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80 Creative Pumpkin Carving Ideas for Halloween

From spooky to sweet, these pumpkin carving ideas are sure to turn heads this Halloween!

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Illuminated carved Jack O Lantern At Night for halloween
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Halloween pumpkin carving ideas that are a scream

Nothing says Halloween like a jack-o’-lantern lighting up the night from your porch with some great pumpkin carving ideas. Whether you prefer the characteristic toothy grin, spooky Halloween monsters or a totally different picture, you’ll love the endless possibilities in these easy pumpkin carving ideas. And while some of them require a little extra skill, others are surprisingly simple but absolutely showstopping.

Gather your supplies

Some people use pumpkin carving templates to design their pumpkins, while others decide to free-hand it and draw their own designs. You can even use your pumpkins as building blocks to create elaborate works of art. Whatever your style, start by gathering your pumpkin-carving supplies:

  • Pencil and paper to sketch out a design
  • Pumpkin stencil kit with the design you want
  • Permanent markers to draw the design on the pumpkin
  • Carving tools or knives
  • Large spoon for scooping out the insides
  • Paint and paintbrushes (if you’re going the painting route)
  • Any other tools, like a drill, corer or scraper
  • LED candle
  • And the pumpkin, of course
Halloween Spider Pumpkin: Fresh Carved Jack-o-Lantern Decoration; House Front Porch
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Spider pumpkin

Clever, cute and a little bit creepy? We’re in! Grab a pumpkin and some black pipe cleaners to get started on this pumpkin carving idea that doubles as a Halloween craft for kids.

Scary Jack-O-Lantern in the Night
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Grim reaper pumpkin

Not sure what to do with a slightly misshapen pumpkin? Use it for this grim reaper design for an unsettling, extra spooky feel. It can also provide some inspiration if you’re looking for a scary Halloween costume.

Pumpkin carved as Frankenstein
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Franken-pumpkin

This Frankenstein pumpkin (yes, yes, Frankenstein was the scientist, not the monster—we know) uses a combination of painting and carving techniques to bring out the beast. If you already knew that monster fact, see if you can answer these Halloween trivia questions next.

Artistically carved glowing jack-o'-lantern on tabletop display with leaves for Hallowe'en
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Sugar skull pumpkin

Patient carvers will love this Day of the Dead design. The gorgeous pumpkin is an homage to the sugar skull, but it’s one of those pumpkin carving ideas that’s a work of art in its own right.

Illuminated Jack O Lanterns At Night
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Mommy, daddy and baby pumpkin

For your little one’s first Halloween, you’ll want to pick up an adorable baby costume, of course. You can also celebrate the milestone with this cute jack-o’-lantern carved with a loving ghost family.

Close-Up Of Illuminated Jack-O-Lantern On Street
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Fright night pumpkin

People who enjoy the spookiness of the holiday will love this scary-fun reminder of the dark side of Halloween. Passersby might speed up when they see those hands reaching out for them! Here are more outdoor Halloween decorations that will terrify the neighbors.

Row of carved pumpkins, spooky atmosphere
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Dead rising pumpkin

Pumpkins aren’t just for porches! Use three pumpkins (one for the head and each hand) to decorate your lawn with a bit of flair—er, scare. Add some assorted graveyard decor to take the spookiness up another notch. These creepy photos will also give you the chills.

Carved pumpkin with haunted house
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Haunted house pumpkin

Here’s a boo-tiful and creative pumpkin carving idea that will make an excellent impression on the neighbors. Bonus points if you incorporate the haunted house theme into your other Halloween decorations.

decorated pumpkin. carvings in a decorative pumpkin. Harvest festival. Craftsmanship
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Art deco pumpkin

Pumpkin carving is a seriously underestimated art form. This jack-o’-lantern would look gorgeous any time of year, but it’s especially festive in the fall. It would also make a great centerpiece at an upscale Halloween party.

scary tree carved into a pumpkin
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Scary tree pumpkin

Carve a couple of pumpkins with this design, and you’ll have a whole scary jack-o’-lantern forest to display.

Pumpkins for Halloween
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Bats and witches pumpkin

Can’t decide whether to carve bats or witches? Do both! This cute Halloween scene tells a whole story with just a few simple figures.

