One of the things my son loves to do is go pick a pumpkin to carve into a jack o’ lantern. We did it one year with my dad, and the boy has been an enthusiastic pumpkin picker ever since. Picking and carving pumpkins really can make a great fall family activity.
There are many places that still offer pumpkin patches in which you can go and choose your own pumpkins. In much the way agri-tourism has brought back picking your own apples (another great fall family activity) and picking your own strawberries, going to a patch somewhere to choose your own jack o’ lantern pumpkins is becoming popular again. The whole family can look through the patch and choose the pumpkins that they like best. My son prefers the perfectly round ones that weigh about ten pounds, while my husband likes pumpkins that are taller than they are wide. No matter the preference, though, it is possible to find just the right pumpkin.
Make sure that you go prepared, however. It is starting to get chilly in most parts of the country. Wear sturdy shoes that you do not mind getting dirty (I never saw a mud-free pumpkin patch), and a jacket to keep you warm. It can also help to have gloves, especially if the day is brisk and a little windy. We like to go to a nearby farm that also offers pony rides for the kids and sometimes a wagon ride. With the crisp autumn air, the brightly colored leaves and the hot apple cider, the pumpkin patch day is usually a dream.
When you get the pumpkin home, if you plan to carve within a couple of days, you can leave the pumpkins on your doorstep. Otherwise, keep them in a cool, dark place. We keep ours in the cellar for a couple of weeks before carving. After you carve them, you can put a little petroleum jelly on the inside and along the edges that you carved out. This helps preserve the jack o’ lanterns for a couple extra days.