If you love the idea of carving a real pumpkin for Halloween with your family, here are some simple pumpkin carving tips, as well as a video tutorial to get you started.
Helpful Pumpkin Carving Tips for Parents
There’s nothing like picking out a pumpkin, designing it and then carving it. It’s definitely a great family activity for all ages.
But before you head out to the pumpkin patch, check out these tried and true tips:
1. Pumpkins are naturally kid-magnets. I don’t know why, but kids are drawn to the biggest pumpkin in the pumpkin patch. These are also the heaviest pumpkins and there’s no way possible could they carry it alone to the car.
DO: So set down beforehand how big a pumpkin you will allow for each child. A good rule of thumb is that if a child can pick it up and carry it to the car easily, then it is a good size for your child.
A How-To Carve Your Halloween Pumpkin (Video)
2. Decide whether you will decorate or carve your pumpkin. For me, I love the ability to carve pumpkins with my kids. And, there’s nothing like the beautiful way candlelight shines through the silly faces of my kids’ creations. But for some families that isn’t possible. So what will it be for you this year? To carve or not to carve?
RELATED: No Carve Pumpkin Decorating Ideas
DO: If you do carve, consider if you will be lighting your pumpkin with a candle. If so, then you’ll want to cut a lid out to act as a “chimney.” You can also make a hole in the bottom of your pumpkin if you’d rather not go through that hassle. Just make sure that you leave plenty of space between the top of the pumpkin and the flame.
Worried about unsupervised candles? Use a remote controlled flameless candle instead. If you choose this route, you can carve a hole in the back or bottom of your pumpkin and slip the flameless candle in there. Best of all, these are reusable year after year. You just have to change the battery ever so often.
Did You Know? There are now multi-colored flameless candles (remote controlled too)? Vary the color light in your pumpkin for some ghoulish fun.
3. Keep safety at the forefront of any carving project. Pumpkin carving tools can be scary especially if you have small children or even older ones who aren’t as well-versed in knife safety.
DO: Make sure that whatever pumpkin carving tools your child uses, they are kid-friendly. And, above all, parental supervision is always a must around any sharp objects.
Safety Tip: Never eat a pumpkin after it has been carved and left outdoors to set.
4. Be creative. There’s no right or wrong to carving a pumpkin. So, the sky’s the limit when it comes to googly eyes and crooked smiles.
DO: Model your design out first before the first cut. A vis a vis marker or pencil works well, so that you can position your cuts in the right place. Or, better yet, draw your design on a scratch piece of paper and tape it on your pumpkin to see if what you’ve come up with works or not.
To help you, here’s a Blank Pumpkin Printable for you:
5. Keep your pumpkin fresh. There’s nothing sadder than a shriveled pumpkin—unless, of course, that’s the look you’re trying to achieve. But for most of us, a nice firm pumpkin is the look we want.
DO: Pumpkin experts suggest using petroleum jelly on the cut edges. That’s where the pumpkin starts to shrivel first. I’ve also learned that it’s best to limit the amount of time a pumpkin sits outdoors. If you are located in the midwest, like I am, than the temperatures for the most part are cold enough to keep a carved pumpkin fresher, longer. But for those in the southern climes, your pumpkin will wilt with the warmer temperatures. So, carve as close to Halloween as you can, so that your jack-o-lantern will look as good as the day you carved it.
6. Keep it simple. It’s best to keep your options simple—not too complicated or drawn out, but a family activity meant for fond memories.
DO: Pumpkin carving isn’t an exact science but an art that gets better and better with practice. And, if you instill this thought into even your littlest jack-o-lantern carver, you’ll minimize their (and your) disappointment, should things not go as planned.
So get outdoors and pick your favorite pumpkin and get carving.
For more great seasonal craft ideas, be sure to check out Wisconsin Homemaker’s Crafts Section.