Kellye Fox | 

24 Easy No-Carve Pumpkin Decorating Ideas Starting at Under $1 to Make

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Carving pumpkins is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of activity. No-carve pumpkin decorating ideas are your best bet to save time and avoid that stringy pulp. Yes, you can have it all — festive pumpkins and a family tradition — without the slimy pumpkin goo.

Most of these ideas can be done with real or faux pumpkins. Just paint a matte finish on your real pumpkin if you suspect items won’t stick. And, you won’t need any fancy materials to make them look beautiful or scary.

While we’re talking about pumpkins, check out some of Trade Joe’s pumpkin products, those delicious Starbucks pumpkin spice latte options, and some scary good Halloween treats.

Pumpkin carving (or, no-carve pumpkin decorating ideas in this case) is synonymous with Halloween, so here are more tips, ideas, and deals to fall for (get it? Fall — I’ll be here all night, folks):

For more savings hacks and smart shopping tips, text HACKS to 57299. Ready for the top no-carve pumpkin decorating ideas? Check them out:

1. Spa Face Pumpkin

a pumpkin decorated to look like a face wearing a mud mask with a towel wrap on its head

How about a spa day for your beloved orange friend? Eyelash stickers ($3.90, Amazon), teal acrylic paint ($0.58, Walmart), and a fine paintbrush can instantly transform your faux or real pumpkin into a creative look. Use your pumpkin year after year for your outdoor decorations or Halloween tablescape.

2. Glitter Pumpkin

white pumpkin decorated with silver glitter

For this no-carve pumpkin idea, you only need craft glue ($5, Michaels) and glitter. Couldn’t be easier. We all know how messy glitter can be to clean up, so perhaps glitter glue $5.99 for a 6-pack (reg $9.59) may be a better choice. You can combine multiple bottles of colored glitter glue into a disposable bowl and use a paintbrush to create an abstract look. Or, try a “drip” method like cake artists do.

3. Rainbow Pumpkin

a set of paints for pumpkins

Rainbows don’t automatically come to mind when we think of the fall, but fall-related colors make for an easy no-carve pumpkin decorating idea. Mini pumpkins or small sugar pumpkins are ideal for this project. Pumpkin decorating paint kits ($8.18, Amazon) come in handy and are just the right size.

4. Unicorn Pumpkin

a pumpkin decorated as a unicorn and the kit available at Party City

You just need a full-size pumpkin and the unicorn pumpkin decorating kit ($7, Party City) to transform your gourd. The kit comes with a horn, white pumpkin paint, sponge, and adhesive jewel sheet.

5. Ribboned Pumpkin

a pumpkin decorated with ribbons

To make this no-carve pumpkin idea even simpler, start at the top near the stem with your ribbon. Use a hot glue gun to attach the ribbons to the creases of the pumpkin and secure at the bottom. Need some decorative ribbon ideas? We’ve got ’em for as low as $2.

6. Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Pumpkin

painted no-carve dia de los muertos sugar skull pumpkin

Day of the Dead — or Dia De Los Muertos — is a Mexican and Latinx holiday that honors family members and friends who have died. The celebration occurs after Halloween (and has nothing to do with Halloween), but you can prep your no-carve pumpkin ahead of time.

There are lots of inspirational sugar skulls online, so find one that you want to imitate. Try these techniques to pull off this look:

  • Sketch your skull face on the pumpkin, then fill it in with multiple acrylic paints.

  • Freehand paint a skull face.

  • Start with white acrylic paint ($0.58 at Walmart). You’ll need other bright colors too.

  • Paint a circle (or close to it) on one side of your pumpkin. Then, fill it in with your desired face and accents.

  • Buy a white faux pumpkin – although I think the orange contrast looks pretty cool – and begin painting a face.

Add silk flowers ($12.99 on Amazon) near the stem to finish the skull.

7. Temporary Tattoo Pumpkin

fall- and halloween-themed temporary tattoos

Just be sure to paint your pumpkin with a matte finish before you apply the temporary tattoo if you’re using a real pumpkin. Otherwise, use a faux pumpkin. There are lots of options like fall-themed images and phrases ($4.95, Amazon) and spider temporary tattoos ($9.99, Amazon).

8. Painted Pumpkin Face

a pumpkin painted with a shocked face

Acrylic paint ($0.58, Walmart) of any color will work to make this shocked painted face. Simply start with the large oval-shaped eyes and mouth. Try using painters tape to make geometric shapes, too.

9. Bejeweled Pumpkin

silver bejeweled pumpkin detail

Here’s a great way for your pumpkin to stand out among your neighbors. Affix adhesive rhinestones ($10.99, Amazon) in either solid shades or multicolors. Be sure to use craft glue for $2.74 (reg $3.49) at Walmart if you don’t buy adhesive stones. Alternatively, paint your real pumpkin a matte white and decorate with rhinestone ribbons ($14.99, Amazon).

10. Foam Sticker Pumpkin

four no-carve pumpkins with foam decorations

You can’t have a no-carve pumpkin idea without an old-fashioned jack-o’-lantern. Luckily, we found an easy way to tackle this — foam stickers. Amazon has pumpkin decorating foam stickers (15-pack for $16.99, Amazon) in designs like a ghost, jack-o’-lantern, cat, and vampire. Use the stickers around your house too, since they can also stick to windows and mirrors.

11. Nailhead Trim Heart Pumpkin

woman holding small pumpkin with heart-shaped nailhead trim

You’ll need a hammer and hanging nails $5.99 (reg $12.99 at Amazon), for this no-carve pumpkin idea. Draw a heart on the pumpkin, and hammer or push the nails into the shape.

