Skip the fresh pumpkin this year and carve a lasting craft pumpkin instead. These faux Halloween jack-o'-lanterns are just as easy, and you'll never have to worry about them rotting on the front porch.

By BH&G Crafts Editors
Updated October 01, 2020
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Read step by step instructions after the video.

Carving a jack-o'-lantern is a cherished Halloween tradition, but sticking my hands into a pumpkin full of goo isn't my favorite thing to do. Plus, carving one can be a lot of work for a decoration that will eventually rot. This year, skip the guts and seeds and carve your design into an artificial pumpkin. Anyone who has carved a real pumpkin before has the skills to carve a faux one. We'll walk you through the basics so you can get started on one of our hundreds of free downloadable pumpkin carving stencils. Once carved, you'll have a lasting pumpkin decoration to display year after year.

  • Working time 1 hr
  • Start to finish 1 hr
  • Difficulty Easy
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What you need

Tools
Materials
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How to do it

Step 1

Choose a Faux Pumpkin

To carve a faux jack-o'-lantern that looks like the real thing, you'll need to choose the right craft pumpkin. We recommend a hollow artificial pumpkin made from sturdy low-density foam because they're the easiest to carve (such as this Cream Carvable Plastic Halloween Pumpkin, $8, Target). Once you have the pumpkin, use a pencil to draw a circle on the bottom of the pumpkin that is large enough to insert a battery-operated tea light. While wearing the appropriate safety gear, like safety goggles and a dusk mask, carefully cut out the hole with a knife. Choose a free pumpkin carving template and print the stencil onto an adhesive sheet (like this Sulky Stick 'n Carve Water Soluble Fabric, $13, Amazon). Cut the stencil out, peel the backing off, and place it on your pumpkin according to package directions. 

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Step 2

Prep Your Pumpkin

Use an awl (a thumbtack works too) to poke holes along the perforated lines of the stencil. You'll scrape these sections with a rotary tool ($70, Lowes) later. Use a drill to cut holes where the pattern indicates. 

Step 3

Carve the Pumpkin

Use a knife to carve out the solid shapes from your pumpkin. As you carve, gently push the carved pieces out of the pumpkin. When you've cut out all the solid shapes, dip the pumpkin in water to remove the adhesive sheet; dry completely. Use a rotary tool to scrape within the perforated lines to thin the pumpkin skin so light can shine through. Don't completely cut those areas out. 

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Step 4

Finish and Display

When you're done carving, use a paintbrush to wipe away any dust. When you're ready to display the finished design, place your pumpkin so that the hole in the bottom sits over a battery-operated tea light ($5, The Home Depot). Moisture can cause the faux pumpkin to deteriorate so we don't recommend displaying the pumpkin outdoors for long periods of time (or when it's snowing or raining), but you can place it on the front porch on dry days or use it as a festive Halloween centerpiece

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