Francesco LagneseCarve some fun into fall with a day of pumpkin picking, jack-o'-lanterns, and treats to get everyone in high spirits
Legends of the Fall
Grown on every continent but Antarctica, the pumpkin was once thought to be a cure-all for freckles and snakebites. But what this vine-grown fruit does best is symbolize everything magical and spooky about the season. If you don't believe that, just ask Ichabod Crane. (See How to Choose a Pumpkin)
How to Carve a Jack-o'-Lantern
1. With a serrated knife held at an angle, carefully cut an opening around the stem, making a small notch in the back (to guide you when replacing the lid).
2. Use a large spoon to remove the pulp and scrape the sides clean of stringy bits.
3. Draw on a face (washable markers allow kids to draw, rinse, and repeat).
4. Carve, then add a tealight.
Don't carve your jack-o'-lantern too early or it won't survive until Halloween night. Once cut, a pumpkin lasts about four to five days, then starts to rot.
Toasting Pumpkin Seeds
Give kids the job of separating the seeds from the pumpkin innards while adults handle the carving. Put aside the seeds to be toasted later for a crowd-pleasing snack of roasted pumpkin seeds.
The Recipe: Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
Music to Carve By
- "Beetlejuice: Main Titles," composed by Danny Elfman
- "Ghostbusters," Ray Parker Jr.
- "In the Midnight Hour," Wilson Pickett
- "I Put a Spell on You," Nina Simone
- "I Want Candy," Bow Wow Wow
- "Spooky," the Classics IV
- "That Old Black Magic," Ella Fitzgerald
- "Thriller," Michael Jackson
- "Werewolves of London," Warren Zevon
- "Witchcraft," Frank Sinatra
To sample and purchase these Halloween-themed songs, head to the Real Simple-generated iMix on iTunes.com.
How to Make Your Pumpkin Last
Pumpkins don't need to be carved to be decorative, and left intact, they should last until Thanksgiving (and are perfect for cooking). But they do need warmth on cold nights: When pumpkin rinds freeze, the insides deteriorate and then collapse. Cover them with a blanket or bring them inside. A display on the mantel can be as charming as one on the porch.
Halloween Planning Guide
Easy Halloween Party Recipes
Last-Minute Survival Guide for Parents