Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Host a Pumpkin Carving Party

Photo courtesy of radical.librarian/flickr

Halloween is my favorite holiday. It's my Dad's birthday, so growing up we'd always have birthday pumpkin pie on top of the loot I collected. But above and beyond that scrumptious pie, Halloween contains all sorts of fun elements that can translate into family traditions. And it is a holiday that easily stretches out to be enjoyed for more than just one day. It encompasses excursions to corn mazes, pumpkin patches and haunted houses. It includes deliberating on candy purchases, decorating the house, Halloween parties and, of course, pumpkin carving.

Now that my daughter is 7 years old and less likely to use the pumpkin carving knife to sever her finger, I'm planning an official pumpkin carving party. Perhaps you are, too. Here are my party planning tips.

  1. Timing
    The week or weekend before Halloween is probably best. If it's too much before that, the carved pumpkins are likely to rot. And while that adds flair to the kids' creations, their parents might not appreciate mold on their front porches.
  2. You Supply the Pumpkins
    That way, all of them will be approximately the same size, and the kids will be able to dig out most of the pulp and seeds on their own before they need some knife help.
  3. Get Ready for the Goop
    Before the kids arrive, cover the table in newspaper and lay out spoons, carving implements, Sharpies for drawing on the pumpkin faces, and a couple of large bowls for seeds (we love to roast them) and pumpkin guts. It might not be a bad idea to put some plastic bags or newspaper on the floor, too. If you're hosting girls with long hair, pull out a few extra barrettes and hair bands because long hair and pumpkin goo do not go well together.
  4. Snacks
    My favorite Halloween-y snacks are grapes (eyeballs), mini corn dogs (mummies) and sugar cookies (witches' fingers). The only prep here is with the fingers. Either homemade or store bought sugar cookie dough will work. Just cut out finger-size sections – the more misshapen the better – and add a red food coloring dyed sliced almond (fingernail). They look even better if brushed with egg before baking, but it's not necessary. Serve with sparkling apple cider (who doesn't like bubbles?) and snacks are complete.
  5. Activities
    It's inevitable that at least one kid will be a super carver or a minimalist, so it's important to keep him occupied with an activity that's fun – but not so much fun that it distracts the other pumpkin carvers. This is the perfect scenario for tissue ghosts. All it takes is one box of Kleenex, a skein of string and a Sharpie. Crumple one tissue into a ball, place it in the center of an open tissue, tie string around outside tissue at base of inner tissue ball and – Voila – one ghost. Decorate with a Sharpie and hang from doorways, light fixtures, etc. … It's cheap, it's fast, it's easy, and it will keep the overachievers busy.
  6. Wrapping It Up
    Remember to have votive candles and a box of matches nearby. Once all of the kids have completed their masterpieces, it is fun to get a group photo. The kids are always so proud of their creations and will definitely be grinning ear-to-ear. The funny thing about their grins this year is that the jack-o-lanterns will be missing just as many teeth as the 7-year-olds we're inviting.

Hope your Halloween is Spook-tacular!