Turn a Wood Pallet Into a Halloween Jack-O'-Lantern

Spook up your front porch, walkway, foyer or any dark corner with this rustic recycling project that uses a (free!) wood pallet to craft a Halloween pumpkin you can display year after year.
Pallet Jack-o'-Lantern Head: Beauty 1

Pallet Jack-o'-Lantern Head: Beauty 1

Dress up your doorstep or dark corner indoors with this spooky Halloween DIY. The easy to find pallets make it rustic and up the creepy factor.

Materials Needed:

  • wood pallet
  • 1/2" mdf cut into (2) 15"x15" squares
  • 1"x1/2" craft strips: (2) 15" and (2) 14-1/2"
  • 1/2" finishing nails
  • 3/4" nails
  • spiral saw
  • orange craft paint and wide paint brush
  • tap light or battery-operated votive
  • wire

Disassemble Pallet and Lay Out Boards

First, break apart the pallet and cut the boards into 12 to 16 pieces that are 22" long and 3 to 4 pieces that are 17" long. Next, cut 2 of the wood craft strips into 15" segments and 2 into 14-1/2" segments. Place the pallet pieces on the floor with the 15" x 15" mdf board in the middle, creating a cross shape. For the front and back of the box, lay the pallet pieces 1/2" past the edge of the mdf board. Measure the space in between the two outside pieces and subtract 1/2". Use that measurement to cut the remaining board for the middle, if necessary. Repeat for the sides; however, the side pieces should not extend beyond the edge of the mdf boards so that once your box is assembled, the front and back boards will overlap and nail into the side boards.

Pallet Jack-o'-Lantern Head: Step 1

Pallet Jack-o'-Lantern Head: Step 1

Break apart the pallets and cut into 12 – 16 pieces, 22” long, and 3 – 4 pieces, 17 inches long. Cut the wood strips (2) at 15” and (2) at 14-1/2”. Place pallet pieces on the floor with the 15”x15” mdf board.

Begin Assembly

Once your pallet boards are in place, attach the 15" strips to the front and back pieces 1/2" from the top and 1/2" from the sides using 3/4" nails (Image 1). Then attach the 14-1/2" strips to the side pallet pieces 1/2" from the top and 3/8" from the sides using 3/4" nails (Image 2). Bring the front, back and side pieces together with the mdf board at the bottom and the craft strips at the top; clamp together with long clamps and use finishing nails to secure the joints at the corners (Image 3). Turn the box on its side and secure the bottom of the pallet boards to the mdf board with 3 or 4 finishing nails per board (Image 4).

Pallet Jack-o'-Lantern Head: Step 2

Pallet Jack-o'-Lantern Head: Step 2

For the front and back of the box, lay the pieces 1/2” past the edge of the mdf board. Measure the space in between the two outside pieces and subtract 1/2”. Use that measurement to cut the remaining board for the middle, if necessary. Repeat for the sides, but the outside pieces should not extend beyond the sides of the mdf board. Attach the 15” strips to the front and back pallet pieces 1/2” from the top and 1/2 from the sides using 3/4” nails.

Finish Pumpkin Assembly

Lay the other mdf board on top of the box resting on the craft strips. Line up the two outside pieces with the edge of the box. Measure the space between them and subtract 1/2". Use that measurement to cut the middle piece if necessary. Next insert a 1-1/2" wood screw through the center of the middle pallet piece on the top from the back of the wood through to "good" side (Image 1). This screw will later be used to attach the stem to the top of the pumpkin. Nail the top pallet pieces to the mdf board with finishing nails (Image 2). For the pumpkin's stem, break some of the pallet scraps and find two pieces that can be glued back to back for a stem, apply wood glue and clamp the pieces together to dry while you finish the project (Image 3).

Pallet Jack-o'-Lantern Head: Step 3

Pallet Jack-o'-Lantern Head: Step 3

Attach the 14-1/2” strips to the sidepallet pieces 1/2” from the top and 3/8” from the sides using 3/4” nails.

Draw Then Cut Out Face

Use a marker to draw the jack-o'-lantern's face onto the front of your box (Image 1). Use the template as a guide or create one of your own. Use a spiral saw to cut out the face design (Image 2). Tip: At no point should the design cut completely through the middle board.

Pallet Jack-o'-Lantern Head: Step 9

Pallet Jack-o'-Lantern Head: Step 9

Draw face on the front of your box.

Create the Vine

Cut a piece of floral wire to about 4 feet long. Wrap tissue paper around the wire from one end to the other, securing with tape whenever needed (Image 1). Use floral tape to completely cover the tissue paper, overlapping each time. If desired, attach a few artificial leaves with floral tape and set aside (Image 2).

Pallet Jack-o'-Lantern Head: Step 11

Pallet Jack-o'-Lantern Head: Step 11

Cut a piece of floral wire to about 4 feet. Wrap tissue paper around the wire from one end to the other, holding with tape at the end of each sheet of paper as needed.

