No, we didn't celebrate Halloween in November. We did, in fact, carve pumpkins before Halloween, 2 weeks before to be exact, which that in itself is quite an accomplishment for me. Let me just set the record straight, I'm not one of those "IT" bloggers that have it all together. I quite possibly will always be behind in blogging, I'll probably blog about Christmas in February, and still have my tree up when I do it. It's a fact that I've come to live with and am okay with at this point in my life. So, alas. If you thought all the Halloween posts were over in the blog world, ring a ding ding ding (The Office, anyone?), here's another one!!
So, you wanna know the deets to caving pumpkins in China? Well, I'm your girl.
Now, you're gonna need the tools. Now, it should be noted that living in China forces you to be creative around the holidays. There aren't bins of pumpkin carving patterns & tools, aisles of cake mix boxes, baskets of wrapping paper or any of that awesome holiday-sort. You have to go back to the bare necessities. Thankfully, the tools needed for Jack O Lanterns are all tools you can easily find in your Chinese home.
*I know I've said it before but I'll say it again, if you need a Pinterest designer, I'm your girl. I mean, check out that awesome cut & paste job/non matching background. It's pro fesh.
1. A rice spoon. This is FANTASTIC for carving pumpkins. The edges of the spoon are thin enough and sharp enough to scoop out your pumpkin guts beautifully and the handle end works great for carving the face. If you don't have one of these spoons, they can be bought for a mere dollar at your local China town store. Also, they make great cereal spoons!
2. A permanent marker. In your Chinese home it probably won't be Sharpie, because those are like gold here, but any permanent marker will do. This is for drawing your pumpkin face of choice.
3. A screwdriver set. For the rest of our Jack-o-lantern carving lives I am using a screwdriver set. These worked perfectly for carving the face! We drew on their faces, gave each child a mini screwdriver and let them poke holes all along the lines. Perfect!
4. Last but not least, a knife. No explanation needed. Except, maybe, don't let the kiddos use the big guns. **Also needed: Pumpkins & tea lights
Let's not forget the most important part, the pumpkin!! As you can see, at local markets and grocery stores they only sell the small, baking pumpkins. Though they were small, they worked great for the kids! **Qingdao tip: If you want bigger pumpkins in Qingdao, you can get them, but you'll need to take a trip to Lao Shan and buy them from local farmers.
We started out pumpkin carving adventure with our students by letting them choose stencils from online. We printed them out, without thinking through the obvious, big stencils, small pumpkins. Instead of using the stencils on the pumpkins, we ended up using them as guidelines for drawing. **Obvious tip: Scale your stencils print outs to the size of your pumpkin, before printing.
Their pumpkins turned out awesome! They had so much fun doing something that have never done before! It's such a joy to introduce kids to new things. They get so excited and it makes us feel like we're kids again, carving pumpkins for the first time ourselves.
Jake all night kept asking me if he could eat his pumpkin. Ha. I don't know why but he was pretty curious and set on eating it. I guess it wasn't has good as he expected.
They were hams taking photos with their pumpkins.
Jake's ghost Jack-o-lantern
Ivy's reversible Jack-o-lantern. A face and a ghost.
Gary's angry bird pumpkin.
Justin's skull pumpkin.
Next step, light those pumpkins up! :) The best part!
We were so proud of them on how they all turned out! And had so much fun carving pumpkins in China. It's those little things that really make the holidays feel more like home and help us appreciate those fun traditions we grew up with.