Cat and the fishbowl
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Cat in the fishbowl pumpkin

Why shouldn’t kitties have a little fun on Halloween too? This clever pumpkin shows a grinning cat getting ready to play a fishy trick … or, rather, get a fishy treat. If you’re a pet owner, you won’t want to miss these cat Halloween costumes (even if your cat wishes you did).

Carved and Painted Pumpkin with Votive Candles
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Folksy painted pumpkin

Arts-and-crafts lovers will get a kick out of this combination pumpkin. It’s carved with a fun design and then tole-painted in a folksy style for a whimsical Halloween look.

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Side-eye pumpkin

We don’t know what you did, but this cleverly carved pumpkin is totally judging you.

Orange pumpkin with carved ornaments laying on dry leaves
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Celtic knot pumpkin

Early pagan people, including the Celts, played a big part in the origin of Halloween and many of our favorite traditions. Honor that heritage with this beautiful, artistic pumpkin carving design. By the way, here’s how Halloween is celebrated around the world.

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Cute bat pumpkin

This little guy will look amazing hanging out upside down on your porch or stairs. And don’t be intimidated: Even though this looks amazing, pumpkin carving ideas that require bigger chunks of carvings are actually pretty simple.

Halloween pumpkin face lantern decoration
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Mustache pumpkin

I mustache you a question: Can you answer these Halloween riddles? While you’re pondering them, carve up this cute gentleman … or just stick on an adhesive mustache if you want to forgo the carving.

Mouse and natural orange pumpkin house for Halloween decor in blossoming garden with camomiles. Fall holiday decoration. Food art, creative ornament. Autumn fairy tale postcard. Halloween and fun animal, cute pet
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Mouse house pumpkin

Carve a pumpkin into a tiny cottage home perfect for pint-size woodland creatures. Add a door, windows and some flowers on top for an adorable abode.

Wizard of Oz characters carved into halloween pumpkins
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The Wizard of Oz pumpkin

If you’re a pumpkin carving all-star, this will be your magnum opus. Pay tribute to the classic film with Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and more, and impress those trick-or-treaters (and their parents!). While The Wizard of Oz isn’t a Halloween movie per se, we’re always up for a viewing.

Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins illuminated outside a house at night, one with flower cutouts and the other with the words Be Kind, Halloween decorations
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Be kind pumpkin

Use your jack-o’-lantern to spread kindness instead of chaos this year with this sweet reminder for more treats than tricks. Letter stencils make this pumpkin carving idea easy.

Illuminated Jack O Lantern On Table
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Wi-Fi pumpkin

Honestly, what’s scarier than your internet being slow or your Wi-Fi going down altogether? Ahhh! Show your sense of humor with this hilariously terrifying pumpkin.

Carved Pumpkin for Halloween
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Spooky spider pumpkin

I spy with my little eye … something with eight legs that loves Halloween! Advanced pumpkin carvers will enjoy putting a picture inside a picture with this tricky design.

Jack 'O Lantern With Hat
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Howling wolf pumpkin

This ferocious pumpkin will inspire trick-or-treaters to do some howling of their own on Halloween night. Top your creation with a witch’s hat and stretch some fake cobwebs over it to add an extra spooky flair.

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Stargazing cat pumpkin

This is a purr-fect pumpkin carving idea for cat lovers. If you’re really a cat person and you’re looking for a simple costume, draw some whiskers and a black nose on yourself for a super easy Halloween makeup idea. And don’t forget the ears, of course!

TOPSHOT-SWITZERLAND-HALLOWEEN-CULTURE-ENTERTAINMENT
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Artsy witch pumpkin

I’ll get you, my pretty … and your little pumpkin too! This simple yet artsy witch will make a statement (and not only the one we just mentioned).

Skeleton made of halloween pumpkins
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Skeleton pumpkin

This creative design will make the neighbors do a double take when walking past your yard. Hidden wooden dowels will hold all your pumpkins together to create this spooky skeleton.

Carved pumpkins in line spelling out "happy Halloween" on front lawn
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“Happy Halloween” pumpkins

This easy jack-o’-lantern idea offers an elevated look, especially when you place some of the pumpkins on bales of hay. Use stencils or free-hand your letters—just make sure you get enough pumpkins to spell out the whole message! These Halloween quotes will also put you in the spooky spirit.

scary mummy pumpkin decoration for halloween
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Mummy pumpkin

A floating mummy head in a box? Super creepy!