Paint Pumpkin, Add Vine and Light

Mix 2 parts craft paint to 1 part water. Dip a wide brush in the mixture and dab it on newspaper to remove most of the paint. Drag the paintbrush over the box for a rustic, dry-brush effect (Image 1). Allow to dry completely before proceeding. Once dry, wrap the wire vine around the screw in the lid once. Then add the dry stem on top of the vine by screwing it onto the exposed screw (Image 2). Finally, place a light inside the jack-o'-lantern to bring your Halloween decoration to life (Image 3).

Pallet Jack-o'-Lantern Head: Step 13

Pallet Jack-o'-Lantern Head: Step 13

Set aside. Mix 2 parts craft paint to 1 part water. Dip a wide brush in the mixture and remove most of the paint on newspaper. Use the remaining paint to drag over the box for a very light dry brush effect.

30 More Halloween Pumpkin Ideas

See All Photos

Go for the Glitter

Budget-friendly school glue and black glitter are all you need to give natural or faux pumpkins a chic makeover. Choose an easy pattern for crafting with kids or go with a timeless design, like a monogram or graphic pattern, for a sophisticated look. Get step-by-step instructions.

Carve With Your Kiddos

Carving pumpkins is a much anticipated Halloween activity for many families. Even the littlest crafters can complete their own pumpkin with a little help from a crafty adult and one of our beginner pumpkin-carving templates

Make a Haunted Pumpkin Fairy Garden

Kids will love this easy craft that turns a pumpkin into a haunted gnome home perfect for Halloween. Learn how to make your own.

Turn an Old Pallet Into a Grinning Jack

Spook up your front porch, walkway, foyer or any dark corner with this rustic recycling project that uses a (free!) wood pallet to craft a Halloween pumpkin you can display year after year. Make your own with our step-by-step instructions.

Cast a Spell

Create an enchanted pumpkin patch in your yard by carving a garden elf or fairy onto a large pumpkin. Stack smaller pumpkins on top, and carve stars in a swirling pattern on the top pumpkins to make it look like the little fall elf is casting a spell. Get more easy pumpkin-carving ideas.

Add Some Texture

A tube of paintable caulk and white spray paint transform a fresh pumpkin into a sleek, mod Halloween decoration. Make your own with our step-by-step instructions

Photo By: Image courtesy of Sam Henderson

Make Pumpkin Magic

Magic up this not-too-scary witch for your front porch or entryway using a faux pumpkin and basic craft supplies. Create a friendly witch to welcome Halloween guests or a scowling witch to keep mischief-makers at bay. Our step-by-step instructions make it easy to conjure up one of your own.

Mini "Pumpkin" Wreath

Although the tiny orange shapes covering this wreath look like diminutive pumpkins, they're actually putka pods. A great stand-in for mini pumpkins, the dried organic seed pods don't deteriorate, so your wreath can be displayed year after year. Get crafting to make your own.

Owl Pumpkin

You don't need an intricate pattern or advanced pumpkin-carving skills to turn a fresh pumpkin and white gourds into this adorable decoration. Learn how to make your own.

Turn Mini Pumpkins Into Friendly Bats

Mix a little mischief into your Halloween decorations with these mini bat pumpkins. These not-too-scary creatures are fun to create and will look great grouped together on your mantel, entry table or as a centerpiece.

Go Crazy for Candy

Combine Halloween's most iconic decoration -- a pumpkin -- with Halloween's favorite treat -- candy, and lots of it -- to craft a sweet decoration in no time flat. Use the real stuff or replicate the look with paint as Meg Caswell has here. Check out more Halloween decorating ideas from our stars, straight from the pages of HGTV Magazine. 

Photo By: Aaron Dyer

Black Cat Pumpkins

Use basic craft supplies — like paint, felt and pipe cleaners — to make a whole litter of these lucky  black cats. You can use fresh pumpkins, if you prefer, but these carve-free kitties are so cute that faux pumpkins are a better bet so you can display them year after year.

Pumpkin Candy Dish

Cut a faux pumpkin in half to create a lidded container for serving Halloween candy. The waterproof foam interior also makes these a great cooler when filled with ice and beverages. Get step-by-step instructions.

Point the Way

Let's face it, kids only have one question on All Hallow's Eve, "Where's the candy?!" Genevieve Gorder makes it easy for trick-or-treaters to find the way with this clever signpost that requires only a real or faux pumpkin, black spray paint and a white paint marker. Check out more Halloween decorating ideas from our stars, straight from the pages of HGTV Magazine.

Photo By: Aaron Dyer

Light Up the Night

Light the way for trick-or-treaters with rows of pumpkins that are illuminated with strands of Christmas lights. Just, hollow out each pumpkin, then use a drill to create a pattern. Fill each hole with a single bulb and cut a hole in the backside of each pumpkin to make it easy to disguise the electrical cord.  

