- Pick the prettiest. Large or small, you are looking for sturdy stems, no bruises and pumpkins that sit pretty. Place the pumpkins on a counter and stoop down to see how they look at eye level before you buy. Don’t carry them home by the stems, because they break easily.
- Timing is everything. The internet is thick with tips for preserving pumpkins longer. Don’t try them. Simply carve your pumpkins three to five days before Halloween for a still-standing-tall guarantee.
- Make cleanup a snap. The secret weapon for easy pumpkin-carving cleanup is probably out in your garage or shed. It’s a basic plastic tarp. Spread this timesaving savior inside on a cool day or outside on a warm day to contain your carving enthusiasm.
- Use the proper tools. The best devices for carving jack-o’-lanterns don’t live in your kitchen drawers. Knives slip and spoons bend, so resist the urge to dip into your cutlery and instead purchase sturdy metal pumpkin scoops and kid-friendly carving saws you can use year after year.
- Bigger is better. Enlarge designs for larger pumpkins. Use your home printer or stop by the local copy shop.
- Start at the top. For large pumpkins, make the opening big enough for your hand and cut it at a 45-degree angle so the top will nest in place, instead of falling through.
- Scrape, don’t dig. Don’t thin the walls of your pumpkin when scooping out the guts, so it will stay sturdy longer.
- Draw it first. Freehand designs are cute and classic and young children love them. Use a medium-point washable marker to draw your design and then wipe away any remaining marks after carving.
Beyond The Goofy Grin: 10 Playful Pumpkin Designs
A traditional jack-o’-lantern design is great. But why not branch out? Here are some few dramatic, yet easy, designs for older kids and adults to try.
- Holier than thou. Use a power drill to make holes all over the sides and top
- Wordy gourd. Try “Boo!” or “Eek!” to get started.
- Fairy house village. Transform pumpkins of various sizes into a resort for magical creatures.
- Cookie-cutter face. Gently hammer metal cutters into your pumpkin with a rubber mallet.
- Diorama window. Cut a larger-than-usual opening to reveal a scene inside.
- Core curriculum. Use an apple corer to cut wider, spaced-out holes.
- Location identification. Put your house number pumpkin by the front door or mailbox.
- Tower of grins. Stack squat, multicolored jacks on top of each other for a wow effect.
- The monogrammed look. Carve one initial or up to three for a stately look.
- Mum’s the pumpkin. Carve an opening on top for a pot of mums or flower bouquet.