Gather your supplies
Choose your pumpkin or pumpkins with care. Remember to avoid stemless, dented or bruised pumpkins because this means they’ll go downhill pretty quickly. Shape is up to your own taste, but test to see if your pumpkin has a good, balanced base to sit on, so it doesn’t roll over when you try to display it. There are a variety of pumpkin carving tools available at stores today, especially if you’re looking to create some great pumpkin art. However, if you’re looking at basic carving all you need is a good kitchen knife, a big spoon, a few thumb-tacs, a marker and a candle/electric lights.
Hollowing out your pumpkin
If you’re going to be using a candle, you need to cut off the top of the pumpkin. If you’re going to be using electric lights, slice off the bottom so you can hide the cord. If you’re slicing at the top, remember to keep the knife at a slant so that the ‘lid’ won’t fall in when you place it on top. Now scrape off the insides with the spoon. You can also scrape off more flesh to make the walls thinner if your pumpkin is particularly dense.
Go free hand with your shapes and sketch on the pumpkin with the marker. There are also lots of online templates available for some interesting carving ideas. Print a design you like, affix it to the pumpkin and then trace out the shape by poking holes, using thumbtacks or t-pins. Once you’ve marked out the design, connect the dots with the marker. Another cool trick is to spread baking powder over the holes so you can see the design clearly. When you begin to carve, go slow. Most experts recommend tacking the smallest or inner most details of the design first.
If you’re using a candle inside the pumpkin we recommend you place the candle in a glass or a votive holder. You may have to leave the lid open. Also never leave a candle-lit pumpkin on a wooden porch/stand. Place a dish below it to prevent any hazards. String lights are also a popular option.
Tips to keeping your jack-o’-lantern fresh
If you’re planning to carve your pumpkin a few days before you’ll be displaying it, keep it in a cool spot, out of direct sunlight. If the pumpkin begins to wilt, try covering it with a damp cloth or dip it for a few minutes in water. Don’t leave it outside – animals might think you’re treating them! Also, avoid putting the pumpkin outside if there’s going to be frost.