Need details on how to make your pumpkin pop? I've got all the information you'll need on where and how to get your perfect pumpkin(s), how to carve and decorate and how to display for masterful visual effects. If you're looking for additional tips, I think both Martha Stewart and WikiHow are excellent sources. Enjoy!
Where to buy your pumpkin:
It's easy, labor-free and fast to grab a pumpkin from your local grocery or hardware store. Look for a large selection with a variety of sizes that you can choose from.
If you like to get into the spirit of the season, try heading out to one of several local pumpkin patches and pick your own. I highly recommend any of the following:
Hunt Club Farms, Virginia Beach
Clarke Farm, Chesapeake
Green Hand Farm Park, Glouceseter
Wood's Orchards Farm Market, Hampton
Once you've got your perfect pumpkin, it's time to prepare to carve. You'll need a few essential tools and items to keep your carving experience simple, easy and fun.
Choose from a serrated bread knife, jab saw or a purpose-made serrated knife from a pumpkin carving set to do your carving work. Any of these will do, but remember to put safety first and handle your tools with care. If you're carving with a child or young family member, put a responsible adult in charge of doing the carving and allow the child to draw, design, or scoop out the innards, once you've made your cuts.
Protect the surface that you'll be working on by laying down newspaper, brown paper grocery bags or trash bags. Place a bowl out for discarding pumpkin innards, and lay out your tool set.
Choose and Draft Your Design:
You'll want to decide exactly how creative you want to be. If you want something traditional, you'll need to plan to cut out eyes, a nose and a mouth. If you're looking for more extravagant or sophisticated designs or silhouettes, I recommend checking out and using any of these printable Halloween patterns and stencils to support your carving.
If you're going without a stencil, you'll need a permanent or dry erase marker to draw an outline of your cut out shapes. If you're using a stencil, you'll want to print it, tape it across the "face" of the pumpkin and cut out according to its instructions.
Start by cutting a lid. Measure a circle at the top of your pumpkin about 2 inches out from the stem. Cut around the circle to make the lid. When making your cut, angle your knife toward the center of the pumpkin so that the lid can sit in a bowl-shaped indentation, rather than falling into the center of the pumpkin, once it's out.
Next, use a large spoon to scoop out and remove the innards of the pumpkin. Remove as much of the filling as you can, scraping the inside to a clean, smooth finish.
Carve Out Your Design:
Take your time and use a slow, steady, back and forth motion to cut along the lines of your drawn or stenciled design. As you go, remove the pieces that you cut out and discard them. Continue this until you've completed the carved design.
Light the Pumpkin:
Remember, again, to choose safety first. Use a candle for only a short period of monitored time. Otherwise, use an LED candle, flashlight or other non-flammable, alternative light source. If the bottom surface of your pumpkin is uneven or overly rounded, you will need to cut out a bottom lid to create an opening onto a safe, flat surface to place your light source.
Find a safe place to display your pumpkin. If you've chosen a real candle, you will want to make sure not to leave it unmonitored or near to any flammable or potentially dangerous objects. I recommend laying it on a plate that can catch any dripping wax, and placing the plate and pumpkin onto a sturdy, flat surface that can hold it, safely. If using LED or flashlight sources, you'll have more options available to you, but remember to keep your indoor surfaces protected and to find another sturdy, flat surface to place your pumpkin onto.