What’s your favorite holiday? If you’re like most adults, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July probably top your list. There are far fewer surveys of kids, but any elementary teacher will tell you that Halloween is right up there. Costumes, candy, and spoooooky decorations—so much to love!
And then there’s the pumpkin. At our house, every member of the family gets to choose a pumpkin theme, and the decision is given LOTS of thought and consideration. As Halloween traditions go, choosing your pumpkin theme is right up there with choosing your costume. Thank goodness for stencils. They’ve opened a goldmine of creative carving options. Do you have a little pirate? A deer hunter? An Elmo lover? There’s a stencil for that!
A few tips on safe carving—
Patience, grasshopper. We all want to kick off the season, but the clock starts ticking once you make that first cut. Depending on the weather (both frost and heat will speed decay), you’ll only have about a week before your work of art starts to sag.
It’s not for the littles. It goes without saying, but if your kiddo can’t cut his own steak, he’s not ready for DIY carving. Put younger kids in charge of scooping or stencil selection.
Get your tools right. The first year I carved, I had a paring knife. That’s all. Disastrous! To make your work easier, you’ll want a rigid, narrow, serrated blade for the fine cuts, an awl for tracing the stencil, and a sturdy serrated scooper. If you really take your work seriously, you’ll eventually assemble a carving collection like this.
Prepare, prepare, prepare. Spread newspapers on the table and an inexpensive painting drop cloth on the floor. Have a plastic bag on hand to hold the pumpkin “guts” when you scoop the out. But don’t throw away the seeds—put them in a colander; we’ll talk more about that later.
Make a chimney. Once your masterpiece is carved and the candle is placed, light it for minute and then blow out the flame. Look for the spot where the pumpkin is getting charred on the inside, and cut a small hole in that spot to vent the heat and smoke. The candle will burn cleaner with less smoke and smell.
Or, flip a switch. For the safest light—and one that won’t blow out on a windy Minnesota night—use an battery-powered light rather than a candle
There are endless patterns and ideas to spark your Halloween creativity. We’ll get you started on the Coborn’s All Hallows Eve Pinterest board.