Tips for Your Halloween

Tips for Your Halloween:
Pumpkin Carving Made Easy

Pumpkin carving is a hallmark of Halloween, and it’s one of our favorite ways to celebrate the holiday. In this pumpkin carving guide, we’ll lead off with a few safety tips, and then break down seven steps for a successful squash sculpting session.

Safety Tips

  • Use the right tools. Carving with dull, flimsy blades is a recipe for disaster. Victorinox cutlery is designed to take on the toughest tasks in the kitchen, and it’s perfect for carving pumpkins, too!
  • Make sure your workspace is clean and dry. Wet tools, hands, or countertops might cause slippage, which can lead to injury.
  • While there are fun, family-friendly steps, we recommend that an adult handles the carving itself, since the tools required are sharp.
  • Jack-o’-lanterns might look best in the dark, but we recommend you always carve in a well-lit area for safety’s sake.
  • Use an electric tea light rather than a candle to reduce risk of a fire.

Step 1: Pick Out the Perfect Pumpkin

The first step is one of our favorites: pick out the perfect pumpkin! Whether you decide to peruse a pumpkin patch or head to your local supermarket, the options are endless: short and fat, tall and skinny, long stem or short, the list goes on and on! While overall size and shape don’t matter, here are two recommendations:

  • Select a pumpkin without bruises or soft, rotting parts—this will make the carving much more pleasant, and the final product will last longer.
  • Look for a pumpkin with a flat bottom, so it won’t wobble while carving or tip over once your masterpiece is complete.

Step 2: Prepare Your Workspace

Carving a pumpkin is inevitably a messy endeavor, so clear a large workspace on the kitchen counter or table. If you are concerned about the surface, old newspaper is the perfect protection, and it also facilitates easy cleanup. If newspaper isn’t enough of an insurance policy (trust us, we get it), consider relocating to the porch for an alfresco arts and crafts session.

What you'll need
  • Pumpkin
  • Large bread knife or carving knife
  • Paring knife (can be straight-edged or serrated)
  • Large spoon or ice cream scoop
  • Large bowl (optional)
  • Cutting Board, newspaper or other covering to protect work surface (optional)
  • Candle (a tea light or LED tea light)

Step 3: The First Cut

The most traditional lid is on top of the pumpkin. Using a Carving Knife or Bread Knife, carve a circle around the stem. A couple of pro tips: cut on an angle so that your lid will sit on the rim rather than fall straight through. You can also cut a notch into the lid so that it naturally slides back into the correct position.

Alternatively, you can cut a hole into the bottom of the pumpkin. This allows you to simply light the candle and set the pumpkin over it, and it also prevents the sides of the pumpkin from caving in—a worthwhile consideration if you plan to display your magnum opus for many nights. This technique does require extra care, as it’s easy to break off the stem while cutting. Not to mention, the pumpkin will be on its side and can easily roll. Before you make the cut, make sure you have a steady, secure grip and your hands and the pumpkin are both dry to avoid slippage. You may need to use the knife to pry and wiggle the bottom out once you have finished cutting.

Step 4: Hollow out the Pumpkin

Now comes the fun part for the kids! Use a large spoon or ice cream scoop to clean out the stringy pulp and seeds. Put it into a large bowl to make cleanup easy. Have your little helpers scrape the walls so that only the hard flesh of the pumpkin is left.

Pro tip: Don’t chuck those seeds in the trash—they belong in the oven! Clean the seeds, sprinkle with salt, toss with a little melted butter, and roast for 45 minutes at 300. Pumpkin carving is hard work—you and your carving crew have earned a snack. Bon Appetit!

Step 5: Pick and Prick Your Design

Just like picking a pumpkin, there are endless options to choose from when it comes to design, and it really comes down to personal preference. You can either draw your design by hand directly on the pumpkin with a felt tip marker, or print out a design (we have a few templates below) and transfer it to your pumpkin by taping the paper in place and then using the pin or reamer from one of our Swiss Army Knives, the needle-sharp point of a Victorinox paring knife, or even a fork to prick the design onto the pumpkin. Remove the paper and voila! You are left with a constellation of dots that map out exactly where you need to cut.

Step 6: Carving Crunch Time

This is the big moment, the one you’ve been waiting for: carving time! We recommend using a paring knife and cutting straight up and down versus on an angle. For more intricate areas, it’s often easier to make larger, rough cuts and then go back in to add a detailed edge afterwards. Go slow and remember: you can always cut more, but you can't add more back if you cut off too much by accident!

Step 7: Light it Up!

It’s time to shine—and show off your jack-o’-lantern! Traditionally, jack-o’-lanterns have been lit with candles, but we recommend using an LED tea light instead. Not only is it safer, but you also won’t have to worry about the flame getting blown out by the wind or dying before the end of the night.

Regardless, congratulations on a job well done, and Happy Halloween from all of us here at Victorinox!