How to Carve a Pumpkin

Introduction: How to Carve a Pumpkin

Today, we are going to teach you how to carve a pumpkin. These instructions offer a simple, step by step guideline on how to successfully carve a beautiful pumpkin. Why would a person carve a pumpkin you ask? Many people, young and old, carve pumpkins at Halloween time. Halloween, also called “All Hallows Eve” or “All Saints Day” “Day of the Dead” or “Devil’s Night,” is most commonly an annual American holiday that is celebrated on October 31st, however, it is celebrated in Ireland, Scotland, Canada and Mexico as well. Pumpkin carving is one of many activities that take place during Halloween. Trick-or-treating, dressing in costumes, attending haunted houses and bonfires, and bobbing for apples are also typical around this time. Thinking up ideas for your pumpkin and designing scary Jack-o-lantern faces are the best part of the holiday. People of all ages enjoy carving pumpkins; however, children should be supervised by an adult as there is a knife and open flame involved in carving a pumpkin. Carving your pumpkin will take you approximately an hour with clean up and design included. It won’t take long to make but your pumpkin will illuminate your doorstep or window for weeks during the Halloween season.

Step 1: Items Needed:

Garbage bag
Large Spoon
Carving knife (kitchen knife)
Paper or Stencil
Tape or thumbtacks
Marker (washable)
Lighter or matches
Tea Light Candle
Towel or Paper Towels
Cinnamon (optional)

Step 2: Steps 1-5


1. Pick out your pumpkin according to the shape of the imaged you’d like to carve.

2. Have your needed items handy.

3. Use a towel or a paper towel to clean the dirt off of your pumpkin.

4. Lay your garbage bag on the floor where you wish to carve your pumpkin.

5. Set your pumpkin on top of your garbage bag.

Step 3: Steps 6-11

6. Use your carving knife to trim the bottom of your pumpkin so it sits steady and level on the ground and doesn’t teeter. Caution: always use your carving knife with care.

7. Use your carving knife to cut a “lid” from the top of your pumpkin in the shape of a pentagon. Caution: always use your carving knife with care. Be sure to cut the lid with your knife at an angle with the tip of the knife facing the inside of your pumpkin so your lid will not fall into your pumpkin when it’s finished. The importance of the pentagon shape of the lid is also so the lid will not fall in and so you will be able to place the lid back on the pumpkin in the same place as it was before it was cut.

8. Take your pumpkin lid and use your carving knife to cut the inside of the lid smooth and straight.

9. Put the pumpkin guts that you scraped from the inside of your lid in a pumpkin guts pile on your garbage bag.

10. Take your large spoon and use it to scrape the inside walls of your pumpkin smooth.

11. Once the walls of the inside of your pumpkin have been scraped smooth, use your spoon or your hands to scoop out all of the pumpkin guts.

Step 4: Steps 12-17

12. Use the spoon to smooth the inside bottom of your pumpkin, this is necessary so the tea light candle will sit steady inside the pumpkin when complete.

13. Use a towel or paper towels to clean any gunk off of your hands and the outside of the pumpkin.

14. A. If you are using a drawing or stencil, use your tape or thumbtacks to fasten your stencil or drawing to the side of the pumpkin you want to carve.

B. If you are not using a drawing or a stencil, use your washable marker to draw your desired image onto the surface of the pumpkin that you wish your image to be carved into.

15. With your carving knife or safety pin, trace your drawing or your stencil into the side of your pumpkin. Caution: always use your carving knife with care.

16. If you used a stencil or drawing, remove the stencil or drawing and tape or thumbtacks from the pumpkin’s side.

17. Once you have traced the lines in your stencil or drawing, use your carving knife to proceed to cut the pieces out of the pumpkin’s image. Caution: always use your carving knife with care. Be sure to cut straight into the pumpkin’s side because cutting at an angle with make your cut outs either bigger than you want or not big enough to be seen clearly when lit.

Step 5: Steps 18-21

18. If you drew your image onto the pumpkin itself, wet the towel or paper towel with water and wipe your markings off of the surface of your pumpkin.

19. Use the carving knife to straighten the edges of your carved image to ensure the clarity of your image.

20. Use a lighter or matches to light your tea light candle. Warning: burn is possible when using a lighter or matches.

21. Carefully insert lit tea light candle into pumpkin to test the clarity of your image on your pumpkin in order to see if any lines need straightening or any cuts need to be made bigger or easier to see. Warning: burn is possible when handling a lit candle

Step 6: Steps 22-29

22. Carefully remove lit tea light candle from your pumpkin. Warning: burn is possible when handling a lit candle.

23. Blow out, or extinguish your tea light candle.

24. With your carving knife, make any last design changes to your pumpkin.

25. When you feel your pumpkin is perfect, set it on your desired place of display.

26. Sprinkle cinnamon into your pumpkin.

27. Relight your tea light candle. Warning: burn is possible when using a lighter or matches, use with care.

28. Carefully insert lit tea light candle into your pumpkin. Warning: burn is possible when handling a lit candle.

29. Enjoy your pumpkin display. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Step 7: Conclusion

Congratulations! Your Halloween pumpkin is complete and your doorstep or window will be illuminated for weeks!The excitement of Halloween will come and go before you know it. Kids are so excited to trick or treat and to carve pumpkins that the night of fun is gone in an instant, but the memories of your different pumpkins over the years will last forever.When all the carving is done, one tradition is to sprinkle cinnamon at the bottom of the pumpkin so when the candle inside the pumpkin is lit the room will have an aroma of cinnamon and fall.

Produced By:

Christopher Hyatt

Kelsey Meyer

Katie Shabino

Jacob Willett

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    4 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Here's a trick to add to your carving repertoire. If anyone looks closely at your pumpkin, you can give them a real puzzler, i.e., "How did he do it?" My trick is to first level the pumpkin by shaving small bits off the bottom. Then, instead of cutting the access hole in the top, cut it in the bottom! After that, carve the thing in the usual matter. Put the candle on the top of the cut-out bottom piece, and lower the pumpkin over it. Everyone knows you carve from the outside, but how did you hollow it out without a lid?


    8 years ago on Step 7

    Just a couple of suggestions.
    I don't like using a carving knife for heavy cutting. A drywall / keyhole saw works easier to get through the pumpkin.
    I also use this or a rotary tool for the pattern. The rotary tool lets me get more detail than a large knife.
    I don't like using candles around kids or animals or outside (teenagers !). I switched to the glow chem-lights. I get them cheap at the dollar stores. Toss in enough spooky green ones to get the brightness you want (I use 3) and they'll last all night.