It’s quite possible that I will OD on Halloween activities this year. We decorated the house/yard for trick-or-treaters, we’ve had our first trip to the pumpkin patch where we let the little lamb loose, then we went to a different pumpkin patch with a hoard of kids to pick up the perfect pumpkins, went home and carved for a couple of hours. No one enjoyed the carving more than I did! This was the second time in my life that I carved a pumpkin and the fact that I had actual pumpkin carving tools, made it so much easier and fun. I think I was maybe 12 when I carved my only pumpkin and I had to use a standard kitchen knife which did not make things easy for me (stop questioning the lack of child safety measures in my old country).
We use the kit shown below, and also had a booklet with a few stencils we could have used. Hubbyloo chose a rather difficult pattern, because he always likes to challenge himself. I on the other hand, had my mind set on a happy pumpkin and decided to do it free-hand. I was quite pleased with the outcome.
- a perfectly shaped pumpkin
- keyhole saw for easy slicing of the lid and for curved cuts; large spoon or scraper for scooping out the seeds and pulp; needle tools and pins for transferring the design from paper to pumpkin; felt-tip pen for drawing the pattern on the pumpkin; miniature saws for carving irregular shapes; cookie cutters for some uncommon designs; a power drill for creating a hole-y design; hole cutters for creating different-size holes
- votive candles, or battery candles for lighting up your jack o’ lantern
- cooking oil for coating the cut edges – this will prolong your jack o’ lantern’s life
We used a kit similar to this
Now do this
- Choose your pumpkin: try to figure out what look you’ll want to give your jack-o’-lantern and choose the shape accordingly – for a more horizontal design, choose a low and round pumpkin, for a vertical figure got for a tall and oval-shaped pumpkin.
- Slice the stem end open: make sure the opening will be large enough for your hand to reach through; also, try to slice the piece at an angle in order to prevent the lid from falling in.
- Remove all the seeds and pulp from inside the pumpkin: the cleaner the inside of the pumpkin, the cleaner your jack-o’-lantern will look – there will be no hanging pulp visible through the pattern, and no risk that dried hanging pulp would catch on fire.
- Transfer the pattern onto the pumpkin: either using a felt-tip pen/marker or needle tools and pins; be aware that for fine-detail designs you will need to use miniature saws, otherwise it will be difficult to cut out tiny features with a large blade.
- Cut out your design, and push out the pieces from inside of the pumpkin.
- Get rid of the last hanging pulp, rub some cooking oil around the edges to keep your pumpkin fresh longer, and place a candle inside.
Look at ours:
Warnings: Do not leave kids unsupervised around sharp tools. Also, do not leave burning candles unattended.
Pumpkin Masters offer 10 free pumpkin carving template
HGTV offers 22 pumpkin-carving templates designed specifically for beginning pumpkin carvers
Martha Stewart, in addition to lots of tips and great ideas, offers seven rather fancy designs