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Pug pumpkin

Honor your fur baby with this paws-itively adorable stencil design. You can also customize your pumpkin to match your pooch or other pet. And don’t forget to get your pup a Halloween dog costume!

Close-Up Of Jack O Lantern On Window Sill During Halloween
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Chomping pumpkin

Pumpkin cannibals? Why not! Take a walk on the scary side with this toothy design. All you need is a normal-size pumpkin, a small pumpkin (carve your own or use a premade tiny gourd), some toothpicks and a little creativity.

pirate carved pumpkin for halloween
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Pirate pumpkin

Pirates are a perennially popular DIY Halloween costume, and they work equally well on pumpkins! This pumpkin carving idea is sure to shiver a few timbers. You can even add a pirate hat and an eye patch for a little extra fun.

Dobby face carved pumpkin
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Dobby pumpkin

Harry Potter fans, this one’s for you! Pay tribute to everyone’s favorite house elf with this pumpkin.

Baby Yoda Carved Pumpkin
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Baby Yoda pumpkin

Looking for a pumpkin that’s out of this world? This is the way. Everyone will say “awww” when they see the standout star of The Mandalorian on your pumpkin.

a unicorn carved into a pumpkin with a candle inside
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Unicorn pumpkin

Have little ones who prefer sweet and whimsical to scary? Much like the unicorn itself, this pumpkin carving idea is a rare beauty. For other age-appropriate fun, bookmark this list of Halloween movies for kids.

Spotted and painted halloween pumpkin decorations
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Spotted and painted pumpkin

Want to try something different? This stunning pumpkin carving idea is pretty simple but super effective. Simply paint your pumpkin with white or black acrylic paint, drill or carve some holes in a cool pattern, and add candles. Voila! You have a centerpiece that looks like it came from a pricey store.

halloween pumpkin decorated with flowers
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Flower pumpkin

We love decor that multitasks! That hollowed-out pumpkin makes an excellent vase for seasonal flowers like mums. Put it on your porch, your mantel or your table for the perfect autumnal accent.

Halloween Set Up on a Wooden Dining Table
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Pilgrim pumpkin

This adorable pumpkin works for both Halloween and Thanksgiving decor. Carve it into a wee pilgrim house or church, and decorate with figurines and fall foliage. (Pro tip: Spray your jack-o’-lantern with bleach and keep it in cool temps to make it last longer. Here’s how long carved pumpkins typically last.)

Illuminated Jack-O-Lantern Against Wall
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Skinned pumpkin

A naked sun? A magic ball? This skinned jack-o’-lantern is a creative and easy way to carve a pumpkin everyone will be enchanted by. The key is to light it brightly from within.

Jack O' Lantern
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Creeping witch pumpkin

Tiny witches will love seeing this pumpkin when they come to the door to trick-or-treat! Wondering what time trick-or-treating starts? We have the answer.

Halloween carved pumpkin glowing in the dark
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Cuteness overload pumpkin

This anime-style kitty will give trick-or-treaters warm and fuzzy vibes.

Halloween or Thanksgiving decorations, white handcrafted carved ceramic pumpkin standing on orange stone table with autumn leaves and acorns, Halloween holiday interior home decor, Copy space
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Prettily patterned pumpkin

Some of us only want to decorate once per season, and this beautifully crafted pumpkin is another one that works for both Halloween and Thanksgiving. Carve a simple leaf design all over your pumpkin, then paint it a rustic white.

Political Pumpkins
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Ruth Bader Gourdsberg pumpkin

This Ruth Bader Ginsberg gourd is an homage to the woman herself but also a way to make a somewhat subtle political statement. Her black robe, lace collar and bun also make an easily recognizable Halloween costume for women.

Happy Halloween
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Cat-o’-lantern pumpkin

This pumpkin combines a traditional jack-o’-lantern face with cat ears and whiskers for a spooky combo. Place it on top of a stone statue for a full-body effect.

Boston Holds Pumpkin Festival
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Where the Wild Things Are pumpkin

Let the wild rumpus start! This fun pumpkin carving idea based on everyone’s favorite children’s book is sure to get some smiles from kids and nostalgic adults alike.

