Ahh, that festive season where the Great Pumpkin takes to the skies. Assuming you aren’t Linus from the Peanut gang, chances are you’re going to be involved in carving a pumpkin, not waiting for one to bring you toys.

And if, like me, you have an army of kids, pumpkin carving is quickly going to turn into an ergonomic Nightmare Before Halloween of helping your kids carve not one, but eight pumpkins. I use the term “help” loosely here as I try to convince my kids to pick less complicated patterns that I know I am going to have to take over.

How to Ergonomically Carve a Pumpkin

Before you commit to “helping” your kids with carving their pumpkins this Halloween, here are some ergonomic tips to prevent you from getting a ‘musculoskeleton’ injury that will make you cry “Boo.”

The pumpkin that got me thinking about ergonomic carving.
  1. Don’t pick the biggest pumpkin. Sure, it might look cool, but you are going to have to lift that heavy thing. This is not rocket science. Bigger pumpkins weigh more.
  2. Make your hole on top large enough to easily get your scoop and hand inside the pumpkin. It’s pretty hard to gut a pumpkin when you can’t move your scoop around!
  3. Instead of cutting the top, cut the bottom out, as you can generally make a bigger hole this way. You’ll also have the added advantage of allowing your pumpkin to sit level on your step and your light source to be flat on Halloween night.
  4. Use a knife with a comfortable handle to do the cutting.
  5. Do your initial carving on the kitchen counter instead of the kitchen table. Counters are generally taller and give you better leverage for those larger cuts.
  6. Some of the carving tools you can find at the dollar store require a fine pinch grip. Consider the handle size of the tool you are going to use. If you have lots of pumpkins to carve, that small grip may make your muscles cramp.
  7. Use power tools when possible. My favorite carving tool is a drill. It’s great for eye holes (like the pumpkin above) and, with different size drill bits, can make a really effective pumpkin disco ball.
  8. Pick a pattern that has bigger holes for carving. Smaller holes mean more intricate hand work, and a longer time holding awkward tools.
  9. Scale your pattern back to a manageable level, both for you, and kid you are helping. The more they feel like they are “doing” the work, the longer they will stay engaged, and the less you will feel like you are doing the work for them.
  10. When the carving gets tough, use paint. Kids are more used to paint than using sharp(ish) tools and can use paint to get some of the more detailed designs.

If all that fails, “accidentally” drop your pumpkin on the step and tell your kids your pumpkin theme for this year comes from the 90’s band Smashing Pumpkins.

Happy Carving and Happy Halloween.

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