8 Super Easy Pumpkin Carving and Etching Projects to Try This Fall

updated Sep 30, 2023
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Porch decorated with pumkins for fall
Credit: Orhan Cam/Shutterstock

If you’re a Halloween lover, you might be a person that goes all-in on DIY decor, with handmade items adorning your fireplace mantel and your front door. Or you might be someone who loves the spooky vibes of the season but whose DIYs are limited to the most basic of creations. Either way, it’s handy to have some easy ideas for pumpkin carving in your back pocket — whether you hope to have that pumpkin be one of 100 other projects or whether it’s the only thing on display that will be made by your hands.

One secret to ultra easy pumpkin carving is to skip carving entirely. Instead, try etching your pumpkin for a creative display. The process, which uses a linoleum cutter rather than a knife, makes sophisticated designs simple, even if you’re a beginner. It’s one of our favorite carving-free ways to decorate pumpkins that will appeal to all artistic levels. 

Peruse the magical pumpkin designs that follow, then order a lino cutter stat— you’re going to want to make every single one to dress up your front porch for Halloween. Pro tip: If you etch a pumpkin this year, cover the etched areas with petroleum jelly to keep them looking fresher longer.

Looking for more traditional carving inspiration? You’ll find some super easy ideas for that here, too. But first, find the basics of pumpkin etching below.

How Does Pumpkin Etching Work?

While carving requires cutting all the way through the pumpkin, etching involves shallow slices with a linoleum cutter tool to remove just the top layer of skin. It’s much easier to make intricate designs and curves when etching, especially if you’re not all that comfortable carving. Plus, you won’t need to get elbow-deep in guts and pulp when etching, unless you want to add a candle, or roast some delicious pumpkin seeds.

What Tools Do I Need for Pumpkin Etching?

You can get a Speedball Linoleum Cutter for just $15, along with 5 cutter tips in various sizes. It’s the only tool you’ll need to get started, but be careful, the blades are sharper than you might think.

Pumpkin Etching Ideas

We’ve rounded up an assortment of festive, clever, and stylish examples of pumpkin etching to inspire the perfect autumnal centerpiece, front porch decor, or weekend art project for the whole family.

Botanical Pattern Pumpkin

For a super sophisticated pumpkin, repeat a simple botanical pattern around the entire thing. You can freehand something — as this artist from Grace and Gratitude Farm did — or you can make the project easy by using a seasonal stencil and repeating until the whole surface is covered.

Geometric Pattern Pumpkin

These pumpkins from Made in a Day are carved, but you can use the same idea for an etching project. Choose a simple geometric shape like a diamond, and repeat that in a grid all the way around the pumpkin for a sophisticated display.

Fairy House Pumpkin

Create a magical little fairy house by sketching (and then etching) a door and windows onto a pumpkin, as seen at Chasing Windmills. If you want to get the glowing look of this pumpkin, hollow out your pumpkin to make space for a candle and turn your etchings into carvings so that you can let the light through.

Playful Pumpkin with Toys

If you’re going to carve, keep the design super simple and instead use toys to give your pumpkin some character. In this pumpkin design from ProjectKid, a pumpkin carved with holes comes to life when it’s accessorized with toy mice arranged to look like they’re crawling in and out. Get the instructions here.

Fallen Foliage Pumpkin

Whether or not the leaves have started falling in your neck of the woods, this darling pumpkin etching idea by From China Village will bring plenty of autumnal cheer to your home.

Monogram Pumpkin

Etching your initials into a pumpkin is like the grownup version of carving your name into a tree. Get the how-to on The Wonder Forest.

Credit: Mom Advice

Holiday Topiary Pumpkins

Ensure all your Halloween party invitees and neighborhood trick-or-treaters will be able to find your home with this idea from Mom Advice. Etch the street numbers of your house into as many pumpkins as you need to create this funky front yard ornament for the season.

Credit: Momtastic

Wine Dispenser Pumpkin

This project from Momtastic turns an ordinary pumpkin into a clever drink dispenser for wine, cocktails, and more. You can etch punny phrases or the name of the beverage inside the pumpkin to elevate this craft even more.