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5 Tips for Hosting a Pumpkin Carving Party

posted: 10/22/15
by: Blythe Copeland
Making Jack O’lanterns
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Consider it your new Halloween tradition: A pumpkin carving party, complete with creative designs, tasty snacks, activities for the kids, and a "Who Carved It Best" contest at the end. With these five simple tips, you can put together a carving celebration your friends and family will look forward to year after year.

1. Gather your supplies.

The price of pumpkins can add up fast; so can the time involved with finding the perfect pumpkin for each of your guests. Tell invitees to bring their own -- this way, they can choose their own color, shape, and size -- and encourage them to bring any stencils, designs, or tools they already have. But offer up some of your own, too: Print out a selection of carving templates to help spark their creativity, including pop culture icons and spooky shapes. Then think outside the knife block and put together a selection of tools for more inventive cutters: Martha Stewart Living suggests linoleum cutters, hole cutters, miniature saws, a power drill, or even a melon baller.

2. Plan a pumpkin-licious menu.

The options for pumpkin-based recipes are nearly endless: Try a simple pumpkin soup with salad (topped with pumpkin seeds) and bread on the side; or a selection of snacks with sweet and savory pumpkin dips (like pumpkin hummus, smoked gouda pumpkin dip, and pumpkin cream cheese dip served with apples and vanilla wafers). You can also stick to baked goods: pumpkin pie bars, bread, cookies, and coffee cake will satisfy everyone's sweet tooth.

3. Serve up some celebratory drinks.

If a full lineup of pumpkin food sounds like a little bit too much pumpkin, add just a hint of pumpkin flavor to your menu with pumpkin drinks. Warm everyone up with pumpkin spice lattes(kept warm in the slow cooker) or homemade pumpkin white hot chocolate. Treat the 21-and-over crowd to apple pumpkintinis, coffee spiked with Rum Chata and pumpkin pie vodka, or apple pumpkin beer cocktails Or for a sweet treat at the end of the party, serve up pumpkin pie milkshakes before everyone heads home.

4. Keep the kids entertained.

Whether your party is geared toward kids or you're just expecting plenty of them to tag along, make sure you have a few ways to keep them entertained and happy (and away from the sharp carving tools). If your younger set wants to join the decorating fun, set out pumpkins, paints, tissue paper, markers, and glitter for a safer way to personalize the pumpkins. For even younger kids, put together a simple pumpkin craft -- like covering a paper plate with pieces of orange construction paper, or using popsicle sticks to make a jack-o-lantern inspired magnet.

5. Show off the results.

Once all your pumpkins are finished, make sure you document the results. Line them all up with lit candles and create your own smaller scale "Pumpkins on Parade" for your neighborhood, or enlist anyone who didn't carve to act as judges and hand out prizes for the most creative, most technical, or most ridiculous. And don't forget to take plenty of photos -- so you can look back on your early efforts after your pumpkin carving party has become an annual tradition.

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