How to Carve a Pumpkin Like a Pro
The end of October is the time of easy Halloween costumes and Halloween movies on Netflix, but this spooky time of year is also famous for its pumpkins. Picking pumpkins is fun—but learning how to carve a pumpkin and turn these orange gourds into works of art is next-level. Whether you're using pumpkin carving stencils or going free-hand to display one of your favorite Halloween quotes on a pumpkin, knowing how to carve a pumpkin, as well as any expert, is key to a gripping Halloween display.
The first step to learning how to carve a convincing jack-o'-lantern actually starts at the pumpkin patch (or your local store). Set yourself up for carving success by selecting a pumpkin in its prime. Choose one with an intact stem—the greener the better.
"The stem is the lifeline to the pumpkin, providing moisture and nutrients even after it's been cut from the vine," says Marc Evan, of Maniac Pumpkin Carvers. "A missing stem or one that's brown and brittle means your pumpkin won't last as long."
Keep your uncarved pumpkin out of direct sunlight and as cool as possible, and don't carve it until right before your Halloween party or the big night itself. While an intact pumpkin can easily last a month or more, once you carve it, you're looking at a life expectancy of as little as three days to maybe three weeks. "It is a piece of fruit," Evan says. (For maximum longevity, he stores pumpkins—carved or not—wrapped in plastic wrap in a cool basement or refrigerator when not on display.)
Here, Evan and expert Tom Nardone of ExtremePumpkins.com offer their simple tips for learning how to carve a pumpkin. See the steps of pumpkin carving below, or scroll to the bottom for a handy visual guide to carving a pumpkin.
RELATED: How Long Do Carved Pumpkins Last?
How to carve a pumpkin
See a bigger version of this guide to how to carve a pumpkin; illustration by Libby VanderPloeg