Pick your pumpkins early in the season for best selection.
Carve pumpkins a week or two before Halloween if you want your jack-o’-lantern to last until trick-or-treating festivities.
Little gourds are great for little hands and easy pumpkin crafts.
For perfect jack-o’-lanterns, look for larger pumpkins with semi-flat surfaces and a stable bottom.
Make sure pumpkins are free of soft spots and their stems are thick and strong.
- Tarp, newspaper or garbage bag
- Multi-purpose cleaner or bleach-water solution and paper towels
- Sturdy ice cream scoop
- Stickers, washable markers and toothpicks (to keep delicate designs together)
- Masking or painter’s tape
- Bowl for pumpkin guts (and to save seeds, if desired)
- Pumpkin-carving knives (keep an extra set on hand as they tend to bend and break easily)
- Battery-operated candles
Lay out a tarp, newspaper or a garbage bag on your work surface of choice.
Spray the outside of the pumpkin with a multi-purpose cleaner and wipe it clean. A bleach-water solution (1 quart water + 1 tbsp. bleach) would also work. This helps to kill mold spores and extend the life of your pumpkin creation.
Cut off the top or bottom of the pumpkin and scoop out the guts. We have found that a sturdy ice cream scoop works well.
Once the pumpkin is clean and dry, free draw your design with a washable marker, or tape down your printed PBS KIDS character template with masking or painters tape.