For carving, we had one large, classic pumpkin on hand from our trip the pumpkin patch last week with the kids, and two smaller pie pumpkins. Tim took on the job of hollowing and scooping (love him!), then I worked on the various designs.
For the large pumpkin, we tried a new-to-us method of carving where you remove most of the flesh on your design, without actually breaking through to the inside of the pumpkin. This gives you that really pretty glowy look where the bright design pops out against the darker skin.
For the sake of time and keeping things simple, I freehand drew a cursive "eek" across the front of the pumpkin and then carefully traced over the lines using a set of linoleum block carving tools I had from a kit I'd used back in art school. You can find just the cutter and tools very reasonably at your local craft store or online. The linoleum carving tools really allow for precision and nailing those curves that can be tough to get with a knife.
To allow for airflow (fire needs to air to thrive), we drilled a circle of holes around the cap of the pumpkin and called 'er done. The end result turned out pretty well I think:
To get the squirrel shape, I just hammered one of our sharp metal cookie cutters through the flesh of the hollowed out pumpkin with a large rubber mallot. It gave the perfect squirrel shape for us in one step. I'd love to experiment with more of these next year when we're not in such a rush:
I thought it would be cute for the squirrel to have a little acorn companion, so used the same carving method as we did for the "eek" design. I just freehanded a little acorn shape, then carefully carved against the lines using the linoleum cutting tools until it began to take shape:
I also carved a few little lines around the squirrel to give it a little nest. I think they turned out pretty cute:
As you can see, we nestled the little pumpkins along our front stairs and Tim came up with a great idea for displaying the bigger one:
We pulled the pepper plant from the repurposed stand we'd restored over the summer and plopped that big guy right on in! It was fun to have something out in the yard, since so many of our neighbors in the area really go all out, and it was also fun to watch it turn flickery and glowing as the evening got darker.
We'd also picked up some bigger, decorative winter squashes a few weekends back and decided to drill big holes through one of them like we have in past years, just to help light up the front porch a little more:
We'd love to know how your pumpkins turn out this year!