How to Make a Jack O Lantern
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How to Make a Jack O Lantern

This easy step by step guide shows how to make a Jack O Lantern for Halloween with cinnamon and spices for a wonderful smell. Have fun making your pumpkin as scary as possible then place around your house to frighten away evil spirits.

Originally a Jack O Lantern was a carved pumpkin, turnip or any root vegetable. It is believed to come from an Irish legend of a man named Jack who made a deal with Satan and so is doomed to roam the Earth with only a hallowed turnip to light his way.

Choosing a Lantern

What type of pumpkin should I use for a Jack O Lantern?

When choosing a pumpkin to use for a Jack O Lantern make sure it sits well without rolling over with the stem at the top. The stem should be attached well so you can take the lid on and off.
It is also best to avoid thick skinned pumpkins because they will be harder to carve. Remember the lower in height the pumpkin the shorter the candle you will need.

Choosing a pumpkin for a Jack O Lantern

Creating a Jack O Lantern

Tools and Materials Needed

  • 1 Pumpkin
  • Long Carving Knife (It is easier if the blade is an inch or less wide. This top rated boning knife (paid link) is perfect for carving pumpkins.)
  • Parchment Paper or Baking Paper
  • Sticky Tape
  • Pen (A felt tip pen (paid link) draws easier on parchment paper.)
  • Scissors
  • Candle – Short candles are best like these top rated value set of candles. (Paid link)
  • Drill and Drill Bit or Apple Corer
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ½ Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • ¼ Teaspoon Ground Cloves


Time needed: 1 hour and 30 minutes.

How to Make a Jack O Lantern

  1. Cut Out the Lid

    First wash off any dirt on the pumpkin then dry. Use the carving knife to cut out a circle in the top of the pumpkin around the stem.  Insert the knife angled towards the stem so that when the top is replaced it will sit on top without falling through. The hole needs to be big enough to get your hand in to dig out the flesh.

    Cutting the lid of the Jack O Lantern.

  2. Remove the Flesh

    Remove the seeds then carve out the flesh to a thickness of ½ an inch (1.5cm) on the side you will be carving. It can be thicker on the other sides. It is easier to cut lines into the flesh with the knife then use a large metal spoon or ice-cream scoop to remove the flesh.
    Keep as much of the flesh as you can for a pumpkin casserole then put any scraps in the compost bin.

    Removing the pumpkin flesh by cutting lines first to make it easier.

  3. Create a Guide for the Face

    Next place a piece of parchment paper on the side of the pumpkin you wish to carve then draw a line at the top and bottom to give you a guide.

    Creating a guide for drawing on the face with two lines.

  4. Draw then Tape the Face to the Pumpkin

    Draw a scary face on the paper between the lines using straight lines as it will be very difficult to carve circles. Cut around the outside edge of the face then tape the paper onto the side of the pumpkin.

    Taping the drawn face onto the side of the pumkin.

  5. Carve Out the Face

    Clean and dry your carving knife then insert through the paper and into the pumpkin staying along the lines. Push the pieces out from the inside. Remove the paper and tape when finished.

    Carving out the Jack O Lantern face.

  6. Rub on the Spices

    Next mix together the spices then rub all over the inside of the pumpkin.

    Spices are rubbed onto the inside flesh of the Jack O Lantern.

  7. Find the Vent Point for the Candle

    Place a candle in the middle directly under the lid. Light the candle being careful not to burn yourself then place on the lid. After 30 seconds remove the lid then blow out the candle. You will see a black mark under the lid.

    Finding the vent point for the candle smoke to escape the pumpkin.

  8. Create the Vent Hole

    Use either a drill with a ¼ inch (5mm) drill bit, an apple corer or a self-drilling screw to make a hole in the lid where the black mark is so the smoke from the candle can escape from the pumpkin. If you don’t make the hole the candle will not burn. Be careful not to dislodge the stem. It is best to make the hole so it comes out beside it.

    Drilling a hole in the lid to let the smoke out.

  9. Finish

    Light the candle again then place on the top. You should see smoke coming out the hole. Place on your porch beside your front door for a wonderful smell as your visitors walk into your home.

    The Jack O Lantern completed.

Take Care

It is best not to carry your Jack O Lantern while the candle is lit because it may fall over. Do not light the lanterns where there is a fire hazard or a total fire ban is in place. It is best to place on non-flammable surfaces such as a large stoneware plate you no longer use.

These flameless battery operated candles have a timer to save on your battery life. They are safer if you have young children or would like to have your Jack O Lantern inside. You won’t need a vent hole for these. (Paid link)

Are you looking for more craft projects? Try this guide to Press Drying Flowers, Creating an Owl Doorstop or Make a Fabric Flower Headband. You might also take inspiration from these Craft Ideas or this Homesteading guide.

To Print or Save this guide on how to make a Jack O Lantern, click the button below for the PDF File.

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