Kid-Friendly Pumpkin Carving
by Rob Sproule
Forget ghouls. Carving pumpkins with little kids can be the scariest thing about Halloween. With 3 boys in it, my house doubled as a wolf-den and, thinking back, I can only shudder at the sticky orange mess we would have wallpapered the kitchen with when carving time came around.
There are also less frustrating ways. Pumpkin carving, exacting and unforgiving of mistakes as it is, doesn’t always blend well with fragile young egos. Swinging giant knives around isn’t the most kid-friendly activity, either.
Here are some tips for how to include the little ones in carving and make the family pumpkin something that they can contribute to and be proud of. There are countless other options online, but here are a few of my favourites.
Cookie Cutter Carving
You don’t need a knife to enjoy a carved pumpkin. For the family-friendly idea, Mom or Dad will need to dig out the pumpkin before-hand. Gutted and cleaned, it’s time to bring in the kids.
Dig out the old metal cookie cutters from the back of the baking cupboard; the ones shapes like doggies and stars. Make sure they’re strong and don’t use the good ones, as they’ll probably get bent out of shape.
The kids can be the designers, deciding what shapes to use and where to put them. Press the cutter into the pumpkin, making sure to push on all sides equally. Get the kids to help, keeping in mind that you may eventually need a mallet to tap the cutter in.
If you want to take it up a notch, you can buy halloween-specific cookie cutters, made for pumpkins (or order them online). Use the shapes you cut out to decorate halloween platters and food trays.
Flowers before Zombies
If your little one spooks easy and you want to cut back on the scariness factor, turn ghouls into flowers by digging out just enough of your pumpkin to fit a vase into the top (or a tin can, as no one is going to see it). Fit it with water and cut flowers of your choice.
Make sure there’s no un-contained water in the pumpkin, especially if you’re leaving it inside. It will rot through surprisingly fast and ruin anything it’s sitting on.
You don’t need to spend money getting cut flowers. You’ll be able to scrounge up enough elements from your yard, whether they’re mountain ash branches with berries, fall mums, leftover spring grasses, or even just tree branches for a classic Halloween feel.
Grab a glue stick and a generous amount of glitter and your little one can monogram her/his initials on the pumpkin for all the see under the flowers. It’s a great way to turn the pumpkin into an empowering craft project that she/he can make their own.
My favourite is the Lite-Brite pumpkin. It brings the perfect blend of retro chic, confidence building and ease to the table. After de-gooping, punch a bunch of holes in the pattern you want to create. Talk to your kids first about what design they want to make (or they may want to just have random splashes of colour).
Making the holes is easiest with a power drill (make sure to use the right sized bit). Make sure the little ones aren’t around while you’re doing it.
Dump out the old box of lite-brite from the garage. He/her will have a blast choosing colours and making the design (the design will already be set, but the beauty is that they will think it’s all their idea). If you gave your lite-brite away 30 years ago, it’s easy to find more online. You don’t need the light up board, just a bag of pieces.
They’ll love sticking the pieces in. Once all the pieces are placed, turn on the light inside and watch your little one’s eyes sparkle as the pumpkin starts to glow.