Jack-o-lanterns last longer with one additional item from the drugstore

October 11 |
Darth Vader pumpkin
By: Jim ReynoldsCC BY 2.0
Halloween rocks, but it can be hard to find time to do anything around the house when you have limited time and money. This month, I'm posting several Halloween Hacks — really simple ideas to stretch your Halloween dollars and make the season spookier for all.

Today: Jack-o-lantern preservation

Ah, the fleeting pride of a rocking jack-o-lantern. Carved ever so carefully, but destined to start molding within days.

So, most people have heard of some of the preventative measures available for pumpkins. You can even buy Pumpkin Fresh, a spray made solely for the purpose of keeping your lantern lookin' good.

Here's my favorite trick: Wipe a thin layer of Vaseline along each pumpkin's wounds — in the cuts and all around the scraped-clean inside. This'll provide a barrier between molds and the pumpkin, and keep the gourd from drying out.

Good luck.

If you have additional ideas, pop 'em in the comments!

  1. My best trick for carving a pumpkin a few days before Halloween or a party and keeping it looking fresh is to drop the carved pumpkin into a bucket of cold water and leave it to soak until the big event. You can also add a dash of bleach if you're worried about it going funky.

    0 agree
  2. One way to get around the moldy pumpkin is to carve plastic pumpkins. The kind that look real, they carve nice as well. I got mine at Michael's for $10 (The price of your average pumpkin around here) I carved him up and it looks great! It won't mold and I can use it year after year. I think it will save me money as well as dealing with rotten pumpkin goo in the long run!

    However, if I had kids I would totally carve real pumpkins, carving pumpkins was the best part of Halloween!

    4 agree
    • What is the exact name of that product? I can never find one that isn't already carved that is suitable for carving (hollow but with a thick shell.)

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      • Joann also has those every year –http://www.joann.com/joann/catalog/productdetail.jsp?pageName=search&flag=true&PRODID=zprd_10859981a

        They only have the one size on their website ^ but in stores they have lots of sizes and colors.

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  3. If you are carving your pumpkins, don't forget to save and bake the seeds! Yum yum yum!

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  4. Oh and a $$-saving decorating idea: If you have old white t-shirts, icky white kitchen/bathroom towels you don't want any more or leftover cloth, turn them into ghosts! Put a wadded up piece of paper or a leftover plastic grocery sack in the middle of the cloth (you probably want to cut shirts into big rectangles), fold the cloth over and tie a sturdy string or fishing line just underneath where the insides are wadded up, and let the rest of the cloth dangle. Then, draw or paint a spooky/hysterical face on the "head" and hang them up. Super cute, super easy and super cheap.

    And if they get a little icky from hanging outside? Just open them up, pop them in the wash, and re-stuff them.

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    • You can also use some major starch and then lay the cloth over balloons to dry if you want them to keep their shape without any type of stuffing.

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  5. I think pumpkin longevity is also related to the weather. Last year, we carved a few days before Halloween, slathered them in vaseline, and unfortunately had a heat wave. They were black and squishy almost instantly. This year, we're going to carve the night before so we can hopefully avoid that happening again.

    1 agrees
  6. I want to know how to make the tongue on the second pumpkin!!!!

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    • Looks like they used the wide part of the mouth hole that was taken off- Just carefully peeled and shaped. It uses the natural curvature of the pumpkin. It's also probably attached with a dowel or something similar.

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  7. Halloween window silhouettes are pretty easy to DIY…. you could use a painted sheet, black paper, paint directly on the windows (acrylic and tempera paints wash off quite easily), or some other way I'm sure someone else has come up with! I think I'll try that this year!

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  8. A daily spray with water and bleach mixed will help too.

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  9. You can also sprinkle cinnamon inside and it won't rot as fast!

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  10. I've tried the Vaseline trick before and it totally didn't work. Made a huge mess, though!

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  11. I know exactly where the pic at the top was taken! It's my favorite coffee shop and they always have the best jack-o-lanterns every Halloween.

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  12. For those Really Giant pumpkins bought to please the kiddies, but get pilfered by midnight Pumpkin raids: One old friend smeared his prize with Vaseline, and daily found streaks from foiled raiders that couldn't keep a grip on it! Now that's what I call preservation!

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    • Yay! We live in a rambunctious college town and EVERY SINGLE YEAR my dad makes these lovely, elaborately carved pumpkins and they nearly always wind up smashed against the house. It hurts his feelings every time, but because we love it so much he still does it every year. We have yet to have one make it more than two nights. I AM SO DOING THIS!

      4 agree
  13. I've been told that those little "Do not eat" packets that come with shoes can help too when placed inside the pumpkin. I've never tried it myself, but even if it doesn't work, it's an excuse to buy a new pair of shoes!

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    • Yes exactly: silica gel. I've heard this too. :-)

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  14. I've done the Vaseline thing before. What a waste of time! It made no difference that I could tell and made a HUGE mess.

    1 agrees

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