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10 Tricks for the Best Jack-o’-Lanterns Ever

Nothing captures the playful spookiness of Halloween quite like a glowing jack-o'-lantern. Here are 10 tips to keep in mind before you begin carving.

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How to carry a jack-o'-lanternPhoto: Shutterstock

Never carry your jack-o’-lantern by the stem

Hitting up the pumpkin patch before Halloween? Always carry your soon-to-be jack-o’-lantern from below. A pumpkin’s stem is part of its visual allure, and if it snaps, it can accelerate rotting.

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Store your pumpkin in a cool, dry placePhoto: ShutterStock

Store your uncut pumpkin in a cool, dry place

Once pumpkins ripen, they will deteriorate fast, and heat and light speed up the process.

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Wash your pumpkin before carvingPhoto: ShutterStock

Wash your pumpkin before carving

Ready to carve your jack-o’-lantern? Not yet, you’re not. First, wash it in a solution of 4 litres water and 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach. This will help prevent mold.

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Plan your jack-o'-lantern designPhoto: ShutterStock

Plan your jack-o’-lantern pattern

Draw your jack-o’-lantern design on paper, or use one of these free pumpkin-carving stencils. This is easier and cleaner than drawing right on the pumpkin, and makes revisions a snap.

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Jack-o'-lantern inspirationPhoto: ShutterStock

Try a little tape

To transfer a pattern to the pumpkin, cut it out and adhere it to the pumpkin with masking tape. Then either use pinpricks to mark the shapes and lines on the pumpkin, or use a craft or utility knife and cut through the design to score it on the surface.

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Unique jack-o'-lantern designsPhoto: ShutterStock

Think more than faces

Don’t limit your jack-o’-lantern to face designs. Moons, stars, cats, bats and witches are all fun and easy to do. Using a drill to make patterned light holes is a wonderful idea as well.

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Best jack-o'-lantern tricksPhoto: ShutterStock

Consider a jack-o’-lantern carving kit

Jack-o’-lantern carving kits can often be purchased for just a few dollars. Kits usually contain small scoops and serrated saws that aren’t commonly found in the typical toolbox. They work terrifically well when doing detailed carving work.

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Scooping pumpkin seeds from a jack-o'-lanternPhoto: ShutterStock

Remember to saw

When cutting out your shapes, always use a sawing motion. Saw slowly and gently. A small serrated saw is best for the detail work. Never try to cut your pumpkin with a straight-edge razor, using force; you’ll damage the pumpkin, hurt the knife, and possibly cut yourself!

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Best jack-o'-lantern designsPhoto: Shutterstock

Make more than one jack-o’-lantern

The more jack-o’-lanterns in your Halloween display, the better. Four or five small pumpkins in a row have much more visual impact than one large one.

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Artificial jack-o'-lanternPhoto: Shutterstock

Try faking it

If scraping out a pumpkin is too much hassle for you, consider buying a an artificial jack-o’-lantern. These are becoming increasingly popular, thanks to their realism and professional look. And they last forever, meaning you’ve already got next year’s jack-o’-lantern sorted!

Now that you know how to make the best jack-o’-lanterns, find out what to do with your pumpkins after Halloween.