Carving a pumpkin: tips from a serious amateur

Tips for carving a pumpkin at halloween

1. Remember pumpkins are heavy.

You can't carry a large pumpkin and your weekly food shop all in one go, no matter how strong you think you are. Pumpkins aren't light little fellas. Order a cab, he'll be totally worth it :)

2. Spend as long as you like choosing your pumpkin

Who gives a crap if there's 10 people fighting for a look in at the pumpkin section in Tesco. It takes time to choose the perfect pumpkin for you. Think about where you want to position his face. Is the pumpkin evenly rounded? Is there a smooth, flat skin on at least one half of the fruit? Does he stand up okay when placed on a flat surface? All totally valid questions to ask yourself when making the purchase of a lifetime. Choose wisely and don't feel pressured by rushed shoppers.

Tips for carving a pumpkin at halloween

Tips for carving a pumpkin at halloween

3. Get the right tools for the job

For the general cutting I used a steak knife (wa-wa-waaaaaa *sad trombone sound*) obviously an epic fail. If you've got the cash to splash buy a pumpkin carver. Also grab one of OXO's Good grips 2 piece fruit scoop sets. They have a sharp edge which eases the pressure needed to hollow it out. I couldn't have done it without mine. You also wanna make sure you have a sharpie, to mark out where you're cutting, and a bowl to collect all the gunk & flesh.

4. Start from the top of his head

Carve a 10cm diameter hole around the stem to dig out his innards. Watch out, the edge of the hole can get really tough, and sharp. If you have delicate hands like me and want to seriously impress any onlookers, grab a pair of gloves, any gloves. Protect those mitts from getting all red and sore when your repeatedly spooning.

Tips for carving a pumpkin at halloween

Tips for carving a pumpkin at halloween

5. When hollowing him out, dig out as much flesh as your arm strength can cope with

If you take any tip from this amateur article, let it be this. Don't be lazy when it comes to hollowing out your pumpkin. If you think you've taken off enough of the flesh inside, take more off. The thinner you make him, the easier his face will be to carve and the more intricate you can be with the design. Of course, don't go making it too thin or you run the risk of him imploding :(

6. Google 'cute pumpkin designs'

The best part of the process. Yeah, yeah, halloween's supposed to be scary. But if you want to carve a pumpkin cat, you go right ahead and do that. I chose to carve a smiley vamp. Yay.

Tips for carving a pumpkin at halloween

Tips for carving a pumpkin at halloween

7. Draw out his face onto A4 first

Once you peel yourself away from that google image search, (no, you'll never be as good at pumpkin carving as this so man up) draw out your simple design onto A4 first to use as a template. Those carvers who try to cut out a face without ANY guidance in place, you're brave, very brave.

8. Use photo mounting adhesive to position his face

I wouldn't go buying this especially, but if you have any lying around, or double sided sticky tape lurking in cupboards left unused, use it to stick the template face on to the pumpkin ready for cutting.

9. Make a silly gif of him taking shape

A total MUST.

Tips for carving a pumpkin at halloween

10. Give your pumpkin a name

And hey presto, you're done! Meet Gary.

Tips for carving a pumpkin at halloween

Send me your pumpkin pictures on twitter! I'm @fifimcgeee

P.s thanks to Neil W Shaw Photography, for taking snaps and "supervising"