Kid-Friendly Pumpkin Carving: Tips, Tools, and Advice

Nothing can get your family in the Halloween spirit like carving a pumpkin together. To help ensure your children enjoy a fun and safe pumpkin-carving experience, we’ve put together this list of tips, tools, and general advice.

1. Pick a pumpkin that’s good for carving

A safe pumpkin-carving experience starts with choosing the right pumpkin. Here's how to land the perfect one:

  • Look for a pumpkin with smooth, less bumpy skin. A smooth pumpkin is easier for kids to draw on and safer for you to carve.
  • Avoid pumpkins that feel heavy for their size. This can indicate thick walls that could be difficult to carve through.
  • Skip any pumpkins with soft spots, which can indicate rotting.
  • Inspect the pumpkin for any nicks or cuts that may make it vulnerable to infection.
  • Pick a pumpkin with a flat, front surface for carving—that will yield the best results.
How to pick the best carving pumpkin

2. Take precautions when carving

Best Pumpkin Carving Kit

According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, Halloween often results in serious hand injuries—requiring three to four months for rehabilitation. To help avoid a trip to the ER, take these precautions when carving your pumpkin.

  • Don’t rush.
  • Use small, controlled motions.
  • Choose a location that is well lit and a work surface that’s sturdy.
  • Keep your hands and carving tools dry.
  • For added safety, leave the pumpkin top on so you don’t put your hand inside the pumpkin and risk cutting it.

Never let a young child carve a pumpkin. If you allow your older child to create a jack-o’-lantern, supply them with age-appropriate carving tools and supervise them closely.

Pumpkin carving safety tips

3. Choose an easy design

Best Pumpkin Stencils

To help keep your child’s interest, choose a design that’s easy to carve and won’t take long. Consider downloading a few pumpkin templates ahead of time, and let your child pick the one they like best.

Tips to pull off the perfect pandemic pumpkin party

You might not be able to bob for apples this year, but you can still have fun and stay safe with a pandemic-friendly pumpkin carving get-together.

  • Get some space. If your city currently allows for small gatherings, invite over a couple of friends and spread out across the yard and driveway. You can give everyone a six-foot stretch of butcher paper to collect all those pumpkin guts and seeds. Plus, it makes an easy boundary to help everyone stay at least six feet away from each other.
  • Mask up. It's better to be safe than sorry. Provide masks or ask guests to bring them in case you need to help a little one or take somebody to the restroom. But go ahead and make it fun. You can buy Halloween-themed masks or get supplies to let kids decorate their own.
  • Keep things clean—especially hands. If you can, set up an outside handwashing station. Instead of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," suggest a spooky tune like "Monster Mash" to sing for 20 seconds while kids wash away those squishy orange remains. And have lots of hand sanitizer available for quick and easy access. A personal bottle for each kiddo is ideal.
  • Go online. If getting together in person seems scarier than a monster movie, you can still have fun with friends and show off your pumpkin decorating skills with a virtual party. Use Zoom, Google Meet, Teams (or whatever platform you use) to set up a synchronized carving fest that puts no one at risk.

4. Keep your kid occupied

While you’re carving, keep your child busy (and out of harm’s way) by letting them decorate a small pumpkin all their own. From covering the pumpkin in glitter or adorning it in rhinestones to transforming it into their favorite character, there’s a wealth of kid-friendly ways to decorate a pumpkin.

5. Clean up quickly

Pumpkin carving is fun, but it’s also messy — especially when kids are involved. Slippery pumpkin flesh or seeds may end up on the floor and cause a fall. To help minimize this risk, lay down newspaper or a disposable drop cloth under your work area, and pick it up as soon as you’re done carving.

6. Skip the candles

Burning candles are a potential fire hazard, and they can be especially dangerous to kids. This year, try illuminating your pumpkin with an LED tea light instead of a candle. Or, give your pumpkin extra pizzazz with a special effects battery operated light.

We hope these tips help your family carve pumpkins safely. For more Halloween safety tips and pumpkin design inspiration, check out our spooktacular Halloween Pinterest board.

Alexia Chianis
Written by
Alexia Chianis
Wanderlust junky and mom of two, Alexia is a former police officer and U.S. Army Captain who draws on her experiences to write about a myriad of safety topics.