What would Halloween be without a carved pumpkin sitting on your porch? Make this Halloween special by carving your own cat-themed pumpkin (a cat-o-lantern!) with this step-by-step guide:
1. Choose your pumpkin
Choose a healthy pumpkin. Pick one without bruises, nicks and cuts and that is pretty consistent in color. Feel the stem and make sure it’s sturdy and doesn’t bend too easily. If you thump on the skin, like you would with a melon, if it hears hollow, your pumpkin is ripe. Time this right – most pumpkins will rot within a week and a half to two weeks. Keep that in mind and buy your pumpkin about a week before Halloween.
2. Put your design on the pumpkin
Click here to download a fun cat-o-lantern template we created for you. Use a permanent marker or dry-erase marker to draw your cat design on the pumpkin or tape the template on your pumpkin and use a pin to poke holes along all the cut lines into the skin of the pumpkin. Then remove the paper template and you’ll have a dotted outline to follow.
3. Get the right tools for the job
For pumpkin carving, you should use a serrated bread knife, a jab saw (used for cutting drywall) or a knife from a pumpkin carving tool kit. To cut, draw the knife back and forth as if you’re sawing through a tree trunk.
4. Cut a lid
Cut around your pumpkin about 2 inches down from the stem. When you make this cut, don’t cut straight across. Instead, angle the knife toward the center of the pumpkin. This will make an indent for the lid to sit on (and keep it from falling into your masterpiece!).
5. Remove the guts
Use a large spoon or your hands to pull all the slimy filling and seeds from your pumpkin. Scrape it as clean as you can. Note: Many people save and toast the seeds as a treat or plant them to grow their own pumpkins!
6. Carve out your Cat-o-Lantern
Use a gentle back and forth motion to cut into the pumpkin, following the lines you drew or the pinholes you made with your template. Take your time and use care not to get cut. Keep carving until you’ve carved out your entire design. Don’t limit yourself to one side of the pumpkin! Try adding cat paw prints around the back of your cat-o-lantern to truly show your feline pride!
Throw your pieces away as you cut them out. Sometimes you may need to poke a small piece with a toothpick to help pull it out. If you slip and accidentally cut a piece out that you shouldn’t have, you can easily reattach it with a toothpick.
7. Light your Cat-o-Lantern
Many people use candlesticks or tea lights to light carved pumpkins. You might also use modern flickering LEDs or a flashlight. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s safe and not a fire hazard.
If your Cat-o-Lantern starts to shrivel, soak it in a sink or bucket full of water for a couple of hours and it’ll perk back up. You can also prevent shriveling by rubbing petroleum jelly on the freshly cut parts of the pumpkin. But – don’t put it inside the pumpkin, as it could be a fire hazard when you light it with a flame.
If you carve a Halloween Cat-o-Lantern, we want to see it! Show us your photos on our Facebook page!