CREATIVE CARVINGS FOR HALLOWEEN FUN
Pumpkins are a symbol of the fall weather, encouraging many people’s Halloween spirit to come full force! People have been carving pumpkins since the 1800’s, frightening souls traveling the earth, and lighting the path to many houses on All Hallow’s Eve, as children trick-or-treat through the neighborhoods.
Carving pumpkins is NOT my favorite pass-time! I would rather set a few full pumpkins on my porch and maybe surround them with gourds, for the festive feel.
My children, however, love to carve pumpkins every year. I enjoy their happiness, so I am quick to oblige for their sake, setting out their creations for the world to see!
Tools for Carving Pumpkins
Before we can really get started with creating your masterpiece, be sure to prep your space! Use this guide for quick reference:
Newspapers / plastic table cloth
Large cutting knife
Smaller cutting knife (such as a paring knife)
Large cooking spoon and bowl
Sheet pan (if desired)
Carving knife (if desired, based on skill)
Newspaper / Plastic Cloth
You need to protect the space you are going to carve in, because pumpkins get quite messy quickly! It’s healthier for the environment if you use recycled newspaper but it’s not always available.
The point of having it on hand is twofold: it will allow you a quick clean-up after you’ve completed your masterpiece and it will help soak up the juices your pumpkin will excrete. Pumpkins are going to feel wet as you carve them, since the juices would help a pumpkin to live longer off the vine.
Large and Small Knives
Your larger knife is going to be made for that first cut, allowing you to remove the guts of your pumpkin. The smaller knife will help you with the more intricate cuts of your pumpkin carving design.
Using your own knives from your kitchen may be convenient but it can lead to duller blades by the end of your carving party. Having cheaper knives that you don’t mind only using at Halloween may save you the heartache of ruining your $200 knife set.
Some carving aficionados are capable of using a jigsaw to quickly make this cut, but if you're not comfortable with that tool, or if you don't have a steady hand, I don't recommend this.
Large Cooking Spoon/Bowl
To help you remove the insides from your pumpkin, things will inevitably end up messy! By having a large spoon on hand and a bowl, you'll be able to quickly remove the insides. Read below for what to do with them!
Sheet Pan and Trash Can
Pumpkin seeds offer great nutritional value, and can be a filling snack! And they also make great snacks for work or kids lunch boxes, so you can add your seeds to a sheet pan to cook them.
Simply remove the pulp from the seeds, add the seeds to the pan, try to keep to one layer of seeds for even and quick cooking time, and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. You can add the following for a savory snack: olive oil, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper over top.
If seeds are not your preferred snack you can compost the insides and seeds or you can throw them away. Be careful not to leave these outside of a trash can because critters will rip through these delicious snacks.
If you have a super complex or detail oriented carving in mind or printed out, you may want to look into whittling it out. This process won't have you cutting straight through the pumpkin, and can allow for smaller cuts, but you should practice before you start a project!
Tea Light and Pumpkins!
I hope that this is expected but the best way to have your pumpkins shining bright would be through a candle/light being lit at night! If you need an option for an outdoor light that isn’t a candle, feel free to check out Oriental Trading.
Finding the Inspiration
Many times younger kids may not know what they want to carve, while school age children see ideas from friends, Facebook, and other porches. If you, or your kiddos, are looking for some inspiration, check out these FREE resources I found for YOU!
Woman’s Day link
Dating Diva’s link
To get your pumpkin rolling, you need to protect your surface. Add those newspapers and/or table clothes to your flat surface and bring all your supplies to your work area!
If you’re not using tracing paper, simply print out your design and pin it to the pumpkin. Unless you have a tall pumpkin, you’ll need to cut slits about 1-2” into your design page so you can pin it to your pumpkin with limited bowing.
Begin cutting with your largest knife. Remember: this pumpkin is completely up to you!! 95% of people would tell you to cut a circle through the top, around the stem, but some believe that cutting the bottom is easiest because you can create a wider hole and hide any blemishes your initial cuts might cause.
When your pumpkin is open, it’s time to begin scooping the pulp out. Scooping is the most time consuming task because you need to get every single seed and stringy pulp out of the pumpkin if you want to show off the design and make it easier to cut through.
The Carving of Pumpkins
Having removed all pumpkin guts, it’s time to start carving. It is hard to describe what you should do when I don’t know the design you’ve chosen, but I can give you some helpful tips:
Work slowly - This isn’t a race to the finish line, you’re working with dangerous tools! Take your time and take a break if you need one.
Play some music - This will help those who focus intently to loosen up.
Drop your perfection - Unless carving and whittling is an art you’ve worked on for several years, this is usually a once a year occurrence, it’s okay not to make all the cuts perfectly.
Follow any lines that you’ve added to your pumpkin to create your design, you can even cut straight through the paper print out! And any pieces you take out of the pumpkin can be discarded.
CONGRATS! You’ve carved your pumpkin with limited hassle and always have these steps to fall back on.
Sharing Your Design
One of the reasons I can’t stand carving pumpkins is how quickly they will rot on my steps. I’ve found some awesome last minute tricks to help your pumpkin stay as fresh as possible for as long as possible:
Soak your pumpkin in water overnight, use a little bleach to kill off mold that will start to set in a few days, and dry it off immediately
Rub petroleum jelly on the pumpkin edges to lock in the moisture within your pumpkin.
I hope these tips help you make it through the family fun experience of pumpkin carving this year! Be sure to share how it went!
Happy carving friends!