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15 Genius Hacks for Halloween Pumpkin Carving You’ll Use from Now On

These pumpkin carving tips are our treat (not a trick!) for you. Find out the secrets to effortless scooping, perfect carving, making the most of those silly mini-pumpkins, and more.

Halloween Spider Pumpkin: Fresh Carved Jack-o-Lantern Decoration; House Front PorchFunwithfood/Getty Images

Jack o’ lantern joy

Boo! While Halloween may be the season for tricks and treats, don’t let your pumpkin carving skills be scary. These pumpkin carving tips are sure to bring your jack o’ lantern game up a notch. After, read up on the history behind why we carve pumpkins.

pumpkin pickingrand22/Getty Images

First, pick the perfect pumpkin

The very first of the pumpkin carving tips you need to know: Have your design in mind before you pick a pumpkin. Be able to answer, does your pattern require more width or height to pull off? If you are planning to use a candle, go taller: if a pumpkin is too short and squat, the candle will burn the roof. Once you pick a size, give your pumpkin a knock with your fist. A hollow sound indicates it’s riper and easier to carve. Finally, test the pumpkin’s stability by placing it on a flat surface before purchasing it. No wobble? You’re ready to carve! Need inspiration? Check out these free pumpkin carving stencils you’ll love.

Cropped Hand Of Man Carving Pumpkin For HalloweenAlice Day/EyeEm/Getty Images

Give yourself more room to scoop

If your go-to move for carving a pumpkin is cutting a circular hole around the stem, you’re making your seed scooping job about ten times harder than it could be. Instead, cut a large keyhole shape into the pumpkin that starts around the stem and extends down the side, like this. You’ll be able to reach your entire arm directly into the pumpkin’s side for effortless scooping and candle-placing. This is the history of Halloween.

Mother and children hollowing out pumpkin in dining roomPeter Muller/Getty Images

OR, start carving from the bottom

Instead of cutting a hole in the top of your pumpkin, start from the bottom. Cut out a circle and throw that piece away for good; this is where your candle will sit, flat on the ground with the pumpkin around it. This pumpkin carving tip also makes scooping easier. Thanks to gravity, a sizable chunk of pumpkin guts will fall out right with your bottom hole. Caveat: Without a top hole for ventilation, you should only burn a candle for about 30 minutes, or use LED lights instead. Plus, check out some pretty no-carve pumpkin decorating ideas to change things up this year.

Pumpkin Carving Funshaunl/Getty Images

Speed up seed removal with an ice cream scoop

Using an ice cream scoop or large, sturdy spoon will greatly increase your pumpkin seeding speed. For lingering stringy bits, finish it off with a fork. The less gunk inside, the easier your carving will be. Pop on a movie while carving: Choose from one of the 25 best kids’ Halloween movies.

05_tricks_halloween_pumpkin_flawless_don't_permanent_marker_CentralCentral IT Alliance/iStock

Don’t use a permanent marker

Make your initial cut lines with a dry-erase marker first, in case you make a mistake—and we all know the slippery, uneven surface of a pumpkin is a magnet for mistakes. These are other tips to help preserve a carved pumpkin.

High angle view of boy removing seeds from pumpkin at homeCavan Images/Getty Images

Hold the pumpkin in your lap

Grip is a key component necessary to create the jack o’ lantern of your dreams. When carving, it’s easier to place the features on the pumpkin with the pumpkin’s “face” looking up at you while holding it in your lap. An X-Acto knife or serrated kitchen knife is most likely the best tool to use. Don’t miss the hidden origins of Halloween’s spookiest creatures.

African family making jack-o-lanternLWA/Dann Tardif/Getty Images

Carve two days before Halloween—or preserve your pumpkin with jelly

A carved pumpkin will start molding within days of breaking the skin. But with this pumpkin carving tip, you won’t have to worry about that. Instead, coat all cut surfaces with a bit of petroleum jelly—including the scooped-out inside, if you can spare the time. The jelly seals in the pumpkin’s moisture, slowing down the dehydration process that turns brilliant art into sad gunk. Ever wonder why we pass out candy on Halloween? We’ve got you covered.

wooden toothpicksKadek Bonit Permadi/Getty Images

Fix carving mistake with a toothpick

If you accidentally cut off a piece you didn’t mean to, you can stick it right back on by jamming a toothpick into it. You can get creative with this method, too: save some of your carved bits to create 3D pumpkin eyebrows, mustaches, or, well, smaller pumpkins.

iStock/martinwimmer

Make a pumpkin punch bowl

For that extra autumnal touch at your party, slice away the top third of a pumpkin with a serrated knife and place a glass punch bowl inside. Fill the bowl with ice and bottles of your choice beverage, and astound guests with your creativity. This is why black and orange are the traditional colors of Halloween.

Pumpkinsgrau-art/Getty Images

Give a mini-pumpkin fangs

Cut a small rectangular hole into the side of a mini pumpkin and insert a pair of dollar-store vampire fangs. Add some circular map tacks for spooky red eyes, or improvise with googly eyes. Bonus: This is a perfect, low-mess project for the kids! Here are some more great Halloween crafts your kids will love.

Pumpkins decorated with faces with eyes and mouthsPhotography by paulgmccabe/Getty Images

Use pumpkin carving scraps creatively

There’s no need to throw away the odds and ends that result from your beautiful pumpkin masterpiece. Instead, repurpose these extra pumpkin bits into making a tongue, hair accessory, ears, or anything else your heart (and jack o’ lantern) desires. This pumpkin carving tip will have your pumpkin looking both smart and stylish.

Electric drill on old wooden tablexxmmxx/Getty Images

Don’t feel like carving? Grab a drill

With evenly spaced holes you can drill beautiful patterns of light into your pumpkin, knife-free. For extra flair, string some Christmas lights through the holes to make your pumpkin explode with radiance. Here are some fun Halloween costume and decoration ideas that won’t break the bank.

Homemade pumpkin pancakes with pecan nuts and honeyArx0nt/Getty Images

Don’t throw away the innards!

Use them for snacks. With your leftover pumpkin pieces, whip up some pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin pickles, and more, thanks to these fun pumpkin recipes for fall.

Halloween pumpkinsCatherine Delahaye/Getty Images

Make a chimney

Nobody likes the smell of burnt pumpkin. Well, with this pumpkin carving tip, you won’t have to worry about that. Create a chimney within your jack o’ lantern by lighting a candle and then make a small hole where the lid blackens.  These are 14 spooky Halloween superstitions and how they came to haunt us.

Cinnamons And Powder On TableEskay Lim/EyeEm/Getty Images

Put cinnamon on the lid of your pumpkin

While this pumpkin carving tip isn’t a necessity, it’ll certainly score you extra points. Sprinkling cinnamon on the inside lid of your jack o’ lantern will make it smell like pumpkin pie when you light your pumpkin. Yummy! Are you ready to get started on your perfect pumpkin? Check out the best pumpkin patch in every state so you can pick that pumpkin and get carving.

For more fun facts, costume ideas, traditions, candy inspiration, spooky entertainment, and updates on how October 31 will look different this year, check out our Halloween Guide.

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