1 year old

Ten Steps to a Perfect Pumpkin


We love Halloween!  And being a Canadian it's always been a big celebration for our family and we have loads of fun Halloween traditions.  But living in the UK now I know that it hasn't always been such a big deal, but with a lot of influence from North America it is becoming more main stream.  But I do still get a lot of questions from British friends, some who have never carved a pumpkin before, so I hope that anyone who is looking for a few tips finds this helpful!

1. Pick a pumpkin
We love to go to a pumpkin patch to pick the perfect pumpkin (or 2...or 4) as it makes a fun day out and you get some great photos.  In our area it's a local 'pick your own' farm that we also go to in the summer to pick strawberries, but hopefully a quick search online will find you one nearby.  It's also fine to pick one up from the grocery store, but maybe bring the little ones so that they can choose the one they like.

2. Wash it
A pumpkin from the farm will be very dirty!  A good rinse in the garden with the hose is the best plan (and the cold water is good to help preserve it as well).

3. Cut off the top (or bottom)
When you are ready to carve your pumpkin (we often leave it on display for a few days before carving as it's best to do it 3-4 days before Halloween so it's nice and fresh) then you can use a large knife to cut a big circle around the stem of the pumpkin, then lift the lid off with the handle (stem of the pumpkin).  We go the traditional route of having this lid on the top, but many people now prefer to cut a circle out of the bottom of the pumpkin and leave it off, so the choice is up to you.

4. Scoop it out
One of my favourite parts is scooping out all of gunk from the pumpkin.  It's a fun sensory experience for the kids to get messy pulling all of it out.  But if you're looking for an easier option, we love this Super Duper Pumpkin Scooper tool that we got a few years ago as it really does a great job of scooping everything out quite quickly.

5. Draw on a face (or print out a template)
If you're going the traditional route then you or one of the children can use a permanent marker to draw on a nice pumpkin face, but if you're looking to do something a bit out of the ordinary a quick internet search should help you to find pumpkin carving templates in a variety of designs.  We often ask Ethan what he would like and he tends to choose one of his favourite characters or we do one related to his costume, so we've done Superman, Tigger, a dragon and Barnacles from Octonauts.  Then you can either trace it on or just tape your template to your pumpkin.

6. Poke holes around the lines
Then you can use the little poking tool from your pumpkin carving set to poke holes all along your design (either the one you've drawn or through the paper of the template).  Then remove the template to reveal your design in dots.  If the dots are hard to see you can rub a little bit of flour on your pumpkin to make them more clear.

7. Cut along the lines
Next you use the little saw in your pumpkin carving set to cut along the lines of your design, and push through the cut pieces to reveal your open shapes.

8. Soak or spray with a solution
When you have finished carving your pumpkin you may want to take steps to help preserve it so that it doesn't get too mouldy or wrinkly before Halloween.  There are many different recommended ways, but the most widely used seems to be to soak it in water with a couple of drops of bleach and then to make a solution to spray it with daily.  As I don't like to use bleach in our house we'll be going for the more natural option of vinegar and lemon to preserve ours.

9. Seal the edges with Vaseline
Once you've soaked and / or sprayed your pumpkin you can use some Vaseline to rub along the cut edges to keep them from getting too wrinkly as well.

10. Put in an LED candle
Finally your pumpkin is ready to display, we highly recommend using a battery powered LED candle instead of a real one as it's just safer around the kids (especially with worries about flammable Halloween costumes)

Happy Halloween!  We would love to see your pumpkin creations, please share them on our Facebook page!

For more Halloween fun, take a look at our Pinterest board:
Follow Play & Learn Everyday's board Halloween Fun for Kids on Pinterest.
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