(Last Updated On: October 12, 2016)

Not all pumpkins are created equal; some are more equal than others, but in this case bigger isn’t always best. Halloween is nothing without a pumpkin, it makes a wonderful centerpiece to the celebration. If you’re looking for more Halloween decorations or costumes, I’ve found some great things this year – check out the banner below for some of the best.

Tips to help you make the most of your pumpkin.

When looking for a pumpkin to carve it must be fully mature so that it is hard enough to store, albeit for a short time, and remain fresh after it has been carved to give you at least a few days of pleasure.

Find one with a shape you like and go over it well checking for soft spots, bruises and even small nicks, these allow infection to start and once started your pumpkin will go downhill very fast indeed. Don’t forget to turn it over to check the bottom where it has been sitting on the cold hard ground.

Pumpkins are not all orange and you can carve any type of gourd, squash or pumpkin as long as the skin is firm and healthy. If the pumpkin you  fancy has skin that feels as hard as wood, reject it and look for another, these are very difficult and dangerous to slice into.

The next step is to tap the pumpkin lightly and listen for a slightly hollow sound. Lifting the pumpkin will also give you a clue as to how dense it is.

Remember, the heavier the pumpkin the thicker the walls and thick walls mean that the candle light and carving details are blocked and do you really want to be shaving the walls from the inside ?

Tall oblong shaped varieties tend to be stringy inside which makes it difficult to make precise cuts.So unless you are an expert, keep clear of those.

Shape of course is up to you, but test it before taking it home to see that it doesn’t roll over and has a good balanced base to sit on.

Don’t dismiss the smaller varieties. They are great for the children, they can of course be carved, have ‘faces’ stuck on them cut out of sticky paper then covered with ‘Glow in the Dark Powder’, the faces then removed and lit from behind for a ghostly look. They can be painted with metallic paint or decorated with brightly colored Fall leaves. These are but a few ideas; remember white pumpkins will give your Jack O’Lantern a spooky look and these can be painted more easily than the orange ones.

Never pick your Pumpkin up or carry it by the stem, it is not a handle and will easily break off leaving a good sized wound where, once again, rot can start.

Try these tips to keep your pumpkin fresh for longer.

1) Keep it in a cool dry place and out of sunlight.

2) Spray it with an anti-transpirant like ‘Wilt-Pruf’.

3) Drape the entire pumpkin in a damp cloth if the atmosphere is too hot.

4) Keep inquisitive animals away,. they may be tempted to have a bite.

5) Don’t leave it out of doors if there is any sign of frost.

With just a little thought (and a lot of being careful with the carving) you can create a jack o’lantern which will serve you well throughout Halloween.

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