Megan is a writer and editor who specializes in home upgrades, DIY projects, hacks, and design. Before Apartment Therapy, she was an editor at HGTV Magazine and This Old House Magazine. Megan has a degree in Magazine Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is a self-taught weighted blanket connoisseur.
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Jack-o-lanterns are a Halloween decorating classic, and for many people, there’s simply no way to celebrate the holiday without a carved pumpkin or two (or more!). But no-carve alternatives like painted pumpkins can get you in the Halloween mood without having to cover your kitchen in messy pumpkin seeds and goop.
Not sure where to start? Below, find 19 ways to paint your pumpkins that are just as festive as the classic jack-o-lantern — but with a fresh twist. These painted pumpkins have tons of creative possibilities while also making way less mess than your standard pumpkin carving, so grab some paint and brushes and let your imagination go wild.
1. Rainbow Pumpkins
Keep your paint project simple by painting pumpkins in solid colors — but make it interesting by choosing a range of different colors. In this project from The House That Lars Built, pumpkins are painted in shades of the rainbow, but you could also go for various shades of the same color for all of yours. Get more instructions here.
2. Tiny Lettered Pumpkins
On the other end of the spectrum: these minimalist painted pumpkins from Lovely Indeed. The solid black paint job lets teeny tiny white lettering pop, showcasing cute festive phrases. Find the how-to here.
White mini pumpkins make for a perfect blank canvas for all sorts of designs, but it’s hard to name an easier one than this spotted pattern from Paper & Stitch. Metallic markers add a little glitz. Get the how-to here.
5. Faux Burger Mini Pumpkin
If you’re looking to craft something a little more whimsical, try making this mini pumpkin painted to look like a burger from Studio DIY. You’ll only need a few supplies to get this three-dimensional look. Find the instructions here.
6. Doughnut Painted Pumpkins
Want to give your burger pumpkin another food-themed companion? Try whipping up one (or six!) of these mini pumpkins painted to look like doughnuts. Puffy paint gives the sprinkles some believable dimension. Get the tutorial here.
7. Geometric Gold Mini Pumpkins
For a more glamorous look, go for an abstract geometric pattern in an eye-catching metallic paint. These, by Lovely Indeed, show that you don’t even have to paint a whole pumpkin to make a big impact. Find the how-to here.
8. Brushstroke Pumpkins
For an artistic take on painted pumpkins, try creating a repeating brush stroke pattern. These pumpkins, from The Merrythought, show how various paint brush sizes can create different effects. Get the instructions here.
9. Tone-on-Tone Painted Pumpkins
If you’re looking for a way to make classic Halloween patterns a little more sophisticated, try a tone-on-tone paint job. You can go with classic neutrals, as A Beautiful Mess did with these pumpkins, or even choose a light and a dark shade of a bolder color. Find the how-to here.
Let your pumpkin do the talking for you by adding a quippy saying on top of a bright base color, like Studio DIY did here. You can hand-write these phrases, but for a super sharp look take advantage of the free printables. Get those (and the how-to) here.
12. Minimalist Patterned Pumpkins
Mini pumpkins make patterns of small shapes totally doable — after all, there’s a lot less surface area to cover! For a chic minimalist look, take inspiration from Lovely Indeed and stick to simple shapes and a black-and-white color palette. Find the instructions here.
This cool textured look was made by covering a pumpkin with lines of quilting (or ball head) pins, then spray painting white. The end product looks like vintage hobnail glass. Find the tutorial here.
15. Confetti-Dipped Pumpkins
Bold paint colors are just part of the equation in these festive pumpkin creations from Studio DIY. What makes them especially fun is the partial dip into gold confetti — the ultimate celebration! Get the instructions here.
16. Paint Splatter Pumpkins
Splatter paint doesn’t have to be relegated to kids’ crafts (though they’ll love it, too!). Here, splatter painted pumpkins from Homey Oh My look extra sophisticated thanks to a palette of neutral paint colors. Find the how-to here.
17. Gold Botanicals Pumpkins
Simple botanical doodles look extra striking when done with metallic gold paint markers, as Lovely Indeed shows here. For a slightly different look, you could use rose gold, silver, or copper, too. Read the tutorial here.
18. Drippy Pumpkins
The drippy paint on these pumpkins, done by Paper & Stitch, gives a painterly effect that would be at home in any art studio. This project would be a great way to use up any leftover paints you have on hand. Find the how-to here.
19. Terrazzo Pumpkins
Mid-century modern lovers, this one’s for you. Here, a few shades of paint and some strategically imperfect paint splotches turn a plain pumpkin into one with the look of speckled terrazzo. Get the instructions here.