A toothy grin is always fun, but why not mix it up this year? These creative designs will give you the best jack-o'-lantern on the block. (And before you make the first cut, catch up on these eight great tips for carving a Halloween pumpkin.)
Before You Start
Set yourself up for success by ordering this carving tool kit.
Carve the top off a mini pumpkin, then cut the bottom off a water bottle and drop it in to act as a vase. We filled ours with ranunculuses, mums and dahlias.
Deck out the front door with a pair of pumpkin pillars. Paint on gnarled trees, and then use a drill to create a constellation of stars. For a third tier, cut out a crescent moon on a mini pumpkin.
Spots and Dots
It may look elaborate, but this polka-dot pattern is fairly easy. Sketch your pattern with a marker, leaving enough space between dots so holes won't overlap. Punch it out with a power drill and various bits. A detailed design shines brighter by placing LED string lights inside.
This family of birds is a literal hoot. Carve out their cute expressions using free templates, and then attach painted nuts for tiny ears and feet.
The walking dead are rising up — in your lawn. Life-sized bony limbs fit stretched across doubledecker gourds.
No bloodthirsty monsters here. Yes, he's got a set of fangs, but what's not to love about this adorable Dracula face?
Set the scene with a whole pumpkin tableau. Avoid any real fires by opting for flameless illumination instead.
Here's the foolproof way to carve out ghoulish features: Tape transfer paper to a pumpkin and draw on your design. Then remove the paper and follow the outline.
Go the extra mile and give your pumpkin head an accompanying torso. A second squash also provides extra decorating opportunities, such as this adorable bow tie.
Head of Hair
Top your pumpkin with its very own plant toupee. Carve out the top of the gourd and tuck in a pot of grass or ivy for a truly awesome hairdo.
What you'll need: potted plant ($8, amazon.com)
Copy the fall foliage outside with our easy pumpkin carving template. Plop the glowing lanterns atop a pair of planters to welcome trick-or-treaters.
Bring a pumpkin back from the dead by carving a lopsided smile and adding eerie eyeballs (shaped with a melon baller). Place two mini pumpkins to look like hands clawing their way from the grave.
What you'll need: melon baller ($9, amazon.com)
Mini pumpkins, watch out. This clever design will gobble up any gourd in its way.
Set up a flickering town square by simply cutting away windows and doors from silhouetted buildings.
Make a wish on a Disney-inspired pumpkin. This magical carving from Neverland stars a glimmering Tink.
Combined with a butternut squash, a swirly pumpkin shell creates a lovable version of the garden pest.
Paint jack-o'-lanterns shades of heavy metal before carving features. "Rock" them out with plastic gems, sequin strips (around the witch's eyes) and glitter glue(outlining the ghost).
A Cute Abode
Kim Ludwiczak and Renee Wisniewski of Livonia and Madison Heights, Michigan, added gourd-and-berry window boxes.
What you'll need: X-Acto knife ($4, amazon.com)
Pumpkins of a feather nest together — as seen here, on Linda Reamer-Hilbish's porch in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. (The tall, spindly legs are made of broomsticks.)
What you'll need: broom handles ($7 each, amazon.com)
Julie Kendziora and her class in Needville, Texas, used pipe cleaners for antennae, amplifying the "alien" effect.
What you'll need: green pipe cleaners ($4, amazon.com)
When her 10-year-old son dressed up as a Halloween pirate, Christy Lauman of Irrigon, Oregon, put a matching costume on her jack-o'-lantern.
What you'll need: pirate hat ($6, amazon.com)
Spider and Web Pumpkin
This boo-tiful pipe-cleaner spider and his web were done by Kimberly Werner of White Bear Lake, Minnesota.
What you'll need: black pipe cleaners ($5, amazon.com)