Sunday, February 22, 2009

Making a Jack-O-Lantern

What are your favorite Halloween memories from your childhood? Did your family have any traditions? Trick or treating was a must, right? But did your dad let YOU carve the pumpkin, or did he do it? Was it a family event? If not, this is just for you and your kids!
Making a Jack-O-Lantern is a traditional yet low cost way to bond with your family while being creative. You can start your own family tradition of carving the perfect pumpkin. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, it is something that the whole family can do, and it’s a nice outdoor activity too! Be sure to allot enough time for this Family Project, as it can be a half or whole day job. You’ll start with the pumpkin shopping, move on to cleaning pumpkins, and end with decorating. Make sure you take a break in the middle to snack on some fun Halloween treats.
So, let’s get started on the perfect Jack-O-Lantern.
Select a fresh pumpkin in a shape that pleases you and your kids. Some folks prefer their pumpkins low and round, while others like them tall and oval-shaped. Think about the face you’ll make and where you’ll put the finished pumpkins when you are picking them. Also, if you have wee ones, they should pair up with an adult for their pumpkin(but let the little one pick the pumpkin.)
Draw a circle or hexagon on top of the pumpkin in preparation for making an opening large enough for your hand to reach through.
(This is an adult step.) Cut through the stem end of the pumpkin along your outline with a sharp knife or pumpkin-carving tool. Use a back-and-forth slicing motion to cut through the thick, tough skin. Be sure to make a "notch" mark, so you'll know which way the lid goes.
Remove the stem end, which will act as a cap, making sure you scrape off any seeds or pulp.
(This is a great kid step!) Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp from inside the pumpkin. TIP: Hold the spoon by its bowl to get extra leverage while scooping. Littler kids use a littler spoon while bigger kids get a bigger spoon.
Draw a pattern for the face on the clean pumpkin with a Sharpie. Be sure to make the eyes, nose and mouth large enough; you’ll have a hard time cutting out tiny features when you’re using a big knife blade to saw through tough pumpkin skin. This is a great time to let the kids decide!
(Adult step) Follow your pattern as you cut all the way through the pumpkin.
(Kid step) Push the cut-out features gently from the inside of the pumpkin and discard the pieces.
Place a votive candle inside the pumpkin to create an eerie glow.
Make sure you shop around for the best pumpkin prices too! Some of the large discount stores have great deals, but local farmers often beat their prices. And also keep in mind that if you pair up, you can afford to do more pumpkins. Now, get to work!

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