It’s that time of the year again – Halloween is almost upon us! The supermarkets are full of pumpkins for carving, but if you’re not sure how to do it, follow this step-by-step guide to carving the perfect pumpkin jack o’ lantern to impress the neighborhood trick or treaters!

1. Get the right pumpkin

Choose a pumpkin that is flat on the base, so it will be stable when standing and less likely to roll.

Get one that looks fresh and firm.  If you get one with a long stem that will make it easy to take the lid on and off after you’ve carved it. The best pumpkins go quickly, so don’t leave it to the last minute to buy one.

2. Use the right tools for the job

You can get special pumpkin carving tools these days, but most of us manage fine with a knife. Use one with a serrated edge, so you can use it like a saw and control it easier.

3. Cut the lid at an angle

This is quite important – cut the lid on an angle so that it fits well. If you cut straight, the lid is more likely to fall inside the lantern.

4. Scoop out the seeds

You can use an ice cream scoop to remove the seeds and stringy flesh from the inside of the pumpkin, but a spoon will also do the job.

Don’t throw away the seeds. Boil them in salted water for 10 minutes, then toast them in the oven with a little olive oil until they are golden brown. Let them cool and eat as a healthy snack.

5. Draw your design

Use a marker pen to draw your design on the pumpkin before you start cutting it. You can also print a template out and stick it on the pumpkin so that you know where to cut. Generally, templates allow you to create more complicated designs.

6. Cut the design out

Use a pumpkin carving tool or serrated knife. Cut straight, and not at an angle for a clean finish.

7. Add a light to your lantern

Tealights work best for the traditional spooky flickering look. Carve a small hole in the top of the lantern to let the heat out and reduce burning of the pumpkin. Make sure there is nothing flammable above your tealight when you put the pumpkin into place.

You can also get battery-operated tealights so there’s no risk of setting fire to anything.