‘Tis the season for making gourd-eous jack-o–lanterns! Pumpkin carving is my favorite holiday activity. Digging into an easy creative medium. Pulling out the pumpkin guts. Transforming a simple pumpkin into a work of art. And of course, roasting the pumpkin seeds afterward for a delicious snack!
Need further proof of my love? Check out my Pumpkin Carving Gallery!
Over the years, I’ve had my ups and downs with pumpkin carving. I’ve had designs collapse on me and pumpkins rot faster than you can say, “Trick or treat!” However, I’ve also learned how to make pumpkins last more than two days in the Arizona heat and make carving an activity the whole family can enjoy. Now, I’m sharing that knowledge with you!
Here are my top 7 Pumpkin Carving tips.
- Create a Pumpkin Carving Toolbox: Followers of my blog are probably tired of hearing me say this but trust me. The right tools make all the difference. But don’t worry! The right tools are not expensive. In fact, you probably already own most of them in your house. Check out my list of recommended items here.
- Learn to Properly Use Pumpkin Carving Templates: Pumpkin carving templates are an easy way to make masterpieces with limited artistic skill. I use one every year! Read the instructions that come with pumpkin carving template books and then ignore them. I’m kidding – but often there are unnecessary steps. Check out my tutorial here from The Creative Cubby archives (throwing it old school!)
- Protect Surfaces with Trash Bags or Disposable Vinyl Tablecloths: Forget newspaper and paper bags, which can soak up pumpkin juice and get really gross. Cover your workspace with trash bags or disposable vinyl tablecloths. You’ll avoid nasty leaks and clean up is a breeze! Just wrap up everything in your table covering and toss. This is ideal for large pumpkin carving parties.
- Remove Guts Quickly: Instead of scooping the pumpkin guts up and out, turn your gutting tool upside down and scrap the edges down to the bottom. You’ll have better leverage to detach the veins from the inside of the pumpkin and make an easy to scoop or dump out pile at the bottom of the pumpkin. I highly recommend this when carving with small kids, so their little hands can still help with the fun goopy part.
- Make Your Masterpiece Last: We know pumpkins rot quickly and honestly, the mold that develops is really disgusting. To make your pumpkins last longer than a day or two, dunk your pumpkins in a bath of water and bleach. Fully submerge the pumpkin in a mixture of 3 tablespoons bleach and 3 gallons of water for 3 minutes (3-3-3, easy enough!) Alternative – spray your pumpkin daily, inside and out, with a bottle filled with water and bleach. And if you live in Arizona, you may want to do both if you’re hoping to keep your pumpkin longer than five days.
- Don’t Forget the Vent Hole: I always miss this step until I start to light a candle inside my pumpkin. Create a small notch in your pumpkin lid so it can breathe. This seems unnecessary if you’ve carved large pieces for your design, but remember: heat rises. Neglecting vent holes in the top can cause your pumpkin to overheat and rot faster.
- Take an Amazing Photo: One glance at my Pumpkin Carving Gallery and it is glaringly obvious I got better at photographing my pumpkins over the years. Improvements in camera phones helped but also knowing when and how – you know – biiig factors. Take your photos at dusk with candles lit inside. It helps to have the sunlight behind the pumpkin to create more dramatic shadows, but don’t stress if you can’t get the right angle. Also, make sure you’re shooting the pumpkin from a perspective that hides the flame inside – otherwise, you’ll end up with a candle “flare” and too much glaring light that will block out your beautiful design.
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