Spooky Characters: A Literary Pumpkin Carving Lineup

The Shining

Finally, that spooky, chilly, and wonderful time of year has arrived! After a rather miserable summer here in the south, I am so excited for the fall weather to commence, even if it does come with allergies. The pumpkin patches are open for those who love the vibe of cutting your own pumpkin off the vine. Sort of like cutting the umbilical cord, right? If that’s not quite your scene, you can find already harvested pumpkins at your local garden shops, grocery stores, and large retailers. If you have a farmer’s market, generally, you can find some top-notch pumpkins to choose from there.

Ever since I was a small child, I loved pumpkins and everything that went along with getting one. My parents would take me somewhere not very far outside of Philadelphia to a farm where we could select the wagon or barrel of our choice and take off into this massive pumpkin patch in search of the perfect pumpkins. To this day, I am overjoyed being in a pumpkin patch. Luckily, my little boy is also a huge fan of pumpkins and Halloween. Whether you are weirdly obsessed with pumpkins like I am, you just want to carve the most fantastic and best pumpkin yet, or you are being forced to carve said pumpkins by your child-army- you are my people. Let’s creep into the world of wonderful and highly artistic literary pumpkins!

Literary Inspiration

You have your pumpkin, and now you need some inspiration? Look no further than your bookshelf! Who are your favorite characters? That is the perfect place to start. Of course, you can create your masterpiece from freehand if you’re amazingly talented and steady-handed, but for the rest of us that do not fall into those categories, you can always turn to the world of Google. There is a template or instructional video for almost any book or character you’d like to use. Honestly, I’m a bit overwhelmed by the possibilities! 

This is a fun family activity that you can turn into a tradition with your young ones. Let them pick their favorite book, and then tell them to pick their favorite character or scene. Scenes will be a bit more complicated, but you, the parent, will do most of the hard work. If you’ve been a parent for longer than one day, you are already well versed in doing literally everything.

Pete the Cat Pumpkin 

Top Choices for Children’s Literary Pumpkins

Here’s a list with clickable links that will give you a template to work with and/or walk you through the steps to create your very own literary pumpkin.

For more children’s pumpkin ideas, click here

Frog & Toad Forever 

Top Choices for Adult Literary Pumpkins

Great Gatsby

Instructions for Carving a Pumpkin from Printable Stencil

  1. After printing it, cut out the shape of your stencil with a sharp X-Acto knife.
  2. To attach it to your pumpkin, either use tape or hold it in place with pins.
  3. Use a stencil or paint brush to paint over the stencil and let it dry for 20 minutes.
  4. While you wait, you can cut a circle in the top of the pumpkin for the lid and remove all the pulp inside.
  5. Peel off the stencil and get to carving that pumpkin. Consider investing in a pumpkin carving kit to make the process smoother.


How to Make Your Carved Pumpkin Last

You are now the proud owner of a freshly carved literary pumpkin, so now what? How do you keep this masterpiece from quickly decaying and ruining the design? You obviously will want your pumpkin to make it to Halloween night so all those little monsters can witness the wonder that is your pumpkin. First, once you have picked your pumpkin, store it inside if you live in a warm climate. Sunlight and heat will take your pumpkin back to pumpkin land a little faster than you would like! Second, you want to carve your pumpkin as close to Halloween as possible to keep it as fresh and moisturized as possible. Once the outer shell starts to cave in a bit where you have done your meticulous art, it will be all over soon. However, there are a few old tricks to keep your carved pumpkin looking like a million bucks. 

Keeping it Fresh Steps

  1. Clean your pumpkin off. Remove all dirt and grime from the surface but be careful not to scuff it up scrubbing.
  2. Treat your pumpkin with bleach. 
    1. Combine one tablespoon of bleach per quart of water and put it in a spray bottle. 
    2. Spray the inside of your carved pumpkin and all of the cut surfaces with the solution. This will kill a lot of the surface bacteria and mold that cause rotting. 
    3. Let the pumpkin sit for 20 minutes, then rinse with cool water. (Be sure to wear gloves so you don’t touch the bleach solution directly.)
  3. Cover with petroleum jelly. Rub the carved or cut surfaces with petroleum jelly or vegetable oil cooking spray. This will keep out new bacteria and mold and help prevent your jack-o’-lantern from dehydrating.
  4. Keep your pumpkin cool. As I’ve already mentioned, heat and sunlight are your jack-o-lantern’s worst enemies. So keep your pumpkin out of direct sunlight but do not let it sit in below-freezing temperatures. 

Until Next Year

Once Halloween has passed, it will be time for your pumpkin to return to pumpkin land, as I tell my child and my parents told me. But, there are ways of recycling and upcycling your pumpkin so that it gives everything it’s got before the end of its time. 

First, we all know about saving pumpkin seeds and roasting them in the oven for a tasty and healthy snack. But did you know you can also make pumpkin seed pesto with them? 

You can also donate the spent pumpkin to local wildlife. 

  • Cut off the top half of the carved pumpkin and turn it into a festive bird feeder. Fill it with birdseed and hang it from a tree in your yard to enjoy the sights and sounds of fall birds as they migrate south. 
  • You can also simply chop it into small pieces and leave it in the woods for raccoons, squirrels, and chipmunks. 
  • Pumpkin is a natural dewormer and good for upset tummies. Check your local farms and see if they would like your pumpkins for their goats or other farm animals.
  • For more reusing options, check here.

No matter what you choose to do with your retired pumpkin, know that you gave it a wonderful life as a literary pumpkin. Now, it looks like it’s time to start planning for next year’s literary pumpkin!

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