Lovely pumpkins. They're to Halloween what Christmas trees are to Christmas. The annual scary season just wouldn't be the same without them. Just like Halloween costumes, you can't celebrate Halloween without one! Check out our Halloween inspiration section for the best Halloween ideas! So let's start with a bit of a history lesson. Why is it that we mutilate this lovely orange-coloured vegetable into a demonic-looking DIY lamp for Halloween?
Well, actually the tradition for pumpkin carving originated with the ‘Jack O' Lantern' in Ireland hundreds of years ago. Except back then, they carved potatoes or turnips. It wasn't until Irish immigrants arrived in America and realised that pumpkins were much cooler to carve, that the tradition was firmly established. Now we all patiently scoop out the fleshy orangeness and make our own modern day Jack O'Lanterns and some of us make some really nice soup with the innards to help get us through the post Halloween party hangover (if you haven't tried it, you really should).
History lesson over, let's get to the carving. The other reason we all do it is because it's serious fun. Whether you're carving with the kids, preparing for a party, or competing with your pals to see who can come up with the best design, there's many a laugh to be had.
When you're choosing your pumpkin, number one priority is finding one that's a nice even shape and looks like it's going to be easy to carve into. Selecting a small pumpkin might cost less and seem like it's going to demand less manpower but actually you're buying into a false economy and a lot of fiddling and possibly a severed finger. Teeny weeny pumpkins are harder to carve. Fact. And unless your carving skills are on a par with Jack The Ripper, the end result can look a bit disappointing. Basically as with so many things in this life, the bigger your pumpkin, the more impressed your friends are likely to be.
The standard triangle-shaped pumpkin face features always deliver. But pumpkin carving connoisseurs will be quick to tell you that there is an ever- increasingly trend for much more ambitious pumpkin designs. A quick surf on the Internet will confirm this and what you discover will either intimidate or inspire you to pumpkin greatness.
If you do go for the straight up scary face, you can always make it a bit more personal by adding a little hat, by drawing on a comedy goatee, or by using a red or green torchlight inside (instead of a candle) to show off your skill for special effects.
Create a sculptural masterpiece, and you could have people talking (in admiration) for months after the party's over. The best way to achieve this is to cheat. The internet is full of super-cool pumpkin carving stencils – most of them are free but you may have to pay a small fee for some of the really arty ones. Pumpkin Pile is not a bad place to start your search.
If you're throwing a party, get your guests to carve their own pumpkin and bring it along, then you can fill the house with a host of ghoulish lanterns and make everyone compete for a grand prize. Multiple pumpkin lanterns will look pretty cool and save loads of decorating time, freeing you up to spend more time on the even more important Halloween punch.