Ditch the carving tools and forget about the mess. These pumpkin decorating ideas are super simple and require no carving.


Although carving is the classic route for most pumpkin crafts, there’s so much you can do with pumpkins by decorating the outside!

Of course, you can paint your pumpkin, but we’ve got lots more creative ways to decorate too! From decoupage to nail polish to temporary tattoos, there’s plenty of ways to get your pumpkin looking tip-top in time for Halloween.

Should I decorate a real or a faux pumpkin?

It all depends on how long you want your decorated pumpkin to last! Typically an uncarved pumpkin will last around one month (so a short life for all your hard work).

A fake pumpkin made from ceramic, wood, polystyrene or other materials is a more permanent option that you can use year after year. In the end, it’s totally up to you! Try both and see which you prefer.

31 easy and creative pumpkin decorating ideas

1. Pastel pumpkin painting

Halloween art projects – painted pumpkins by Becki Clark

To kick off our pumpkin party, we’ve got this gorgeous how-to tutorial for painting your pumpkin! In this guide, Becki Clarke shows us three pretty pastel designs to make your pumpkins pop!

Becki uses ceramic pumpkins and paint pens, so they can be enjoyed year after year.

2. Drip painting pumpkins

pumpkin decorating paint pour

We have to pre-warn you that this pumpkin decorating project is messy! It involves pouring paint over your pumpkins to create all sorts of wacky patterns. The technique gives them a melting effect, perfect for creepy designs! Get the full tutorial from Momdot.

It’s such a fun activity for kids on Halloween! Try using orange, black and white for a spooky effect.

3. DIY doughnut pumpkins

pumpkin decorating donuts

Okay, they’re not exactly scary or autumnal, but we just couldn’t resist! These colourful and sweet doughnut pumpkins look good enough to eat.

Painted with soft pastel colours and decorated with bright sprinkles, these will certainly satisfy any sweet tooth.

4. Easy decoupage pumpkins

pumpkin decorating decoupage

Decorate your pumpkins with decoupage. If you’ve never tried it before, it’s really simple. You just tear up some decoupage paper and stick it onto your pumpkin using Mod Podge – similar to paper mache.

It’s a versatile option because there's so many different styles of decoupage paper to choose from.

4. Pumpkin decorating with doilies

pumpkin decorating doily

Doilies are a surprisingly easy and effective item for decorating pumpkins! All you need is a doily in your favourite colour and some spray adhesive.

The end result is an elegant, autumn-ready decoration! Get the full tutorial from 17 Apart.

5. Pumpkin decorating with Sharpies

pumpkin decorating sharpies

Sharpies are a fantastic mess-free option for pumpkin decorating! In this tutorial by Paper & Stitch, you’ll see they use a gold and silver colour on a white pumpkin to create a subtle yet eye-catching design.

When it comes to Sharpies, there’s a tonne of colours you can choose from, plus you have free rein when it comes to your design!

6. Woodland creature no-carve pumpkin decorating

pumpkin decorating woodland creatures

Decorating your pumpkins as cute critters is an ideal activity for kids. Not only is it less messy than carving, but the kids can choose any animal they like!

In this tutorial from Simple as That, you’ll learn how to make a raccoon, a fox and an owl.

7. Glow-in-the-dark pumpkins

pumpkin decorating glow in the dark

Glow-in-the-dark crafts are always a favourite at Halloween! Decorate your pumpkins with this tutorial from Practically Functional where you’ll learn how to create this glow-in-the-dark wolf silhouette pumpkin.

Don’t worry, you won’t have to bust out your drawing skills – the wolf silhouette is available to download for free.

8. Galaxy pumpkin decorating

pumpkin decorating galaxy

Make your pumpkins out of this world with this galaxy pumpkin decorating tutorial from Dream a Little Bigger.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to layer the paint to create a colourful galaxy. If you want to take it up a notch, try using glow-in-the-dark paint for the stars and constellations.

9. DIY caramel apples pumpkin decorating

pumpkin decorating apples

These pumpkin caramel apples are too cute! This creative tutorial from Aww Sam will show you how to make your pumpkins look like apples dipped in caramel complete with multi-coloured sprinkles.

10. Unicorn pumpkin decorating tutorial

pumpkin decorating unicorn

Make your pumpkins magical with this cute unicorn tutorial from The Denver Housewife. Find out how flowers and glitter can transform your pumpkins! This is an excellent tutorial for kids to try.

11. DIY cactus pumpkin

pumpkin decorating cactus

This tutorial by Rachel Teodoro is super simple! All you need are some pumpkins or squash, preferably in green shades, and some toothpicks. The toothpicks will act as spikes, so be careful not to touch them afterwards!

Once done your cactus/pumpkin hybrid will look spectacular when displayed in a pot.

12. Glitter pumpkins tutorial

pumpkin decorating glitter

If you’re feeling brave these glitter pumpkins are for you! Glitter is notoriously messy, so be prepared for that. However, the result is worth it – big, glamorous, sparkly pumpkins to display.

Use eco-friendly glitter to ensure your pumpkins remain biodegradable.

13. Emoji pumpkin painting

pumpkin decorating emoji

Kids will love these fun emoji pumpkins! Simply start with yellow paint and then add your favourite emoji expression on the front.

14. Bling pumpkin decorating

pumpkin decorating gems

Keep it glam with these gemstone pumpkins! Decorate them with shiny rhinestones for a classy pumpkin display.


How to carve a pumpkin

If you want to carve, we’ve got you covered with our pumpkin carving tutorial, which is packed full of ideas.

