Below is a step-by-step guide. Or you may find the templates and guide here at Coastal Living.
Gather the Tools
These tools are the pumpkin carver’s best secret. Not all are required, but they make the experience easier and more enjoyable. For fresh pumpkins, use wood carving tools to cut the outline and dig out the design. Find them in the hardware section of home improvement centers.
- Tape: for fixing template to pumpkin.
- Push pin: to poke the outline in the pumpkin.
- Rotary tool with bits for carving and sanding: use this to etch and sand out the center of the design.
- Drill with several bits: for simple circles like the fish eye and octopus suckers.
- Utility knife or saw: for carving the bottom hole.
- Flashlight or battery operated candle: for illuminating faux pumpkins.
- Paint pen: to correct mistakes.
- Eye goggles and mask: to protect eyes and lungs from particles and fine dust.
Pick a Pumpkin
For these designs, pumpkins should be smooth with minimal ridges. The anchor design works best on a tall pumpkin while the skeleton fish is best on a short, squatty one. If carving a fresh pumpkin, make sure it’s firm and disease-free. Heavy fresh pumpkin signal thick walls which can block some of the light. Make sure the pumpkin is balanced and not wobbly.
Fresh or FauxPurists go for fresh pumpkins and it’s a great tradition to follow. They have a warm and earthy aroma when illuminated with candles. They start to decompose within a week; display in a cool shady area.
Faux pumpkin fans prefer the fake ones primarily because they last from season to season. They are also lightweight.
Purchase them year-round at funkins.com or buy in-season at craft stores or large retail chains