It’s pumpkin season and it’s time to start carving. In this tutorial, I’ll show you some simple DIY Halloween pumpkin decorating tips, tricks and ideas to spook up your Halloween.
Step 2: Gather Supplies
If you’re a novice pumpkin carver like me, then some easy starter tools are pumpkin carving tool kits. They’re affordable and usually come with patterns to get you started.
Alternatively, you can use the classic kitchen knife with a serrated blade for your cuts. You can scoop the seeds and pumpkin goo out with a spoon or use a beater attachment from a hand mixer attached to a power drill. An ice cream scooper also does the job nicely.
Step 3: Prepare the Pumpkin
One of my favorite designs is to light up your pumpkin with LED strand lights. Before we start, lets clean up the pumpkin.
Cut a hole in the bottom and the back of the pumpkin. This makes scooping out the seeds a little easier and cleaner.
*TIP: Pick out a pumpkin that is lighter in color. They are easier to cut.
Step 4: Design the Pumpkin
Once the inside is cleaned out, it’s time to create the pattern. Use one from the kit or make your own. For this design, I used a sharpie and made some dots down the pumpkin. I just eyeballed my dots, but you could use a piece of string as a measuring line for a cleaner look.
Step 5: Drill the Holes
Once you have your design ready, drill out the holes. Make sure the holes are no larger than your lights. You want the lights to fit snug. I found that a 3/8” paddle bit worked great for my light strand.
Step 6: Soak the Pumpkin
To make your pumpkin last longer after you have carved it, soak it in a bucket with a mix of bleach and water. This method helps prevent dehydration and there seems to be a few different solutions to choose from. I filled a bucket with about three “gluggs” of bleach and the rest with hot water to blend. I let the parts soak for 24 hours. Below are some more precise solutions.
Pumpkin Bleach and Water Solutions:
* 50/50 mix of bleach and water
* 1 teaspoon of bleach per 1 gallon of water - Let soak for 8 hours.
* 1 Tablespoon of bleach per quart of water.
You can also use a daily treatment of bleach and water in a spray bottle to make your pumpkin last a few extra days.
Pumpkin Fresh is a pumpkin fungicidal preservative that is a popular product used to help your pumpkins last longer.
Making sure that your pumpkin is turned upside down and completely dry will help prevent rot from excess bleach that may have pooled in the bottom.
In general, bleach soaking will help your carved pumpkin last around 10 days.
For an in depth experiment using several preservation techniques, check out this page by myscienceproject.org
Step 7: Coat the Cut Parts
A popular technique is to coat the inside and cut pumpkin parts with petroleum jelly to help prevent dehydration. This is said to extend it’s life making it last for around 7 days. The jury is still out on this technique as it may actually break down the pumpkin promoting mold and rot. Vegetable oil has been used as an alternative to vaseline.
Step 8: Insert the Bulbs
Once the pumpkin is completely dry, it’s time to start inserting the bulbs. I started in the back and worked my way around in a circle leaving the excess lights inside the pumpkin.
*TIP: I noticed after soaking in bleach that the drilled holes were not as tight and the flesh was softer. Using a smaller bit may produce an even tighter fit for your lights.
Step 9: BAM! an LED Lit Pumpkin
Once the holes are filled with lights, cut a small notch in the back for your light cord to go through and replace the back piece.
BAM! You now have an LED lit pumpkin.
* IDEA: Another idea for this design is to plug the holes with marbles. Use the same lights inside or possibly a battery operated Halloween flicker light or tea light.
Step 10: Turn Your Pumpkin Into a Vampire
Use some plastic fangs and turn your pumpkin into a vampire. I picked up a set of 8 glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth for about a dollar. Trace the teeth onto the pumpkin. Cut out the mouth and remove the seeds. Insert the teeth. Simple as that.
*TIP: You can break the teeth apart for a wider mouth opening.
Step 11: Mr. Potato Vampire Pumpkin Head
Grab some Mr. Potato Head parts. Add some eyes and some arms. Now you have a Mr. Potato Vampire Pumpkin Head.
Step 12: Happy Halloween!!
There’s a few pumpkin decorating ideas that are fun and inexpensive. Use caution when using sharp objects and chemicals while preparing and carving your pumpkin. Have a Happy Halloween!!