Introduction: Easy DIY Potato Jack O' Lantern
This Halloween, do you want to experience the joy of pumpkin carving with a fraction of the mess? Do each one of your kids want to create their own creation, but you don't have the space to display them all? With this potato Jack O' Lantern recipe, you will have all the joys and memories of pumpkin carving while saving time and money. In fact, this project shouldn't take more than 30 minutes, and potatoes are cheap, especially in bulk!
Step 1: Supplies... Assemble!
To make your quick and easy Jack O Lantern you will need...
- Large Potato (You can also use yams, which are typically much larger)
- Work Surface (Although potatoes are not as messy as pumpkins, they still release a liquid when they are cut.)
- Kitchen Knife
- Spoon (Make sure it will easily fit inside your potato)
- Light Source (I used a traditional candle, but a tea candle would be preferred. As with the spoon, make sure your candle will fit inside your potato)
- Craft Knife (I found it easier to cut fine details with this knife)
- Accessories for your finished Jack O Lantern
Step 2: Cut Off the Base of the Potato
The first step to making your very own, quick and easy potato Jack O' Lantern is to cut less than an inch off the bottom of the potato. You want to leave plenty of potato to carve, but you also want the base to be wide enough to stand and fit over your light source. This step will make it easier to see and carve the inside of the pumpkin, as well as providing a solid base for the finished product. If you would like, you can save the cut off bit to use as an accessory in the final step. (Parents, I'm obviously not going to tell you how to monitor your children, but you may want to do the cutting for them)
Step 3: Hollow Out the Potato
To hollow out your potato, start by scooping out the insides. Although the potato is raw, this should not be too difficult, just be careful and don't punch through the skin. Parents, you may have to do this for younger children.
Once you have a satisfactory sized hole, you can scrape the inside of the potato with the spoon. If you wanted to sculpt the potato with intricate details, this will make it easier down the road. You can hold the potato up to the sun or a light source to see how light travels through the remaining flesh. How thoroughly you hollow out will be based on personal preference.
Step 4: Draw the Design
Draw your Jack O Lanterns face or design! This is where younger kids can have a lot of fun. Encourage them to make whatever they want. I decided to go with the traditional face, but since the potato is so much thinner and softer than pumpkins, you can really go crazy with the details.
Step 5: Cut Out the Design
Now you need to cut out your design. This step is ridiculously easy compared to traditional pumpkins.
ATTENTION: Pumpkin flesh cuts like butter when you use a craft knife, so cutting yourself is a real risk. Again, this may be a good place for you parents to take over. Just make sure you know where your fingers are, and don't cut towards yourself.
Step 6: Accessorize! (Optional)
I saved the cut off end from step 2 and made it into a hat by hollowing out the middle and attempting to carve a cute fall beanie. This didn't work, so it doesn't look like much of anything, but it still looks cute and provides contrast. Now our Jack O Lantern can stay warm through the chilly fall nights. You can add whatever you want to your pumpkin. Maybe you can give them a wizard hat and a spellbook, or maybe you could give him a cardboard shield and toothpick sword. Let your imagination go wild!
Step 7: Enjoy Your Creation!
If you don't want your potato to brown you can put diluted lemon juice on the potato, inside and out. However, if you were going for an icky potato design then browning might actually go to your advantage!
You can place your potato on your table as a centerpiece, or in your window to peer out at passerby. Since we're in lockdown, you could make staying indoors fun by making this a Halloween tradition like to Elf on the Shelf!
Step 8: Hindsight
Here are some things I would change if I did this project again:
- I would make sure the size of the hole fitted my light source. My original idea was to snuggly fit the potato onto the end of a flashlight so I could carry it around as a light source while trick or treating. However, after hollowing out the potato, there was no way that plan was going to work. This is also why I did not have any tea lights available.
- I neglected to preserve my creation with lemon juice and it browned within hours. If you want any kind of longevity to your creation, this step is crucial.
Participated in the
Potato Speed Challenge