Which pumpkin carving design will you choose? Spooky or sweet?
Which pumpkin carving design will you choose? Spooky or sweet?

Easy Pumpkin Carving Ideas and Stencils for Halloween

The cornerstone of any great Halloween display—the jack-o-lantern—is always one of our favorite things to do with kids in the fall, right after the apple picking and a pumpkin patch outing. Pumpkin carving is one of those rare activities that every member of the family can enjoy: little kids love the mess, big kids love the chance to wield a knife, and parents love to show off latent creative skills. From easy to timely to spooky pumpkin carving ideas, we’ve rounded up 20 of our favorite pumpkin carving stencils, all of which include a link to the FREE pumpkin carving design.

Be sure to check out our Halloween Guide for loads more ideas for Halloween fun: We've got over 100 ideas for kids' Halloween costumes, scarily funny Halloween jokes for kids, Halloween movies for the whole family, and so much more.

With a little practice and plenty of options, we're sure you'll find the pumpkin design that captures your family's Halloween vibe, from Baby's First Halloween sweetness to Cyclops to superhero character themes. And now that the CDC has declared trick-or-treating a safe activity in 2021, your neighbors will actually get to enjoy the creations you've made!

Click through to the link for each FREE pumpkin carving idea and stencil.

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Easy Pumpkin Carving Ideas

If you love Halloween, but lack the knife skills or just want to let a younger kid get into this year's pumpkin carving fun, then these simple stencils are for you.

1. Scaredy Cat

Cats and Halloween go hand in hand. This adorably spooked cat from the Pumpkin Lady (who, by the way, has over 900 free pumpkin carving templates on her website) looks intricate but is easy enough for young kids to master.

Pumpkin Carving Ideas and Stencils for Halloween: Pumpkin carving with kids

Simple shapes are are just right for younger kids.

2. Cyclops

This goofy cyclops from DLTK Crafts for Kids puts a hilarious twist on your classic jack-o-lantern face. Perfect for novice carvers.

3. If the Shoe Fits

 Add some witchy goodness to your pumpkin with these unmistakable witch shoes from the Pumpkin Lady. This fun design features easy shapes for your littlest pumpkin carvers.

Pumpkin Carving Ideas and Stencils for Halloween: Let kids help!

What characters and ideas delighted your kids this year?

2021 Pumpkin Carving Ideas

Some things jumped out to the forefront of pop culture this year; make your kids happy by carving a current favorite character.

4. Cruella DeVil

Her origin story movie was a hit with big kids this year and her crazy hair makes a fun costume to go with the pumpkin.

5. Sea Monster Tail from Luca

Inspired by the not-too-scary summer movie, this design has a little bit of shading, but nothing too crazy for parents making their first attempts at a more complicated stencil.

6. Paw Patrol

Thanks, Costume Supercenter, for making it so easy for Paw Patrol to take over yet another aspect of our lives.

7. Healthcare Heroes

Forget the Avengers, we said it last year and we'll say it again: the real heroes of the last few years are our healthcare workers. Honor them with one of these Healthcare Worker stencils from Parkview Health.

RELATED: 101 Kids' Halloween Costume Ideas

Pumpkin Carving Ideas and Stencils for Halloween: Olaf
Olaf costume on the kid, Olaf face on the pumpkin!

Character and Superhero Pumpkin Carving Ideas

These perennially popular character-themed templates, from superheroes to Disney's most lovable character, are ones kids love year after year.  

8. The Avengers

Did we just say forget the Avengers? Forget we said that. While a few of these designs are a little tricky, we can attest that the Captain America shield is reasonable for even amateur carvers, and Baby Groot is so cute, he's worth the extra effort.

9. Olaf

Olaf is always in style! You will not be able to stop smiling with this three-pumpkin Olaf creation hanging out on your front porch, courtesy of Disney Fanatic.

10. Toy Story Aliens

Kids will be asking you to "take me to your candy" when they see you're out of this world Toy Story alien pumpkin from Disney Family.

11. Pikachu

Pika! Pika! Your pumpkin is already the perfect shape to carve into a Pikachu. 

12. Baby Yoda

That cute little creature from the popular Mandalorian series will look perfect on your front stoop this year. 

13. The LEGO Movie

Mini-figures are relatively simplistic, so carving out the lines isn't as intricate as with more lifelike characters. 

14. Harry Potter

Muggles and house elves won't even need a wand to carve one of these 60 (!) free patterns from Baby Saver.

RELATED: 25 Halloween Games for Kids

Pumpkin Carving Ideas and Stencils for Halloween: Nightmare Before Christmas
Boo! Says the Ready or Not. Photo courtesy of The Pumpkin Lady

Scary Pumpkin Carving Designs

For those who embrace the darker side of Halloween, these templates will have the neighborhood kids spooked (in the best possible way).

15. Jack Nightmare

Conjure up some King of "Halloween Town" goodness with this Jack Skellington of Nightmare Before Christmas template from Pumpkin Pile.

16. Ready or Not

Beware of the skeleton lurking inside your pumpkin with this creepy template.

17. Evil Clown

Your neighbors will cross to the other side of the street when you light up this scary clown pumpkin from Pumpkin Stencils.

RELATED: 15 Halloween Activities to Try Instead of Trick-or-Treating

Pumpkin Carving Ideas and Stencils for Halloween: Baby's First Halloween
Celebrate your new arrival with a special pumpkin carving! Photo courtesy of The Pumpkin Lady

Fun and Silly Pumpkin Stencils

If you come down on the lighter side of Halloween festivities these fun and silly carving templates will be right up your alley.

18. Owl Stencils

Your Halloween will be a hoot when you turn your pumpkin into a feathered friend with these owl templates from Woo, Jr. Stencils range from basic to intricate.

19. Baby’s First Halloween

Welcome a new addition to your Halloween tradition with this sweet "1st Halloween" template from the Pumpkin Lady.

20. Candy This Way

Let all the trick or treaters know that you’ve got the goods with this sweet Pumpkin Lady candy template.

Whichever pumpkin carving design you choose, don't forget to involve the kids. Scoop out the seeds and roast them together, and save a few smaller gourds from the pumpkin patch for pumpkin painting later. Happy Halloween from Mommy Poppins!

Unless noted, photos are by the author.

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