Stop! Pumpkin time. You can’t carve this…

In the United States, the Jack-o’-lantern is one of the most ubiquitous and fun-filled traditions when October rolls around. Kids cannot rightfully pass the Halloween season without getting their hands messy carving up the biggest local pumpkins. And thankfully, that doesn’t much change come adulthood either.

It all begins with the selection process. Now, hopefully you’ve got a pumpkin patch nearby, as that’s just perfect for setting the autumnal mood. But even rummaging through the pumpkin bin at the local grocery store will do the trick.

Pumpkin selection at the grocery store
Pumpkin selection at the grocery store, step 1 of the fun process!

Here’s where you can begin to match your jack-o’-lantern facial ideas with an appropriate pumpkin shape. Are you going to go with the high and tall variety, sporting long Frankenstein-esque features, or a squat wide one, ideal for a menacing Cheshire cat grin?

Jack-o'-lantern with a devilish grin...
Jack-o’-lantern with a devilish grin…

Plenty of possibilities! Personally, I like to keep things as downright ghoulish as possible. Since, as legend has it, the jack-o’-lantern is meant to ward away all the evil spirits that are free to wander the earth on Halloween, you might as well make yourself a real intimidating visage. Just to be safe.

Now you’re ready to start doodling! Use a marker and get that face you had in mind etched out. I always love the carving process because its equal parts precise artistry and messiness. Lay down a protective blanket of newspapers and get to work scooping out spoonfuls of sloppy innards.

Pumpkin carving process
Cardboard on the ground, carving guidelines drawn, knifes and spoons in hand, we are ready!

This sweet pumpkin gut gunk is your magic ingredient for the rest of Fall. Roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin butter, pumpkin pie, so many different ways to make sure you don’t have to suffer a single day this Halloween season without that seasonal pumpkin flavor!

Scooping out the pumpkin seeds
Scooping out spoonfuls of pumpkin seeds and gunk! Yum!

The actual carving gets a little more serious. It may just be all about following the lines, but you have to be careful not to accidentally saw off some necessary facial feature. One wrong slice and you can kiss your Samhain simulacrum goodbye.

Starting the pumpkin carving process
Starting the carving process… the first ‘stabs’ have been made!

But if you carve out that smiling face without stabbing your pumpkin to pieces in a botched plastic surgery attempt, you’re ready to pop a candle in that bad boy and start scaring off evil ghosts and pint-sized trick-or-treaters.

Always be careful while carving your pumpkin!
Be careful not to let your knife slip while carving your pumpkin. Looks like we are almost done here!

Happy Halloween my vibrant squash friend!
Or should I say… scary Halloween?

Scary Jack-o-lantern masterpiece
Happy Halloween everyone! Scary Jack-o’-lantern masterpiece made by talented artist boyfriend 😉

Don’t forget to check back in on your jack-o’-lantern in the days after it successfully saves your home and family from those wayward souls. Sometimes it is fun to see how the rotting process affects the expression… 😉

Take plenty of pictures, and start planning for next year. Never too early to be protected!

My first Jack-o'-lantern pumpkin carving attempt
My first Jack-o’-lantern pumpkin carving: happy with the result!

Another good idea is to turn the Jack-o’-lantern pumpkin carving process into a real “face off” with your friends!
Get your best carving game on, brew a pot of pumpkin spice tea, and try not to eat too much of that delicious pumpkin pie… 🙂

Pumpkin carving competition
Pumpkin carving competition: the Monster, the Mouse, and… the Mistake. (Turned into a convincing owl! 🙂 )


Have you ever carved your own Jack-o’-lantern?
Do you design it yourself or rather make use of a stencil?
Were you happy with the result of your Jack-o’-lantern pumpkin carving attempt?


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