Jordan Leonard
jack-o-lantern tips

You have mastered the basic jack-o-lantern face–the classic triangular eyes and pointy-toothed grin–but now you are left with your carving knife in hand and wondering how to take your squash-styling skills up a notch. Check out this frightening list of tricks and treats to ensure that your next carved pumpkin is most certainly not your average jack-o-lantern.

Carve a Character

You definitely don’t need to be an artist to create a charactor jack-o-lantern. With patterns for sale and printable versions available online, all you have to do is figure out what image you want to carve. Deciding will be the hardest part, as there are printable designs depicting the New York skyline, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Peanuts characters, haunted cemeteries, and fire-breathing dragons, for example. Make your selection, tape it to the pumpkin, and get carving.


Pumpkin-Eating Pumpkin

Cannibalistic squash may sound frightening, but these innovative designs where a larger jack-o-lantern has been carved so that it is chowing down on a smaller pumpkin showcases the perfect mix of art and fright. Smaller pumpkins may be placed intact, inside the gnawing jaw carved with gnashing teeth, or squashed with pumpkin pieces spewed about. Another clever idea is carving the larger pumpkin to appear as if it is being split open from a mighty, small pumpkin bursting out.

Find a New Fruit

Here’s some trivia for your next cocktail party: pumpkins are actually fruits. Although carving a pumpkin has grown into a tradition, there are plenty other fruits to carve. Pick a different fruit, such as melons or gourds, when selecting your carving medium. Carving out oranges is a great way to do a small project that can easily line your apartment windowsill or table top, plus the smell will be amazing!

Drilling in Designs

If the only tool you have ever used to carve pumpkins is a giant knife, you are limiting yourself. There are several tools sold in pumpkin carving sets, but opting for your drill offers the opportunity to make some unique designs. Small drill bits can be used to create delicate patterns. Use a paper doily for the design for a super swanky pumpkin. Use several sizes of drill bits to create designs that will let the light shine out from all sides of the pumpkin. A favorite drill design is etching words or spooky sayings into the pumpkins.

Unusual Colors

With orange as one of the official colors of Halloween, it is no wonder that jack-o-lanterns are also traditionally orange. Mix it up by selecting some of the more unusual pumpkin and squash varieties for a white, yellow, green, or multi-colored palette. For over-achieving Halloween decorators, pick pumpkins in several colors and sizes to make for an impressive scene.


Painting a jack-o-lantern is a sure hit with any parent who does not want the mess or danger of scooping out pumpkin guts and carving designs. Little ones can let their creativity flow as they finger paint their spooky masterpiece. Those wanting to create a frightening scene or trendy decoration can use painter’s tape to plan out their design. Some paint on a jack-o-lantern face, others opt for a chevron pumpkin complete with glitter paint.

Jeweled Jack-o-Lantern

Similar to painting, this is a no-mess way to decorate a pumpkin that can decorate your front step or balcony for weeks without ever rotting. Those who love all things sparkly can bling out a gourd with jewels of any size, shape, or color. Simply attach the jewels with craft glue or a hot glue gun. An elaborate Day of the Dead theme would be really over-the-top in rhinestones.

Eerie Glow

Candles inside of jack-o-lanterns are so last millennium. This is the 21st century, so you have loads of options for lighting up your pumpkin. Battery-operated candles get rid of the risk of fire, and can be left inside of pumpkins even when you are not home. Decorate in color by using colorful glow sticks inside the pumpkin for another safe lighting option; your neighbors and landlord will love it.

Have unique jack-o-lantern ideas or helpful tips to share? We’d love to hear about it! Share your favorite ideas in the comments below or tag @AptGuide on Twitter!



About The Author

Jordan Leonard

The Apartment Guide Blog is your premier source for all things apartment related. From your initial search to your next move and everything in between, we’ve got you covered with all the tips, tricks and advice you’re looking for. We also sprinkle in a little industry news like rental trends and city lists from time to time if that’s your thing.