Pumpkin carving is a Halloween tradition that both young and old enjoy. After all, what is more fun that creating your own ghostly face and then watching it come to life on the front porch that evening? There are many different ways to carve a pumpkin, from stencils to free hand, from scary faces to elaborate scenes—make your pumpkin the star of the neighborhood.

Want to become a pumpkin carving pro? Follow these tips to make your squash shine.

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Find the right tools

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You can find a pumpkin carving kit at your local grocery store. Specialized carving tools will make it easier (and safer) to create your one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Many of the carving knives have ridged edges, which makes cutting through a thick pumpkin much easier to navigate. Another handy tool found in most of these kits is a pumpkin scraper. This will make taking the guts and seeds out of a pumpkin easy as pie. If you don’t have a scraper, a large metal spoon will work just fine. If you want to do a relief design in which you carve away at the pumpkin’s surface to make an image pop out but don’t completely cut through the pumpkin, you’ll want a woodcarving gouge handy as well.

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Pick your designs

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Do you prefer to draw your design freehand, or work off of a stencil? Either way, it is best to draw the design on your pumpkin with dry-erase marker. From here, you can easily erase lines, or even start completely over if you decide that certain picture does not fit your pumpkin-carving mood. If you’re making a 3D pumpkin, save leftover pieces from what you carve out to make ears or noses.

Preserve your pumpkin

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After all of the hard work you just put into making your pumpkin perfect, it’s only natural that you want it to last through the Halloween festivities. Keep your pumpkin from rotting by spraying the squash with bleach or an acrylic spray (found at craft stores). The sprays will help to keep your pumpkin from growing mold and ultimately collapsing in on itself.

Seed roasting

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When you scraped out the insides if your pumpkin, you were probably left with hundreds of small pumpkin seeds. Instead of throwing them out, turn the pumpkin’s insides into a tasty snack! Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Then, simply clean off the pumpkin seeds with running water and place them on a paper towel to dry. Toss the pumpkin seeds in 2 tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of salt. Roast the seeds for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you want to to get a little more creative with your roasted seeds, consider adding cinnamon & sugar or cayenne pepper to the seeds before baking. Serve the seeds on their own or with your favorite fall soup!

Paint your pumpkin

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If carving is not really your forte, consider breaking out the acrylic paints! Painting a beautiful mural on your pumpkin is a great way to show off your artistic side without carving tools. If you have small children, this is also a great way for them to express their creativity without leaving you to do all of the work. In order to show off your design at night, place a small light in front of the pumpkin so that trick-or-treaters can admire it during their stop at your house.Each pumpkin is as unique as the person carving it. Make your pumpkin your own masterpiece by carving, painting and preserving your artwork so it lasts even after Halloween. Be warned, your neighbors might flock to your front porch asking how you for tips on becoming a pumpkin pro.