Wrap thin string or yarn around the nails to make the heart shape pop. You can also use masking tape to create straight lines or different shapes like chevron or circles.

12. Gold-Painted Pumpkin

pumpkin painted with gold acrylic paint on chair

Metallic acrylic paint (less than $3, Walmart) can really make your pumpkin stand out. You can draw a paisley pattern or herringbone lines for a more intricate look.

13. Crayon-Dripped Pumpkin

person holding pumpkin decorated with melted crayons

It’s true that a hair dryer can melt crayons. Why not send them streaking down a pumpkin? Lay some paper down before starting these DIY Halloween decorations — they get really messy.

  1. Remove the paper labels around several crayons and cut the crayons in half.

  2. Attach each crayon with a dab of clear tacky glue, then allow the glue to fully dry.

  3. Point a blow dryer set to the highest heat at the crayons and watch the colors run. For more vibrant colors, repeat this process multiple times.

someone putting crayons on a faux pumpkin and melting them with a hair dryer

Note: As you apply the heat and wax begins to melt, your crayons will fall off the top of your pumpkin. Simply tack them back onto the top with the now-melted crayon.

Related: Check out all the free Crayola coupons to score some for cheap.

14. Dried Floral Pumpkin

no-carve pumpkin decorated with pink mums

Pick your color scheme for the flowers and have at it. Attach the artificial flowers ($12.99, Amazon) with craft glue for $2.74 (reg $3.49) at Walmart and decide whether to decorate the entire pumpkin or make a pattern. Use this no-carve pumpkin idea as a fall tablescape or porch addition to beautify your space.

15. Lace Pumpkin

no-carve pumpkin with lace masquerade mask and eyes

Basically, wrap a pumpkin in lace. I vote for black lace because white lace doesn’t exactly say “creepy.” What’s even better is wrapping your pumpkin in a lace masquerade mask ($5.99, Amazon) for a little spooky elegance. Googly eyes ($2.42, Walmart) make the look more realistic.

16. Hand-Painted Pumpkin

young boy painting pumpkins at home

How about a good old-fashioned paint party? Back in my day, when we didn’t want to carve our pumpkin, we just painted them however we liked. Set up some disposable aprons (50 for $5.59, Amazon), brushes, paint pallets, 4-pack for $3.99 (reg $4.99, Amazon), and newspapers on a table and let everyone’s creativity fly. Try using acrylic paint to drip colors freestyle all over a white pumpkin.

17. Washi Tape Pumpkin

pumpkin with no-carve washi tape decorating idea

Do this one similar to the ribbon pumpkin, starting at the top, or cover the whole thing in fall Washi tape for $7.99 (reg $9.99, Amazon). Depending on how wild you are about contrasts, use a combination of the above mentioned decorating ideas, like ribbon, furniture nails, and glitter glue.

18. Cat Pumpkin With Glasses

two pumpkins decorated like cats with glasses

Here’s a unique spin on decorating your pumpkin as a cat — add jumbo novelty sunglasses ($4.95, Amazon) or reading glasses. Foam cutouts make for an easy design, along with gigantic self-adhesive googly eyes ($3.29, Michaels). Glue the tail, eyebrows, and mouth/whiskers directly to the pumpkin. Add the eyes, then position the glasses.

19. Polka Dot Pumpkin

woman painting polka dots on black and white pumpkin

Let’s face it — polka dots never go out of style. Your no-carve pumpkin can be any polka dot color scheme that you want. Spray paint or color your entire pumpkin and use a fine tip acrylic paint brush, 20 for $5.99 (reg $12.99, Amazon) to make the circles.

20. Decorating Stickers Pumpkin

a pumpkin decorated with stickers

Just like the hand-painted pumpkin idea, adding Halloween stickers (20 for $5.99, Amazon) is a no-brainer for a creative decoration option. This no-carve pumpkin idea is perfect for kids who “want to help” but are usually in the way when it’s time to set up a space for a party or other project.

21. Ombre Pumpkin

no-carve pumpkin with ombre and face

As I noted, acrylic paint ($0.58, Walmart) really is cheap, useful, and versatile, so why not make your pumpkin a bit modern with an ombre effect? If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s simply a set of colors moving from light to dark (like hair color).

Use masking or painters tape for horizontal or vertical shapes. To darken the colors, simply apply several coats. Another great idea is to create an ombre trio with three pumpkins (pale pink, light pink, dark pink).

22. Mischievous Kitty Pumpkin

no-carve pumpkin with painted cat face

Yes, this is hand-painted again, but you’re going for an actual look, not just winging it. Pick a photo of your favorite kitten and use paint to draw a silly face. To take it up a notch, attach pipe cleaners as whiskers and a toy cat’s tail ($10.85, Amazon).

23. Bat Pumpkin

pumpkin decorated as bat sitting in leaves

Bats are perfect for your fall or Halloween decorations. Dress up your gourd by starting with black acrylic paint. Apply over the entire pumpkin and let it dry thoroughly. Cut out bat wing shapes on black felt ($0.99 at Hobby Lobby) and hot glue them in your desired pattern. You can add ears, fangs, and silly eyes as well.

24. Painted Stem Pumpkin

small no-carve pumpkin with green painted stem

Pumpkin stems always get ignored, so why not give it a little love with a makeover? Grab your brightest neon color and give the stem a good paint job. Make it a bit abstract with some neon drips on the pumpkin itself.

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