Sep 10

Pumpkin Decorating Ideas for Halloween

halloween-pumpkinHalloween is nearly here once more, and if you’re like many people, you’ll be making a Halloween pumpkin lantern. Carved vegetable lanterns, or Jack O’Lanterns as they’re often known, are part of an ancient tradition that originated with the Celts. However the original lanterns made by the Celts in Europe were usually made from turnips, swedes or mangelwurzels. Halloween lanterns made from pumpkins only became popular relatively recently, after the Halloween holiday started to be widely celebrated in the US, where pumpkins are plentiful. They have since gained popularity elsewhere in the world too, thanks to the relative ease with which they can be carved, and the brilliant orange glow they produce when lit up.

Pumpkins are very versatile and can be carved and decorated carved in any number of ways and it’s very easy to produce a lantern that will make a beautiful addition to your Halloween decorations.

There are two basic approaches you can take to decorating your pumpkin. The first is to carve a face or other design into the flesh, and the second is to paint the pumpkin’s surface. You might then like to embellish it further. Of course, you can always combine these approaches, and produce a more ornate and unusual pumpkin!

Carving Your Pumpkin

Halloween pumpkins are usually carved, so they can be used as lanterns. Carving a pumpkin can be as simple as creating a couple of triangular eyes and a mouth, or, if you are feeling adventurous, you can make a more complex pumpkin lantern intricate features or other patterns, such as cats, spiders, ghosts, etc, or even non-Halloween motifs.

To carve your pumpkin:

  • Cut off the top (if you’re going to illuminate it with a candle) or the bottom (to provide access for an electric light cord)
  • Scrape out the flesh
  • Draw your design onto the surface of the pumpkin
  • Cut around the outlines with a sharp knife or other carving tool. You might find it useful to pare the interior surface of the pumpkin back in the areas you will be cutting.

Your pumpkin is then ready to be lit up.

You can either design your own pumpkin carving pattern, or you can use one of the many that are available (very often for for free) online. is one site that I recommend if you’re looking for more ideas and inspiration.

Painting Your Pumpkin

Painted Halloween pumpkins are not as common as the carved variety, but they are becoming very popular. Painting your pumpkin gives you more flexibility than carving it, and you can create stunning painted Halloween designs that are guaranteed to get a reaction. Don’t worry if you think you can’t paint – you don’t need to be an artist to create beautiful painted Halloween pumpkins! See my site (link in the resource box below) for details of an excellent guide to pumpkin painting, called Pumpkin Painting, Anyone Can Do It. Really! With this handy guide, you’ll be producing brightly painted pumpkin masterpieces in no time! Painted pumpkins are also very popular with children, as – unlike with carved pumpkins – they can create their own pumpkin designs very safely and with minimal assistance.

Embellishing Your Pumpkin Further

If you really want to go to town, you can jazz up your carved or painted pumpkin even more. Try sticking on some glitter or sequins, or draping it with strings of sparkly beads. Just be sure not to use flammable materials.

Employ any or all of these pumpkin decorating ideas, and you’ll soon have a beautifully scary Halloween pumpkin that will make a fantastic centrepiece for your home!


Melania Karel is entranced by all things supernatural and Halloween-related, and is webmaster of Halloween-o-Pedia, a treasure trove of spooky information and resources, including information about pumpkin painting and other forms of decoration.

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