Stack a Rustic Centerpiece

Colorful heirloom-variety pumpkins create a chic centerpiece when stacked and surrounded by other natural fall elements. To create a stable base, first remove the stems from all but the top pumpkin and add double-sided tape between the layers if you need a bit more stability.  

A Sweet Idea for Mini Pumpkins

Craft paint, glue and multicolor bugle beads are all you need to turn squat mini pumpkins into calorie-free lookalikes of Home Simpson's favorite sugary snack. Get more creative ideas for mini pumpkins, straight from the pages of HGTV Magazine.

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Create Your Own Pumpkin Family

Enlist the kids to help you create a group of pumpkin characters with signature characteristics that resemble your nearest and dearest. Fresh produce, felt, a permanent marker and a few bits of clothing are all you need. Get step-by-step instructions.

Stack a Jack-O'-Totem

Add some personality to your Halloween decor with a pumpkin topiary in the shape of a totem pole. All you need are a few lightweight faux pumpkins, basic craft supplies and a little imagination. Get crafting to make your own.

Make a Gourd-Geous Vase

Use a hollowed-out fresh pumpkin as a vase to display your garden's last blooms before the cold hits. Place a vase inside the pumpkin to contain the water, then arrange your flowers inside. Consider using herbs that have gone to seed, like this fennel, as your greenery. 

Make Carving Child's Play

Even the littlest crafters will have fun tapping metal cookie cutters into hollowed-out pumpkins to create fun glowing shapes. Get step-by-step instructions.

Bring On the Glitz

Give faux pumpkins a glamorous makeover with gold, silver and copper leaf to add just the right amount of sparkle to any indoor fall display or Halloween centerpiece. Best of all: You can incorporate these glitzy gourds into your Thanksgiving decor. Make your own with our step-by-step instructions

Play Peekaboo

Kids will love helping you create a spooktacular vignette of peeking pumpkins with mini gourds and a variety of inexpensive bowls and lidded dishes. Get step-by-step instructions.

Add a Sophisticated Silhouette

If carving isn't your strong suit, put your artistic skills to work and instead embellish a pumpkin with a trendy black-and-white silhouette. Our step-by-step instructions show you how.

Disguise Pumpkins as Mushrooms

Wooden furniture legs (from the hardware store) and polka-dot-painted mini pumpkins are a credible stand-in for fanciful forest mushrooms. Enlist the kids to help you craft up a whole crop of these colorful 'shrooms. Get more creative ideas for mini pumpkins, straight from the pages of HGTV Magazine.

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Make Your Mark With a Monogram

Turn your family's last name or just the first initial into a totally personalized pumpkin. Learn how to make your own.

Photo By: unknown ©Layla Palmer

Go for a Gothic Look

Give a humble pumpkin sophisticated style by painting it to resemble an antique European grain sack. Our step-by-step instructions show you how.

Who's That Masked Pumpkin?

A pumpkin in disguise? Why not, it is Halloween after all. Our free printable template ensures this carve-free pumpkin idea couldn't be simpler. Get more creative ideas for mini pumpkins, straight from the pages of HGTV Magazine.

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Repurpose Upholstery Trim

Easily embellish pumpkins with paint, nail-head trim, ribbon and spiders to create a chic Halloween display — no carving required. Learn how to get this look.

Go Trendy With Fabric

Give faux pumpkins a fashion-forward makeover by covering them with strips of trendy fabric. Large decoupage pumpkins are a stylish addition to front porch displays while small pumpkins will add a graphic pop to any indoor Halloween decorations. Get crafting now to make your own

Make a Pretty Fretwork Pumpkin

Looking for a new pumpkin-carving technique? Requiring just two different-sized drill bits, this sculptural and intricate design is easier to create than you may think. Learn how to make your own.

Think Small

Mini pumpkins, if left uncut, typically stay fresh much longer than larger varieties. Mix a few minis into your Halloween decor now so you can later repurpose them for your Thanksgiving spread. 

Put a Pumpkin to Work as a Serving Bowl

Summery sangria gets a flavorful update for fall with pumpkin pie spice, bourbon and apple cider. Make a big batch to serve in a hollowed-out pumpkin for a pitch-perfect seasonal presentation. Get the recipe.l

Photo By: Liz Gray

Spell It Out

Use patterned scrapbook paper and decoupage medium to embellish pumpkins with your initials or a favorite Halloween phrase, like "Boo!" or "Spooky!" Our step-by-step instructions make this project a snap.  

Ribbon-Embellished Pumpkins

Give faux or fresh pumpkins a chic fall makeover with vertical bands of pretty patterned ribbon — no carving required. Get crafting with our step-by-step instructions.

Keep Reading

Shop This Look

Found a living space you love in HGTV's Photo Library? Get the look in your own home with products from Wayfair.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.