5 ideas for carving Halloween pumpkins

I love doing Halloween with my daughter here in the UK, especially since it’s still in its infancy. There’s a bit of trick or treating, there are a few parties but the celebrations aren’t over the top, like what can be a consumer-fest in the U.S.  I also find the whole super-gruesome costume thing that adult revelers have embraced creepy in the extreme.

But one thing I am glad that has caught on here is creative pumpkin carving. I’ve never been particularly skilled in this regard. You have to get one of those little pumpking carving kits – knives can be unwieldy for fine work. In our neighbourhood I’ve been seeing some impressive versions.

Here, my Halloween pumpkin gallery and 5 tips:


Tip 1: Use the natural contours of the pumpkin to create your design. Don’t worry about getting a perfectly shaped gourd. Unusual features can make it more interesting.

Jagged teeth pumpkin

We carved this lopsided pumpkin with loads of "laugh lines" and great cheekbones, using the stem as a nose


Tip 2: Two jack-o-lantern heads can be better than one for a front garden display

Two jack-o-lanterns

Group pumpkins together for more impact. Also, don't forget to add eyebrows, noses, funny teeth -- all can be great for characteristics


Tip 3: Carving a big face that covers a large part of the pumpkin lets out a lot of light for a dramatic display

Pumpkin carved for Halloween

Use a lot of surface area for a big glowing display


Tip 4: You don’t need to restrict yourself to traditional faces. Ghost scenes, cats, witch’s hats — all look great carved into your favourite Halloween gourd.

Ghost scene carved in pumpkin

A friendly ghost flies across the surface of a pumpkin


Tip 5: The important thing is to have fun. A simple jack-o-lantern (triangular eyes, blocky mouth) is the easiest to carve with kids. You can always add a scar or a tooth or two.

A simple pumpkin

A classic simple jack-o-lantern always works


I’m a journalist and blogger. Previously I was The Times’s online lifestyle editor and Alpha Mummy blogger. Now I’m co-founder of BritMums and BritMums Live! – our annual blogging conference that draws hundreds. Follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Google+.



  1. October 31, 2012 / 9:46 am

    I know I’ve left it late but this is our playtime task this afternoon, some fab ideas and winner (in my opinion) goes to the guy with the fab cheekbones 🙂

    • October 31, 2012 / 11:50 am

      Aww thanks Mari. He weighed a ton but I love his face

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