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Halloween Budget Tip: Carve Pumpkins with Household Tools

10 of 12 in Series: The Essentials of Halloween Parties

Pumpkin-carving kits are convenient, but if you don't have one, then use household tools. Carving Halloween pumpkins with tools you have at home is budget-smart. It's just as fun, and you'll get the same great results. If you don't have something on this list of equipment, then borrow it. When you return the tools, include a small jack o' lantern as a thank you!

  • Punching tool: Use a nail or an ice pick to punch out your design.

  • Boning knife: Carefully use this long, thin-bladed knife to cut the opening and any large pieces out of the pumpkin

  • Paring knife: Sharpen up a small paring knife to carve detail work.

  • Small serrated knife: You'll want to use a serrated knife in a sawing motion to chunk out pieces requiring a little elbow grease. For smaller areas, try using a serrated steak knife.

  • Craft knife: A craft knife works well for carving out intricate pattern work.

  • Gutting tools: Use a large ice cream scoop or spoon to scrape out the insides of the pumpkin.

  • Large bowl: Use a bowl to scoop seeds and pumpkin slime into. You can separate the seeds for toasting later.

  • Candles, candle holders, and lighters: Fireplace matches or candle lighters, prevent you from burning your fingers when trying to light the candles inside the pumpkin. Battery-operated votive candles are a great alternative to regular candles.

  • Newspaper: Use newspaper to protect your work surface areas and to absorb pumpkin juice or any spills you may have.

  • Tape: You'll want to tape your patterns to the surface of the pumpkin and will need more than you think as you go along.

  • Petroleum jelly: To make your carved pumpkin last longer, smooth a bit of this magical jelly on the cut edges (even the inside of the pumpkin!) to seal in the moisture and prevent rapid deterioration or mold.

  • Patterns: Picking a pattern for your pumpkin is one of the hardest decisions to make. Here are a few ways you can design your own pattern.

    Drawing: You can draw your pattern with a nonpermanent black magic marker and directly on the face of your pumpkin or draw your design on a clean sheet of paper and tape it to the face of the pumpkin.

    Painting: If you've previously painted your pumpkin, simply carve out elements of your design.

    Stenciling: If you like a very tailored, precise look, use stencils.

    Cookie cutters: Metal cookie cutters and other vegetable garnishing tools can come in handy for making patterns. Place your cutter on the pumpkin and gently tap it with a mallet until the cutter scores the flesh. Then you can carve the design out using your regular carving tools.

    Computer art: Design and print your pattern using your computer. If you have a graphics program, you can have a lot of fun turning photos into black and white patterns, or simply search online for pumpkin carving patterns. There are many free, downloadable designs to choose from!

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