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Using a Pumpkin-Carving Template

Our top tips for carving a Halloween pumpkin using a printed template, plus HGTV-exclusive pumpkin-carving templates.

Materials and Tools:

pumpkin (fresh or foam)
download templates: Beginner or Advanced
tracing paper
charcoal or graphite pencil
wooden skewer or template wheel
ballpoint pen
carving tools


1. If using a fresh pumpkin, cut a hole in the bottom and remove the seeds.

2. Print a template onto regular paper.

3. Next, transfer template to pumpkin.

There are several great options for transferring a template:

  • Cover the back of the paper template with graphite by scribbling over the lines with a pencil. Then tape template with graphite-scribbled side next to the pumpkin. Trace the template image onto the pumpkin with a ballpoint pen. The pressure from the pen will cause the graphite to transfer onto the pumpkin.

  • Place a sheet of tracing paper between the printed template and pumpkin, and tape both to the pumpkin. Then, trace the template image onto the pumpkin with a ballpoint pen.
  • A third option is to tape the template to the pumpkin then transfer the pattern by repeatedly poking small holes through the template's design with a wooden skewer, nail or other sharp, pointed object. Another handy tool for transferring a pattern by poking holes is called a template wheel. These are found in many pumpkin-carving kits and make pattern transfer quick and easy.

4. Use the newly transferred lines as your carving guide.

When creating a template, think outside the box. Creative ideas include:

  • Using your computer to print out your family's name or a monogram.
  • Spelling out a short word by carving one letter into each pumpkin and then placing the pumpkins together.
  • Printing out a family photo and transferring the profile to a pumpkin to create a silhouette design.

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