Looking for an alternative to the traditional Jack O'Lantern Halloween pumpkin design? We've found one that's incredible simple to make and ticks all the right scary-Mary boxes.


We've created a simple step-by-step picture guide to follow, using photos taken by Claire Angel-Hamilton from our amazing MadeForMums Top Testers Club (and pumpkin scooping demonstrated by Claire's daughter Bella).

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.

How to carve a 'spooky jail' Halloween pumpkin, step by step

You will need:
  • Pumpkin (obvs)
  • Felt-tip pen
  • Cocktail sticks
  • Short-handled serrated knife, sharp-pointed knife/tool and a scoop/large spoon. Alternatively, you can buy a pumpkin carving kit
  • Small Halloween toys, such as a skeleton or a ghost
  • Damp cloth
  • Tea light or battery-operated tea light

Step 1

jail outline for pumpkin carving

Place your pumpkin on a hard surface and, using the pen, either free-hand or with a stencil, draw a rectangle shape that is just slightly smaller in height than your cocktail sticks.

Step 2


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

More like this

Step 3


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


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


Now, using the knife with a serrated edge, or the cutting tool from your kit, cut into your pumpkin where your 'jail' outline is marked with a gentle back-and-forth motion. Cut around the 'jail' shape by drawing the knife back and forth and maintaining a steady downward pressure. For safety, always cut with the blade facing away from you.

Step 6


Use a damp cloth to wipe off any pen marks or pumpkin-flesh bits. Place your Halloween toys into the pumpkin and then push the cocktail sticks evenly into the pumpkin flesh on the top and bottom of your 'jail' opening to make a little prison. Pop in your tea light and then put the lid back on.

Pics: Claire-Angel Hamilton


Read more:


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