5 Cute, Kid-Friendly Pumpkin Decorating Ideas

These no-carve pumpkin ideas are great for all ages.

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Photo by: Heath Goldman

Heath Goldman

Ah, pumpkin carving. It’s theoretically a children’s activity, but mom and dad are likely to end up wielding the large knives while the kiddos make a mess out of pumpkin guts. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if you want your kids to be a little more hands-on, I dreamed up five super cute pumpkin decorating ideas that’ll let them unleash their inner artist — whether they’re three years old or eleven. And you can kick back with some spiked apple cider.

Rainbow Thumbtack Pumpkin (Pictured Above)

Presenting a brilliantly easy, no-mess way to decorate pumpkins that's suitable for all ages. Simply let your kid draw a shape on the pumpkin (or draw one for your kid, if you want it to be super neat), then give them rainbow thumbtacks to push into the pumpkin flesh and fill in the drawing. Don’t worry, the thumbtacks go in very easily. I drew a rainbow skull, but feel free to do something else like a heart, bat, ghost, etc.


  • Large pumpkin
  • Black sharpie
  • Rainbow thumbtacks


  1. Draw the outline of a shape on the side of the pumpkin.
  2. Stick the thumbtacks into the pumpkin to fill in the shape.

Photo by: Heath Goldman

Heath Goldman

Tie-Dye Pumpkin

Why not extend the fun t-shirt trend to pumpkins? Although your kids won’t technically be tie-dying, this easy painting technique replicates that classic, recognizable spiral. This pumpkin is suitable for older children that have the focus required for painting.


  • Large pumpkin
  • Spray paint primer
  • White spray paint
  • Small flat soft paintbrush
  • Medium flat soft paintbrush brush
  • Plastic disposable plate that you’ll use as a palate
  • Washable paints in an assortment of colors or acrylic paints (acrylic paints will be more opaque; to make washable paints slightly more opaque, mix each color with a tiny bit of white)


First, the parents should cover the pumpkin with spray paint primer and white spray paint.

Photo by: Heath Goldman

Heath Goldman

  1. Now, it's kid time. Your kid should wet both brushes with water, then dry them off with paper towels. This will clump the bristles, which will create feathered brush strokes.
  2. Pick a color for the first spiral. Squeeze it out onto the plate. Dip the small paintbrush into that color. Starting in the center of the pumpkin, paint the spiral by lining up feathered strokes next to each other. As the spiral gets larger, your kid can change to the large brush.
  3. Wash the brushes and dry them off again.
  4. Repeat with several more spirals, painting them so they overlap slightly. It’s okay if the brush leaves white spaces, that enhances the tie-dye effect.

Surprise Pumpkin

This how-to is inspired by surprise cakes (a.k.a. pinata cakes). You know, those brightly colored cakes that spill out sprinkles when you cut a slice. Little ones of all ages can decorate the top of the pumpkin with a bunch of glittery, frilly decorations while you stuff the inside with their favorite candy.


  • Large pumpkin with a sturdy, curved stem (the stem will function as a handle to remove the top of the pumpkin)
  • Serrated knife
  • Spray paint primer
  • Gold metallic spray paint
  • Quart container or round Tupperware that fits inside your pumpkin
  • Your family’s favorite Halloween candy
  • Hot glue gun or cold melt glue gun (the latter is great for small kids because it doesn’t burn)
  • An assortment of glittery decorations (such as glitter, pearl beads, rhinestones, beads, gumballs, crystals or fake flowers)


  1. Before getting your kid involved, the parents should cut off the pumpkin top with a serrated knife and remove the pumpkin guts. Then cover the pumpkin top and stem with spray paint primer and the metallic gold spray paint.
  2. Next, your kid should place the quart container inside of the pumpkin and fill it with candy.
  3. Glue the decorations all over the top. Note: it’s easiest to put the glue on the decoration and then stick it on. Clustering like decorations together will make for a pumpkin top that looks like the reference photo, but give your kid free reign.

Photo by: Heath Goldman

Heath Goldman

Veggie Face Pumpkin

Every year, the elementary school my entire family attended has a pumpkin decorating day where kids decorate pumpkins with veggies. They lay out an assortment of sliced vegetables and the children use their creativity to pick out veggies that resemble facial features. You can pull out whatever veggies you have in the fridge or copy our photo. Either way, the results are always goofy and will make everyone smile. Because you're working with fresh veggies, note that you should assemble this pumpkin one or two days prior to Halloween (or turn it into a festive day-of activity).


  • Large pumpkin
  • Small nails with small heads
  • Thimble (optional)
  • An assortment of veggies (such as curly kale for hair, snow peas for eyebrows, cucumber slices and pimento-stuffed olives for eyes, halved shallots for ears, a button mushroom slice for the nose and red bell pepper slices for the mouth).


  1. The parents should slice all of the vegetables.
  2. Then the kids should place the vegetables onto the pumpkin and push them in with the nails. The kids can use their fingers to push in the nails, or a thimble to help.

Lego Pumpkin

It’s no secret that kids are tactile and like building things. This is a pumpkin that your kids will really enjoy making, and, great news, it uses something that you probably already have in your house. Feel free to get creative: I cut out a little ghost costume for one of my Lego people from a paper napkin. If you have a Halloween-themed set, you can use that, although any Legos work. Once Halloween is over, it’s really easy to pull off the Lego pieces, peel the glue from the back and throw them back into the toy bin.


  • Large pumpkin
  • Legos
  • Hot glue gun or cold melt glue gun (the latter is great for small kids because it doesn’t burn)


  1. Glue a few pieces of legos on the top of the pumpkin, which is the flattest area.
  2. Stick Legos onto the bricks that are glued onto the pumpkin.

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