When I think back to Halloween when I was a kid, the first memory that comes to mind is pumpkin carving with my dad. We knew Halloween was close when my dad would spread a big garbage bag on the counter and invite us to get elbow deep in pumpkin seeds. It was the one night of the year where it was OK to make the kitchen messy (even though my mom trained us to keep it all on the garbage bag) and have some slimy, gooey fun! Together with my siblings, we decided what shape we wanted the eyes, nose and mouth to be and gave my dad specific direction on where to cut. As the years have gone on, and I now have children of my own, the tradition lives on.
Choosing the pumpkin
Picking the pumpkin is half the fun. In my own little family, we have extended the tradition by going to the pumpkin patch every October to pick the perfect pumpkins. When picking your pumpkin, look at all sides to see if one area of the pumpkin is just right for carving. Try to plan out what you will carve ahead of time so you know whether to pick a taller or wider pumpkin. In our house, we get a pumpkin for each child so that they can each choose what will be carved on their own pumpkins.
The art of carving a pumpkin
As you walk or drive through your neighborhood, don’t be discouraged about the detailed jack o’lanterns that you think you are not creative enough to make. I’m here to tell you that carving a pumpkin involves much less skill than you think! The most important part of the pumpkin carving process is the tools. Do yourself a favor and don’t even attempt to carve a pumpkin without a double-sided serrated knife. You’ve probably seen them sold in a set around this time of year. It will make it all so much easier! Here’s what you need to know:
- Once you have picked your pumpkin, cut off the crown of the pumpkin.
- With a big spoon, or a pumpkin scooper, remove all of the goodies inside. Note: Save the pumpkin seed and bake them later for a yummy snack!
- Once your pumpkin is clean, draw on the outside of your pumpkin with a dark colored marker so you know exactly where (and where not!) to cut. For your pumpkin faces and Halloween themed designs click for free printable stencils. Pumpkins don’t have to have to be Halloween themed, after all, doesn’t a pumpkin scream ‘Happy Halloween’ all on its own? Head over to Pumpkin Pile for pumpkin carving stencils of everything you can think of from Elmo to Superman and everything in between!
- Once you are done, put a candle inside and you are ready for your neighbors to come a knockin’!
Wanna ditch the knife all together? Try painting on your pumpkin. You can paint silly faces on them, turn them into a character or just simply put a pretty design on them like chevron or polka dots. Spruce up your pumpkin with a Halloween decorating kit or become resourceful and borrow some of Mr. Potato Heads parts! Tattoos aren’t just for people… try some pumpkin tattoos for a quick and easy pumpkin transformation.
Last year, I carved Superman and a Ninja Turtle for our pumpkins and the year before Mickey and Minnie welcome our little trick or treaters! Follow us on Instagram and Snapchat to see what my children request this year.
What are you carving this Halloween?
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