DIY Concrete Jack-O-Lanterns

Who says pumpkins have to be orange? These do-it-yourself concrete jack-o-lanterns may be gray, but they’re anything but dull. They’re surprising, trendy and easier-to-make than you might expect. Adding one of these babies to your front porch is an unexpected way to decorate for Halloween.
Plastic pumpkin buckets—the ones trick-or-treaters use to gather their goodies—serve as the molds for these concrete jack-o-lanterns. If you don’t have any extra plastic pumpkin buckets around, you can find them at most dollar stores or big box stores for around $1 each.

The only technical part to making these concrete jack-o-lanterns is mixing up the concrete. As a concrete newbie before completing this project, I can vouch that it’s not that hard. You too can mix concrete!
First, you’ll need to gather your supplies. The base materials for this project are just plastic pumpkin buckets (I used two) and a package of fast-setting QUIKRETE® concrete mix. But, you’ll need a few other tools you probably already have on hand to get the job done.

What you’ll need:

– Plastic pumpkin buckets (I used two)

– 50lb bag fast-setting QUIKRETE® concrete mix

– Screw eye holders (one for each pumpkin)

– Bucket

– Stir stick

– Putty knife
Get ready to get your hands a little dirty. This project is definitely hands-on. Also, grab your significant other or a friend because it’s easier to mix concrete with two people. One of you can drink a beer while the other stirs the concrete. Or, you can take turns stirring, I guess. Follow these steps to make your concrete jack-o-lanterns.

Step 1: Mix your concrete

You’ll need a bucket to mix the concrete and water. We eyeballed it, but QUIKRETE suggests using one gallon of water for every 50lb bag of concrete mix. Add water slowly until the mixture has the consistency of thick oatmeal. We kept adding too much water and then had to dump it out, so it would probably be better to measure it ahead of time. (Here’s a handy video from QUIKRETE on how to hand mix concrete.)

Step 2: Stir, stir stir

The mixture needs to be thick and it will take a bit of elbow grease to stir it until it’s the right consistency. Keep stirring the concrete-water mixture until you work out most of the chunks. I used a small piece of pipe to stir the mixture, but QUIKRETE suggests using a wheelbarrow and a hoe. (We didn’t have either of those, so we made the bucket-stick method work.)

Step 3: Pour into molds

Once your concrete is ready, pour the mixture into your pumpkin molds. The 50lb bag of concrete I used filled two pumpkin molds just perfectly. Pour the mixture all the way to the top. It’s okay if it drips over a little.

Step 4: Level it off

Let the concrete sit for about 20 minutes. Then, use a putty knife to level the top of the pumpkin. When the concrete has just started to set, insert a screw eye into the mixture. The screw eye will make it easier to move your pumpkin around once it hardens because you’ll have something to grab on to.

Step 5: Let it dry

Don’t touch your pumpkin for at least 24 hours. I waited 48 hours. It was hard, but worth it. You want to make sure the concrete has fully hardened.

Step 6: Remove the mold

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to keep the plastic pumpkin bucket. Use a box cutter to cut off the pumpkin bucket. Cut all the way from the top of the pumpkin to the bottom. Then, use pliers to remove the pumpkin bucket completely.
I was worried that the features—eyes, nose, ears—of the pumpkins were going to get messed up or not turn out at all. If they didn’t look prominent, I was pretty much just going to be stuck with a ball of concrete. But they came out great!
I’m so excited about these concrete jack-o-lanterns. They add an unexpected Halloween elements to my front porch, without looking kooky. What do you think?
Red Leaf Style
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  2 questions
  • Kelly Kelly on Aug 28, 2018

    I love these. Im curious as to how heavy these are. Will I be able to move these around? Some use perlite and peat moss with the concrete in a 1:1:1 mixture.

  • Rachel Rachel on Sep 27, 2018

    I do want to make one of these but my questions for this project is how do I get it to turn out so smooth and light colored. My other question is would using foam in bottom then a flower pot so that my pumpkin fills all the way to the top. Please let me know as I have never used or played with cement before

Join the conversation
2 of 7 comments
  • Bob C Bob C on Oct 31, 2015
    Nice project! I wonder if it would have been easier to cut the pumpkin mold in half BEFORE filling it with concrete then tightly taping it together again then pour the concrete in? Still wondering here if adding a sponge like ball in to the pumpkin when 1/3 full of concrete then finish filling with concrete to make it a bit lighter and save concrete as well? Just asking because I've not worked with concrete either.

  • Doris Doris on Oct 14, 2017
    You could use these as Autumn/Fall decor by turning the face to the back and adding some corn stalks etc. Love them!