Pumpkin Carving

Choose a Pumpkin to Carve on Halloween

Every year there are thousands of children who get to learn how to carve a pumpkin for the very first time. Halloween is a fun time of year for both kids and adults. Although not every parent takes their children trick-or-treating anymore, many kids still dress up and have Halloween parties. An alternative to the traditional trick-or-treating around the neighborhood block is going to a trunk party. Wherever you end up on Halloween though there are bound to be pumpkins. Whether you are going to decorate your yard for Halloween or carve the pumpkin to roast pumpkin seeds, learning how to carve a pumpkin is essential. When you carve a pumpkin you are making a Jack-o-Lantern.

The Halloween tradition of carving a pumpkin has evolved into something more extravagant if you want. While some still stick with the "old way" and carve a pumpkin by drawing a picture yourself on it, there are others who love the idea that they can use pumpkin carving templates. There are all sorts of pumpkin carving patterns and stencils. You also have an assortment of Halloween pumpkin carving tools available depending on how detailed you want to get with your pumpkin carving.

Supplies to Carve a Pumpkin

Sharp knife
Pumpkin carving clothes (something you can get pumpkin dirty and wash)
Sharpie pens or other thick pen for writing on the pumpkin
Pumpkin carvings templates
Spoon or scoop

How to Carve a Pumpkin for Halloween

1. The first step you need to take to carve a pumpkin for Halloween is to get one. Pumpkins are gourds and they come in many different shapes and sizes. You can usually buy them at your local grocery store. It is also a fun time to take your kids or go with friends to a pumpkin patch. When you go to the pumpkin patch you get to pick out your pumpkin off of the vine. Get a couple of different sizes of pumpkins to carve, one for each family member.

Keep in mind that once they are cut open they will only last around 2 weeks, so you do not want to carve a pumpkin too early or it wont be around for Halloween. They rot if they are left out too long since they are a vegetable.

2. When it is time to carve the pumpkins clear off a place at the table. You are going to want to do your pumpkin carving on a hard surface. Laying down newspapers before you get started will save a big pumpkin mess.

Change into clothing that can get dirty. Although carving a pumpkin is not the dirtiest task ever, it can be messy.

3. Wipe off the pumpkin with a damp cloth or paper towel. They grow in the dirty pumpkin patch so wiping them off helps the ink to stick when you draw on the pumpkin.

4. Use a sharpie pen or other thick pen to draw a circle around the crown of the pumpkin. Now you have to decide what you want your carved pumpkin to look like. There are a lot of people who use pumpkin carving patterns or stencils. There are many free pumpkin carving stencils available online for you to download. If you prefer to decorate gourds or pumpkins by painting them or just not carving there are great pumpkin decorating ideas available.

If you want to carve a pumpkin using one of the pumpkin carving stencils or templates then you will want to print them out before you start carving the pumpkin. Some of them require smaller more specific pumpkin carving knives because of their intricacy.

5. Draw a face on your pumpkin. It is usually awesome for kids to carve a pumpkin. Although they do not have to wield the knife they can draw a pumpkin face and get excited when they see the carved pumpkin done and lit up. If you are helping kids make sure they get their pumpkin face spread out enough over the side of the pumpkin so that when you carve the pumpkin it will show up.

A classic face to draw on the pumpkin is triangle eyes and a big toothed mouth.

6. Begin carving the pumpkin. Cut the circle around the top. When you pull up on it the insides of the pumpkin will stick to the top. Sometimes, it's easiest just to cut the stringy part off of the pumpkin and set the top of it aside.

7. Scoop out the pumpkin inside. You can use a large spoon, your fingers, an ice cream scoop, or whatever else works. The cleaner you get your carved pumpkin the longer it will last you.

If you want to save the pumpkin seeds so you can roast them then it is best to put your pumpkin insides into a bowl, at least the obvious parts that have seeds.

8. Carve the pumpkin. Cut out the face or the stenciled pattern.

9. Find a place to put the carved pumpkin and place a small candle inside. This lights it up and gives it the great carved pumpkin creepy look. Wherever you put it make sure that it is fireproof. Buying short, votive-like candles work best so they do not burn the pumpkin's lid. Blow your candle out at night. Or you can use small votive LED lights for pumpkins. These lights are safer.

10. Repeat. Now you know how to carve a pumpkin.

Pumpkin Carving Tips and Warnings

When deciding how to carve a pumpkin in your home, it may be easier to scoop out the insides then draw the faces. It depends on how you carve and whether you might rub off the face.

Some people prefer to use a flashlight, instead of a candle, to place inside of the pumpkin. If you are using a flashlight to light up your pumpkin then you will need to carve an area in the back that is big enough for the end of the flashlight.

Be careful to have everyone stand away from the person who is carving the pumpkin. Most pumpkins are thick and hard to cut through, so it is reasonable to think that the knife could slip. Take safety precautions when you carve a pumpkin.