However you choose to celebrate 31 October, there is one tradition that will generally precede all festivities. Jack-o’-lanterns are a staple of Halloween, but how will you make yours stand out? Our simple four-step guide will get you started, but here are our top tips for giving your pumpkin a touch of magic…
1. Choose your pumpkin wisely
The lines on the skin could form a witch’s wrinkles, while a misshapen squash could provide a devilishly different canvas.
2. Use a template to perfect your spooky design
Create your own or find inspiration from the many websites dedicated to pumpkin carving. Secure your chosen template to the front of your pumpkin, then carefully trace the image by poking holes along the lines. Once finished, remove the template and carve. Voilà!
See our terrifying pumpkin carving templates for inspiration.
3. Create some eerie shadows by carving another pattern into the back of your pumpkin
Place next to a wall, light from the inside and watch your design come to life.
4. Put flame-retardant coloured tissue paper just behind the front face of your pumpkin to create a coloured filter
Make sure you’re lighting your pumpkin with a torch rather than a naked flame though!
5. Try shaving parts of your pumpkin rather than cutting all the way through
This will give your design a two-tone effect and add depth.
6. Use everyday items from around the house to bring your pumpkin to life
Create a face from nuts and bolts, use white reflective tape as bandages or simply chop off the top and add some colourful flowers for your own spooky vase!
7. Painting your pumpkin can work wonderfully, especially if you want to keep little hands away from sharp objects
They’ll also look great in the daytime. Either paint a design over the whole pumpkin, or use paint to add accents to an already carved squash.
8. Shun the traditional orange pumpkin for a ghoulish green variety… or try your hand at transforming a watermelon
The process is the same, but it will certainly make your neighbours look twice!
We’ve got plenty more ideas for carving alternative fruit and veg.
9. Make your pumpkin shine from the inside out
Use multicoloured Christmas lights to add a new dimension to simple styles, or try using a red bicycle light, set to flash, for a really sinister touch.
10. Funny faces and ghoulish grins not your thing?
Try making simple shapes like stars or spooky creatures with cookie cutters, or use an apple corer or drill bits to add polka dots for a more grown-up pumpkin.
Wondering what to do with the leftovers of your creation? Put them to good use in our perfect pumpkin recipes.
Also check out our Halloween hub page for more spooky suggestions.
Get more pumpkin carving and cooking ideas…
How to carve a pumpkin
Pumpkin carving templates
9 things you can carve that aren’t pumpkins
10 new ways with pumpkins
How to cook with pumpkin
Our favourite pumpkin recipes
Vegetarian pumpkin recipes
Vegan pumpkin recipes
Healthy pumpkin & squash collection
How to roast pumpkin seeds
What are your top pumpkin carving tips? Leave a comment below…
Always take care when using sharp objects and open flames and always use electrical appliances in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.