October is upon us, which means pumpkins are springing up everywhere from your local farm stand, the grocery store and even the big box retailers. Get into the Halloween spirit, grab a few pumpkins, and follow these tips to make this the easiest and most fun pumpkin carving experience yet.
Tip 1: Choose the Right Pumpkin
When choosing your pumpkin, have your final design in mind. Do you need a taller or wider pumpkin? What color best suits your final vision?
Once you choose your pumpkin, give it a good knock. If it sounds hollow, that means it’s riper and will be easier to carve. Test the stability of your pumpkin by placing it on a flat surface. If it doesn’t wobble, it’s good to go.
Tip 2: Incorporate Creative Craft Supplies
Grab some pipe cleaners, decorative pom-poms, googly eyes or even hats and glasses you have at home. Even a little acrylic paint can go a long way in setting your pumpkin apart from the rest. Get inspired and make your pumpkin unique.
Tip 3: Give Yourself More Room to Scoop
Forget the typical “cut around the stem” maneuver – you’re actually making it harder to scoop out your pumpkin. Instead, cut a keyhole shape around the stem and down the back to give you more arm space.
Another option is to cut your hole on the bottom of the pumpkin and discard. All the pumpkin insides will fall out and you can place your light or candle directly on the ground. If you aren’t providing venting at the top of your pumpkin in this instance, make sure to use a LED candle instead of a flame to keep from burning up your pumpkin at the top.
Tip 4: Be a Smart Scooper
Use an ice cream scoop to scoop out seeds and pumpkin flesh. Don’t have a scoop? A sturdy, large spoon will work. Use a fork to get out the stubborn bits. The cleaner the inside of your pumpkin, the easier it will be to carve.
Tip 5: Stencil Smarts
When tracing a stencil, skip the permanent marker. Use a dry erase marker instead and erase away those lines after you cut. They are great to erase any mistakes you may make while tracing the stencil or trying out a freehand design.
Tip 6: Use Your Lap
It’s much easier to carve the pumpkin’s “face” if it’s sitting in your lap. Don’t be afraid to get a little messy! Use a serrated kitchen knife or X-acto knife for best results.
Tip 7: Timing is Everything
To keep your pumpkin fresh in time for Halloween, carve it 2 days before the holiday. Need to carve it sooner? Take the time to coat all the surfaces (even the scooped-out insides) with petroleum jelly. That will help the pumpkin retain moisture and keep it fresher for the big day.
Tip 8: Toothpicks to the Rescue
Make a mistake and carve off something you didn’t mean to carve? Grab a toothpick and stick that piece back on! Get creative and use toothpicks to create 3-D effects like eyebrows too.
Tip 9: Use Carvings Creatively
Don’t throw out the bits and pieces from your pumpkin. Use them to be creative by making them into facial features, hair, or whatever you can dream up.
Tip 10: Prevent Burnt Pumpkins
When using a candle in your pumpkin, be sure you create a chimney, or else you’ll be smelling burnt pumpkin for miles. Test where your hole needs to be by lighting a candle and creating the hole where the pumpkin blackens from the candle.
Bonus Tip: Pumpkin Spice Scented Jack-o-Lantern
Sprinkle some cinnamon on the lid of the pumpkin. When you light the candle, your pumpkin will smell like pumpkin pie!
Whether you’re hitting the pumpkin patch or buying Halloween candy, there’s always an Allegius ATM nearby. Find the location nearest you at https://www.allegius.org/connect/locations-hours.html.