces

There are three main components to carving classic jack o lantern faces – the eyes, the nose, and the mouth.

Three pumpkins with classic jack o lantern faces carved into them.

First, choose your mouth, since this is the biggest part of the pumpkin carving. Do you want a smile, a toothy grin, a sneer, or a frown? Do you want lots of teeth or only a few?

Next pick your eye shape. Using circles for eyes gives the pumpkin a more sweeter and more cartoon-like appearance. Triangles are a classic look, but you can pick any shape you like.

Then, pick your nose. Does your classic jack o lantern face have a triangular nose, a circular one, or no nose at all?

Scary jack 0 lantern

If you’re mischievous and prefer the “trick” part of trick or treating, maybe you’d like a scary jack o lantern best!

A scary jack o lantern eating a baby jack o lantern.

This one pictured above is eating a little jack o lantern! You would need to get two pumpkins to complete the design, but it’s worth it – the pumpkins look great!

To create a scary jack o lantern, focus on the shape of their eyes. You can give their eyes an expression that conveys terror.

Also the more teeth a jack o lantern has, the more fear it instills. Just look at the one above! The baby pumpkin doesn’t have any teeth, and the bigger, scarier one has many teeth.

Happy pumpkin faces

If you don’t want to scare people with your pumpkin, try carving some happy pumpkin faces onto your pumpkins.

Happy pumpkin faces carved on a pumpkin wearing a yellow and black striped witch hat.

Just look at the one above, it’s adorable. The key feature for carving happy pumpkin faces is getting the smile right.

Carve your smile with just a few teeth, and make sure they are square, not jagged and sharp. The jagged ones look more scary.

You can even give it accessories, like how the pumpkin above has a striped witch hat. A hair bow or set of eyelashes would be cute too. With creativity, the sky is the limit! 

Funny jack o lantern

If you’re a trickster, when it comes to Halloween, this funny jack o lantern idea is for you! It’s goofy and fun.


A funny jack o lantern throwing up pumpkin seeds.

Some may find this pumpkin gross, but others will think it’s funny. If you think it’s funny jack o lantern, give it a try.

It’s simple to make, and requires very little carving. Plus, if you mess up on carving the mouth, you can hide any mistakes with the pumpkin seeds and guts.

If you’re looking for some more funny Halloween inspiration, check out this list of 75 Halloween quotes. Some are funny, some inspiring, some spooky, and the list goes on!

Creative pumpkin carving ideas

If you want to get inspiration from some creative pumpkin carving ideas, check out the ones below! They go beyond the typical jack o lanterns and animal pumpkin designs.

A jack o lantern carved with a smile that has purple smoke coming out of it, a very creative pumpkin carving ideas.

Some of the ideas below are more complicated than the classic jack o lantern faces, or animal pumpkins, but they’re worth the extra effort!

Pumpkin carving is like any skill, the more you practice, the better you’ll become! 

As a bonus pumpkin carving idea, check out this DIY pumpkin drink holder. It would look great at your next Halloween party.

Don’t forget to share this post with pumpkin carving ideas with you friends on twitter! Here’s a tweet to get you started:

Looking for some creative pumpkin carving ideas this time of year? Head over to Always The Holidays for some pumpkin inspiration! 🍁 🎃 Share on X

Skull pumpkin carving

Talk about spooky! This skull pumpkin carving design literally peels back the traditional jack o lantern face, and reveals a skull.

A skull pumpkin carving emerging from the middle of a jack o lantern on a window next to a small uncarved pumpkin.

This pumpkin carving design idea is complex, but looks so impressive. As with any of the more complicated designs, I recommend drawing it out first before you start carving.

The skull in the center of this pumpkin is lighter because of a pumpkin carving technique called scraping (sometimes referred to as etching). 

There are tools made specifically for this purpose that essentially peel away the darker pumpkin skin to reveal the lighter interior without cutting all the way through.

Witch face pumpkin

If you want to try your hand at a classic symbol of Halloween, look no further than this witch face pumpkin.

A witch face pumpkin carving on a table.

There are two ways to carve witch pumpkins. Like pumpkin above, you can carve only the witches head, or you could carve a witch flying on a broomstick! The choice is up to you.

