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Pumpkin Carving 101

Updated on August 30, 2010

Pumpkin carving is an established Halloween tradition, and for many is the highlight of the holiday. Pumpkin carving as a family event is a great way to spend time together and make something creative. Here are the basics of pumpkin carving to get you started this year!

1. Pick out the right pumpkin.

Picking out a pumpkin is a fun and important task in pumpkin carving. Consider whether you want your carved pumpkin to have a stem and choose your pumpkin accordingly. Also, consider what size you want your pumpkin to be. Choose a pumpkin that has a large, unblemished surface to carve on.

2. Get the right tools.

For pumpkin carving, you can purchase special tools for task from Halloween or grocery stores. These kits generally include small knives and saws. Alternatively, you can use kitchen knives for the task. However, be sure that they are sharp and long enough to penetrate all the way through the thick outer walls of your pumpkins. Small children should not be allowed to use knives, as accidents are possible.

3. Remove the pumpkin innards.

The first thing you will want to do is to cut a small hole in the top of the pumpkin around the stem. Be sure to cut at an inward angle so that the top of the pumpkin will sit back in this hole without falling through. Once you have removed the top, use your hands, a large spoon, or any other tool you like to remove the seeds and goopy “innards” from the pumpkin. Replace the pumpkin’s “lid.”

3. Outline the pattern on the pumpkin.

Whether you want to carve a traditional “face” on your pumpkin or create a different pattern, you will need to first trace the outline of the shape with pencil on the face of the pumpkin. This will ensure that your design looks the way you want it to before you start carving. You can also purchase stencils with more intricate designs from Halloween shops if you do not want to create your own.

4. Carve!

Once your pattern is drawn, use whatever tools you have chosen to carve out your pattern. Push cut-out pieces into the pumpkin and remove them through the top.

5. Light

After you have carved your pumpkin, place a small candle in the bottom and light it. For some pumpkins, you may have to carve out a flat surface in the bottom of the pumpkin so the candle will stay upright. Place the lit carved pumpkin in your window or on your porch. Remember to never leave the candle burning when you are not home to keep an eye on it!

Image Credit: my aim is true, Flickr

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