Tips to Create a Family-Friendly Jack-O-Lantern

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Fun Fact: The Irish brought the tradition of carving pumpkins into Jack O'Lanterns to America, but the original Jack O‘Lantern wasn’t actually a pumpkin. Pumpkins did not exist in Ireland - they carved turnips on All Hallow's Eve and placed an ember in them to ward off evil spirits. If you google “carved turnip,” then you can easily understand how these lanterns could ward off evil spirits.

Today, pumpkin carving is more of a family art project, oftentimes leading to toasted pumpkin seeds and funny faces on the front porch. To make sure pumpkin carving is safe and family-friendly at your house, follow the tips and alternative ideas below so everyone can participate!

  • Make sure your pumpkin is clean and dry – any moisture on your hands, tools or table could cause your hand to slip, which can lead to injury.
  • Consider carving BEFORE taking the top off of the pumpkin. This way little hands are less tempted to hold the pumpkin from the inside, putting them in the direct path of the tools.
  • Instead of letting younger children carve pumpkins, allow them to draw the design on the pumpkin with a marker and let the adults do the carving.
  • Leave the gutting to the kids! Since the smaller children should avoid sharp tools, let the children grab a spoon and take over the job of emptying the pumpkin. This could get messy, but they should be entertained for a while.

Who said you need to carve?

  • Grab paint, stickers, yarn or even glitter to decorate pumpkins. The pumpkins will last longer and will allow your young ones to get more creative.
  • Decorate clean, empty bottles or jars with construction paper, streamers or ribbon with a Halloween theme. These are great for inside or outside decorating.
  • Use Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head pieces to bring your pumpkins to life. I’ll bet no one else’s pumpkin will have ears!
  • If your family isn’t a fan of pumpkin or want to take after the ancient Irish, carving other fruits like pineapple and watermelon are all the rage this year. Get creative!

There are so many ways to get the entire family involved and excited for the fall season. Just make sure you use the right tools and techniques for your family to ensure everyone stays safe and has a spooktacular fall!

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