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Spooktacular Pumpkin Decorating Ideas

September 21, 2023
6 min read

Spooktacular Pumpkin Decorating Ideas

Ready to add some spine-chilling charm to your home’s Halloween decor? You don’t have to be an artist to transform plain pumpkins into haunting works of art. Check out our list of creative pumpkin decorating and painting ideas for a spooktacular season the whole family will enjoy.

The tradition of pumpkin decorating for Halloween

Before we dig in, have you ever wondered why people started carving pumpkins in the first place? Pumpkin carving and decorating dates back centuries and is believed to have originated from an ancient Celtic tradition of hollowing out turnips and placing candles inside to ward off evil spirits.

The tradition was later adopted by Irish immigrants who found pumpkins a more readily available and easier-to-carve alternative. Today, pumpkin decorating has evolved into an art form. People worldwide eagerly anticipate the arrival of fall to showcase their creativity and bring their spooky visions to life.

Ready to embark on your own pumpkin decorating tradition? Here's what you'll need to get started:


Choose pumpkins of various shapes and sizes. Look for ones that are firm and have a smooth surface, as they will be easier to carve and decorate.

Carving Tools

Invest in pumpkin carving tools, including a serrated knife, scoop, and various carving saws. 

Paints and Brushes

Acrylic paints in various colors will allow you to add vibrant details to your pumpkins. Make sure to have a range of brush sizes to accommodate different design elements.


Gather a collection of accessories such as googly eyes, sequins, ribbons, and fake spiderwebs to add extra flair to your pumpkin creations. These small details can make a big impact on the overall look.

Stencils and Templates

You may also want to set down newspapers on the table and make sure the kids are wearing some old t-shirts. Now that you have all the necessary tools and materials, it's time to dive into the exciting world of pumpkin decorating.

Gorgeous batch of pumpkins of every shape and size for decorating.

If you're new to pumpkin decorating, don't worry! There are plenty of ideas that are perfect for beginners and every skill level. Here are a few simple yet spooktacular designs to get you started:

Classic Jack-o'-Lantern

The classic Jack-o'-Lantern is a timeless design that never fails to impress. 

  • Start by cutting off the top of the pumpkin and scooping out the insides. 
  • Next, use a marker or pencil to draw a face of your choice on the pumpkin. 
  • Once satisfied with the design, carefully carve along the lines using a serrated knife. 

Remember to carve away from yourself and take your time to avoid any accidents. Parents, you might want to have the kiddos draw the face and you do the carving. Then, you both can scoop out the insides.

Glitter Pumpkins

For a touch of elegance and a pumpkin decorating “no carve” option, glitter pumpkins steal the spotlight. 

  • Start by painting the pumpkin with a layer of glue or Mod Podge. 
  • Then, sprinkle glitter over the entire surface of the pumpkin, covering it evenly. 
  • Let it dry completely before adding a second layer of glue and glitter for a more intense sparkle. 
  • Once dry, these pumpkins will add a dazzling touch to your Halloween decor.

Silhouette Pumpkins

Silhouette pumpkins are a simple yet striking design that requires minimal carving. 

  • Choose a stencil or template with a spooky silhouette, such as a bat or a haunted house. 
  • Tape the stencil onto the pumpkin and trace the design using a pencil or marker. 
  • Then, carefully carve along the traced lines using a carving saw. 

When illuminated, these silhouettes will cast eerie shadows, giving your Halloween display an extra dose of fright.

Young boy and his little brother decorating pumpkins for Halloween.

Looking to take your family’s pumpkin decorating skills to the next level? Here are a few methods that can enhance your home’s Halloween curb appeal.

3D Carving

Instead of simply carving into the pumpkin's surface, try creating three-dimensional designs that pop out. This technique requires more precision and patience but can result in stunning and intricate art pieces. Use various carving saws to carefully sculpt different layers and levels, creating a mesmerizing effect when illuminated.

Painted Pumpkins

Painting pumpkins allows for more intricate details and will enable you to experiment with various colors and textures. 

  • Start by painting a base color.
  • Next, use smaller brushes to add finer details and shading. 

This technique is especially effective for creating realistic or whimsical characters on your pum

Mixed Media Pumpkins

Combine different materials and techniques to create truly unique pumpkin decorations. Start by incorporating the following elements to create a multi-dimensional effect:

  • Fabric
  • Feathers
  • Miniature skeletons
  • Plastic spiders

Mix and match different textures and colors to add depth and visual interest. Advanced pumpkin decorating techniques may require more time and patience, but the result will be well worth the effort.  Don't be afraid to challenge yourself and let your kids’ imaginations run wild.

After investing time and effort into creating your spooktacular pumpkin decorations, you'll want to ensure they last throughout the Halloween season. Here are some tips for preserving your decorated pumpkins:

Clean and Dry

Before decorating your pumpkins, ensure they are clean and dry. Remove any dirt and debris, and allow them to fully dry to prevent mold or rotting.

Seal with Varnish

Once you have finished decorating, seal your pumpkins with a clear varnish or spray sealer. Doing so will help protect the paint and prevent it from smudging or fading.

Keep Indoors

While pumpkins are traditionally displayed outdoors, keeping them indoors will help prolong their lifespan. Exposure to extreme temperatures and moisture can cause them to deteriorate more quickly. The garage is usually a good place unless we expect an early hard frost. Be sure to place them on some flattened cardboard to protect your floors and pumpkins.

Avoid Moisture

Keep your pumpkins away from water sources or areas with high humidity. Moisture can accelerate rotting and cause your decorations to deteriorate faster.

Pumpkins at Aspen Ridge.

Happy pumpkin decorating and painting! 


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