Jolly jack-o'-lanterns are a traditional welcome for trick-or-treaters, an invitation to stop by for a Halloween surprise. Just remember that carving a pumpkin takes more tenacity than skill.
- Coat the cut edges with cooking oil to keep your jack-o'-lantern fresh longer.
- Select a fresh pumpkin in a shape that pleases you. Some folks prefer their pumpkins low and round, while others like them tall and oval-shaped.
- Draw a circle or hexagon on top of the pumpkin in preparation for making an opening large enough for your hand to reach through.
- Cut through the stem end of the pumpkin along your outline with a sharp knife or pumpkin-carving tool. Use a back-and-forth slicing motion to cut through the thick, tough skin.
- Remove the stem end, which will act as a cap, making sure you scrape off any seeds or pulp.
- Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp from inside the pumpkin. Hold the spoon by its bowl to get extra leverage while scooping.
- Draw a pattern for the face on the clean pumpkin with a felt-tip pen, or scribe the lines into the skin using a pencil. Be sure to make the eyes, nose and mouth large enough; you'll have a hard time cutting out tiny features when you're using a big knife blade to saw through tough skin.
- Follow your pattern as you cut all the way through the pumpkin.
- Push the cut-out features gently from the inside of the pumpkin and discard the pieces.
- Place a votive candle inside the pumpkin to create an eerie glow.
Avoid leaving burning candles unattended.
Working with any sharp tools should always be done with adult supervision.