How to carve a Jack-o’-lantern

How to carve a Jack-o’-lantern

Halloween is such a fun time for kids. Why not embrace this fun kids’ activity with some Halloween decorations around the house?

What you need:

  • 1 large local pumpkin
  • sharp knife
  • small saw blade (find the smallest saw blade you can at Bunnings, needs a pointed tip)
  • ice cream scoop
  • FREE printables with five ideas for Jack-o’-lantern face designs

Number of players:


Watch the video to find out how to carve a Jack-o’-lantern out of an New Zealand pumpkin variety (the orange North American pumpkins have thinner skin than the ones here).

Choose a nice big pumpkin with a symmetrical shape and smooth skin all over.

Decide where the front of your Jack-o’-lantern will be.

Start by cutting a lid out of the top of the pumpkin. Use a small saw blade to cut a circle shape out of the top. Try to cut at a rough 45-degree angle – so that the lid will sit in its place when you’ve finished. (If you cut it at a 90 degree angle to the pumpkin, the lid will just fall straight into the pumpkin when you’ve finished!)

Cut a notch into the lid, at the back of the pumpkin, so that the lid will go back in place the same way every time.

Once you’ve cut out your lid, scoop the flesh and seeds out with an ice cream scoop. Try to thin out the walls as much as you can, in particular the front wall, so that cutting a face will be easier.

Have a look at our FREE printable Jack-o’-lantern designs page and decide what kind of face you want to give your Jack.

Use a small paring knife to create the eyes and mouth.

To guard against mould and bacteria, spritz out the inside with mould remover or a bit of diluted bleach. Pat it dry with a paper towel.

Put a tealight or candle in it. Light it up. Pop the lid back on.

Put it out the front for Halloween so that everyone knows you’re ready to receive ghoulish little visitors!


  • Thanks to our sister company Kidspot Australia for creating the instructional video and the printable template.


  1. Julie 23/10/2019 at 7:50 am

    If you cut the hole in the bottom of the pumpkin you don’t have to worry so much about how it looks and getting the angle right. Plus any light you put in will be much more stable

  2. Alezandra 03/11/2018 at 9:23 pm

    Never been a fan of making jack o lanterns…I don’t understand the novelty of this. But I guess if my son does come to want to do this, we can try to do one. But seeing around the neighborhood here, I don’t think people actually make these.

  3. felicity beets 01/11/2018 at 7:50 pm

    not overly keen to attempt to carve a pumpkin – but they do look cool at night so maybe when my boys are older and they want to do this.

  4. SarahBlair 31/10/2018 at 8:50 pm

    I have attempted to carve Jack-o-Lanterns before, the results were… interesting…? I have seen some amazing looking ones and I definitely will try it again as my kids really enjoyed having it! I might follow these instructions next time…

  5. Shelz69 31/10/2018 at 2:14 pm

    My son really wants to do this but until now I hadn’t been very keen as it seemed pretty dangerous but after looking at the video it does not seem to be as bad as I imagined. I might have to get to the supermarket soon to get us a pumpkin.

  6. dawnblyth 31/10/2018 at 11:58 am

    There are some amazing designs that people carve into pumpkins. A great talent! I love seeing the pumpkins carved on tv shows with the lights shining through them – they look really cool.

  7. MuddledUpMolly 23/10/2018 at 9:43 pm

    My husband and son made jack-o-lanterns one year for Halloween and they loved it (particularly hubby). Halloween seems to be slowly getting more popular in NZ so it is great to have some tips on how to get involved and even better to have the youtube clip available too.

  8. Mands1980 23/10/2018 at 11:57 am

    I think my kids would love to try this with these instructions we might give it ago it will be cool to see the product finished with a tea light in it I beat it is hard to do certain parts when cutting the pumpkin.

  9. Bevik1971 19/10/2018 at 10:41 am

    I would actually like to try carving a pumpkin ūüôā Never done it but it looks like a lot of messy fun! We could get a really big pumpkin from our local Farmer’s Market pretty cheap, so might do it! Although we don’t celebrate Halloween we could have a Jack ‘o’ lantern!

  10. kymmage 17/10/2018 at 8:44 pm

    Very cool activity. We did this once. My daughter designed the face on her chalk board and I did the cutting. It came out alright but I could have done with a small saw as per these instructions. A knife was super hard work.

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