Carving a pumpkin is one of the time honoured traditions of Halloween and a really fun activity that the whole family can get involved with, and we think whilst the good old ‘scary face’ pumpkin is a lot of fun, there are a whole host of other ideas that you can try and experiment with…. We’ve put some ideas together for some pumpkins with a difference, along with some suggestions to make your pumpkin carving, fun, simple and safe!
Top tips for choosing your pumpkin
- The larger the pumpkin, the less fiddly it will be to carve.
- Make sure you avoid any with bruises or mouldy stems as these will rot much faster.
- Look for pumpkins with a sturdy stem, this is the sign of a healthy pumpkin. Don’t lift the pumpkin by the stem, this can damage the pumpkin and make it age faster.
- If you can, go with the lightest coloured ones as they tend to be easier to carve.
Preparing your pumpkin
- When cutting the lid hold your knife at a 45 degree angle so that it will sit nicely on top of the pumpkin, otherwise it will fall straight through the hole!
- Consider investing in a scoop or a pumpkin carving kit, there’ll be plenty around in big supermarkets at this time of year.
- When you carve out the flesh, take out as much as possible,, particularly on the back wall as this is where the light will reflect the most and scorch.
- You should be aiming for a wall thickness of about 1 inch – any thicker will make carving more difficult and thinner will dry out and become wrinkled.
Carving your pumpkin
- You can buy pumpkin carving knives, perfectly suited to the job, but a serrated carving knife will do just as well, take your time, use a sawing motion and cut just outside the marker lines, so there are no traces of them when you’re finished.
- Once you’re ready to carve some shapes into your pumpkin, it’s a good idea to draw a template on a piece of paper. Cut out the areas that you’ll be carving, then tape your template to the pumpkin so that you can draw some guide lines before you carve! If you’re not feeling very creative, there are lots of templates that you can download from the internet, but keep your design simple!
- You could make your pumpkin more stable by cutting out the bottom as well as the top and placing it on a flat fireproof surface (make sure that the hole in the bottom is big enough to fit your candle through.
- Cut a chimney. Light a candle inside the pumpkin, then close the lid. Quickly put out the flame and look for the blackened spot inside the lid. Cut a small hole there; it will let the smoke and heat escape while a candle glows inside.
If you’re feeling creative, you can really go to town with these ideas:
- Why not try tacking some flame proof coloured tissue paper to the inside of the pumpkin with toothpicks – this filter effect allows you to change the colour of your pumpkin’s eyes, nose and mouth.
- Adding tin foil on the inner back of the pumpkin will create spooky a metallic effect, whilst wax paper will soften the glow and create a blurry effect.
- You could replace your tealight with a disco glow stick for a groovy pumpkin! Christmas lights or even a red bicycle light will also make your pumpkin stand out from the crowd!
- Give your design a two-tone effect by shaving parts of your pumpkin rather than cutting straight through.
- For a more stylish pumpkin, why not abandon the standard ghoulish face and opt for simple shapes made with cookie cutters or even an apple corer. Simple stars and polka dots make for a very pretty pumpkin!
No knife required!
For teeny weenies, getting involved doesn’t mean having to get dangerous! Skip the carving this year and decorate instead. You can go to town with the contents of your craft books, making fun designs with buttons and sequins, or even get the paints out and have a hand print pumpkin or a smiley face. The end result will be much less scary too!