6 Smart Hacks for Better Pumpkin Carving

If you're cutting the top off your pumpkin, you're doing it wrong.

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Up Your Carving Game

Carving a pumpkin is a Halloween tradition we'd never skip. But that doesn't mean we'd shy away from improving our jack-o'-lantern routine. These helpful hacks and creative techniques will help you make the carving process easier (and prettier!) this year.

Don't Remove the Top — Remove the Bottom

Convential wisdom will have you carve a circle around the stem of the pumpkin to open it up. But whose idea was that? Cut a hole out of bottom instead — use a tall bowl to steady the pumpkin while you do it. When you do it this way, you can place a votive candle right on your porch or windowsill, and lower the pumpkin over it. This means the candle doesn't have to rest on the uneven interior of the gourd — and you don't have to reach inside the pumpkin to light it!

See how easy? Just don't make the bottom cut-out too large, and the pumpkin will keep its spherical shape.

Trade the Candle for Fairy Lights

Skip the flaming, drippy candle. Instead, fill a mason jar with battery-powered LED lights and place it inside your jack-o'-lantern. You'll get all the glow without the heat.

Bust the Guts with a Drill and a Beater

Scooping out a pumpkin's seeds and stringy flesh can be a slow and slimy job. To make quick work (and less mess), grab a beater from your hand mixer and attach it to a drill. Whirl it around inside the pumpkin — it will grab and loosen all guts so you can just dump them into the compost. Got stragglers? An ice cream scoop is sturdier and deeper than a spoon, so it'll grab any lingering bits in a flash.

Use Cookie Cutters to Carve Words and Shapes

Not feeling so savvy at freehand carving? Let cookie cutters do the artistic heavy-lifting. You'll need a hammer or a mallet to help punch the cutters into the pumpkin.

Toothpicks keep the "negative space" cut-outs in place and add to the scary, rickety look. Or use toothpicks to turn the pumpkin pieces into a 3D design — like our ghost, who looks like he's flying away to escape!

A Drill Can Make a Polka-Dot Pattern

Sometimes you need a power tool to do a pretty job. And it takes basically zero effort to drill holes through the pumpkin — no carving calluses here! Make a deliberate pattern or take an ad-hoc approach; either way, the effect will look striking when it's lit up.

Use a few drill bits in different sizes for a graphic effect. On this pumpkin, a 1-inch hole-saw bit created the flawless larger circles.

Skip the Carving Completely

If you're not one for wading through pumpkin guts and wielding a sharp knife for the sake of holiday decor, you can still make a glowing Halloween presentation. Glow-in-the-dark paint looks great after the sun's been hitting your porch pumpkin all day — or buy black light bulb to really make the pumpkin pop at a party.

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