Halloween is on its way, the leaves are falling, and pumpkins are filling up patios and decks around the dream-home properties here at The Preserve.

So, alas, it is time to prepare for every sweet tooth’s favorite holiday. That means pumpkin carving time! Grab your best carving knife, grab your best pumpkin, and let’s get down and dirty. Here’s how to pick the best pumpkin, the best knife (stay safe kids!!!), and the best tactics for carving your squash (did you know that pumpkins are a squash plant?).

dreamstime_xxl_16226000How to Pick the Ultimate Pumpkin

The right pumpkin may be the shiniest pumpkin. It may be the biggest pumpkin. It may be the pumpkin that is the most orange, most round beauty in all of the pumpkin patch. It’s the pumpkin that speaks to you. It’s the pumpkin with the wicked curly handle, a weird “birth mark” on the side, a dent, and pock marks that’ll make the perfect witches face. There are no wrong pumpkins (except for the rotting ones… “Leave that one on the ground Jacob!”). At the end of the day, the right pumpkin picks you. It speaks to you. It has that little bit of a glow, and it catches the light in just the right way. Find a pumpkin that unleashes your creative spirit. Your spirit animal may be a duck-billed platypus, but your spirit squash is, undoubtedly, this pumpkin.

Pick the Right Tool for the Job!

pumpkin1Now that you’ve found the perfect pumpkin, it’s on to the right knife for the job. It goes without saying, but BE CAUTIOUS! Knives are sharp, and children are clumsy. Take every precaution you can before you carve (keep a first aid kit ready!), and monitor your child or children closely as they carve. If you have young children, you can have them draw on the pumpkin, and then you can carve it for them (Use a Sharpie, they’re perfect for pumpkins, but remember, they will leave a permanent mark on your clothes.).

OK, now it’s time to look for a good knife. You can opt for one of those little red knives that they sell at the party store, but those tiny guys are pretty flimsy, and they can do just as much damage as any other knife. Instead, I’d find a sturdy, thin, small steak knife that’s serrated. A serrated edge will make carving much easier for your children or yourself. If you don’t have any steak knives that fit the bill, take a quick trip to the local thrift store, they’re sure to have a jamboree of steak knives that you can probably buy for less than a buck. Once you’ve found the perfect apparatus for carving and cutting, it’s on to Pumpkin Tactics 101…

Pumpkin Tactics 101

dreamstime_xxl_6550655Carving a pumpkin can be broken down into three major phases: Punkin’ Preppin’, Cuttin’ & Guttin’, and by far the least fun part, Cleaning Up. Let’s break it down:

Punkin’ Preppin’

Step one: Pick the least expensive surface in your home. Stick to the floor unless you’re willing to sacrifice your table to guck and goo (If you do choose to use your table, know that some pumpkin innards are bound to end up on the floor as well.). Epoxy-coated concrete is ideal. Laminate flooring is second-best. Hardwood flooring is an OK option. Steer clear of carpet, that’s absurd. Got it? OK.

Step two: Lay out the Sunday newspaper. You’re going to want several sheets of the stuff to ensure that your floor (or table if you’re that bold) stays dry and goo-free. Tape down the edges with painter’s tape to keep your newsprint from flying away in the fury of carving. Give your kids and yourself plenty of room. When seeds are flying through the air, you want to be sure that there are a few articles to catch the mess.

Step three: Get a big bowl or a trash can for the gloopy gloppy mess in the middle of your pumpkins. If you’re saving seeds to bake, set aside another bowl to separate the mixture.

Step four: Draw. Pull out Sharpies and permanent markers to map out your original designs.

Cuttin’ & Guttin’

Have your knives prepared and a few spoons ready for scooping? Good. Then you’re ready to start. Cuttin’ your pumpkin starts, of course, with the lid. Cut inward at an angle so that your lid won’t fall in the hole you’re creating. Then, cut a wedge out of the lid to allow for airflow (this will keep your candle burning); a square inch wedge oughta do the trick.

Next, it’s time to scrape out the guts of your pumpkin by the spoonful. You can be pretty aggressive to get all the innards out. Protip: it’s easiest to hold the spoon near the head instead of the handle to get a bit more leverage as you scrape against the walls. Work from the top of the pumpkin to the base. Once you’re to the bottom, scrape out a nice flat spot to place your candle; otherwise it might tip and blow out.

Cleaning Up (*booooooooo*)dreamstime_xxl_58256353

Put the kids to bed, and get ready for the clean up of a lifetime. Take care of goop that’s been sprayed on the walls, the table, and/or the floors first. If you let it dry it can leave a stain. Next, it’s time to get a heavy-duty trash bag to contain all of the punkin’ debris. Trust me, you don’t want wet slime scattered all over the floor because you banged the bag into the corner of the wall on the way out to the dumpster. Once everything’s picked up, give the room one more scan. You’re sure to find at least one bit of goop or a pumpkin seed.

Phew! Now it’s time to hit the hay yourself. Your pumpkins will be ready for their candlelit debut tomorrow evening. Thanks for reading folks, and join us soon for more articles from The Preserve; our dream home lots give you and yours a vacation home that you can enjoy for life!