Star and moon carved pumpkin lit
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Moon and stars pumpkin

There’s something magical about a fall evening, with a big harvest moon and stars filling the sky. Bring that magic to your porch with this celestial pumpkin carving idea.

a cheese burger pumpkin for halloween
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Burger pumpkin

This pumpkin looks good enough to eat … and it is, because it’s not actually a pumpkin! For this design, you’ll be carving up a hamburger bun to make jack-o’-lantern eyes, adding a stem, and then cleverly layering cheese on the burger to look like teeth. Add all the fixings, and you have the perfect Halloween meal!

ghost carved pumpkin for halloween
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Ghost pumpkin

Simple and ghastly? Check and check. Bonus: It’s one of the simpler designs to carve, making it perfect for kids. Sing these Halloween songs while you work together for a memorable family moment.

The shining themed halloween pumpkin
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The Shining pumpkin

Inspired by one of our favorite Stephen King horror movies, this pumpkin will have the adults in the neighborhood saying “Heeeere’s Johnny!” in their best Jack Nicholson impression every time they pass by.

Jack O' Lanterns Halloween Pumpkin that says trick or treat
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Trick-or-treat pumpkin

The right ambiance goes a long way. This simple message written in a spooky font will welcome trick-or-treaters of all ages without spooking them too much.

fall leaves carved into pumpkins
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Fall leaves pumpkin

This stunning pumpkin carving idea requires a little extra work, but it’s so worth it. In the end, you’ll have a lovely jack-o’-lantern that depicts beautiful fall foliage.

goofy face carved into a halloween pumpkin
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Goofy pumpkin

Halloween doesn’t have to be scary and serious. Get a little goofy with this silly pumpkin design, and challenge kids to a funny-face contest. These Halloween party games will set the perfect mood too.

cresent moon carved into a pumpkin
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Skeleton moon pumpkin

Halloween is one of those times when nothing is quite as it seems. Trick-or-treaters will do a double take at this crescent and realize that the man on the moon is actually a skeleton!

carved pumpkin with large toothy smile
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Smiling pumpkin

Say cheese! This is one of those pumpkin carving designs that’s sure to make trick-or-treaters grin from ear to ear—and make them want to snap a selfie with this guy. For your own social media posts, try these clever Halloween captions.

Witch carved into halloween costume
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Witch’s brew pumpkin

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble. How’s that for a perfect Halloween quote to go with a perfect pumpkin? We don’t know what this witch is whipping up in her cauldron, but it gives us ideas for some scary-good Halloween drinks.

carved pumpkins impaled on a scary fence
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Impaled pumpkins

If you’re looking for unique and ultra-creepy pumpkin carving ideas, try these impaled shrunken pumpkin heads. Don’t have a fence? Stick them on an inexpensive graveyard gate decoration.

Close-Up Of Scary Halloween Pumpkin
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Toothpick teeth pumpkin

This pumpkin is truly the stuff of nightmares. In addition to some spookily carved eyes and a menacing mouth, all you need is a bunch of toothpicks to pull this together. Add a leftover “snack” on one of the teeth, covered in fake blood. Bonus: Toothpicks in the eyes will help the pumpkin hold its shape longer.

Halloween Pumpkin
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Simple sugar skull pumpkin

Sugar skull designs can be incredibly elaborate—and may be easier to paint on your pumpkin. But if you want to try your hand at carving, this simple design gives you all the fun without the hand cramps.

Lighted Halloween Pumpkin Jack o Lantern Wearing Covid PPE Mask On Steps
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Mask up pumpkin

What’s scarier than another year of COVID? Topical pumpkin carving ideas come together easily with a disposable mask and some surprised eyes.

Halloween pumpkins
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Heads will roll pumpkin

An off-kilter pumpkin puts a fun spin on a traditionally carved pumpkin; as far as pumpkin carving ideas go, this one makes this skeleton jack-o’-lantern look even spookier. You’ll roll with laughter, on the other hand, after reading these skeleton puns.

LUKE name
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Name that pumpkin

Using letter stencils, carve your names into a pumpkin so everyone knows whose pumpkin it is … or carve your honey’s name for a Valentine in October.

Jack-O'-Lanterns!
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Colorfully lit pumpkins

This is one of the simplest pumpkin carving ideas. Do your regular thing with a few pumpkins, then add some extra pizazz by lighting them up with colorful tea lights that change color throughout the night!

Halloween pumpkin carved in a heart shape
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Lovestruck pumpkin

Show off your love for Halloween or your significant other with this easy heart-shaped carving. And check out these couples Halloween costumes to coordinate with your boo on the big night.

