I’m actually really looking forward to Halloween this year. I know it’s not usually seen as a typical British ‘holiday’ but I think it’s really fun. It’s such a good excuse to get some real quality moments with your littles from pumpkin carving to crafting (hello skeleton made from cotton buds) to dressing up. We’ve touched on a few elements of halloween in the past, from crafts to no carve pumpkins and treats but today I wanted to talk more about how to carve a pumpkin.
Last year Leo and I carved a couple of pumpkins and they weren’t massively successful as we’d never done it before but the whole process was so much fun. We bought a little carving kit from our local supermarket and it did do a pretty good job for £1.50! So this year we will probably do the same. The scraping tool was just the right size for his little hands and the little saw… perfect.
The Right Pumpkin
So it all starts with getting the right pumpkin. This year we are going to pick our own! I am so excited… It’s like a precursor to going to choose the Christmas Tree. We are going to a local ‘Pick Your Own’ farm to find ours; the type of place you can go to pick strawberries, raspberries etc. I’m hoping to find one that doesn’t have any soft spots or lots of markings, the ones I’ve seen in the supermarkets all seem to have some sort of damage. And plus, how fun is it going to be for Leo and Tayo to run through a field of pumpkins and see where they actually come from. Ideally you want to pick one that doesn’t have any dents, bruises or soft spots. You want to look for a good, thick, solid stem that’s roughly 1 and a half inches thick for a large pumpkin.
The Right Tools For Carving
Once the pumpkin is sorted you can the gather your tools. I found with Leo it was easier to carve it on the floor (he’s quite a bit taller this year so I will probably use his little Ikea table). That way he could really get over the top of the pumpkin to get all the bits out of the middle. So set down an old sheet or if you have a plastic sheet you use for crafting you could use that. I’ve already mentioned that you can buy handy little kits from most supermarkets but you can also look at using a metal spoon or even an ice cream scoop. You want a relatively sharp knife for the cutting out of the pumpkin design.
Once everything is set up and ready to go, it’s time to make your first cuts. You can either take the top off your pumpkin to make a lid or you can cut a hole (big enough to get your hand and wrist through) in the back. Doing that will keep your stem in tact and keep your pumpkin more solid and it should last longer. Then it’s time for the fun bit, taking out all of the seeds and strings. Remember to keep the seeds as you can eat them as a snack (they only require a bit of roasting to dry them out). It’s really important to get rid of all the seeds and all the stringy bits and really give the sides a good scraping. If you leave any traces then your pumpkin will have a shorter life and start to ‘go off’ much quicker.
Once it’s all hollowed out you can start drawing on your face or whatever design you’ve chosen. It’s always a good idea to make a paper template (if you’re not too artistic you can find templates online) and that way your little one can draw it on. If you use a dry wipe pen you can get rid of any stray lines or scribbles that occur along the way. Once your design is on it’s time to cut! In our little carving kit last year there was a little saw which was perfect! So I started the main cut and then Leo carried it on and it was really safe. It was strong enough (just) to get through the pumpkin but no way would it get through him.
Maintaining Your Lantern
Once you have expertly carved your pumpkin a top tip is to get some kitchen cleaner from your cupboard, the kind that contains some bleach and give your pumpkin a good spritz, inside and out and then let it dry for about five minutes. This will help to preserve it for longer. Whilst it’s drying you can gather together whatever you’re going to use to light it up.
Traditionally we would use a regular real fire candle but these really do shorten the life of your pumpkin and we all know the stories of little girls dresses catching alight when trick or treating so it might be wise to consider an alternative. Two easy alternatives are an LED candle, these often have flicker settings too so they act like a real candle or some battery powered fairy lights. You can pop the whole battery pack into the pumpkin so everyone would be none the wiser. Remember though, if you do want to use a real candle, make sure you cut a vent in the back top of your pumpkin so that smoke can escape and it doesn’t melt!
And that pretty much sums it up. By now you should have an epic pumpkin on your front step! And we’d love to see them so make sure you tag us in your pumpkin pics and use the hastag #rockmypumpkin.
We are joining our neighbours to go trick or treating this year (we live on a fairly new estate with lots of families and last year everyone really went all out with their decor so I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with this year). We’re having a mini party with a few treats and snacks and then we’ll be on our way. You can see some ace treats and decor ideas from previous posts if you need some ideas and if you’re after some costume or face painting inspiration you can see our dedicated Halloween Pinterest board for ideas.
If you’re no good with a sewing machine and need to find something on the high street H&M have a great selection of Halloween accessories (and how cute is this skirt!). There is also this epic Werewolf costume for Matalan, Harry Potter fans will love these Gryffindor fancy dress sets and this cat costume is adorable from M&S. If Leo was smaller I would absoluetly be getting him this Dinosaur skeleton suit, but alas, he is too big these days. I am getting this for Tayo because… It’s ridiculously cute and he will compliment his big brother who is going as Spiderman. Because spiders are scary.