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13 Easy No-Carve Pumpkin Designs

Megan Horst-hatch
Oct. 2, 2012

Simplify your Halloween decorations this year with these quick jack-o'-lantern designs -- no knife required!

Are you ready to give your pumpkin a unique look without using a knife? Then 13 is your lucky number this Halloween! With these no-carve pumpkin design, small children can get hands-on while creating a fun decoration for your porch or window. It's also a great way to keep messes to a minimum; with no cuts to make and no stringy pumpkin guts to clean up, you can keep your workspace fairly clean. Nyssa Juneau, a staff member of Texas Art Supply in Houston, Texas, provides tips on decorating your pumpkin without grabbing a knife.

Do you have older kids who want to dig into your pumpkin with a knife? Read this step-by-step guide on How to Carve a Pumpkin ť

  1. Paint It
    Grab some acrylic paint to decorate your pumpkin. "Using acrylic paint is ideal for pumpkin decorating," Juneau explains. "It's waterproof and is fairly cheap, and you can buy small bottles of the paint in a variety of colors." If you're using a pumpkin with a deep orange color, select darker paints to create a sharp contrast. Have your children paint a picture of a haunted house or a scary ghost, black cat or witch. If they're less into scary and more into pop culture, ask them to paint their favorite superhero, Disney character or animal. If the kids are really young, grab some sponges cut into fun, Halloween-themed designs. The kids can dip the sponges into the paint and press the shapes onto the pumpkin with ease.

  2. Mold It
    Create hands, hats, a body or fun facial features for your pumpkin with clay. "You'll want to use non-drying clay because it will adhere better to the pumpkin than clay that dries," says Juneau. Use Mr. Potato Head as inspiration.

  3. Raid the Craft Box
    Got any odds and ends from previous craft projects that you can't find a use for? Grab a hot glue gun and use it to attach feathers, sequins, pipe cleaners or googly eyes to your pumpkin. Give your pumpkin hair with yarn, or use craft supplies to write "Boo!" or "Happy Halloween". "Use the glue gun for rhinestones for an unexpected and cool look on a pumpkin," Juneau advises. Adult supervision will be required when using the hot glue.

  4. Make Your Mark
    Use permanent markers to draw scary or silly faces on your jack-o'-lantern. Or sketch pictures of Halloween-themed items, such as bats, ghosts or witches. If you and your children are up for something more intricate, look online for carving templates. You can find them in all kinds of great themes, such as Harry Potter, Batman or Star Wars. Print out one you like, cut it out and trace on your pumpkin. Use your marker to fill in the empty space and you're ready to go.

  5. Get Sticky
    Small children will especially like selecting Halloween-themed stickers to put on their pumpkins. Use stickers in monochromatic colors to create interesting designs, too.

  6. Play with Your Food
    Use toothpicks to attach vegetables and fruit to your pumpkin. A bunch of parsley or a cabbage leaf can be used for hair, and button mushrooms and cherry tomatoes can be used for eyes and noses. Melon rinds can be used for a mouth, while slices of peppers can be ears.

  7. Look in the Coat Closet
    Let your children look around your home and select old baseball caps, sunglasses, scarves or gloves to give your pumpkin a personalized ensemble. If the pumpkin will be placed outdoors, use duct tape to keep the clothing from blowing away in the wind.

  8. Find Inspiration in Mother Nature
    For a fun scavenger hunt for the whole family, check outdoors for pine cones, acorns, leaves and pebbles to decorate your pumpkin. Use hot glue to create a natural-looking design with your family's outdoor finds.

  9. Be Tacky
    Use a pencil or washable marker to draw an outline of a fun Halloween message or design, then press thumbtacks into the outline for an eye-catching metallic look. Gem-colored thumbtacks can make fun faces, while black upholstery tacks are perfect for darker designs, like bats or witches.

  10. Button Up
    Grab your button jar and glue mismatched buttons in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors onto your pumpkin for a unique look. Children will enjoy looking for the perfect button to place on their pumpkin.

  11. See Stripes
    Cut up an old t-shirt or grab some ribbons and cover your pumpkins with interesting strips of fabric. A hot glue gun would be ideal to use, as it will keep the fabric adhered to the pumpkin. How about a zebra pumpkin with black and white stripes?

  12. Glow with Glitter
    Create a glittery pumpkin that will sparkle on Halloween. Cover your pumpkin in a light coat of glue using a sponge brush. Then sprinkle Epsom salt over the pumpkin, let it dry and you're all set to shine. You can even use food coloring to turn the salt different colors.

  13. Provide Some Relief
    Use a potato peeler to peel away part of the pumpkin's exterior flesh, creating a relief sculpture. Before starting, take a pencil or washable marker and outline your design. Shave away as much or as little of the pumpkin's flesh as you want, creating a fun look with depth. Using a peeler will require adult supervision. Make SpongeBob or their favorite cartoon character. Or go for a spooky bat hanging on a branch or witch riding on her broom.

With so many non-carve ways to decorate a pumpkin, you and your child can create unique decorations for Halloween without the mess.

Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in "-er." Her work can be found here.

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