How to Carve Pumpkin for Halloween: The Best Pumpkin Carving Technique
Every year, when the clock strikes midnight on September 30th, peoples around the world start getting excited for “Spooky Season.” Halloween is the source of a lot of joy and celebration for people from age 0 to 100, and while not everyone celebrates the same way, a staple activity for celebrating October is pumpkin carving.
How to Carve Pumpkin
I have many cherished childhood memories of carving a pumpkin for Halloween with my mom, dad and sister. We would go to a pumpkin patch so that we could choose the best pumpkins to carve, making the selection a whole day’s process, including wagon rides and fresh hot apple cider. Once we picked the best pumpkins at the farm (a small one for me and a huge one for my sister) we went home and set everything up to make Jack-O-Lanterns for Halloween.
Over the years, I learned a few awesome pumpkin carving techniques that helped me put out the best-carved decorations when October 1st rolled around. This article will give you easy-to-follow directions for pumpkin carving step by step along with some super fun carving pumpkins tips to make the process smooth and enjoyable!
What Do You Need to Carve a Pumpkin
Before we get into the pumpkin carving instructions, let’s talk about what materials and tools you are going to need to make your pumpkin carving adventure everything you wanted it to be. Firstly, you’re going to obviously need a pumpkin. Choose one that isn’t too small or too big. You want to have enough surface area to carve some nice shapes, but not so much space that you’re overwhelmed. You want to be able to get nice leverage with your knife and be able to make clear and possibly intricate shapes. A massive pumpkin could work, but it would be a bigger undertaking. With a tiny pumpkin, carving will be made difficult and details can be lost. A medium to large pumpkin will do the trick best if you ask me.
Next, you’re going to need a good knife. The best thing to carve a pumpkin with is a sharp serrated knife that is skinny and long. People have different favorite knives for pumpkin carving, but you’re most likely going to want something with a sharp point and a serrated blade. Some people choose to buy pumpkin carving kits at the store. These can be great, and they usually come with two or more small serrated knives as well as possibly some scoops, markers, and a bunch of different kinds of small exacting blades. You don’t need to invest in a pumpkin carving kit, but if you want to go pro, you might want one eventually. There are simple ways to carve a pumpkin that involve just a few shapes, and there are more intricate ways to carve a pumpkin that might involve more fine-tuned tools.
Anyone with a pumpkin and a steak knife could make a Jack-O-Lantern, so if you’re not into the extra cost of a kit, no worries! Just make sure that you have some newspaper or a tarp for messiness, a marker or a pencil, a good knife, something to scoop out the seeds and goop with, and a tea candle. If you’ve got all of this, then you’re ready to go!
Pumpkin Carving Directions
Once you’ve gotten all of your materials together, you can start with these instructions for how to carve a pumpkin for Halloween! The first thing you’re going to want to do is to wipe away any dirt or dust on your pumpkin. You don’t want to get it too wet, or it might be quicker to rot, so wipe the pumpkin with a wet paper towel to get it nice and clean. Lay out your newspaper or tarp and get all of your materials together in one spot. The easiest way to carve a pumpkin is to start by drawing the design that you want to cut out with a permanent marker or a pencil.
A marker will be easier to use because it glides easily on the face of the pumpkin. Make sure to remember that the outline you draw is going to be the negative space on the pumpkin, so if you get more elaborate, always go back and trace the design with your finger, visualizing the empty holes that you will cut out with your knife. Once you are happy with your design, start carving your pumpkin by making a circle around the stump and pulling it off. The stump should fit like a lid on your pumpkin. Make it big enough to reach in and grab the seeds, but not so big that it impedes on the face of the pumpkin.
Take off the stump lid and go inside the pumpkin with a scraper or a big spoon. Remove as much of the seed-filled goo as you can. You can then reserve the seeds if you want to cook them and eat them for a snack later on. My mom always saved the seeds, washed them, covered them in a bit of olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and soy sauce to make the most delicious and healthy snack for us to eat when we were tuckered out from all of that pumpkin carving! Once you’ve removed all of the seeds and gunk from inside the pumpkin, you can start carving the face. You could have two triangle eyes and a mouth with a couple of teeth sticking out for the classic Jack-O-Lantern look, or something funny or unique like the number 3.14 for “pumpkin pie” or your best rendition of your own face.
Personalizing your pumpkin can feel like the best way to carve a pumpkin for Halloween. Whatever design you drew with your marker, cut along the lines, being sure to punch through the thick skin of the pumpkin each time. Once you’re done carving all of the lines, you should be left with a beautiful design. Clean up the pumpkin and remove any scraps that fell inside. Then you can put a tea candle in and light it, making your pumpkin into a lantern for trick or treaters to feast their eyes upon on Halloween night! Even if you don’t celebrate Halloween, there can still be a lot of joy that comes from learning some fun ways to carve a pumpkin. Pumpkins represent the fall harvest in North America, and carving one doesn’t have to be about a spooky holiday. Feel free to use this pumpkin carving guide for whatever kind of celebration and decoration that you see fit.