Carve the Perfect Pumpkin this Halloween

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Halloween is just around the corner, which means that it's pumpkin-carving time! Pumpkin carving is a time-honored tradition that has been passed down through generations. It's a great way to spend time with your family, creating memories while also getting a little creative. While many turn carved pumpkins into pieces of art, others focus on the tradition. Here are a few helpful tips to help you carve the perfect pumpkin this year.

Picking a Pumpkin

If you're planning to carve pumpkins this year, you'll want to get to the store once they go on display to pick the perfect one. There's no right or wrong size when picking pumpkins to carve, but you will want one that isn't bruised and doesn't appear to have any mold or soft spots. The last thing you would want to do is cut into a pumpkin that has started to rot. While everyone has different opinions on what constitutes a perfect pumpkin, you will want one that is a little flat on the bottom, so it sits right when being displayed.

Pumpkin Carving Tools

Is there anything worse than starting a project only to realize you don't have the right tools? While you could probably use a knife to carve your pumpkin, it will be much easier if you have all the tools from the beginning. Tools needed for carving include:

• Pumpkin carving knife

• Scoop or large spoon

• Mini saw (optional)

You can find a variety of these items at home-improvement stores and other retailers that sell craft supplies. Here’s a kit from Amazon that provides you with everything. It's always best to do a little research ahead of time, so there are no surprises when the time comes to start your project.    

Carving Your Pumpkin

Once you've got all the tools and found the perfect pumpkin, it's time to carve! You'll want to start by angling your knife around the stem to be able to clean out the inside. Remember, if you cut straight down, the top won't fit back on. Make sure you get all the seeds and pulp out if you plan to display your pumpkin with a candle. Leaving anything behind could pose a fire risk.

Now you're ready to decide on your design. Just remember not to carve too deep, as this could cause damage in terms of rotting. If you're unsure of what kind of design you would like for your pumpkins, there are many different templates available online. You can print out a template or draw freehand if desired. If using a template, tape it onto the pumpkin and use your carving knife to poke holes around the template. Once done, remove the template and use your carving knife to carve out the design. If you plan to free-hand your design, use a permanent marker to draw it on first.

** Bonus Tip ** To preserve the life of your pumpkin, spray it with water and keep it in the refrigerator when you don't want to display it. You can also add some petroleum jelly to the cut edges to prevent them from drying out. To keep your pumpkin from attracting insects, soak it in a water-and-bleach solution. 

Displaying Your Jack-o'-Lanterns

If you're looking to take the next step with your pumpkin, there are a few things that can be done. One option is to light up your jack-o'-lanterns using LED lights or battery-operated candles. If you want something more rustic and natural for Halloween night, put a tea candle inside one of them and place it in a shallow dish so it won't tip over. Be sure to add a small hole at the back to act as a chimney.