How to Carve a Pumpkin into a Kick-ass Jack-o-Lantern

Halloween has always been a bone of contention in Australia, especially when it comes to the subject of trick or treating. There are basically 2 camps you can fall into…

Pro-Halloween Camp
โ€œAh its a bit of fun for the kids, as long as they’re supervised and don’t cause a nuisance then where’s the harm?โ€

Anti Halloween Camp
โ€œBloody American nonsense it’s bloody taking over we don’t want bloody kids roaming around the bloody neighbourhood we never did it when we were kids and it never bloody hurt us bah humbug straya mate. โ€

As you may have guessed I’m from the Pro-Halloween camp, but I didn’t used to let the boys go trick or treating in case people DID think they were a nuisance.

Then about three years ago an American family moved into our street.

They quickly instituted a new tradition of dropping a note in everyone’s letterbox inviting those who were keen to participate in Halloween to tie a couple of orange and black balloons (conveniently sticky-taped to the note) on your letter-box to show you were up for it.

It works like a charm. Heaps of houses in our street get involved – in fact it’s turned into a major neighbourhood event! And those that don’t want to be involved are left in peace so everyone is happy.

But even if you don’t live in a Halloween-friendly street there’s no reason you can’t get into the spooky spirit at home.

So why not try your hand at carving your very own Jack-o-Lantern? Its the ULTIMATE in spooky decorations and now that both Coles and Woolworths sell the big orange pumpkins there’s really no reason not to!

Here’s a few we did last year…

Halloween pumpkins

Now I’d like to take credit for the lot but in fairness Brook carved pumpkins 2, 3 and 4 which are arguably the more complicated designs. There are definitely perks to being married to a chef and exceptional knife skills is one of them!

But in the last 3 years of pumpkin carving I have learned a few tricks myself and have picked up a few more from the scouting around on the internet.

So here are my tips on how to carve a pumpkin into a kick-ass Jack-o-lantern…

1. Get a sharp knife and cut a hole around the stalk – its got to be big enough to get your hand into but not too big

2. Scoop out all the seeds and flesh with a metal spoon – if you have kids this is a good bit to get them to do. Then you need to scrape as much of the stringy flesh from the inside of the pumpkin as possible. This can be tiring and time-consuming so you’ll probably need to do this bit unless the kids are older.

Halloween pumpkin guts

3. Draw your design – grab a coloured texta and draw your design straight on to the pumpkin. The great part about this is that is you make a mistake or don’t like what you’ve done you can simply wipe it off!

Pumpkin design

If you don’t rate your drawing skills you can download any number of templates from the internet. Print it off and then cut out the eyes, mouth etc and use this as a guide to draw on the pumpkin.

4. Nail it! Get a nail and carefully prick the pumpkin skin along the lines of your design. This allows you to wipe off the texta and still be left with a clear outline to carve to.

Pumpkin pricking

Pumpkin 3

5. Get carving – take your knife and carve along the dotted lines. I like to use a smallish vegetable or paring knife for this bit as I find it’s easier to control but that’s just me.

6. Keep it fresh – when you’re finished give it a spray on the inside with some bathroom cleaner or bleach. This kills bacteria which can cause the pumpkin to rot. Then just keep it in a cool dry place like the pantry cupboard until you need it.

And there you have it – a spooky Jack-o-lantern to make your house look a fright this Halloween!

If you have a go at carving a Jack-o-lantern I’d love to see it.

If you’d like to share your pumpkin pics just tag me on Instagram @rachel_ourtownbrisbane or post it on the Our Town Brisbane Facebook page. We can make our own spooky pumpkin patch!

dark pumpkin

Rachel - Ed

About Rachel

Thirty-something Brisbane lover, trying to find the balance between FOMO and YOLO. Semi-retired party girl who loves planning itineraries for big nights out. Often found dragging 3 boys around your local farmers markets or attempting to sneak out for dinner with my husband, The Chef.

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15 Responses to “How to Carve a Pumpkin into a Kick-ass Jack-o-Lantern”

  1. Robyna @ theMummyandtheMinx Reply

    We made ours on the weekend. We love it and I am also firmly in the pro-Halloween camp. Will tag you on insta!

    • Rachel - Ed
      Rachel - Ed Reply

      Thanks Robyna! My god your hubby definitely has a way with pumpkins – we may have to up our game this year… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. MARGARET Reply

    Good work Rachael!! We have had a lot of fun over the years, with Amy’s birthday on Halloween!! Must remember to buy sweets for the trick or treaters!! There seems to be a resurgence in popularity with the kids in our area, usually accompanied by their Mums.

    • Rachel - Ed
      Rachel - Ed Reply

      Hey Margaret! Lovely to hear from you. Yes I remember Amy having spooky themed birthdays – they were cool! I do go round with my boys just to make sure they behave themselves lol.

  3. I hate to be a party pooper but halloween just isn’t for us. I end up spending all month trying to save my kids from being scared by the hideously scary costumes and posters and paraphenalia and then had to try to explain to my daughter why anyone would want to take ‘candy from a stranger’ and why you would be mean and scare them and why it is ok to trick someone because they didn’t give you what you wanted. I am happy for others to do it but its just all too much for our household. I like the idea of the balloons on the letterbox to show who’s up for it or not. And these pumpkins do look like fun. It might be a way to get my girls involved without exposing them to the rest of it.

    • Rachel - Ed
      Rachel - Ed Reply

      I totally get your view Malinda – and prior to the semi-organised event happening in our street I never let mine go either. The tricks tend not to be too much of an issue thank goodness! And yes I think that getting a pumpkin for home is a good way to have a bit of fun without any of the concerns you mentioned. Just buy some lollies and you can have your own Halloween party in your back yard!

  4. Haha! I went the whole ‘Halloween’ angle this week as well. And my kids asked me to do a pumpkin but the little buggers only wanted a tiny one. So now I’ve got to try and carve two pumpkins about the size of cricket balls. I have no idea how I’m going to light the buggers!

    (In other news… move to Brisbane in the works… eventually!)

    • Rachel - Ed
      Rachel - Ed Reply

      We have the little ones too! they are tricky to carve but they are good because the kids get involved and help you scrape out the seeds etc. which is a bit harder from them to do with the big ones. Tea light candles are the perfect size to fit in them (and you can pick them up cheap from the $2 shop!).

      Let me know if you guys come down to the Big Smoke – even for a visit. We’d love to show you around ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I always wondered how they kept nice for so long. I once left a pumpkin piece in the back of the fridge…it was not pretty lol!

    Thanks for linking up with us at The Lounge!

  6. Would you believe I have a mate who grew these pumpkins for market one year? I seem to remember the seed cost him bucketloads. I wonder if you could save a few and grow your own for next year?

    • Rachel - Ed
      Rachel - Ed Reply

      Damn! The pumpkin seeds are long gone unfortunately ๐Ÿ™ I reckon it wouldn’t be a bad thing to grow if you had some spare land around that time – the market is growing every year.

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