19 Knife-Free Alternatives to Pumpkin Carving
Create spooky, funny, or off-the-wall Halloween pumpkin decorations without the danger that comes with sharp cutting tools
We're not saying that the entries in This Old House's annual Pumpkin Carving Contest aren't worth oohing and ahhing over. But not everyone is as slick with the carving tools as some of our master craftsmen. If you're a little wary of working with sharp objects—or you just can't stand the feel of pumpkin guts—there are ways to get crafty with your gourds using alternative methods. Gauze, puffy paint and junk drawer items are all fair game while creating a Halloween pumpkin masterpiece, and we're here to show you the best ideas we've gathered from around the Internet.
And whether you used a carving tool or not, make sure to enter your pumpkin masterpiece in the Pumpkin Carving Contest.
Paint your pumpkin—real or fake—in rainbow hues as a colorful palate cleanser for the good ol' traditional jack-o'-lantern. Start with a white pumpkin, or paint yours white, and then paint on three colors, blending them together where they meet. Feel free to get messy with this; part of the charm is the visible brushstrokes.
This DIY is sure to be a hit with kids that like to play with bugs, though the plastic creepy crawlies shown here are always preferable to the real deal. Slice an inch off opposite sides of a real pumpkin, and core the middle. Use some drywall screws to stretch faux spider webbing, then suspend a toy spider in it.
Let your pumpkins work overtime by using them as Thanksgiving centerpieces, too. Paint faux pumpkins with glue, then roll or dip them in fall-toned glitter.
Create elegant but macabre pumpkins in a flash with these stretchy lace-fabric pumpkin covers from Martha Stewart.
About $15, Michaels Arts and Crafts stores
Pumpkin guts may be orange, but these ghoulish mini pumpkins are bloody fun. Stock up on fun-sized pumpkins, coat them in white paint, and squeeze blood-red puffy fabric paint in their creases.
Raid your sewing box for this boo-tastic pumpkin idea. Spell out a Halloween word or phrase with buttons, following a printable template. And never fear: Sacrificing your craft supplies arsenal to the pumpkin gods isn't necessary. Just attach the buttons with straight pins so you don't have to throw them away with your rotten pumpkin when the trick-or-treating is over.
Grab the extra brass upholstery nails from your last chair makeover project and leave the hammer behind. Simply push the nails into the pumpkins' surfaces to create interesting patterns.
If you'd rather swear off candy for life than decorate your home in depressing black for Halloween, put some old doilies to good use. Dip the doilies in a bowl of liquid starch to make them stick to the pumpkins; peel them off, wash them, and stash them away when you're ready to move on to another holiday.
If you have small kids you'd rather not have around big knives, let them raid the junk drawer instead. They can use some of its contents to make goofy faces on pumpkin surfaces—the more creative, the better!
Avoid making a mess with the kids with easy-to-attach felt decorations. Find templates online or freehand your own, cut them out from black and white felt pieces, and attach them to the pumpkin with glue and toothpicks.
Bring some industrial style to this year's gourd via handmade metal ornaments from Knob Creek Metal Arts. Other snazzy pumpkins add-ons include bat wings, monster hands and deer antlers.
About $20 for arms and about $50 for legs
An intricate centerpiece-worthy pumpkin is within reach using your craft leftovers. Arm yourself with a glue gun and yarn scraps to pretty up a pumpkin with these simple spiral rosettes
Make your favorite fall flowers pop in a saturated orange planter. Cut the top off fake craft store pumpkins and plop in flowers for a piece that looks great on its own or on top of seasonally appropriate black urns.
Disguise unsightly spots on a discount pumpkin by using it as a lollipop holder for trick-or-treaters or party guests. You can use—or skip—the drill for this one.
Don't give neighborhood pumpkin thieves a chance to reap from your crafty non-carving ways. Create a fancy monogram that's all your own with a template, small nails, and yarn.
Skip the knife—and paint—this time around and go for the glue to make some Halloween magic happen. Layer tissue paper on mini pumpkins and finish them off with paint-pen messages.
A little texture goes a long way: Craft glue, yarn, and some wrapping patience is all it takes for this simple, chic decoration. For a great centerpiece, wrap several small pumpkins in coordinated colors of yard and display them in a large bowl
Finally, a reason to use the dregs from that chalkboard paint project! The possibilities for chalk decoration are endless, but we really like this Halloween countdown calendar idea.