Pumpkin-Carving Tips and Tools

Tips for selecting the right tools when carving, preserving and illuminating a Halloween pumpkin.

Carved Pumpkin With Spider Design

Carved Pumpkin With Spider Design

What's Halloween without a carved pumpkin? With the right tools, carve the perfect pumpkin, like this one with a spider design.

What's Halloween without a carved pumpkin? Check out these tips and tricks for selecting the right tool, keeping your carved pumpkin fresh and adding the right illumination.

Pumpkin-Carving Tool Options:

Pumpkin Carving Tool Options

Pumpkin Carving Tool Options

A large metal spoon or ice cream scoop is great for removing the pumpkin seeds. Another option is a battery-operated spinner that's made specifically for scraping the insides of the pumpkin walls.

1. A serrated knife works well for creating a hole in the pumpkin. It's preferable to carve the hole in the bottom of the pumpkin to cut off any bumps so the pumpkin will sit level. It's also much easier to place the pumpkin over a light source rather than lowering the light, like a candle, into the pumpkin.

2. A large metal spoon or ice cream scoop is great for removing the pumpkin seeds. Another option is a battery-operated spinner that's made specifically for scraping the insides of the pumpkin walls.

3. Small, paring knives are great for carving designs into the pumpkin. Pumpkin-carving kits, made specifically for kids or adults, are another good source. Battery-operated, pumpkin-carving knives also make quick work of even intricate designs.

Easy (& Free!) Pumpkin Carving Templates

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Tips for Preserving a Carved Pumpkin:

Preserving a Carved Pumpkin

Preserving a Carved Pumpkin

These helpful tips will make your carved pumpkin last longer. First, mold and dehydration are the two main contributors to pumpkin rot. Prevent both by covering the carved areas and interior of the pumpkin with petroleum jelly. This will keep the pumpkin from drying out and will slow the growth of mold. Another option is to add a small amount of bleach to a spray bottle filled with water. Spray the pumpkin daily with the bleach mixture; the bleach fights mold while the water keeps the pumpkin from drying out too quickly. Finally, spray the pumpkin with a store-bought pumpkin preservation spray. Make sure that it is environmentally-friendly and nontoxic. Note: Even with these precautions, a cut pumpkin will only last for a few days to a week, so it's best to cut your pumpkin no earlier than a few days before your Halloween festivities.

1. Mold and dehydration are the two main contributors to pumpkin rot. Prevent both by covering the carved areas and interior of pumpkin with petroleum jelly. This will keep the pumpkin from drying out and will slow the growth of mold.

2. Another option is to add a small amount of bleach to a spray bottle filled with water. Spray the pumpkin daily with the bleach mixture; the bleach fights mold while the water keeps the pumpkin from drying out too quickly.

3. Spray the pumpkin with a store-bought pumpkin preservation spray. Make sure that it is environmentally-friendly and nontoxic. Note: Even with these precautions, a cut pumpkin will only last for a few days to a week, so it's best to cut your pumpkin no earlier than a few days before your Halloween festivities.

Illuminating the Pumpkin:

Light for Illuminating Pumpkins

Light for Illuminating Pumpkins

Illuminate your pumpkin with candle-free options like color-changing strobe lights, battery-operated tea lights and rainbow LEDs that are made specifically for pumpkins and are safe for use in fresh or foam pumpkins. Battery-operated tap lights are a great option for a small pumpkin or gourd or use several in a larger pumpkin. A string of Christmas lights or a small lamp can also be used. The final choice is candles, the old standby. Votive or pillar candles, placed on a plate which is large enough to catch any drips, are the best option. A good tip when illuminating a pumpkin with a candle is to cut a small hole in the top of the pumpkin, like a chimney, allowing the heat to escape. Note: Candles can only be used in fresh pumpkins, never place a lit candle inside a foam pumpkin.

1. The candle-free options are nearly endless for showcasing your pumpkin designs. Check stores for color-changing strobe lights, battery-operated tea lights and rainbow LEDs that are made specifically for pumpkins and are safe for use in fresh or foam pumpkins. Battery-operated tap lights are a great option for a small pumpkin or gourd or use several in a larger pumpkin.

2. If the pumpkin will be displayed near an outlet, a string of Christmas lights or a small lamp can be used.

3. The final choice is candles, the old standby. Votive or pillar candles, placed on a plate which is large enough to catch any drips, are the best option. A good tip when illuminating a pumpkin with a candle is to cut a small hole in the top of the pumpkin, like a chimney, allowing the heat to escape. Note: Candles can only be used in fresh pumpkins, never place a lit candle inside a foam pumpkin.

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