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Pumpkin Carving

Updated on December 8, 2015

Halloween has been observed for centuries.

Pumpkin carving began when the Celtics would carve turnips or gourds that they would display on their porch or windowsill to welcome deceased loved ones and act as protection against evil spirits. Before candles were used, they used burning lumps of coal.

Once European settlers came to American they found the pumpkin to be much more suitable for carving.

Some regard Halloween as some sort of devil worship.

Regardless of your beliefs about Halloween, it can still be a magically fun time for people of all ages. My advice is to not take it so seriously, lighten up,  and just have fun with it. Look at it this way, It's a chance to decorate the yard, house, and dress up as some character or persona you'd like to be.

Chosing A Design & A Pumpkin

It's important to have a design in mind before shopping for a pumpkin. Some designs are better suited for round pumpkins while some are better suited for taller thinner pumpkins. There are tons of designs available. It's always a good idea to buy pumpkin design books in the clearance sales immediately following Halloween each year. That's when I've always purchased my carving tools and book designs since they are easily stored for the next year.

There are many free pumpkin carving patterns online. I have provided links below.


  • If this is your first attempt at using a pattern, use an easy one. If your pattern requires some intricate carving I wouldn't even attempt it unless you have the pumpkin carving tools. Regular knives just aren't suitable for the task. The kits are relatively cheap and can be used year after year.
  • Realize that carved pumpkins deteriorate quickly. If you create a masterpiece, take a photo of it while it's looking fresh. After a few days the edges begin to fold and wilt and it doesn't quite look as good. For this same reason, don't carve it too early for your party or Halloween night. Some people create several for this reason.
  • Make sure the pumpkin you choose has a bottom that allows it sit upright properly. Sometimes the awkward sitting pumpkins make the cutest though.
  • Never carry a pumpkin by its stem, the stems break off easily.
  • Look for even color, no dents or scratches on your pumpkin. You don't want a bruised pumpkin.

Pumpkin Carving-Tips and Links to Designs
Pumpkin Carving-Tips and Links to Designs

How to Carve a Pumpkin

  • Lay down some newspapers or a plastic bag to carve your pumpkin on
  • With a long-bladed knife cut out the top of the pumpkin, making a multi-sided (5-6) angled cut. The hole you create should be large enough to easily get your hand in and out. Cutting the sides at an angle and having it multi-sided makes the lid easier to set back on the pumpkin and not fall through
  • Using a large spoon, or the pumpkin scraper that comes in most kits, begin scraping out the inside of the pumpkin. This is the really slimy part. You need to remove all of the seeds and the stringy membrane from inside the pumpkin. Discard this onto the newspaper or bag.
  • You can scrape away some of the meat of the pumpkin but don't overdo it. You don't want the walls of the pumpkin to become too thin.
  • Trace your design on to the pumpkin or if you're using a kit they provide a punching tool that allows you to punch small dots that make it easier to cut dot-to-dot. You can also wing it and carve your pumpkin freestyle.
  • Use the carving tools (little saws) to begin cutting out your design. Be careful around the areas where there isn't much pumpkin between two large cut out spaces.
  • If your design doesn't look perfect, don't worry. Most imperfections fade away once the pumpkin has a candle in it and is sitting in a dark area. It safest to place a votive candle in a votive cup firmly in the bottom of the pumpkin.

How to Preserve a Carved Pumpkin

I've never tried this, but according to the website, there are several techniques for preserving your carved pumpkin. Their suggestions are:

  • Soaking them in water overnight to rehydrate them and keep them from shriveling up.

  • Using a paper towel, coat all inside surfaces of the pumpkin with petroleum jelly immediately after carving

  • Refrigerated them helps if you have room

  • Purchase pumpkin dip and dip them in it every night

  • Purchase a spray-on Pumpkin preserver


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    • KCC Big Country profile image

      Karen Curtis 7 years ago from Central Texas

      Thank you What's News.....Halloween is just around the corner! Pumpkins, carved or not, create a beautiful decoration.

    • What's News profile image

      What's News 7 years ago

      Nice hub. Great content and yeah I always try to pick a pumpkin with even color. It always looks better in the end.

    • KCC Big Country profile image

      Karen Curtis 8 years ago from Central Texas

      You're most welcome healthgoji! Thanks for stopping by.

    • healthgoji profile image

      healthgoji 8 years ago

      I liked the pumpkin videos. Thank you for the article.

      J. S.

    • KCC Big Country profile image

      Karen Curtis 8 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks Halloween Costume Ideas and Lviddamoy! I haven't even purchased my pumpkin yet. There just doesn't seem to be as many at the store either. The ones that are there seem to be all scarred up. Might be "ugly pumpkin" year.

    • LViddamoy profile image

      LViddamoy 8 years ago

      Great Hub KCC, i love Halloween, i have only done one design every year, might try and go for something more elaborate this year, there are some great designs in the vid.

    • profile image

      Halloween Costume Ideas 8 years ago

      There are some great ideas on this hub for Halloween. I really like the pics of the Halloween pumpkins

    • KCC Big Country profile image

      Karen Curtis 8 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks for sharing 1974! I put a link in this hub to your hub! That was an awesome one. Look forward to the new ones. I still haven't found my old pics.

    • 1974 profile image

      1974 8 years ago from Florida

      Just buy one a carving kit dohn121. I tired one last year for the first time and the pumpkin turned out great. I can't put a link here but I just put a pic of it in my latest hub.

      KCC Big Country - looking forward to your pics if you can find them. We bought the Marvel kit this year for my son. We'll be carving out the Hulk and Iron Man sometime next week. I'll post the pics on my carving hub soon as they are done.

    • KCC Big Country profile image

      Karen Curtis 8 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks, Dohn! It's really not as difficult as it looks. I've done some really elaborate looking ones in the past. Maybe I can find some photos of them.

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Great tips here, KCC Big Country! Thank you. It's almost hard to believe that that pumpkin carving video are showcasing real carved-out pumpkins. They're just so immaculate!