DIY: Pumpkin Carving Tips and Tricks for Halloween


Do you remember taking trips to the pumpkin patch as a kid to pick out the perfect pumpkin to turn into a jack-o’-lantern?

Pumpkin carving is a fun fall tradition that a person of any age can participate in. Whether you want a classic jack-o’-lantern, a ghost design, or a cute quote, you can be as creative as you want.

Make some apple cider and grab some candy corn to turn pumpkin carving into a great bonding activity.

It’s great because each person can create their own design. Carved pumpkins also make festive house decorations.

The Pumpkin Carving Process

Step 1: Before even beginning the carving process, choosing the right pumpkin makes a big difference. Pick a pumpkin that looks fresh and is free of bruises. A pumpkin with a sturdy, flat bottom makes it less likely to roll around once it’s carved. A sturdy stem ensures that it is a healthy pumpkin.

Step 2: Use a keyhole saw to easily cut through the pumpkin. If you’re using a real candle to light the pumpkin, cut the lid around the stem at an angle. Cutting it at an angle instead of up and down prevents the lid from falling into the pumpkin when placing the lid back on top. Be sure to place the candle in a glass container and keep a watchful eye on it when the candle is lit. If you’re using an electric light, cut a hole at the bottom of the pumpkin to make it easier to hide the electrical cord.

Step 3: Clean out all of the pumpkin’s pulp, seeds, and flesh. If you don’t have a pumpkin carving claw, grab an ice cream scooper from your kitchen. Scrape into the wall of the side where the pumpkin’s design will be carved. By thinning out the wall to 1 ¼ inch thick, it makes it easier to carve into the pumpkin for the design. Make a solution of a gallon of water and a tablespoon of chlorine bleach to wash the hollowed pumpkin. Washing the interior and exterior helps prevent mold.

Step 4: For the design, search online for ideas. Templates make it easier than free handing the design. You can be traditional and carve a face or find a template of a creative pattern. Enlarge the chosen design to the size desired and print it out. Cut along the pattern so the excess white edges of the paper are removed. Tape it to the side of the pumpkin that was thinned out. Instead of using a permanent marker to trace the design, use a dry erase marker so it is easy to fix any mistakes before carving.

Step 5: Now it’s time for the carving. You may want to consider purchasing a pumpkin carving kit. The kits have all the tools for prepping and carving. If not, use a small serrated saw. This kind of saw works especially well for carving small, detailed work. Always cut slowly and gently. It’s important to keep safety in mind so that you don’t cut yourself.

Step 6: Now that your pumpkin is washed and carved, it’s time to get it ready to place on your porch. Remove the lid and place the candle or electric light inside the pumpkin. Wait until the sun is going down before lighting the pumpkin. Your house is now ready for fall!

Pumpking Carving Protips:

  • Before you are ready to carve the pumpkin, store it in a cool, dry place. Sunlight speeds up the deterioration process, and the carved pumpkin won’t last as long.
  • Sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon, pumpkin spice, or nutmeg inside the pumpkin so that the jack-o’-lantern will smell like a pumpkin pie when the candle is lit.
  • Consider carving multiple small-to-medium-sized pumpkins rather than one large one. A display of multiple pumpkins gives off a more impactful visual illusion.
  • To make your carved pumpkin last longer, don’t skip the step of washing your pumpkin in the bleach and water solution. The bleach gets rid of the dirt and bacteria that cause the pumpkin to rot. Every couple of days, spray this solution on the inside and outside of the pumpkin to make sure they stay fresh and last longer.
  • If you don’t have time to wash the pumpkin in the solution, rub a little Vaseline on the carved parts. This also can help slow down the rotting process.
  • Add fun props to your pumpkin. Grab some yarn and place it on the top near the stem to create hair. Wood chips can be used as teeth. If you want to glitz up your pumpkin, spread glue around certain areas or over the entire pumpkin and sprinkle some glitter on top of it.

About Big R

Bill and Pat Crabtree originated the Illinois Big R Stores in 1964 opening the first store in Watseka, Illinois. To date 20 stores have been opened in Illinois and Indiana; 2 stores in Ohio and 1 store in Wisconsin and we are still proud to be family-owned and operated. Our 12 Illinois stores are located in Watseka, Gibson City, Danville, Tilton, Pontiac, Morris, Pekin, Washington, Rochelle, Homer Glen, Streator and McHenry. Our 8 Indiana stores are located in Warsaw, 2 locations in Elkhart, Rochester, Wabash, Crawfordsville, Michigan City, and Marion. Our 2 stores in Ohio are located in Lima and Findlay. And 1 location in Wisconsin in Burlington. The offices and warehouses for Big R remain in Watseka, IL. Farm and Ranch store owners in the western states started the Big R brand name; they chose the name "Big R" to convey the "Ranch" identity. The Big R group is now comprised of 12 independent owners with store locations throughout the U.S. They all are members of Mid-States Distributing Company of St. Paul, MN. The Mid-States Coop has over 600 stores throughout the United States and Canada.