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Pumpkin Carving Basics

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Getting ready for Halloween doesn’t have to be stressful. You can keep your decoration simple and stylish with Family Spice’s budget friendly ideas

How to decorate your pumpkins!

1. Put the knife down and pick up the paint brush. Get creative with your paints. Paint your pumpkins all white and add black eyes and mouths for little ghosts. Or paint spooky messages on them. Dress them up and make funny heads.

2. Stick it to ‘em. Use glow in the dark stickers to decorate your pumpkin. You can use small stars or dots to make a pattern, or find other halloween shapes.

3. Do nothing! Collect a small group of pumpkins of different sizes, shapes and colors and place them by your door.

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4. Carve using free stencils. From creepy goblins to princesses, you can find these stencils all over the internet. Here are just a few we found:

How do I carve my pumpkin?

1. Choose the right pumpkin. You want a pumpkin with uniform coloring and of course, no bruising or blemishes. Try to find a pumpkin that has a smooth surface that will hold your stencil without trouble.

2. Make a Lid. Along the top of the pumpkin, draw where you want to cut for your lid. Using a sharp knife, cut carefully along the lines, making sure you angle the blade towards the center of the pumpkin. This helps support the pumpkin lid and prevents the lid from falling into your pumpkin! If your pumpkin is missing a stem, cut the bottom of the pumpkin as you would the top.

3. Clean and Scoop. Using a big spoon or even an ice cream scooper, scoop out the seeds and strings inside your pumpkin. Scrape off the inner pulp from the area you plan to carve until the pumpkin wall is approximately 1″ thick.

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4. Attach Pattern. Trim your pattern, leaving approximately 1/2″ border around the design and tape the pattern to your pumpkin. Make sure the pumpkin is dry or the tape won’t stick! You can also use a grease pencil to freehand right on the pumpkin your design.

5. Transfer Pattern. This can be done several ways. Using a nail, gently poke holes along the pattern lines, leaving you a guide to follow later. Many pumpkin carving kits have a long poking device which allows you to poke many small holes to follow. When all the lines are transferred, remove the pattern. You can also use tracing paper and a pen to transfer your pattern.

6. Carve Away. Carve your pattern out by cutting at a 90º angle to the pumpkin. Cut slowly and gently, with a continuous up-and-down sawing motion. You can use a paring knife for the detailed carvings, if you don’t have a pumpkin carving kit.

7. Shadows. You can also carve a pattern on the back of your pumpkin so you can illuminate spooky shadows on the wall. If you are using words, make sure you carve the mirror image so it reflects your message correctly. Patterns should be smaller than what you would carve in the front of your pumpkin (max. size about 4 inch square). Since your lighting is small, the carved pattern should be towards the top of the pumpkin’s back so the light source will project the shadow upwards onto your wall.

8. Lighting. Great options for lighting your jack-o-lanterns include candles, battery-powered lights or even glow sticks. If you are using a real candle, make sure you keep it in a container, like a votive holder. Keeping your wick short will keep your candle (and pumpkin) from smoking.

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How do I keep my carved pumpkin fresh?

Add petroleum jelly to the cut edges of your pumpkin. This will keep your pumpkin from drying out. You can give the inside of the pumpkin a light coat, as well.

Got a dry pumpkin? Soak it in water to bring it back. The drier the pumpkin, the longer it has to soak. Just make sure you use a paper towel to dry the inside of your pumpkin to keep mold from growing inside.

Speaking of mold, to get rid of mold growing on your pumpkin, spray it with water mixed in with a little bleach.

You can also keep your pumpkin in the garage or refrigerator on those hot fall days. Just make sure you wrap the carved portions tightly with plastic wrap, a plastic bag or even a garbage bag if your pumpkin is HUGE!