5 Tips for Carving the Perfect Pumpkin this Halloween

Spooky. Creepy. Goblins and ghosts!

The Halloween season is oh-so-slowly creeping upon us. A time for trick or treating and dressing up in the zaniest of costumes.

Although costumes and candy usually take center stage, carving a pumpkin is the perfect activity to squeeze in some quality family time. Carving the perfect pumpkin is all about having the right tools and a few ideas to give you the creative edge.

Here are 5 tips to help you out.

  1. Pick the Perfect Pumpkin: When picking out your pumpkin, be on the lookout for a solid, even-colored pumpkin. Pumpkins can sometimes be spotty and discolored. Try to find one that is as orange as can be! Also, beware of any soft spots. If you’re ambitious this year and want to do an intricate design, be sure to find a pumpkin that has a flat surface.
  2. Find a Stencil: Get creative this year and try something new! The same old silly Jack-O-Lantern grin could use a facelift. Here are some stencils that you can print out on your computer. Thanks, Better Homes & Gardens!
  3. Get the Right Tools: If you’re using one knife to carve the whole pumpkin, you’re doing it wrong! Here’s what you need: a serrated knife (that is sharp), a large metal spoon or scoop, and a few small pairing knives to get that detail you want.
  4. Preserve Your Jack-O-Lantern: There’s nothing worse (and sometimes silly looking) than a Jack-O-Lantern’s smile turning into a shriveled grin. This year, take a little extra time to help preserve your masterpiece. Follow these steps to make your Jack-O-Lantern live even longer!
  5. Light It Up, Without the Fire: Jack-O-Lanterns have traditionally been lit with candles. This year, go for one of those small, battery-powered LED lights. You can even find ones that flicker like a real candle! Be sure to check out your local Halloween or crafts store for this type of candle.

Pumpkin Carving Secrets

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Here are some tips that will help you along the way!

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Definitely Don’t Lose Your Marbles — Remember sitting on the floor with your childhood friends, spending more time comparing your specialty marble collections than actually playing a real game of marbles? It’s time to climb the attic stairs and fish out your vast marble collection. Or stop by the dollar store and pick up some new ones (the clearer and less decorative the marbles, the better). After carving out your jack-o-lantern’s face, use a pen or other circular pointed object to punch a few holes into your pumpkin. Stick a marble in each hole, light a candle, and place it into the pumpkin. Your jack-o-lantern will be adorned with brightly illuminated marbles, casting a unique glow you can’t achieve by simply cutting holes into a pumpkin. Use marbles to depict your jack-o-lantern’s teeth, dimples, eyeball pupils, or other creative features.
It’s Okay to Be Seedy — After you’ve scooped out your pumpkin innards, pick as many seeds from those stringy guts as you can. While you’re picking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse seeds, and combine every half-cup of seeds you’ve picked with two cups of water. Sprinkle one half of a tablespoon-worth of salt into every one cup of seedy water. Have a salty tooth? Add more. Dump the entire mixture into a pot and bring to a boil on your stove. Simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes, then drain water from the seeds using a collander. Grab a flat oven pan, and coat the bottom using a tablespoon-or-so of olive oil. Spread your seeds onto the pan in a single layer. Set the pan in your oven and bake anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes, depending on how brown and toasty you like your seeds. Remove from heat, let cool, and enjoy. Trust us—once you pop the first seed into your mouth, it’s just not an option to stop.

Find more tips here!