Looking for a fun DIY project to do this Halloween? Try making one of these pumpkin carving ideas! They 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.
Pumpkin carving is associated with Halloween, but you might be interested to learn that historically, pumpkins are associated with Thanksgiving too! 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.
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
You could try doing a more realistic cat pumpkin design like the one on the left, or more of a cat jack o lantern like the one on the right.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Jack Skellington pumpkin carving
The most obvious choice to pick from the Nightmare Before Christmas, is Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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! 🍁 🎃 Click To Tweet
Skull pumpkin carving
Talk about spooky! This skull pumpkin carving design literally peels back the traditional jack o lantern face, and reveals a skull.
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.
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.
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’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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
Be sure to also check out these national days in October:
- National Caramel Apple Day – Check out the history of caramel apples, why we celebrate the day and fun facts about caramel apples.
- National Pumpkin Day – Honor the day by checking out our list of pumpkin recipes.
- National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day – Celebrate the day with a recipe for pumpkin cheesecake muffins.
- National Candy Corn Day – Head to this page for a roundup of candy corn recipes.
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.
About 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.