Sculpt a spooky pumpkin with these expert tips. Plus, find free downloadable perfect pumpkin-carving templates.
Get everyone ready for a fun, spooky Halloween with these pumpkin carving secrets!
How to carve the perfect Halloween pumpkin
Choose large, heavy, well-rounded pumpkins with flat bottoms. Clean off any dirt.
First, cut out a lid: Draw a circle around the stem; using a large sharp knife or a serrated metal saw (a safer alternative for younger children) cut out at an angle so that the outside of the lid is bigger, preventing it from failing into the pumpkin.
Pumpkin carving tips
Make a bigger impact with a few carved pumpkins rather than just one. You don't have to cut the top off, you can opt to cut a hole in the back, which will make it easier to light the candle. Or you can even cut out the bottom and pop the pumpkin over the candle.
If you're not into carving freehand, copy a design onto paper, then onto the pumpkin with a water-based marker before you start to carve.
If you don't want to carve the pumpkin, or if your children are younger, simply use stickers, tempera paint, or markers.
Using a large spoon, an ice cream scoop or even your hands (kids prefer this), scoop out seeds and stringy flesh, scraping the inside until smooth. Save the seeds for toasting a tasty snack.
Carve the facial features closest to the centre first and work outward.
Use the right knife for the job: for instance, a heavy carving knife for large cutouts and an X-acto knife for intricate details. Carefully push cutouts out of pumpkin.
Remove carved portions by gently pushing them into or out of the pumpkin. Use a toothpick to reattach a section that is accidentally removed.
Using a candle in your Halloween pumpkin
To keep the candle propped straight upright, pour a little melted wax all around it or melt a bit at the base and set the candle on an old jar lid on the bottom of the pumpkin.
Be sure to always supervise kids carving a pumpkin. Or, even better, pick up a pumpkin carving kit from a craft store - it's a lot safer.
Try this pattern to make a bat pumpkin for Halloween!
Tip: Don't throw away your pumpkin seeds - they make a great snack. Here's one way to prepare them:
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Separate the seeds from all the pumpkin fibre, rinse and pat dry on a paper towel. Then, in a small bowl, toss the seeds with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Transfer the seeds to a baking sheet and spread out evenly. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until light brown. Cool before snacking.
Here are more fun and spooky pumpkin carving templates. The kids will love them!