Halloween is almost here! And Halloween wouldn't be Halloween without a pumpkin Jack O'Lantern – especially if you're expecting trick-or-treaters at you door.


In fact, in lots of areas now, most trick-or-treaters won't even approach a house on October 31 if there's no glowing pumpkin outside. So if you want to be part of the fun, making sure you've got one carved up is pretty essential stuff.

There are lots of clever ways to carve a pumpkin (see our guide to How to carve a 'spooky jail' pumpkin, for example) but, if you're pushed for time, the traditional grinning Jack face is the easiest choice.

Here's a simple step-by-step guide to follow, put together by Claire Angel-Hamilton, one of the many amazing, super-crafty mums in our MadeForMums community...

Top tip: Even if you like to prep ahead, rein yourself in on the carving front until a day or so before. Once they're chopped into, pumpkins tend to collapse in on themselves and go mouldy after just 2 or 3 days.

How to carve a simple Halloween pumpkin, step by step

You will need:

  • Pumpkin (obvs)
  • A short-handled serrated knife, a sharp-pointed knife/tool and a scoop/large spoon. Alternatively, you can buy a pumpkin carving kit (you can get these in stores like Asda for as little as £1)
  • A Sharpie pen
  • Tea light or battery operated tea light/fairy lights


1. Place your pumpkin on a hard surface and, either free-hand or with a stencil, draw 2 triangle eyes, a triangle nose and a large mouth with 2 teeth, onto the skin with the Sharpie pen.


2. Draw a circle around the stalk on top of the pumpkin, ready for cutting.


3. Use a sharp-pointed knife or tool, or the piercing tool from a pumpkin carving kit, to pierce a hole at one point on the circle you've drawn around the pumpkin top.

Then, put your short-handled, serrated knife, or the carving tool from the kit, into the pierced hole and start to cut around the line.

Aim not to cut straight down but slightly angled towards the centre, creating a bowl-shaped hole (this can be a little tricky at first, so it's best done by an adult or under strict adult supervision).


4. Once you've cut around the top, remove the lid and scoop out all the seeds and fibre with a spoon or the scoop from your kit. Then scoop out some (or all) of the flesh. You can use this to make our Spooky pumpkin soup.


5. Now, using the knife with a serrated edge, or the cutting tool from your kit, cut into your pumpkin where your design's mouth is marked with a gentle back-and-forth motion.

Cut around the mouth shape by drawing the knife back and forth and maintaining a steady downward pressure. Then cut out the eyes and nose in the same way. For safety, always cut with the blade facing away from you.


6. Use a damp cloth or a baby wipe to clean off any pen marks or pumpkin-y bits from the skin.

Then place a tea light or fairy lights inside your pumpkin. If you're using a 'real' tea light with a flame, make sure the pumpkin is out of reach of little hands.