How to Carve a Halloween Pumpkin, Easy Tips to Cut a Jack O’ Lantern

Tue 22nd, Oct, 2013

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Good evening, oh ladies we are talking how to carve a pumpkin today in Beach Cottage Land, I first tried my hand at this nearly 20 years ago now back in the Old Country and trust me if I had had tips on carving pumpkins then I would have had a very much prettier Halloween season.


So who could be better than the lovely Catherine from The Spring Blog and lovely friend of abeachcottage (who graces us with her recipes and crafty ideas( who grew up with this celebration to show us how to do it without cutting our fingers off.   I love how Catherine describes the holiday and what it means to her…without the commercialism, I don’t know about you but I have always tried to bang this message home to my own kids about Easter and Christmas and when they were little I tried (sometimes in vain) to make it about the rituals and lovely stuff to do for free rather than the rampant consumerism going on all around me where all the kids are interested in is how much their Christmas present cost…I love this cutie little tradition or carving a pumpkin such a nice way to make memories x



Anyhooo I’ll pass you over to Catherine, thanks lovelies

Hello Beach Cottage Ladies! I hope you’re in short sleeves with an apron handy, because the DIY I have for you today is going to get a little messy!

When it comes to Halloween in Australia, I’ve noticed that candy and costume parties have been catching on in a big way… But I reckon some of the best parts about how we North Americans celebrate have been lost in translation. Chief among them is the Jack O’Lantern.

Jack O’Lanterns are to Halloween what a tree is to Christmas –  they’re the totem around which all the fun takes place. Back home, Jack O’Lanterns serve a practical purpose too. On Halloween night, kids out Trick or Treating know that every house with a glowing carved pumpkin on the front porch is open for business. If there’s no Jack O’Lantern,  there’s no candy so you don’t bother ringing the doorbell, it’s as simple as that.

The Halloween rituals I loved most as a child (and still love now!) weren’t particularly commercial, and this is something else I feel is misunderstood about the whole holiday here. My mom would help us make our costumes, she’d paint our faces, and of course, we’d carve the pumpkin. After school on Halloween before it got dark enough for Trick or Treating, we’d lay newspaper all over the kitchen table and my brother and I would practice drawing our scary pumpkin face patterns until we’d gotten one just right. When we were little my mom would take care of the fancy knife work once we’d scooped out all the guts, and as we got older we’d each pick our own pumpkin and turn the activity into a carving show down. (This, actually, still happens whenever my brother and I are in the same place for Halloween, and we’re in our 30s!) Mom would then roast the pumpkin seeds for us all to snack on while we made the finishing touches, and we’d light the Jack O’Lantern on the ledge of the front window so we could watch its candle flicker in the darkness and bring the neighbour kids to our door.

For the first time this year I’ve noticed a lot of round orange ‘American’ pumpkins available in shops, so I hope you’ll be inspired to follow my tutorial and have a go at getting your family (or friends) together to carve your own this year too.



What you’ll need:

  • newspaper
  • a marker (I like to use a whiteboard marker because you can rub off any mistakes or left-over lines)
  • a big, sharp knife
  • a large metal spoon
  • a bowl for collecting the pumpkin ‘guts’
  • tea light candle / in Australia an electric tea-light

1. Select an orange ‘American’ pumpkin… the bigger the better!


2. With your marker, draw a circle around the stem on top of the pumpkin as a guide for what will be the ‘lid’. Make sure it’s large enough that you’ll be able to get your hand and forearm through. Plunge your knife in and cut along the line.

3. Once you’ve removed the ‘lid’, trim off any excess, stringy flesh from its underside, then cut out a triangular vent on one side of the lid for the smoke to eventually escape.


4. Using a combination of your hands and a metal spoon, pull and scrape out all the seeds and loose pulp until your pumpkin is a cleaned out shell. You should only have the smooth, firm flesh left on the inside walls.


5. Practice drawing your Jack O’Lantern face on the newspaper before marking it on the pumpkin. Remember that straight lines are easier to carve than curves, and the scarier the better!


6. Being careful with your sharp knife, cut out shapes of the face.

7. add your votive (in Australia use an electric votive available in dollar shops) pop the ‘lid’ back on and set it out to enjoy!


Let me know if you have a go – if you’re in Australia most of the big supermarkets have pumpkins all over the shop, there may or may not be a woman in Sydney who has bought rather a few of them, pumpkin pie and soup are on the menu.

Offer and out from the beach cottage crafters ;-)

Sarah x



20131022-09-sidebar-profile-shot-1-of-1 Catherine blogs over at The Spring blog sharing simple ideas for adding unfussy sophistication, extra deliciousness, and more joy to everyday life. The premise of The Spring is to create fun, original, useful content  for women who want to make, do, and find beautiful things without the faff.  You can also check out her gorgeous little shop here. x


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7 Responses to “How to Carve a Halloween Pumpkin, Easy Tips to Cut a Jack O’ Lantern”

  1. [...] All! I’m blogging over at A Beach Cottage today with a Halloween pumpkin DIY tutorial. I love seeing Halloween take off here in Australia, [...]

  2. Rukmini Roy says:

    Ah! Okay… Maybe I’ll try my hands on some this time! Thank you Catherine :) We Indians don’t necessarily celebrate Halloween but I like lights inside pumpkins so…yeah! That works for me :)

  3. Catherine says:

    Ha! Rukmini, thanks for that! Lit pumpkins look so beautiful, so if you’re not doing a halloween thing, try carving a simple flower design or geometric pattern and then setting it on your table… it’ll look so great!

    x Catherine

  4. merilyn says:

    hi Catherine … interesting! at least that puts a light on the reason for the jack o’ lantern. not into Halloween myself but my neighbour travels to America quite often and she has thrown Halloween dress up parties with some very goulish looking finger food! … i’ll show her this article … thank you, i’m sure she will be interested.
    lol m:)

  5. merilyn says:

    me again Catherine, thought i’d just let you know that I tried several times to get into your shop, but it was showing me a blank page! cheers m:)

  6. Catherine says:

    Hi M, thanks so much for sharing the post… and for letting me know the problem with my shop… the code got away from me there! Have a wonderful week! x Catherine

  7. [...] Halloween does seem to be catching on here in Australia, though as I wrote in my latest post on A Beach Cottage, I wonder if some of the nicer bits are being lost in translation. It’s certainly the more [...]