Pumpkins and tombstones and glow-in-the-dark potions, Oh my!

Halloween just wouldn’t be Halloween without pumpkins. (Ironically, Halloween didn’t have pumpkins until it migrated to North America. It used to have turnips. Really.)

Every year, we set the kids loose to carve their own pumpkins. Some years, they choose little ones. This year, they choose rather large pumpkins, and did rather a lot of carving.

Like last year, we had extra kids on hand for the carving on the theory that the more, the merrier. The theory works. Truly. Though there is a secondary theory that says the more kids with pumpkins, the more pumpkin gut cleanup will have to be done. (It’s a small price to pay for so much fun.)

This year, the pumpkin carving very quickly got serious. Last year was full of friends with jokes and laughter and vomiting pumpkins, which led to grossed-out groans and yet more laughter.

This year, there were friends with jokes, laughter galore, and vomiting pumpkins — what’s Halloween without a child giggling over pumpkin guts spewing out of a carved out pumpkin mouth, after all? — but there was also great seriousness. Really, really great seriousness. The sort of seriousness that makes a Mama tiptoe quietly past the table where the carvers are hard at work.

Such seriousness demanded a suitably serious home for the finished pumpkins, and so we went to work setting out potion bottles and skulls and crows and all sorts of other witchy odds and ends on the front porch.

B’s pumpkin was on the porch itself, taking pride of place beside an assortment of gourds, candles, skulls, and even a miniature tombstone.

K’s pumpkin was much scarier than B’s, so it got moved off the porch and onto a pedestal of its very own, with more candles and more skulls and our rain-gauge-turned-mad-scientist’s-candlelabra for good measure.

The rest of the front lawn was transformed, too:

By day, it was a little creepy. But by night… by night, with the candles lit, the porch light out, a strobe light flickering, and the smoke machine spewing both sound effects and a thick, white fog… by night is was positively scary.

The pumpkins, so carefully and patiently carved into jack-o-lanterny goodness, were absolutely marvelous:

And that purple jar that you can see in front of B’s pumpkin? That was one of three glowing ‘potions’ that we made, and they attracted the most attention of everything we put out.

Start with a clean, empty jar (this one is a plastic mayonnaise jar), break open a glow-stick from the dollar store and dump the contents in, then close it tight and give it a strong shake to break the glass vial that holds the second fluid that activates the glow.

WARNING: Be careful – this does involve glass, and if you get the thicker glow sticks, it takes an adult to cut through them safely.

We used the thick, squat glow sticks rather than the thin necklace-style ones, and they glowed for about 12 hours. The purple was the brightest, the greeny yellow was the most toxic-looking, but the red… Oh the red! It looked like radioactive blood in a jar, and it was lots of fun to play with. This is definitely something we want to do again next year!


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