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.

Huge thanks to Emmie Spring from our Top Testers Club, who took the pictures for our simple step-by-step photo guide (below) and created our how-to video (above).

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 2 or 3 days.

More like this

How to carve a simple Halloween pumpkin, step by step

Supplied needed to carve pumpkin including stencil kit, knife and pumpkin
You will need:

Step 1

Pumpkin with eyes, nose and mouth drawn on

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 pen.

Step 2

Pumpkin with circle drawn around stalk

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

Step 3

Cutting top of pumpkin with knife

Use a sharp-pointed knife, 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).

Step 4

Carving Pumpkin Step 5 v2

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. Don't forget to remove any seeds, fibre and flesh from the lid, too. You can use this to make our Spooky pumpkin soup and/or Annabel Karmel's pumpkin muffins.

Step 5

Cutting pumpkin's eyes, nose and mouth with knife

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.

Step 6

Pumpkin carved with Jack O'Lantern face

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 and replace the lid. If you're using a 'real' tea light with a flame, make sure the pumpkin is out of reach of little hands.

Video edit: Emily Longman Wall.
Pics and video: Emmie Spring. You can see more of Emmie's family craft and activity ideas on Instagram: @chroniclesofanewmummy




Tara BreathnachContent Editor and Social Media Producer

Tara is mum to 1 daughter, Bodhi Rae, and has worked as Content Editor and Social Media Producer at MadeForMums since 2015