Halloween pumpkins or ‘jack o’lanterns’ have been a part of the season’s festivities since the 19th Century.
Originally inspired by the light over peat bogs and wetlands that carried the same name (also known as will-o’-the-wisps!), pumpkins were left outside homes to ward off evil spirits.
Today, pumpkins are a great way of exploring your creativity – and a perfect way to kick off your Halloween celebrations!
We’ve collated the ultimate guide to pumpkin carving. There are 3 templates at the end too, perfect for beginner, intermediate and advanced carvers!
Picking your pumpkin
Choose a healthy pumpkin: Avoid those with soft spots, bruises, mould & cuts. The greener the stem the better, and don’t forget, a flat bottom will help when displaying.
Size is everything: Make sure you get a pumpkin that fits your design. Small pumpkins may look cute but you can have a devil of a time trying to carve them. Look for something large that will throw out lots of light.
Get the right tools for the job: Plenty of retailers now sell pumpkin carving sets, making carving easier. You could also use a knife for the cutting and carving and a spoon for emptying the inside.
The messy bit: Cut off the crown of the pumpkin at a 45 degree angle, this ensures the lid doesn’t fall into the pumpkin. Completely remove the seeds and fibres plus some of the flesh.
Keep it clean: Clean and soak your pumpkin with water and bleach (1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 litre of water). Leave it to dry in a cool and ventilated area (not outside). This kills bacteria and prevents the pumpkin from growing mould too quickly.
The creative part: Pick a design. Attach it to your pumpkin with tape and either draw around it or mark it with pins.
Let’s get carving: Using a small serrated knife to cut around your design. Make sure to cut away from you!
Presenting and preserving
Keep it fresh: Use Vaseline around the carved edges as well as inside to help lock in the moisture. This helps your pumpkin last longer. You could also use WD-40, vegetable or olive oil.
Light it up: Pop a tea light inside your pumpkin. Light it and replace the crown.
Display your creation: Put your pumpkin on display and keep the ghouls at bay!
Not a fan of carving? Paint it! You can try free hand or use a stencil to reveal your design.
Want something modern? How about covering your pumpkin in gold pins.
Showcase the best of autumn. Use fallen leaves by sticking them to your pumpkin.
Prettier pumpkin? Get some ribbon and wrap it up