I will be the first to admit that Halloween isn't really my thing. I just can't get into it. Maybe I was traumatized as a small child and have blocked out the memory of it. Don't get me wrong... I like the candy. It's just the cheesy, spooky, costume wearing factor I can't seem to get behind. I wish I could.
One thing I do love about Halloween though is carving pumpkins. I'm not sure what lit the initial spark, but way back in August I knew I wanted to have a pumpkin carving party with everyone. Being that it was still summer I put a pin in the idea and moved on... until I saw the dollar bin at Target filled with fall decorations and party supplies. Specifically these small paper snack cup that I had to have. They were just so fun and since they were more fall-ish than Halloween-ish it was right up my alley. So I came home from my first shopping trip with this: the snack cups, small orange paper plates to match, 3 small tin pails with ivory ribbon handles and a spool of 4 fall themed ribbons. Random? Yes. At that point I didn't even know who, or how many, I was inviting or what I was going to do with the pails or ribbon.
Needless to say I had a FANTASTIC time and hope everyone else did too. I think we should turn this into an annual affair.
My favorite treats on the table were the pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and the candy corn rice crispie treats. I pulled the flower arrangement together from various plants in my yard, including the last three tiny sunflowers hanging on for dear life to the wilting stalk in my garden.
Outside we put all the pumpkins in a wheelbarrow until we were ready. I also found small Styrofoam pumpkins at the Dollar Tree. They said they were carve-able so I grabbed a bunch as extras. They ended up being great for the smaller kids to cover with stickers or for the slightly older kids when they wanted something else to do when they were done carving the real thing. I highly recommend getting something like these as back up.
As for the tools of the trade... bowls and spoons for collecting pulp, a books of templates, and a few pumpkin carving kits did the trick. I don't think you can have enough of the carving knives, so stock up! They are worth it and work much better than a steak knife. I also found the idea for using cookie cutters and a mallet to hammer in a design into the side of the pumpkin. Then you can just use the knife to get the cuts all the way through if the skin in thick.
A kit like this works great. I have used this one in the past: