Easy No-Carve Pumpkin Ideas

easy no-carve pumpkin ideasYou can keep your spooky ghosts and ghoulish goblins— give me all the pumpkins! Okay, okay… Honestly though, as much as I hate to say it— I’m really not the biggest fan of the pumpkin flavors that are so popular this season. But I think I can redeem myself in a world of squash-crazed bloggers with my utter adoration of the pumpkin itself. I mean, just check out my dining room in the image below! If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

When I was a kid, the only time I was allowed to use a Sharpie marker was at pumpkin carving time. After scooping out the insides and separating the seeds from the orange goo, my brother and I would, with great exhilaration, wield our dangerously permanent markers and carefully draw the designs we wanted on our pumpkins. Meanwhile, Mom would make hot chocolate as Dad checked on the pumpkin seeds roasting in the oven. It was a special time. I think I usually just drew out pretty basic jack-o’-lantern designs, and then Dad would take over with the carving knife to make my designs a reality.

easy no-carve pumpkin ideasfloral pumpkin decoratingThese days, pumpkin carving is still fun, but pumpkin decorating is a lot easier. Plus, pumpkins last a lot longer when they’re not carved. I always seem to let jack-o’-lanterns turn mushy before getting rid of them (because who likes throwing away pumpkins? No one!). So this year I decided to skip the carving all together. I invited my (now adult) brother and his girlfriend over to help us decorate our pumpkin loot, and we had so much fun! I put out baskets full of paint and supplies, and we had a grand ol’ time listening to Ella Fitzgerald, sipping wine, eating cookies, and decorating a pumpkin or two.

Check out the easy no-carve designs we did below!

easy no-carve pumpkin ideasPAINTED PUMPKINS

My favorite technique for pumpkin decorating is definitely a simple paint job. When arranged together on a door stoop or mantel, a variety of paint techniques can create a visually stunning display.

graphic gold leaf painted pumpkinwhite striped painted pumpkinGold Leaf Paint // Painting a pumpkin with gold leaf paint creates a bit of glamour. Glamorous pumpkins? They’re not just for Cinderella stories, folks. Phil free-hand painted the top left pumpkin using the natural vertical lines of the pumpkin as his guide.

Bold Stripes & Puffy Paint // The pumpkin next to the gold one was gloriously squatty and warty. All it needed was some white paint to make it over. I used larger white stripes to contrast the gold-painted pumpkin to the left, and accented those stripes with white puffy paint. It made an interesting, sophisticated-looking design without being complicated to paint.

puffy paint pumpkins

house number painted pumpkins

Puffy Paint Lace // Puffy paint was a lot of fun to work with when decorating our pumpkins. I easily drew a lace-like pattern with white puffy paint on this light colored pumpkin above left. The paint did take a few hours to dry, though, so be careful when moving it! I smudged mine a bit.

Painted House Numbers // Rather than attempting to free-hand numbers onto a pumpkin, I printed out large numbers, cut them out from the paper, and traced around them onto the pumpkin with a black marker. Then I filled it in with black paint. Pretty easy! It will look great on my brother’s front stoop.

white and gold painted pumpkinstencil-painted pumpkin

Sponge Painted Pumpkins // This little guy got a nice coat of white paint (brushed on acrylic craft paint), including the stem. Then dots were created by dipping a sponge paint dabber in gold leaf paint. The smaller dots were made with a pencil eraser! Then I pushed in brads to accent the larger dots. To give detail to the stem, it was given a light brush coat of gold paint too.

Stenciled Pumpkins // I love the intricate, yet graphic look that stenciling gives. I bought a set of Martha Stewart craft stencils which worked beautifully on the pumpkins. They are already sticky, and can even stretch to conform to the curve of the pumpkin. Perfect! The possibilities are endless when it comes to stenciling.

easy no-carve pumpkin ideasEMBELLISHED PUMPKINS

Embellished pumpkins are easy to decorate, and because there’s no paint involved, they can be easily altered according to your whims. I think all of these pumpkins coordinate nicely and would work beautifully to create a long tablescape for a dinner party.

Flower dotted pumpkin decor decorate pumpkins with twine and ropeFloral Dots // Pop the head off some plastic daisies or mums to make quirky flower-dotted pumpkins. I adhered my flowers with glue dots, but you could use straight pins instead.

