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5 No-Carve Ways to Decorate a Pumpkin

Pumpkin wrapped up with ribbons
Jenn Huls/Shutterstock

Halloween’s not complete without the requisite jack-o’-lantern grinning on your front porch. Carving a tough-shelled gourd can be a frustrating endeavor, though, especially with young kids. So leave the knife behind and check out these five no-carve ways to decorate a pumpkin.

Sharp objects and small children don’t go together. Honestly, sharp objects and some adults don’t go together. While a carved pumpkin is traditional, it’s not always the smartest, or even the sweetest, way to decorate your front porch on Halloween.

From many, many non-traditional ways to decorate a pumpkin, we’ve narrowed it down to our five favorites. So whether you’re celebrating with children this year, or just don’t want the mess that comes with carving a gourd, we’ve got you set with these simple, no-carve ways to decorate a pumpkin.

Paint Your Pumpkin

DIY marbled Pumpkins
Lori, PopofGold.com

Painting a pumpkin is an obvious choice. Basic craft paint turns a pumpkin’s hard shell into a canvas. And with the large variety in pumpkin sizes, shapes, and colors, you won’t have to settle for an oblong and orange canvas either.

For an effortless and creative take on painted pumpkins, try the nail-polish technique: Swirl a few drops of your favorite polish in water. Then run your pumpkin through the water, picking up the colored polish as you do so. The effect is sleek, dark, and creepy—perfect for a haunted house or spooky soiree.

For more detailed instructions on the nail-polish paint technique, check out PopofGold.com.

Use a Stick-On Craft Kit

The easiest way to avoid carving pumpkins is to use a craft kit. Kits are sold in all the major big-box stores this time of year, or you can use Amazon to find a favorite. If you’re decorating with kids, we recommend buying a few extra kits. They tend to be cheap, and having a few extra of the prized pink pompoms or giant stick-on eyes means fewer rare treasures to fight over.

Make sure you do this one indoors. Kits tend to have a lot of lightweight, stick-on parts that are just as likely to be blown away in the breeze as they are to be stuck on your pumpkin.

Put Your Cute Office Supplies to Use

thumbtack pumpkin designs on teal and white pumpkins
Bruce Cole/DIY Network

We love how simple this idea is. All you need is a box of thumbtacks. You can be as sleek and creative as you’d like here. Use all orange, white, and black tacks, or go with a metallic look. Thumbtacks come in several different shapes and sizes, too, which can readily alter the look of your pumpkin. Like the teal pumpkin seen in the photo here? The color isn’t just a fashion statement.

If you’re short on tacks, rivets work, too. Find detailed instructions on how to use rivets here.

Find a Home for Broken Crayons

Ever notice how much kids despise broken crayons? Use Halloween to get rid of them! For the best results, you’ll need a white pumpkin. And, you’ll want to do this over a drop cloth or sheet. Get that set up, and then lay your crayon pieces around the pumpkin’s stem. It should look like a sun, with the stem as the center and the crayons as the rays.

Then, take a blow dryer to the whole thing. The heat from the dryer will melt the crayons, so they drip down the sides of the pumpkin. You can use crayons that are all in the same color family for an ombre effect, or you can use all the colors of the rainbow for a bright take on Halloween.

Need a visual on how this melty crayon trick plays out? Watch this video from the crayon craft masters at Crayola.

Bows and Buttons

When all else fails, take a cue from Christmas and tie up your pumpkins like a present. Fun and festive ribbons are vital to this look and easy to find at craft stores or online. To make it extra quirky, add buttons either spaced evenly around the gourd or pushed together to spell seasonal words and phrases like, “Trick or Treat” or “Boo!”


If carving a pumpkin isn’t your style, there’s no need to boycott the jack-o-lantern tradition. Switch it up and use simple decorations to make your pumpkin pop. Whether you enhance it with a colorful crayon rainbow or cover it in cute office supplies, this bright orange gourd still screams Halloween. And, regardless of how you decorate it, it’s going to look perfect on your front porch.

Lauren Sakiyama Lauren Sakiyama
Lauren Sakiyama is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry. She has managed restaurants, country clubs, and large-scale event operations, but her passion has always been about the food. Read Full Bio »

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