It’s Halloween time again. I wrote this a couple of years ago when we were away with the Wild Grandparents on the North Yorkshire Moors. The morning’s crisp air was a reminder of the lengthening nights and the perfect skeleton leaves we’d recently found spoke more of ghostly goings on than of Autumn.

Thoughts turned to Hallowe’en, to costumes and whether to hold a party or go Trick or Treating with friends?

Pumpkin Tradition

Naturally we then wondered “What about the Pumpkin?”

The Jack O’Lantern tradition stems from the Irish tale of a man called Jack who sold his soul to the devil. Upon death he was condemned to wander in eternal darkness with only a burning coal from hell for light, which he carried in a hollow turnip. Pumpkins are much easier to carve by the way!

Pick Your Own

In 2015, rather than get a shop-bought pumpkin, we decided to pick our own. It’s a simple way for kids to connect with nature, learn about food origins and extend the Hallowe’en fun. We found a local farm offering PYO (pick your own) and visited on a cool but sunny afternoon in late October.

It was great fun wandering along rows of deliciously autumnal oranges and yellows, choosing the size and avoiding any which had been nibbled (or perhaps discarded at midnight after an unexpected trip to the ball!)

Be warned Wild Parents, you may come away with more giant squash than anticipated – it’s hard to resist the different colours, shapes and sizes, not to mention your wildling’s excitement at picking their very own pumpkin, or five. You may also need physical strength for the journey home..

pile-of-pumpkins
More than we bargained for!

Top Tips for Perfect Picking

  • Don’t leave it too late in October or the best will be gone, but don’t go too early or your harvest might rot before Hallowe’en
  • Gently press the flesh and don’t pick any that feel soft or squishy
  • Avoid pumpkins with holes or nibbles in them; they will rot quickly
  • Twist the stems to remove pumpkins from their stalks

Carving

Back home it was down to the task of deciding who carved which pumpkin and what the designs would be.

Wild Daddy is very arty – here is a selection of his most recent designs. For top tips on carving the perfect pumpkin see his family-friendly guide on how to carve the perfect pumpkin

Caroline’s Trick AND Treat Activity

The kids love to hate this at Hallowe’en!

With all the lanterns carved there was a glut of what Caroline calls pumpkin ‘guts’ so she came up with an ingenious idea for using it all up. Read how to make her fantastic ‘Trick and Treat Lucky Dip’ in how to make a Hallowe’en Pumpkin Guts lucky dip. It’s pretty grim!

Image of two girls in hallowe'en costume making disgusted faces with hands dripping in pumpkin guts
Have YOU got the guts to search for treats in a cauldron of slimy pumpkin innards?

 Safety First

Our parenting philosophy means Caroline has used knives and scissors since toddlerhood, supervised from a distance and with relevant safety explanations. We have always trusted her innate sense of self and ability to take care of herself, but if you haven’t encouraged this level of independence from an early age then keep a close eye on your wild kids as pumpkins can be very hard which causes knives to slip around dangerously.

Where To Pick Your Own Pumpkin

We visited Millets Farm Centre in Oxfordshire to pick our pumpkins. They were between £1 and £3 depending on size.

For other areas, Clare from Flipflops or Wellies has produced this great list of places around the UK where you can pick your own pumpkins. Read her list here. Thanks for the great research Clare!

Wild Quiz for the Kids

Is a pumpkin a fruit or vegetable?

Here’s the Hallowe’en colouring picture Wild Daddy designed for our competition in 2016.

dragon-halloween-picture

Jack O’ Lantern Hallowe’en Baby?

We can’t wait for Hallowe’en because the son of some great friends is expecting his first baby, a boy, on October 31st – Wild Daddy wants a sweepstake with his guess on baby’s name being Jack!!! I take no responsibility for this terrible Dad joke…

UPDATE Oct 2017 – the colouring competition is now closed, and baby did not get called Jack!