Whether you buy the kit with all the “tools” or you are just using a regular kitchen knife, think safety first.
Pumpkin carving workstation prep
Create a spot to carve. You’ll want a no-slip surface with plenty of light, as well as an area easy enough for kids to access.
An adult should be the only person using the sharp tools. If you are going to decorate with paint, glitter, or glue, make sure to protect your workstation and use craft supplies that are non-toxic.
Now that’s a knife!
Instead of grabbing a big ol’ knife from the kitchen in your gusto to create a killer Jack-o-lantern, choose a smaller one with a serrated blade. It will be much easier to manipulate, and the serrated edge will help you carve through the thick wall better.
Remember to point the blade away from you as much as possible to avoid any accidents if the knife slips.
Once you’ve cut open your pumpkin, getting rid of insides can be a messy ordeal. Use a simple slotted spoon to help you scoop out the innards. If you weren’t saving them, make sure to put them directly into a recycled plastic grocery bag or bowl to keep everyone from slipping on the goo, or getting on anyone’s clothing
You can also remove the seeds, clean and dry them to toast later.
Recipe: Twinkle’s Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Let there be light
You want the pumpkin to shine as long as it can, so opt for some battery-powered LED lights instead of a candle. Eliminating the fire element is also safer for everyone involved, since leaving pumpkins out on the porch during this season can be quite unpredictable.
Wrap a string of white or colorful LED lights around a soup can, removing any bits of label or glue, and place inside your carved pumpkin masterpiece.
If you want to skip the carving all together, gather some paints and create some masterpieces. Kids will love this alternative, and it will be easier for them to personalize their own pumpkin. Add a splash of glitter or glue on some wiggly eyes and you've got some great pumpkin art.
Liam and his amazing painted pumpkins. (Photo courtesy of Claire Mischker)
Twinkle VanWinkle has more than 22 years of professional cooking under her apron strings, feeding thousands of friends, family and other folks. She baked apple pies for the “Oprah Winfrey Show” and has appeared on Food Network's “The Best Of...” Along with producing dynamic lifestyle content for LIN Media, she is a mother, urban gardener, chef, musician and social media fanatic.
GRAM Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in front of a festive downtown crowd at Rosa Parks Circle Friday night.
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