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Thompson: Craving some pumpkin carving? Have I got a tip for you ...
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Hear Gordon Pirkle, a director for KARE for Kids Inc. of Dawsonville, discuss the history of moonshine and fast cars at the 40th Annual Mountain Moonshine Festival in Dawsonville.

Well, it’s time for my SUPERSIZED Halloween tips column. This is my biggest column of the year and I’ve got a lot of great Halloween tips. Most of them are on how to have a great jack-o-lantern. However, I’ve also added some on Halloween in general. Look for me when you’re out trick-or-treating. This year I’m going as a “duct tape mummy.” (What can I say, I love duct tape almost as much as I love Halloween). Have fun and be careful out there!

Here’s a cool decoration idea that you may not have thought of. Do a chalk outline of one of your family members on the driveway. Put some caution tape around it and you’ve created a CSI crime scene.

The biggest thing this year with pumpkins is “pumpkin stands.” These stands come in a variety of designs but they’re all made of steel and lift the pumpkins off the ground. My favorite ones can be found at Check them out.

Wipe your pumpkin down with a mixture of water and bleach. This will help prevent mold and kill bugs.

Always cut your pumpkin’s lid on an angle. If you don’t, the lid will want to fall into the pumpkin. Make sure that you include a notch on the lid when cutting it. (Don’t make a perfect circle). This will make it easier to determine how the lid goes back on.

After you’ve carved your pumpkin, put a candle in it and light it. Put the lid back on the pumpkin and wait about two minutes. Lift the lid off and you should see a slight burn mark on the underside of the lid. Cut a hole in the lid where the burn mark is. You’ve now added a chimney for your pumpkin.

Before you light your pumpkin on Halloween, sprinkle some cinnamon on the underside of the lid. The pumpkin will now have a pumpkin pie smell when the heat of the candle reaches the lid. You can also substitute nutmeg for cinnamon.

If you’ve ever carved a pumpkin using an intricate pattern, you know the hassle involved with transferring the pattern onto the pumpkin. The old method was to tape the pattern to the pumpkin and then make small holes along the outline of the pattern. Well, there’s an easier way. Just take the pattern and apply rubber cement to the back of it. Place the pattern on the pumpkin and begin cutting. When you’re through, carefully remove the pattern from the pumpkin.

If you carve your pumpkin before Halloween, here’s how you can preserve it. Cover all of the carved areas with clear tape and plastic wrap. Make sure that you also tape the pumpkin where you made the cuts for the lid. The bottom line is that you want to make sure you minimize the amount of air getting inside the pumpkin. Put the pumpkin in the refrigerator and you’re good to go!

What do you do if your pumpkin is starting to dry out? Fill your kitchen sink half full of cold water. Gently place the pumpkin face down into the cold water. Wait a couple of minutes and then remove it. You’ll be amazed at how good your pumpkin looks!

Do you hate the hassle of cleaning a pumpkin? Consider using a “Funkin.” It’s an artificial carvable pumpkin that you can find at craft stores or you can order on-line at The nice thing about Funkins is that your carving efforts will last long after Halloween! Important: Don’t use candles with Funkins. Only use a small light bulb.

If you’re looking for really off-of-the-wall ideas for decorating your pumpkin, check out the Web site (Parents, the site is probably rated PG. You might want to check it out first before sharing it with the kids). The site was created by Tom Nardone who is obviously a warped individual but very creative. He’s also written a new book on creating extreme pumpkins you can check out.

There are a lot of websites that offer carving patterns. Probably the best I’ve found is It has lots of free stuff. Be warned, some of their patterns are incredibly difficult but look really cool. Here are two other Halloween websites you should check out: and

I mentioned earlier in the column that I’ll be the “duct tape mummy” this year. If you’re looking for creative ideas for costumes, check out the book “Duct Tape Halloween.” It’s written by the Duct Tape Guys who are both nuts. You can check them out at their Web site One of their tips is to take a paper grocery bag with handles and cover it completely in orange duct tape. You can then create a pumpkin face on it by using some black duct tape. Add reflectors and a flashlight to the bag with more orange duct tape. It’s a great craft project to do with the kids and I guarantee that this bag won’t fall apart!

Tim Thompson lives in Gainesville. Have some tips, tools or tricks you’d like to share? E-mail Tim at

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