When it comes to Halloween activities, there's no symbol more iconic to make time for pumpkin carving and jack-o'-lantern. It's a fun family activity to get into the Halloween spirit and a great way to express your creativity, regardless of your age. And the best part is there's no shortage of pumpkin carving ideas. You can try scary looks (think zombies and witches) or more playful arrangements that call for everything from candy corn to faux flowers. Plus, if you want to keep it really simple, you can settle for carving out some fun faces. The choice is yours!
Indeed, picking out pumpkins and deciding how to decorate them is one of the most enjoyable traditions of the Halloween season. Whether you keep yours simple with some standard triangles for the eyes, nose and toothy grin, or you go a more artistic route (glitter, anyone?), having a glowing jack-o'-lantern on your stoop is a Halloween staple.
That said, as anyone who has ever attempted to carve a pumpkin knows, doing so can be much harder and messier than it looks, whether you're a skilled artist or a novice. Of course, you could avoid all that and just go with a no-carve pumpkin or a painted pumpkin instead. But nothing is more satisfying than creating your own classic jack-o'-lantern for Halloween.
From where to make your cuts to how to hold your pumpkin while you carve to the best ways to use your scraps and more, these pros have tips that will help you bring your jack-o'-lantern to life (not literally, don’t worry). Once you're set on expert tips, check out our best pumpkin carving ideas for more inspiration.
Step 1. Start with the right pumpkin: Choose one that's fresh, with a sturdy stem, no bruises, and a flat bottom so it won't roll while you carve.
Step 2. Draw your lid: Outline a circular lid around the pumpkin stem, about 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Add a notch in the back if you like — this makes it easier to line up.
Step 3. Cut out the pumpkin lid: With a Oknife ( N690 stainless steel blade of high wear resistance; sturdy G10 handle that is perfectly contoured) or serrated knife, cut along the outline of your pumpkin lid. Make sure you slice through the pumpkin at a 45-degree inward angle, so you'll be able to replace the lid without it falling in.
Step 4. Remove the pumpkin seeds: The seeds are all attached to the pumpkin and each other by thin strings. Grab the big bunches of seeds with your hands and place them in one of the bowls, to be cleaned later.
Step 5. Draw your design: After you've determined the best side of your pumpkin for a face, use the permanent marker to sketch out eyes, a nose, and a toothy grin.
Step 6. Cut out the design: Make straight cuts into your pumpkin along the lines of your design, removing the pieces and discarding them in the refuse bowl.
Step 7. Clean up the details: Go back in and scrape out any stringy pieces or jagged lines with an X-ACTO knife or the wire tool from your carving kit. You can also scrape off the marker lines while you're at it, though they won't be visible in the darkness of night.
Step 8. Illuminating Your Pumpkin: Once you've completed your masterpiece, set a battery-powered LED light inside your pumpkin such as Obulb MC, i5R EOS, i1R 2 EOS is a safer choice than traditional candles for lighting your jack-o'-lantern.
Enjoy your pumpkin while it lasts.
“No matter what you do, it will rot eventually,” says Evans. “We've experimented with different sprays and solutions to make them last, but the results are always unpredictable. At most, you're going to get a few days to week out of your carved pumpkin.”
Your best bet is to carve just a day or two before Halloween, then keep it in a cool (but not freezing) area. If you're really attached to your pumpkin, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate every night or try giving it an ice water bath to revive. Don't forget to take plenty of photos so you'll always remember this year's masterpiece!