Scary Halloween Pumpkin Carving Contest

When the air gets crisp and the leaves start to change colors, we know it’s almost time for one thing: Halloween. One thing that never goes undone is the pumpkin carving party or competition for all our loved ones.

Remember, pumpkins only last about three days after carving so plan accordingly. You can help it last longer by submerging the carved pumpkin in a bleach/water bath and let them soak for several hours. But in our family, we reach for the biggest ones so carve just a day or two before Halloween.

Plan the event

I always let the family members know the day we’ll be having the contest a week beforehand. Giving everyone enough time to get their pumpkins if they haven’t already. I supply food and drinks but everyone needs to bring their own pumpkin. I usually order a pizza or two for easy eating and clean up. Drinks depend on the ages of the guest and what they like.

The day has arrived

I clear off everything on the long kitchen table and lay out a waterproof tablecloth. The middle will have a bowl of everything you’ll need to carve the pumpkins. Carving utensils, spoons, and scrapers. Other plastic drop cloths are nearby for easy clean up.

I have tons of carving patterns for guest to review and pick what they want. Once they decide I’ll take a copy of it, that way I’ll always have the original and they use the copy.

My home will already be decorated so that’s done.

Then off we go. Cutting a hole on top and cleaning out the pumpkin, playing with the flesh and pulp as we scoop it out. After everyone is done, I do a once over, throwing all the insides into a large bin for later use.

Using the patterns takes time. Punching holes in the squash using the pattern before actually carving. The smell of pizza mixes in with the pumpkin and a Halloween playlist is in the background.

After hours of carving. We sit back and stare at our creation in awe. Telling others how good they turned out. Pictures are taken and then the votes are in. It’s sometimes hard to declare a winner when everyone votes on their own.

Pumpkin guts

If you’re planning to whip up some pumpkin soup, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin curry, or pumpkin pasta sauce, you can boost the flavor by saving pumpkin guts and turning them into a flavorful broth.

After you’ve scraped out the innards, throw them—seeds and all—into a saucepan with aromatic veggies like onion, carrot, and celery and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes to one hour. Strain out the veggies, then refrigerate or freeze the pumpkin broth for use in recipes.

Pumpkin seeds

There’s a reason roasted pumpkin seeds are an autumn classic: it turns something you might be tempted to throw away into a delicious snack. After scraping out your jack-o-lantern, separate out the seeds from the stringy pumpkin guts. Rinse or soak the seeds in water to clean them off, then drain and pat them dry with a kitchen towel, Toss the seeds with a little olive oil and salt to taste, then spread them on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast them in a 300 F oven for 35 to 45 minutes, stirring once or twice to help the seeds toast evenly.

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