Even if you’re not that into Halloween, you have to admit that carved pumpkins are pretty cool. I especially like the ones that use multiples to create an image. Jack o lanterns are not longer just faces. The invention of the internet and the printer changed pumpkin carving forever. You can find an abundance of free stencils/patterns online that will have you carving like a pro in no time. I like thepumpkinlady.com who has free patterns, videos and advice.
While I am no pumpkin lady, I have learned a few things over the years of participating in this Halloween tradition. A few practical tips:
1. Those kits they sell at the store don’t work. The little saws are flimsy and slippery. I have cut myself using them many times because you are required to push very hard to get them to work. They also break easily and get stuck in your pumpkin. You best bet is a serrated steak knife. (Caving is for adults only.)
2. Kids are not going to be into it the entire time. They will be excited about picking out their pumpkin but the real process won’t hold their attention. I asked my toddlers to draw whatever they wanted onto theirs and then carved it after they were finished. They were happy with the finished product.
3.Pick a pumpkin with a good stem. It will be easier to take the top off and put it back on if there is a longer stem.
4.It is tempting to pick a large pumpkin. Kids always go for bigger is better. It is a lot of work to scoop out the inside of a large pumpkin. Whatever the size, make sure the scrap the inside bottom flat so your candle will stay upright.
5.Make sure to angle your knife towards the middle when you are cutting off the top or the top will fall in when you put it back on. I’ve made the mistake of cutting off the top and then realizing the hole wasn’t really big enough for the scooping out process. So I just went ahead and enlarged the hole only to figure out later that the top would no longer fit.
6.After you’ve done all of the work to carve a pumpkin, you should show it off! Last year I planned dinner party and invited people who had never carved pumpkins before. We had a fun time and then we ate by the light of our glowing creations. It made Halloween extra special for me.