Twine & Rope Designs // Nailheads secure twine or rope to give graphic detail to these pumpkins. This design looks complex, but it was so quick and easy to achieve! Just wrap the twine around the first nailhead and push it into place to get started. Leave the other nailheads loose until the design is complete, then push them into place.

use nailheads for easy pumpkin decorating decorate pumpkins with garlands for easy fall decorNailheads // Pushing nailheads into the skin of a pumpkin is so quick and easy. You can do something as simple as random dots or make patterns with the nailhead placements. Depending on how many nailheads you want to use, this look works better with small and medium pumpkins.

Garlands // Wrapping a fall garland around a pumpkin is also very simple, but creates an elegant, whimsical look that makes a beautiful table centerpiece. I used straight pins to secure the garlands, and then bent the wire twigs to make it look a bit more natural and carefree.

Decopage pumpkins with fallen leaves to add a natural vibe to your fall tablescapeuse corn husks to make striped pumpkins

Decoupage Leaves // Decoupaging pumpkins can be difficult because of its spherical shape, but I was determined to decorate this squatty pumpkin with leaves if it was the last thing I did. I found the trick was to work with the natural way the leaf bends and curves, and to use straight pins to hold the leaf in place as you brush a top coat of Mod Podge on it. As the Mod Podge began to set up, I brushed more on top of it to really get the leaves to lay flat.

Corn Husks // Want a more naturally looking striped pumpkin? Corn husks are the way to go. Unless you can find long corn husks, this look works best with smaller pumpkins. I found my corn husks in the Mexican food aisle of my local grocery store, then cut them to size, and used Mod Podge and brads to hold them in place.

easy no-carve pumpkin ideasHow festive do these guys look? I think they look magical! The mix of embellished, painted, and gold leafed pumpkins is such a fun way to decorate for the season.

IMG_7648gold leaf pumpkin paintingI love the way all of the painted pumpkins have turned my home into a wonderland of autumn, but my absolute favorite? Why, that would have to be the gold painted pumpkin above. Don’t you think Phil did a good job with that one? Which one’s your favorite? –

Credits // Author and Photography: . Photos edited with Stella of the  and Pearl from the .

  • Wow, the decoupage leaf one is gorgeous! I so deeply wish I had a front door we could put pumpkins in front of. I’ve had carving parties in the past, but there’s never a place to put the pumpkins once they’re decorated.


  • Oh my gosh, Mandi, this is such an amazing array of ideas! I love the whole collection, but my favorite would have to be the whimsical garland wrapped ones. Of the actually decorated, I love all with gold accents! So pretty! You’ve really gotten me obsessed with gold and metallics with your recent DIYs.

  • So fun! I love the house numbers in particular!

    I wrote about sparkly jack o lanterns today, which is another no-carve variation. I’m all about painting pumpkins this year. 🙂

    Always, Anita

  • The rope and twine is my fave! I hate carving pumpkins…last year I made a “feathered” pumpkin and it lasted forever 😉

    Cheers Ursula

  • love the nailheads with twine and the decoupaged pumpkins! were they already white or did you paint them first?

  • I HATE carving pumpkins just because it’s so hard and requires a strong arm – I do not have that and I am super clumsy so it’s pretty dangerous. This however.. the perfect idea!
    bec x

  • I can’t believe you don’t have pumpkin-food mania! Oh well, your decorated pumpkins do make up for it. My favorite is definitely the house numbers one.

  • they are so adorable ! I love the gold leaf one, the black stencil and the very elegant white lace top… great job guys !

  • These are some great ideas! I especially love the puffy paint lace. I think some of these could translate pretty well to a fall wedding, as well.


  • The only pumpkin I painted before decorating was the little white pie pumpkin with the gold dots on it. I wanted to get more variety in pumpkin types this year, and was really pleased to find a lot of kinds at a local pumpkin patch. -Mandi

  • I loooveee the puffy paint lace one. Really cute and looks super , haha. I am definitely trying out these ideas soon!

  • So many pretty pumpkins to choose from! The garlands are whimsical and the house number is oh-so practical, but we can’t resist a touch of gold! What a beautiful assortment for an entry. xo – R&R

  • The garland idea is super cute! I also love painting them. This year I’m going to try make one into a chalkboard… haha We’ll see how that goes! Cute pumpkins round-up!

