Pumpkin carving is a must-do activity this time of year. The thing is, carving pumpkins is a lot harder than it looks. Pumpkins are some tough squash, and carving designs into their hard surface is no easy task. Not to mention, you have to clean out their guts, too (we suggest using an ice cream scooper for this part!). It’s a lot of work. This year, we decided to research ways to make the whole pumpkin carving process easier. We found some awesome tips we’re excited to share, many of which extend beyond simple carving hacks. Check out the best jack-o-lantern hacks we found, below.
Use Cookie Cutters
One of the coolest jack-o-lantern hacks we’ve tried is to use cookie cutters. Instead of using a knife to carve out your pumpkin, you can rely on cookie cutters and a mallet to create your dream jack-o-lantern. You’ll want to choose sturdy metal cookie cutters, not the plastic kind. The dollar store is a good place to go for Halloween-themed cookie cutters. You can also find them in the kitchen and home goods stores. Here’s what to do: After you clean off your pumpkin, firmly press a cookie cutter into the pumpkin skin. Take a mallet and tap the cookie cutter so that it pierces through the pumpkin, carving out your desired shape. Remove the cut-out once you’re done to reveal your spooky creation.
Bust Out The Drill
There are certain jack-o-lantern designs that call for lots of holes. No matter the size of the hole you’re trying to create, using a knife to carve out a perfect circle in your pumpkin skin can difficult (to say the least). You can simplify the process by grabbing your drill and letting it do the dirty work. Depending on the size of the holes you want in your pumpkin, you can switch out our drill bits accordingly.
Use Petroleum Jelly
Once October arrives, we’re ready for all-things-Halloween. The problem is, if you carve a pumpkin at the start of the month, it’s going to turn into a rotten mess by the time Halloween rolls around. Sure, you could wait a couple of weeks before creating a jack-o-lantern, but what’s the fun in that? If you want to start carving early, you can use petroleum jelly to help prolong your pumpkin’s life. By rubbing petroleum on the freshly carved edges, you’ll lock in the pumpkin’s natural moisture and prolong your jack-o-lantern’s lifetime.
Spray With Bleach
Here’s another pumpkin preservation tip, which was inspired by reader @bokehliciousness on Instagram. Before carving into your pumpkin, do this: create a bleach solution by mixing bleach and water together in a spray bottle (1 part bleach to 10 parts water). Spray your pumpkin down with the solution, then get to carving. You can give your pumpkins a little touch-up with the spray bottle every day to help extend their preserve them even longer.
Swap String Lights
No jack-o-lantern is complete without some kind of light to illuminate its center. Lit candles are the traditional method, but a similar look can be achieved with string lights, without the fire hazard risk. Dig out some clear Christmas lights a little or early, or buy a cheap box of string lights, and bunch them together before placing them inside your pumpkin.
Sprinkle With Cinnamon
This might be our favorite out of all the jack-o-lantern hacks we came across. Once your pumpkin creation is complete, it’s time for the best part — sitting and admiring your glowing creation! If you want to enjoy your jack-o-lantern inside your apartment, here’s a little bonus tip to excite your sense: Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on the base of your pumpkin’s “lid.” Make sure there isn’t any cinnamon at the bottom of your pumpkin because it can be flammable. Light a small candle (we like using tea candles) and put the lid back on your pumpkin. In only a few minutes, your apartment will start smelling like pumpkin spice.