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12 Spooky Pumpkin Contest Decorating Ideas

Spooky season is upon us. That means it’s time to head to your local pumpkin patch and select the perfect gourd to decorate! Whether you choose to carve, paint, or do something entirely different, read on to find pumpkin contest decorating ideas to create the most original pumpkin design sure to beat out the rest.

Pumpkin Contest Decorating Ideas: Carved Jack-o’-Lanterns

Pumpkin Contest Decorating Ideas

Carving your pumpkin is one of the most quintessential activities of the season. Whether you host a carving party for friends or help your little ones with their first pumpkins, these ideas are sure to create memorable Jack-o’-lanterns. Competition beware: using any of these designs in a contest, whether at school, among friends, or in your neighborhood, is sure to guarantee you first place in the contest!


This pumpkin contest decorating idea is ideal for avid gardeners. Turn your scowling orange gourd into a pot for your favorite fall flowers or spiky plant! Simply carve a face into the side, and instead of replacing the stem at the top, put your plant inside and let the top fall over the sides of the pumpkin-like hair. 

This design is versatile because on Halloween, you can still take out the plant, place a candle inside, and put the stem at the top to return your pumpkin into a classic Jack-o’-lantern. 

Pumpkin Eyes

This pumpkin contest decorating idea is particularly creepy. You’ll need two pumpkins, one larger orange one and a smaller white one, as well as some paint. Cut an eye-shaped hole into the larger pumpkin, paint an eye–preferably bloodshot—onto the smaller one, and then place the white pumpkin inside the orange so that it peaks out. You can repeat the process and place them side by side to create two staring eyes!

This design is more involved, since it requires both carving and painting, as well as four pumpkins, but it’s worth it for the startling and totally original design. 

Mummy Pumpkin

This pumpkin contest decorating idea creates a finished product as adorable as it is spooky. You first cut the pumpkin into slices horizontally, ideally in an imperfect line. The slices should look like the wrap on a mummy’s head.

Next, stack the slices atop each other, place dried black beans near the top third where eyes should be, and place a light inside to complete your mummy.

Cannibal Pumpkin

Cannibal jack-o-lantern

This fun pumpkin contest decorating idea involves two pumpkins, a full-size and a mini pumpkin, also known as a jack-be-little! Carve a regular jack-o’-lantern, but be sure to leave enough room in the mouth (between jagged teeth!) to see the mini pumpkin. 

Then, carve a concerned expression onto the face of the jack-be-little, and stick it inside. Now, you have an evil pumpkin who’s swallowed a cute little pumpkin!


The franken-pumpkin is the perfect pumpkin contest decorating idea for those who want to flex their artistic muscles. You’ll need two large pumpkins, one orange and one white. They should be tall and skinny to recreate the elongated face shape of Frankenstein’s monster. 

First, take the orange pumpkin and cut a circle around the stem area. Then, cut the base off in a horizontal sliver. Discard the whole middle area. 

Next, take the top and bottom off your white pumpkin. You’ll sandwich the two orange slices around the white pumpkin middle. Be sure to carve a monstrous face on the side of the white pumpkin. You can use the bottoms of dark green gourds for a truly convincing piecemeal pumpkin monster. 

Witch Pumpkin

Witch pumpkin

This bewitching pumpkin contest decorating idea requires a few extra components. To recreate a witch’s face, you’ll need a dark green pumpkin, which is known as a kabocha. They have knobby surfaces that emulate witchy warts.

Carve a scowling face into the side of the pumpkin, and then use a long, thin parsnip as the nose. Finally, twigs or faux berry branches attached to the top of the pumpkin and hanging down the sides will recreate hair. Place a costume witch’s hat on top and you have the perfect witch pumpkin!

Pumpkin Contest Decorating Ideas: No-Carve and Paint

Painted pumpkins

Washi Tape Pumpkin

This is the easiest pumpkin contest decorating idea you can find. Simply buy washi tape in your desired pattern, cover the entire surface of the pumpkin in the tape, making sure to fill all the gaps, and then seal with modge podge to prevent peeling. The result looks artistic, sleek, and colorful! 

Use Fresh Flowers, Leaves, or Feathers on Your Pumpkin

This dainty pumpkin contest decorating idea is as charming as it is unusual. First, paint your pumpkin a light, neutral color like mint green that will serve as a backdrop. 

Next, pick small and seasonal flowers, like daisies, and collect some colorful fall leaves. Use tweezers to place the flowers along the sides of the pumpkin, and then layer modge podge over the petals and leaves to fix them to the surface. Once it’s dry, add a few more layers over the whole pumpkin. 

The same process can achieve a totally different, more whimsical look if you use colorful bird feathers!

Pumpkin with Nail Polish Marbled Look 

One of the trendiest pumpkin contest decorating ideas we recommend is using nail polish to create a marbled look. You’ll need a plastic bin filled with warm water and a few bottles of nail polish in bright but compatible shades. 

First, pour the nail polish colors onto the surface of the water. Once you have a few colors, use a toothpick to swirl the colors together. 

Next, grab your pumpkin by the stem and base and quickly swivel its sides through the water, twisting so that the polish adheres all the way around the pumpkin. 

Once the paint is dry, use a tissue or q-tip to remove any excess polish. 

Spa-Day Pumpkin

Spa pumpkin

This pumpkin contest decorating idea is an ode to the stresses of the holiday season. Create a spa-day pumpkin by painting the “face” of your pumpkin a soft turquoise to emulate a rejuvenating face mask. Then glue cucumber slices where eyes should be, and create a hair turban out of a towel of cloth to complete the adorable look.

Hopefully the pumpkin will look as relaxed as you feel once you’ve checked another item off your busy autumn To-Do List!

Pumpkin Spice Latte

One of the most looked forward to parts of the fall season is the pumpkin spice latte. This pumpkin contest decorating idea celebrates that by recreating the iconic drink. Paint the base and bottom two-thirds of your pumpkin a neutral color and find a large dinner or serving plate to match. Place the pumpkin on top of the plate to create the mug. 

Leave the top third of the pumpkin orange to represent the drink peeking out the top, and cover the stem with frizzed-out cotton that resembles the coffee foam. You can sprinkle some cinnamon on the foam by cutting thin strips of brown paper and weaving them into the cotton. Finally, paper-mache a matching mug handle. 

You can even paint the words “Pumpkin Spice Latte” on the mug, or use the Starbucks logo on the mug. If you like, you can even enhance trick or treating this year by offering a plate of pumpkin spice cupcakes!

Candy Corn Hedgehogs

Candy corn is a surprisingly divisive seasonal treat, but the fact that your candy corn hedgehog pumpkin is adorable will hardly be controversial. Recreating this pumpkin contest decorating idea is easy.

Simply buy a bag of candy corn and glue the candies, spikes out, along the surface of your pumpkin, leaving only a circle at the front uncovered. There, use felt to craft a friendly little face for your hedgehog. 

Start Planning Your Spooky Pumpkin Decorating Today!

Pumpkin contest

Now that you’ve read through and selected your favorite among this year’s top pumpkin decorating contest ideas, be sure to check out our guide on Modern Halloween Decor so that your creation meshes with your vision for the rest of this season’s design!

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