  • These are so beautiful! I will definitely be trying this out on a pumpkin or two… I really love the floral dots and painted pumpkins! x It’s also so great that they will last for more than a week; maybe even until Thanksgiving if you time it right 🙂

  • Wow! All of the pumpkins look really cool! The one with floral dots is my absolute favorite! I totally need to try this idea! 🙂


  • So cool! Definitely have to try this, I can’t stand the smell of the pumpkins or the feeling of the seeds, but I love decorating them. Great compromise!

  • Before this post gets bogged down with hundreds of comments – so clever! Garlands and nailheads on a pumpkin?! Never in my wildest dreams would I have come up with that, but they look amazing! We grew a whole patch of big, bright red-orange Cinderella pumpkins this year, but they don’t lend themselves to carving so I had no idea what to do with them. Now those little babies won’t even know what hit ’em . . . thanks, as always, for the creativity!

  • Oh, this is so cool. I’m excited to try these out. Thanks for the awesome ideas!

  • Oh my gosh! Can’t believe how beautiful they are, Mandi!!!! My absolute faves are the nailhead and garland pumpkins … but everey piece of them are just perfect!!!! I love your design so much!

  • These are such creative and beautiful ideas and truly so simple to actually create! I live in Australia and we don’t really do the whole “Halloween” thing here but thank god it’s gaining popularity!!! The floral pumpkin is my favourite but you three did such a lovely job on all of these, congratulations! 🙂

  • Another Idea: paint them pink. Looks great!
    Kind regards from Hamburg / Germany ?

  • I love the metallic paint on a pumpkin… so cute to have something so geometric and shiny on something so natural and organic!
    I might try chalkboard paint on my pumpkins… just because I have a bunch lying around, and I think it would be cute to write “Boo!” (and stuff like that) on them 🙂

    <3 dani

    I love this pumpkin ideas.
    And i am gonna try it.

    Greetings & Love

  • I love love love the garland wrapped pumpkins — so simple! I can’t wait to go to the craft store later to do this for myself. Thanks for sharing these ideas!

  • They make such a beautiful display! I’ve never done anything except carve the pumpkins. This year I am going to be very busy the week before, so maybe I will just paint them. I love the puffy paint idea… when I glanced at your photo I wondered what you used. I forgot all about puffy paint:)

  • Mandi you are not alone, I don’t like the pumpkin flavors of the season either. BUT decorating pumpkins on the other hand is AWESOME! Thanks for the inspiration!!

    Have a wonderful day!

    xoxo E

  • What great ideas! I especially love the rope design pumpkins. I’ll have to give that a try!

  • Wow, I LOVE this! As someone who lives in a dorm room and doesn’t really have the resources to carve pumpkins, this is great inspiration! It will help to make my room more home-y and less like a prison cell.


  • I just used acrylic paint and brushed it on. It easily scraps off, though, so if you’re going to be handling or moving them about much, you may actually want to consider using a primer first. I didn’t want to get too labor intensive with my decorating, though, since they will just be thrown out in the end. -Mandi

  • Ha! Less like a prison cell! I can relate to those dorm room day— with a tiny window and cinderblock walls. A few decorated pumpkins will definitely do the trick. 🙂 -Mandi

  • I used Martha Stewart’s gold leaf pant. It’s a tiny little jar and a little bit goes a long way. I’ve used that little jar for quite a few projects, and it’s not even halfway gone! -Mandi

  • This is so cute! I was just telling my boyfriend that I want to try to find some little pumpkins to decorate (he just didn’t get it). Those studded ones are gorgeous. I’d love to try that.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • I hate carving pumpkins too! Such a mess and I’m just not good at the carving part… I love the puffy paint one.. I’m sure I have some of that in a box somewhere.. you’ve inspired me to give it a try 🙂

  • Probably the BEST post I’ve seen yet about how to decorate pumpkins! I love every single idea, and your examples are totally my style! (Lucky me!) Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Ho boy, you’re really full of ideas, you’re fire place looks gorgeous. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • So excited to try these decorating ideas out this weekend! SO creative and fun, I featured it in my link love post today! I would be honored if you checked it out:

  • Just found your blog guys and.. yeah I’m already in love.
    super cute pumkins!
    I ‘ve implemented a few of your ideas from the 13 fun ideas for halloween today!
    They’re posted on

    And I’m already excited about your christmas-inspiration 🙂

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