Halloween is fast approaching, and along with that, comes the fun your family can enjoy with decorating for the season. Regardless of how big you go with your spooky decorations, the one tried and true piece that you just can’t leave out is a jack-o-lantern on your front porch! Whether this is your first or twentieth time in doing this activity with your children, here are a few tips to make the activity fun and easy!
Pick the Right Pumpkin
Not all pumpkins are created equal, especially when it comes to carving jack-o-lanterns. A solid pumpkin with no bruising or soft spots will result in a solid jack-o-lantern. Look for one with a long stem, as that will make it easier to take the lid on and off after you’ve carved it. Also look for a flat bottom so that he stays put! Another fun idea to add character to your spooky friend is to select a pumpkin that already has lots of character. An elongated pumpkin is perfect for a laughing face, while a short, fat pumpkin is better for a goofy and toothy grin. Bumps on the skin can also turn into a crooked nose or a wart on his chin!
Removing the top of your pumpkin is an integral part of carving the perfect pumpkin. Cut at an angle so that you can easily pop the top back on without it falling into the abyss of your jack-o-lantern.
Remove the Pulp
If you have an ice cream scoop, this is the time to shine! Otherwise, a big ol’ spoon will do the trick to remove the seeds and stringy flesh from inside of the pumpkin. Get as much pulp out as you can so that the pumpkin will be easy and clean to carve. Also, don’t forget to keep the seeds for roasting later! For a healthy snack later, boil them in salted water for 10 minutes, then toast them in the over with a little bit of olive oil until they are golden brown.
Map Out your Face Design
Good planning perfects your pumpkin. Roughly sketch the face of your dreams on your pumpkin before digging in. Use a water-based temporary felt-tip marker for your initial sketching. Draw out the eyes and nose and overdo the features. A large flat nose will show out better than a small one. Play with it until you are satisfied with the design, then go back over the sketch with a permanent marker. You can also print a template out and stick it on the pumpkin so that you know where to cut it. Try to use as many straight lines as you can, since those tend to be easier and cleaner to cut.
When lighting up your spooky friend, try using several tealight candles rather than a large one so that your pumpkin can shine safely all night. The tealights work best for the traditional spooky flickering look. However, if you choose to go with the traditional larger candle, be sure to cut a small hole in the top for drafting! Make sure there isn’t anything flammable above your candle when you put the pumpkin into place. Another idea is to use battery operated tealights to eliminate the risk of setting fire to anything.