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Draw your design on the pumpkin with a water-based marker beforehand.
Cut the top and any large areas with a sharp, straight-edged knife.
Carve away from yourself; kids should carve only under adult supervision.
Never hold the knife in a stabbing position.
When carving, keep a portion of the knife blade in the pumpkin and use slow, steady saw strokes.
Cut the lid at an angle so the outside diameter is larger than the inside. This prevents the top from falling into the pumpkin when it shrinks.
Scoop out seeds and stringy flesh with a large spoon.
Carve the facial features closest to the center first and work outward. Cut out the larger features in sections.
Use an X-Acto knife for details and the tip of a potato peeler to make small circles and curves.
Remove carved portions by gently pushing them into or out of the pumpkin.
Reattach a section that is accidentally removed by using a toothpick to pin it back in place.
Make design holes large enough to provide air for the candle flame.
Flatten a spot in the base of the pumpkin for the candle but avoid digging too deep because the pumpkin becomes prone to rot.