- Choose a large pumpkin. The larger the pumpkin, the easier it is to carve. Pumpkins with a lighter color tend to be softer and easier to carve.
- When cutting out the top, place the knife at a 45 degree angle so the lid will have a place to rest when you replace it. If you cut straight down, the lid will fall through.
- When cleaning the pumpkin, save the seeds. Toasted pumpkin seeds make a healthy as well as tasty snack. A 1-inch thickness of the pumpkin wall is optimum.
- Print out or draw the pattern on a piece of paper. Use small sharp scissors or a razor knife to cut out the areas you will be carving into the pumpkin. Tape the template onto the pumpkin and use a marker to trace the carving lines. Cutting slits in the paper will help it to conform to the round surface.
- As an alternative, you can tape the outline to the pumpkin and use a nail or large pushpin to score the carving lines onto the pumpkin. Connect the dots as you carve.
- A long serrated knife or a pumpkin-carving knife with teeth will be necessary to cut through the thick flesh. Use a sawing motion and take your time cutting along the outside edge of the marker lines so there is no marker residue.
- Consider cutting off the bottom of the pumpkin, as well as the top. The pumpkin will be more stable and also easier to carve. If you plan on using a candle to light your jack-o’-lantern, be sure the opening in the bottom is large enough to fit over the candle. Place the candle on a fire-proof base large enough to accommodate the pumpkin. You can then easily lift off the jack-o’-lantern to light the candle.
- A small battery-operated flameless candleis a safer choice than traditional candles for lighting your jack-o’-lantern.
- Sprinkle the bottom side of the pumpkin lid with ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or cloves to let your jack-o’-lantern do double duty as an air freshener.