Skip the classic jack-o'-lantern and embrace these unexpected pumpkin decorating ideas.
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Carving jack-o'-lanterns is one of our favorite Halloween traditions, but this year we're also planning to decorate a pile of non-traditional pumpkins as well. No-carve pumpkins have been popular for years (here are 48 painted pumpkin ideas we love) but as the spooky season approaches, we're seeing that people are ditching the carving tools altogether. Instead, bright colors and patterns created with paint and non-traditional tools have replaced the typical carved faces.

To help inspire your Halloween decor this year, we've rounded up some of our favorite bright and bold pumpkin decorating trends. Put down the carving tools, pick up a paintbrush, and start decorating!

white pumpkin with painted stripes and colorblock circle
Credit: Carson Downing

Geometric Pumpkins

These neat and tidy ribbons of color are wonderfully at odds with the pumpkin’s irregular contours. We traced the circle with a bowl and used electrical tape ($2, Target) to block out the stripes since the tape’s elasticity lends itself to working around curves. With the tape in place, brush on crafts paint. When the paint is dry, carefully remove the tape and do any touch ups with a small paint brush.

Etched White Pumpkins
Credit: Michael Piazza

Etched Pumpkins

If scooping pumpkin guts and carving out shapes aren't your jam, try etching your designs instead. Most basic pumpkin carving kits ($10, Walmart) include an etching tool you can use to create a freehanded floral design or pattern. Of course, you can etch a regular orange pumpkin, but we love the look of these pumpkins that were painted all white before they were etched.

small splattered pumpkins on pink background
Credit: Carson Downing

Paint-Splattered Pumpkins

To create this colorful pumpkin display, use leftover paint, or mix new colors with a few drops of water. Use masking tape ($4, Target) to cover the stems of the pumpkins before you start splattering, then dip and flick paintbrushes to splatter gourds with the watered-down paint. For easier cleanup, place pumpkins in a big cardboard box. Let dry on waxed paper and, if desired, dip the bottom in a solid color.

blue painted pumpkins
Credit: Carson Downing

Chinoiserie Pumpkins

This blue and white patterned trend comes from an interpretation of traditional China patterns you'd typically find on delicate cups and saucers. Chinoiserie pumpkins are easy to create at home: All you need is blue and white crafts paint ($3, Michaels). To get the look, paint a real or faux pumpkin in solid blue or white, then add floral details with a small paintbrush.

Purple pumpkin with orange polka-dots
Credit: Michael Piazza

Melon Ball Pumpkins

This fun polka dot design could not be easier to create. Raid the kitchen drawers for a regular melon baller ($10, Target) and use it to carve out circles all-around your pumpkin. Once you've removed the circles, paint the pumpkin a solid color and let it dry. Then, place the "melon balls" in backward so the orange flesh side is facing outward, forming a polka dot pattern.

stacked colorblock and mod-podge colorful pumpkins
Credit: Carson Downing

Decoupage Pumpkins

Tissue paper cutouts in a lively mix of bright colors and abstract shapes create an energetic stained glass effect. To get the look, start with a white pumpkin (natural or painted) so the paper pieces appear more luminous. Cut a variety of large geometric shapes, but don’t worry about perfection. The randomness gives the pumpkins their sense of whimsy. Paint the pumpkin with a 2:1 blend of Mod Podge ($3, Michaels) and water, then apply tissue paper shapes so they are close but don’t overlap. 

White pumpkins painted marble
Credit: Michael Piazza

Marbled Pumpkins

This marbled design first started as a nail polish trend for fingernails but has quickly turned into a colorful home decor hack. To marble your own nail polish pumpkins, place drops of nail polish ($17 for a 15-pack, Walmart) into a bucket of room temperature water. Add several colors and marble the polish with a toothpick before dipping the pumpkins.

gingham pumpkin
Credit: Carson Downing

Painted Pumpkins

Give your pumpkins a modern farmhouse look with a few coats of gray paint. Use an inexpensive foam brush ($2 for 4, Michaels) to paint vertical and horizontal stripes on your pumpkin with light gray paint, then fill in the overlapping squares with a darker shade to create a DIY buffalo check pumpkin. If you’re planning to display this pumpkin again, go with a faux pumpkin and tuck it away for next year. Consider the real thing if you want to embrace the natural colors, textures, and patchy spots. For the best of both worlds, hot-glue real stems to faux pumpkins.

small colorblock pumpkins on pink background
Credit: Carson Downing

Color Block Pumpkins

Simple but bold, this dipping technique works best with small pumpkins. Put an inch of crafts paint ($1, Michaels) in the bottom of a paper bowl, mixing in a little water so the paint is fluid but not watery. Dip your pumpkins and gently rotate for desired coverage. Let dry on waxed paper.

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