Tips to Carve Jack-o’-Lanterns and Dress-up Pumpkins

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Halloween is—after only Christmas—the most lavishly decorated holiday of the year. Neighbors try to outdo one another; schools have costume contests; in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, the entire town turns out for the annual scarecrow parade. We take pleasure in welcoming the talents of Sherry Bruce, as she shows you how to decorate for Halloween in ways that will remain in your mind long after October 31 has passed. Follow her easy tips to carve Jack-o’-Lanterns and dress-up pumpkins.

Pumpkin Decoration Ideas


Brian Wilder

Instructions to Carve a Frankenstein Jack-o’-Lantern

  • Pumpkin
  • Carving tools
  • Toothpicks
  • Bolts
  • Flat plastic craft cording
  • Mini outdoor Christmas lights, if desired

Select a tall, squarish pumpkin. Follow instructions for carving a traditional Jack-o’-Lantern. Slice off the top of the head. Punch holes around severed skull piece and top of the head. Carve facial features. For ears, make rectangular cutouts on the sides of the head; push halfway out and secure with toothpicks from the inside. Just below ears, screw in bolts. Lash skull and head together with craft cording. Note: craft cording is flammable. Keep away from candle flame.

Instructions to Make a Spider Pumpkin

  • Pumpkins
  • Matte black latex spray paint
  • Round-head colored pins
  • Craft needle
  • Black chenille sticks

Select small, squat pumpkins. Wash and dry them. Paint with two coats of spray paint. Insert colored pins for eyes. Poke small holes with a craft needle, then insert chenille sticks and bend to form legs. Place pumpkin spiders on top of or in gaping mouths of other Jack-o’-Lanterns.

Instructions to Make Gourd Birds

  • Black gourds
  • Craft needle
  • Long black feathers
  • Short black feathers
  • Small urns or heavy candleholders

Select gourds with curved stems for beaks. Poke small holes for wings and tails with a craft needle. Insert two long feathers for wings; add shorter feathers for tails. Perch birds on garden urns or candleholders.

Now we want to hear how you decorate for Halloween. Share your ideas in the comment section below.


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