If you’re planning a Halloween celebration, nothing gets you into the spirit like carving pumpkins. We woke at the crack of dawn this morning to prepare for our annual Halloween haunt that we’re throwing tonight, and amidst the cooking, baking, carving, decorating and looking after babies, our very noisy house was in a state of perfect anarchy. Outside a thick blanket of fog had settled to hover over the fields, lakes and woods – perfectly eerie among the fall coloured trees in the distance and our toddler was mesmerised by the sight, peering out at the half-lit farmland, monkey under one arm for comfort.
We got a little bit more adventurous this year with the designs on our pumpkins, but the basic routine is always the same:
1. Pop to a pumpkin farm and grab yourself a good selection of pumpkins making sure there’s at least one for all the family so everyone can get involved – don’t forget the dogs if you have some canines in the family, you can carve out some juicy bones on theirs.
2. Cut a hole in the top of your pumpkin – you need a neat but decently-sized hole to scoop out all the the flesh and seeds. We used the basic plastic sets you can buy from any supermarket, but they are amazingly effective. The mini saw easily makes tracks through the thick pumpkin skin and is much safer than a knife which can easily slip.
3. Scoop out all the flesh, pulp and seeds – a spoon or scraping tool will do the job.
4. Now plan and carve your design – you can use pumpkin templates, draw on a design with a permanent marker (this does in fact rub off with a wet wipe and some persistent rubbing we discovered!), prick an outline or just grab your saw tool, improvise and have some fun – we tried all and every method and they all produced striking results.
5. Finally light them up – a real tea light always looks best, but if you have little ones running round, the battery-operated ones do a great job and won’t leave you in a whirlwind of panic every time they get a bit too close.