How to carve a pumpkin step by step

15. Pumpkin decorating with nail varnish

pumpkin decorating marbling

Grab your cheap nail varnish, and a pot of water to dip your pumpkins into! That’s all there is to it in this tutorial by Mom Dot. Make your pumpkin your own by choosing your favourite nail polish colours!

16. Washi tape pumpkins

pumpkin decorating washi

Looking for a pumpkin decorating activity for preschoolers? Washi tape pumpkins are perfect! Simply grab your favourite washi tape, rip them into smaller pieces and let your little ones decorate.

17. Beach-themed pumpkin decorating

pumpkin decorating sand

Combine the coast with your pumpkins in this cute sandy creation from Completely Coastal. In this tutorial, you’ll cover your pumpkin with Modpodge then dip it in sand! So simple, yet so fun.

18. Pom pom pumpkins

pumpkin decorating pompoms

Pom poms add a burst of colour to any project and that’s no different for pumpkin decorating! Even just attaching a few poms makes your pumpkin pop.

Find plenty of pom pom design ideas over at Design Improvised.

19. Tissue paper pumpkin decorating

pumpkin decorating tissue paper

Tissue paper is an easy way to decorate pumpkins, it’s quick and easy. In this tutorial from DIYS, you’ll find out how to use it to make this pretty leaf pumpkin!

If you don’t want to cut out the leaf design you can just tear strips of tissue paper. This will give a more abstract result.

20. Yarn-wrapped pumpkin decorating

pumpkin decorating yarn

Wrapping your pumpkins is a great way to use up odd balls of yarn you might have in your stash! It gives the pumpkins a cosy, autumnal vibe, perfect for displaying inside your home. Find out how with Fruetcake.

21. Pumpkin decorating using a Cricut machine

pumpkin decorating cricut

Grab your Cricut and get designing! Cricut machines can make vinyl stickers which are perfect for pumpkin decorating. For the details of the pumpkins pictured below, head over to Rebecca Marie Creative.

22. Pumpkin bouquet

pumpkin decorating flowers

Make your pumpkin into a stunning centrepiece with this delightful tutorial from Bouqs. They will guide you through cutting your pumpkin and filling it with gorgeous flowers for a stunning finish.

23. Monogram pumpkins

pumpkin decorating monogram

Personalise your pumpkins with your initials using glitter! You’ll need a Cricut machine for a professional result. Find the full guide to monogram pumpkins from The Diary of a Debutant.

24. Fingerprint pumpkins

pumpkin decorating main

This one is fun for little ones! Grab your paint and get printing.

Use your fingers to create a round blob of colour, then decorate with little details to make them into creatures like spiders or ghosts! Check out the full tutorial over at Craft Box girls.

25. Spooky eyeball pumpkins

pumpkin decorating eyeball

Make your pumpkins into creepy eyeballs with this tutorial from Dream a Little Bigger. All you need are some suitably round pumpkins and paint! These will certainly give your neighbours a fright.

26. Cinderella pumpkins

pumpkin decorating cinderella

As we all know Cinderella visited the ball in a pumpkin carriage! Recreate a mini version of her carriage with this magical tutorial from A Pumpkin and a Princess. In the tutorial, you’ll decorate your pumpkin with blue glitter and golden butterflies.

27. Splatter paint pumpkins

pumpkin decorating splash

Get messy with these splatter paint pumpkins from One Little Project. Grab your favourite colour paints and a brush and flick the bristles of the brush to create unique splattered designs.

28. String art pumpkins

pumpkin decorating string art

Have you ever tried string art? Well, did you know that you can also do it on the surface of a pumpkin? It’s really easy and will give your pumpkins a unique abstract look. Try the string art pumpkins from Hello Wonderful.

29. Watercolour pumpkin decorating

pumpkin decorating watercolour

Using watercolours allows you to create dripping patterns which when done in the right colours can look very creepy! Why not try black and red, or slime green? Get the tutorial from Paper & Stitch.

30. Spider pumpkin

pumpkin decorating spider

Spiders are creepy, there’s no denying that! Make your pumpkin scary with this spider pumpkin tutorial from Craft Klatch.

31. Temporary tattooed pumpkins

pumpkin decorating tats

Believe it or not, temporary tattoos are very effective for pumpkin decorating! You can make them look totally cool by applying your favourite tattoo designs. Get inspired with pumpkin tattoo ideas from Club Crafted.

Pumpkin decorating for all the family

There’s a pumpkin on our list for everyone, and if you don’t like the mess of pumpkin carving you’re in luck because none of these projects require it!


Make your own pumpkin from scratch

Rather than buying a pumpkin, why not make your own? Check out our paper mache pumpkin tutorial to learn how.

Halloween art projects – paper mache pumpkins


Katie Dolan
Katie DolanDigital Assistant, Gathered

Katie Dolan edits our needlework sections, focusing on our embroidery and cross stitch articles, as well as making videos for our arts and crafts projects. Katie runs her jewellery business, Ophelia Jewellery Art, on Etsy, where she sells beautiful resin-pressed flower earrings. She has a wide range of craft interests including embroidery – she particularly loves all things pop culture and a less traditional approach – The Simpsons and Rick & Morty are among her favourites to embroider. She has recently completed a silversmith workshop and hopes to expand her jewellery business with these new skills. When she’s not crafting, she’s usually fuelling her Harry Potter addiction with a Sunday film marathon and a couple of butter beers!

Comments, questions and tips

Rate this recipe

What is your star rating out of 5?

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Overall rating