How to pick the perfect pumpkin for Halloween
My kids call me a genius. At least when it comes to carving pumpkins, that is.
Each year, we spend an October day carving up Halloween pumpkins for the front porch. But it doesn't take genius, really. You just need some creative ideas, the right tools and a steady, patient hand.
Oh, and the right pumpkins.
I didn't give much thought to picking the perfect pumpkin, but that's really where creativity meets function. You'll find as much fun -- or frustration -- based on your choice.
Here are eight of my tips for picking the perfect pumpkin:
Go early in the season. You'll find a better selection. It's that simple. And be sure to use locally-grown pumpkins whenever possible. It's good for the economy -- and the environment.
Have a plan. Before you pick pumpkins, have a rough idea for what you're carving. Choose properly-sized pumpkins for the job you have in mind. That includes overall size (small, medium or large) and shape (round, tall).
Use a pattern. My kids and I spend time searching for carving patterns (online and in stores -- including this Angry Birds pattern), and we work together to choose ones we think are creative and challenging, but meet our abilities. Using a pattern is OK!
Go big or go home. If you've planned an intricate, highly-detailed carving job, spend the extra money and get a big 'ol jack-o-lantern. It'll make for a little more work, but the finished product will be all that more impressive.
Smooth it out. Look for smooth surfaces on your pumpkins. These make carving -- and the design prework (putting a pattern on the pumpkin) easier.
Clean it out. This is my least favorite part of carving pumpkins, so I outsource it to my children. They get a kick out of rolling up their sleeves and getting a little slimy pulling the "guts" out.
Clean it up. When you're finished carving, give your pumpkin a quick wipe-down with a damp cloth or paper towel to remove any leftover carvings.
Light it up. Use an appropriately-sized candle (or light) for your creation. Make sure it'll last all night, or be prepared with backup candles.
What are your must-haves for the perfect pumpkin? Leave us a comment. Oh, and happy Halloween!