Pumpkin Carving Ideas

One of the easiest ways to bring out your inner artist this Halloween is by carving spooky and creative shapes into pumpkins. You can decorate the inside of your house with the pumpkins that you’ve made, or light up the front porch for trick-or-treaters by placing candles inside the pumpkins. If you’re a beginner, or teaching your kids how to carve, then you can stick to a traditional jack-o-lantern method by carving out some eyes, a nose, and mouth. If you’ve got a bit more experience carving, you can make extremely elaborate scary pumpkin faces and pumpkin designs using a bas-relief technique with pumpkin carving templates.

How to Choose a Pumpkin

Find pumpkins for Halloween pumpkin carving at your local supermarket, farmers’ market, or pick-your-own pumpkin patch. Try to find a pumpkin that’s free of cuts, nicks, and bruises. The colour of the pumpkin should be fairly constant all the way around, and the stem should not be too bendable. To see if the pumpkin is ripe, knock on it. If it sounds hollow, then it’s ready to be purchased. You also should think about the amount of time that you have to carve it. Larger pumpkins require more work, especially if the design you intend to make is very elaborate.

How to Carve a Pumpkin

You can select from four carving methods. If you’re a beginner, consider the traditional jack-o-lantern with eyes, a nose, and a mouth. The second method involves carving a silhouette. Pick out a shape, like a witch perhaps, and then carve out the negative space around the shape. Then carve out the features, like ears and a mouth. A third method involves carving down to the light-coloured pith. To do this, take a knife and scrape away the pumpkin’s skin until you can see the pith. The fourth and most difficult method is bas-relief, which means cutting down to the pith in some areas, to the gourd in others, or leaving some sections completely intact.

Pumpkin Carving Stencils

After you choose a carving method, draw your intended design on the pumpkin with a permanent marker or dry-erase marker. Instead of drawing, you can also find different pumpkin stencils or pumpkin carving patterns. There’s a pumpkin stencil out there for every taste. You can choose something scary like a skull, or even try out one of the celebrity pumpkin stencils to really make a statement. Pumpkin carving patterns sometimes aren’t even in the form of faces, so you can really get creative. Tape your stencil or pattern on the pumpkin, and then begin carving.



Pumpkin stencils

Steps to Carving a Pumpkin

  1. Set up a work area on a flat surface with lots of space, and put down some newspaper or brown paper. Lay out your tools and a large bowl for the pumpkin innards. A serrated knife works best: straight edge knives should be avoided since you’ll have less power and less control over the cutting action. Move the knife back and forth in a sawing motion as if you’re cutting through a tree trunk.
  2. To make the lid, measure a circle with a 2-inch radius away from the stem. Cut out the circle by angling the tip of the knife in toward the centre of the circle and carving.
  3. Remove the lid, and cut off a slice of its underside so you can get out the excess filling and flatten the bottom.
  4. Use a scoop, a spoon, or your hands to remove the filling of the pumpkin. This is the messy part.
  5. If the pumpkin does not already have a flat bottom, flip the pumpkin upside down and cut a flat slice. Once your pumpkin rests without wobbling, you don’t have to do any more work on the bottom.
  6. Start carving out your design on the pumpkin. Make sure to use a gentle, back and forth motion while carving, and throw away any cut-out pieces as you remove them.


This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.

Last updated: August 22, 2014