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Pumpkin carving has become a much-loved family activity around Halloween, and there are many pumpkin designs for kids which mean that even the youngest members of the family can get a little creative – with help from mum or dad.
In many neighbourhoods around the UK now, the pumpkin in the window symbolises that the household welcomes trick or treaters on Halloween.
So pumpkin carving for children symbolises the start of much spooky fun.
It is believed turnips or potatoes were carved by the ancient Celts into jack o’lanterns as protection against wandering evil spirits during the festival celebrated at the end of the harvest season.
Halloween is a descendant of this festival, and the turnips became pumpkins, after Irish immigrants took the jack o’lantern tradition with them to North America and discovered the much larger orange vegetable which was more suited to carving.
First of all, it’s worth knowing how to carve out a pumpkin properly. Top tips for this include:
• Choose a fresh pumpkin with a flat bottom for stability
• Go for a long, sturdy stem to help create an easy lid
• Make an opening from the top, cutting out a neat lid
• Scoop out the insides of the pumpkin using an ice-cream scoop or similar
• Draw out your design using a paper template, or marking the pumpkin with pencil
• Depending on the child’s age, make sure there’s an adult to help with carving
As well as the traditional ghoulish designs, there are lots of unusual pumpkin carving ideas for kids.
We’ve gathered just a few for you to check out.
The witch's cat is a symbol of Halloween, and it's easy to carve out a fairly simple feline face onto your pumpkin. Black card will make perfect ears to finish the effect.
Or there are some great cat-themed stencils here if you're feeling a little more artistic.
Spooky faces are the norm - and a chance for the little ones to let their imaginations run wild with pumpkin carving ideas. For kids, it's best to have them draw out their designs on a piece of paper, before they decide what they want to do. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration, if they need a little help.
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best, like the peek a boo pumpkin which takes only a pair of googly eyes and your hands traced onto black paper.
For those who don't want to be up to their elbows in pumpkin seeds, and grappling the kids' little hands away from sharp cutting tools, there's a growing movement of no-carve pumpkin decorators who simply paint the vegetable into their favourite character. Check out these great ideas over at Crafty Morning. Emoji pumpkins are also a modern take on the traditional jack o'lantern.
Whatever you decide to do, the point is to make Halloween a big dose of safe, spooky fun!