As the kids get restless for Halloween, we’re thinking about pulling together an impromptu pumpkin carving party to hold them over. It’s the perfect way to kick off fall and get excited about the upcoming holidays. Even better, it’s a low-key, easy kind of party to throw, busy schedule and all.
Low-Stress Tips for Hosting a Great Pumpkin Carving Party with Kids
I’ve gathered a few of my favorite tips for hosting a low-stress, but still really fun pumpkin carving party for kids, from what food to serve to which tools to have on hand. And I even found some creative non-carving ideas if you don’t feel like supervising children with knives all party-long. Which, of course, I totally understand.
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This post has been updated for 2023
1. Make your pumpkin carving party BYOP
The number one easiest way to keep your party simple—and affordable—is to ask your guests to bring their own pumpkins. Of course, have a few extra for those who forget, but hopefully it should be pretty easy for your guests to remember to bring a pumpkin to a pumpkin carving party. (Photo:Olivia Kulbida on Unsplash)
2. Keep pumpkin carving party decor simple. Really simple.
Keeping in mind that your guests will be children—and making a tremendous mess—there’s no need to go overboard with decor. Here’s what you need:
- Cover tables using a roll of basic butcher paper or kraft paper (or newspaper works)
- Simple flower arrangements in buckets or mason jars go a long way, or just put some smaller decorative pumpkins like the ones above at the center. (photo: Carmen Gonzalez)
- Do it outside if you’re able — not only is it safer to have some space and fresh air, but pumpkin seed gloop will get everywhere. You can even set up a hand-washing station using a buckets with soapy water, one with clean water, and dish cloths.
- Or, do it indoors! If by necessity or bad weather, a canvas drop cloth or plastic painter tarps under the table is a big help.
- Skip your good knives and grab a few of sets of affordable pumpkin carving tools (below) to help older kids create more intricate designs on their pumpkins.(Good tip: Younger kids can use metal cookie cutters in fun shapes and rubber mallets with the help of grownups. BH&G has a helpful video on that.)
- Seeds and goop go in buckets, which also double as a place to hold the pumpkin carving tools to start (more easy decor!) You want to save those pumpkin seeds for roasting, or for fun parting gifts — see below for that.
3. Offer no-carve pumpkin decorating options.
If you have very young kids—or more kids than parents—it may make sense for you to host a pumpkin decorating party instead of a pumpkin carving party. Skip the sharp tools and messy scooping altogether, and offer creative ways to decorate without cutting. Visit these posts for 9 cool no-carve DIY pumpkin decorating ideas.all easy enough for kids to do themselves (hooray!). We also found these 13 easy no-carve pumpkin ideas that are truly simple and many don’t even need paint.
How cute are these Painted Mini Pumpkins from Studio DIY. Everyone loves donuts, and it’s an easy painted pumpkin idea for your party
Have Star Wars fans coming to your party? (Believe me, you do.) You have to check out these Star Wars pumpkins from DIY Candy. We also rounded up 29 cool Star Wars pumpkin ideas, many of which don’t require carving.
4. Serve food that’s easy to make ahead
One Pot Chili at Pass Me Some Tasty
If you really want to keep your pumpkin carving party easy, put out easy party food you can prep in advance. These 5 brilliant food bar ideas are perfect for last-minute entertaining. An easy self-serve pasta bar feeds picky kids and adults alike. Or, I’m a fan setting up of a big pot of chili that can simmer while I set up—or even a couple of days before—like this One Pot Chili recipe from Pass Me Some Tasty, above. Then just set a table of DIY toppings like sliced avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream and jalapeño so guests do the (fun) work themselves.
Mulled Apple Cider via Pretty Simple Sweet
No pumpkin carving party would be complete without warm mugfuls of Mulled Apple Cider. This recipe gives tips for how to prepare mulled cider with or without alcohol, so that all of your guests can enjoy it. (Another mom tip: Drop couple of ice cubes in the kids’ mugs before they start sipping.)
Caramel Frosted Pumpkin Cookies via I Heart Naptime.
If you want a sweet treat–beyond Halloween candy of course–tie in some of that yummy pumpkin flavor by serving these Caramel Frosted Pumpkin Cookies from the recipe at I Heart Naptime. They were served at a friend’s party recently and I could not stop eating them.Just make plenty — they’re small and they’ll go fast.
5. Make good use of those pumpkin seeds!
We can’t let all those delicious seeds go to waste! For a clever party favor after your pumpkin carving party (in addition to their pumpkin of course), take the seeds kids have saved from their carved pumpkins and pack them up in baggies. Place each one in a small galvanized bucket–or spend a little more on a Halloween themed bucket that they can reuse. Then add in a printed recipe so that when the seeds are dry and ready for roasting, kids will have one more project to look forward to.
Roasted Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds via Joy Food Sunshine
For a place to start, I really like Joy Food Sunshine’s recipe for Roasted Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds. Or, check this post on 9 creative recipes using pumpkin seeds. You can also provide a simple tutorial for how to roast pumpkin seeds — this post includes four more recipe ideas as well.This way your guests will have the opportunity to remember your awesome party when they’re enjoying their own homemade snack, saved from their very own pumpkin.
Top photo: Frames For Your Heart