One thing that makes witch themed pumpkins very distinctive is that they are always wearing a witches hat! Make sure not to forget that detail.

If you want more witch themed Halloween decorations, check out this list of ideas for making DIY witch legs decor

Ghost pumpkin carving

Looking to embrace the ghost and ghoul symbols of Halloween? Check out this creative ghost pumpkin carving idea below.

A ghost pumpkin carving with two smiling ghosts on it.

This pumpkin carving has two cute ghosts on it. They look just like Casper, the friendly ghost! You could carve one ghost on your pumpkin if you like, or copy the pumpkin above and carve two.

If you love everything ghost-related, check out these peanut butter and ghost sandwiches and these healthy banana ghosts and pumpkin oranges.

If you’re looking for a ghost themed cocktail to serve at your next Halloween gathering, check out this Ghostbuster cocktail garnished with whipped cream ghosts. 

Trick or treat pumpkin

If you don’t feel super confident in your ability to carve shapes, try carving words! This trick or treat pumpkin is a great place to start.

A trick or treat pumpkin carving on a pumpkin on a wooden table.

You could carve any words you like that share the messages of the holiday! Just like the photo above you could carve a small symbol to accompany the message.

Carving “trick or treat” with a ghost beside it is a great idea, but you could also try something else. How about “happy Halloween” with a pumpkin or “I came here for the boos” with a ghost and glass of wine.

If you want to learn more about the history of some of the traditions we practice during this time of the year check out this post on Samhain traditions

Skeleton pumpkin carving

It’s time to think outside of the box, and make a skeleton pumpkin carving! It’s a Halloween themed idea that most people don’t think of carving!

A skeleton pumpkin carving featuring skeleton hands.

This pumpkin has skeleton hands carved into it, but if you wanted you could also carve an entire skeleton. 

The trick for getting the hands to look like skeleton hands, and not just regular hands is to leave space between each finger bone. 

Not only are skeletons a great pumpkin carving idea, but they also make great Halloween costumes. Check out some of our favorite kids Halloween costumes and DIY Halloween costumes for adults.

Flower pumpkin carving

If you want a pretty pumpkin, try making a flower pumpkin carving. You can pick any flower you like, or even choose more than one, and have a bouquet of different flower pumpkins!

A flower pumpkin carving that looks like a cartoon sunflower.

The pumpkin in the photo above has a sunflower on it, which is equally pretty to look at, and easy to carve. 

To make this sunflower, poke holes in the center to replicate sunflower seeds, and then carve a row of triangles around the center, followed by a row of diamonds.

In addition to sunflowers, you could also try carving a rose – this symbol of Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular cut flowers.

Not a sunflower or rose fan? Try carving a tulip, or even a carnation. Speaking of carnations, check out this post on National Carnation Day to find out what carnations and US presidents have in common.

If you’re looking for a no-carve pumpkin idea, check out this no carve sunflower pumpkin tutorial. Personally, I love both the carved pumpkins and the no carve pumpkins, so I’d do one of each!

Carve A Pumpkin Day

Did you know that pumpkin carving is such a popular topic, that it even has its own national day! October 31 is Carve a Pumpkin Day and there are lots of reasons to celebrate it.

Picking a pumpkin carving design from our list, and give it a try on this day. There’s no better time to do this Halloween tradition than on Carve a Pumpkin Day!

Interested in learning more about national days? You’re in luck – there are close to 2000 national days in the year and over 150 of them are celebrated in October.

The words "hello October" against a wooden backdrop with fall leaves surrounding it hanging on strings.

To see them all, have a look at this post to discover more about the national days in October.

For puzzle fans, be sure to check out the October word search printable of national days.

Be sure to also check out these national days in October:

Pin these pumpkin carving ideas for later

Would you like a reminder of this post featuring these creative pumpkin carving ideas? Just pin this image to one of your Halloween boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.

Two lit jack o lanterns in a forest at night with a text overlay over it reading "15+ creative pumpkin carving ideas".

Jess author photoAbout the author

Since graduating from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Jess has been living and working in Los Angeles, CA. She is a freelance writer, specializing in content related to fashion, food and drink and film industry topics. Find out more about Jess here.

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