5 DIY Tricks To Amp Up Your Jack-O'-Lantern

Make the neighbors jealous—and a little scared of your skills

Juno orbits a Jupiter Pumpkin.
Juno orbits a Jupiter Pumpkin.NASA JPL

If you're like us, you saw the engineering marvels coming out of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's pumpkin carving contest, and glanced at your own sad attempt at a jack-o'-lantern with disdain. Once you've seen a pumpkin abducting a tiny floating cow, or a Jupiter pumpkin being orbited by a little Juno spacecraft, that goofy-eyed mess you carved with a dull kitchen knife just doesn't glow like it used to.

There's still time left to take your pumpkin carving game to JPL levels: Try one of these all-time favorite hacks for Halloween.

Oozing Pumpkin

With minimal household materials, get maximum gross-out effect: This pumpkin project is basically a grade-school volcano experiment, but with a spooky twist. Adding food coloring, water, dish soap, and baking soda to a grimacing Jack before pouring in the vinegar turns an otherwise boring pumpkin into an oozefest. Get the full directions here.

Circuit Playground Jack-o'-Lantern

Phillip Burgess at Adafruit created a flame-free lantern from a bit of code and a circuit board with flickering LED lights. Copy and paste the code from the Adafruit blog into a new Arduino sketch, and place the light board inside your carved creation for a non-flammable jack-o-lantern. Full instructions and where to purchase the materials are here.

Jack-O'-Lantern That Automatically Lights Up When It Gets Dark

Inspired by Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories, Popular Science created this lantern that's still a favorite. This project is a bit more time-consuming and advanced, but the payoff is a pumpkin that automatically switches on when it gets dark outside, as if by magic.

Pumpkris

Nathan Pryor at HaHa Bird built a fully functional Tetris game on the face of a carved pumpkin — complete with the stem acting as a controller. The worst part of this project is that it's temporary, so get as many hours into playing with Pumpkris in as you can before it rots away.

Vape-O-Lantern

Hack-'O-Lantern

Hack-'O-Lantern

Designer Shelby Arnold carved these science-loving Muppets at the Brooklyn hackerspace NYC Resistor.Sam Kaplan

Boo, do you even vape? Head to your nearest e-cig shop and pick up most of these materials easily, for a pumpkin that appears to smoke and smolder. Get the step-by-step directions, here, and fill your stoop with "smoke" sans-flame.