Cat Carved in Jack-O'-Lantern
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Spooky cat pumpkin

Black cats are a fixture in scary Halloween stories, and this pumpkin carving idea offers just the right eerie vibe.

Jack O' Lantern
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Puppy love pumpkin

Dog lovers everywhere will get a kick out of this paw print on Halloween.

Carved pumpkin with math equation
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Pumpkin pi

We love a good pun … and a good pumpkin pie. This pumpkin carving idea is for all you math wizards out there. Bonus points if you can actually solve the equation you carve!

starry eyed carved pumpkin
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Starry-eyed pumpkin

We’ll be the first to say it: You’re a total star for attempting to get creative with your pumpkin carving!

Carved pumpkin at the annual Pumpkin Festival
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Shadow puppet pumpkin

Have your child place their hands in front of a flashlight to make a shadow on a pumpkin. Trace the “shadow puppet,” then carve it into a design unique to your little one. It’s a fun, simple and affordable Halloween DIY decoration.

Portrait of a girl in a witch costume with a terribly painted face and a pumpkin in her hands
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Vampire pumpkin

Has a vampire ever been this adorable? Peeling the pumpkin to show the fangs and eyes is an inspired pumpkin carving idea!

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Sweet spider pumpkin

This cute lil’ spider wouldn’t scare a soul! But it definitely would hand out some yummy Halloween treats and might even inspire a fun costume to match.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans
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Sports team pumpkin

Show your team spirit by carving your pumpkin with your favorite team’s initials or logo. This one has a Tennessee Titans design, but you can free-hand anything your sports-loving heart desires.

Mad Cat lantern shine on Halloween night.
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Mad Catter pumpkin

The Cheshire Cat has nothing on this devilish feline that’s one of the best pumpkin carving ideas we’ve seen.

Nightmare Before Halloween pumpkin
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Nightmare Before Christmas pumpkin

Move over, Jack Skellington—there’s another creepy pumpkin in town! Even kids can create this easy jack-o’-lantern with its oversized round eyes and stitched-together mouth. And they can watch one of the best Disney Halloween movies after they do!

A pumpkin carving in the shape of ghosts and the words "Trick or Treat"
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Trick-or-treat pumpkin

You’ll need a seriously steady hand to get this pumpkin carving idea right, but the results are totally boo-tiful.

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Jurassic pumpkin

To make a dino-sized impact, carve a triceratops, T.rex or other favorite into the side of a pumpkin. Because why not? Anything goes on Halloween!

Cat themed pumpkin jack o'lantern glowing
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Reverse image cat pumpkin

Sometimes Halloween is more about what you don’t see than what you do. This is true for this clever pumpkin, where the design is created by the empty, carved-out spaces—making the cat and stars glow.

Witch Hat Carved Pumpkin
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Hats off pumpkin

Truly, (witches’) hats off to you for finding this creative pumpkin carving idea! If you love women who put a spell on you, curl up on your couch and watch these witch movies.

Owl carved pumpkin lantern
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Owl be the judge pumpkin

This wise owl will bring a bit of dignity to your Halloween decor. Also, he’s just really cute!

Jack-o-lantern with a nose
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Pumpkin “nose” best

Talk about easy! All you have to do for this clever pumpkin carving idea is turn a pumpkin on its side and use its stem for a nose. Then you can go cute or demonic, depending on how you carve the eyes and mouth.

Carved lit pumpkin for Halloween
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Boo! pumpkin

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes all it takes is three letters to let everyone know you’re ready to celebrate the spooky season.

Halloween pumpkin with surprised face
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Surprised pumpkin

Oh, no! Is it Halloween already? If you’re still undecided about what to dress up as, check out our mega list of the best Halloween costumes that will be hard to top.

Additional reporting by Kelly Kuehn and Lucie Turkel.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte is an award-winning journalist who covers etiquette, relationships, psychology, health, and lifestyle. She has written more than 50 etiquette stories for Reader’s Digest, spearheading the site’s popular Polite Habits and Best Messages series. With a knack for capturing the essence of an interview subject, she also specializes in human-interest and “as told to” stories. In addition to Reader’s Digest and The Healthy, her work has been published in Shape, Cosmopolitan, Women's Health, O Magazine, Fitness, Redbook, Seventeen, What to Expect When You're Expecting and more.