Fall is my happy place! And while I love almost everything about this season, I do not like carving pumpkins!!! Can y’all relate? I have four kids, so by the time we are done with our pumpkins the garage and this mom are one hot mess!
This year, because I had a momentary lapse in sanity and thought somehow this would be a “fun” idea, I decided to have a fall pumpkin carving party at our house! What??? Why you ask??? I have no idea! (Seriously, I love having people over and will find any excuse to have friends over to talk and eat and talk…mostly the eating part.)
My friends and I also thought it would be a good idea to combine some service with fun. And since our local food bank was in need of food donations, we thought in addition to the fall festivities we would host a service project. So we invited the middle and high school students in our homeschool co-op to, “The Great Pumpkin Carve and Canned Food Drive!” It. Was. A. Blast!
We asked the kids to bring their own pumpkin and art and carving supplies and we provided the rest! Honestly, the thought of kids (okay especially boys) gathered together with sharp objects, gave me a moment of panic, but we are truly blessed to have some wonderful people in our group and there were no major issues at all. We just made sure that we laid out the ground rules and asked about five parents to help out. If you’re interested in hosting a similar event, here are the logistics.
We started the afternoon with pumpkin carving. With several tables covered with plastic tablecloths lined along driveway, we placed trashcans and trash bags by each one to keep the seeds and pumpkin guts contained. We also had wet wipes, dry erase markers, paintbrushes, paint, and hot glue guns available. Most of the kids brought their own supplies, but as the kids began carving out their pumpkins, we found that many wanted to accessorize their little gourds. A couple of tools that I discovered on Amazon in preparing for the party were the Dakota Products PG001 Pumpkin Gutter and Carving Tool and the Premium 3 Piece Pumpkin Carving Kit
The Pumpkin Gutter is the best pumpkin-carving tool ever! There is a reason why this little gadget got over 300 stellar reviews on Amazon! The Pumpkin Gutter attaches to your drill and helps you power through cleaning the gross and nasty out of your gourd. It literally cleans a large pumpkin out in about five minutes! The Carving Kit comes with three tools all made from stainless steal. Because of its quality construction, it makes carving and cutting in the details more enjoyable.
As the kids finished, we lined up their pumpkins along the driveway and gave each a number for the pumpkin-decorating contest. The categories were: Most Creative, Most Likely to Scare Small Children, and Most Likely to Rot Before Halloween. The kids loved it and did an impressive job vying for these coveted titles!
Before we set out for the canned food drive, we loaded the kids up on sugar. (I know that’s not really a very “homeschool” thing to do, but I think the apples I used were at least organic – ha ha!) In our backyard we had a fire going where the kids could roast marshmallows and make s’mores.
We also had a caramel apple nacho bar! I troll Pinterest incessantly and was happy to find this pin from playpartyplan.com that helped me create my own version of a caramel apple bar! It was a real hit and super easy to put together!
After everyone had their fill of s’mores, caramel apples and other forms of sugar, we divided into groups and unleashed them (ha! ha!) upon our neighborhood collecting canned goods for our food bank!
No, that’s not really how it happened.
A couple of weeks before the party, a friend contacted the food bank to ask their permission to collect canned goods on their behalf. The food bank provided us with some marketing material and a list of items that they were trying to collect in preparation for the holiday season. I divided our neighborhood up into five different zones and provided maps for each area. We had five parents who chaperoned and drove each group around the neighborhood and for about an hour the kids went door-to-door asking neighbors if they would be willing to contribute canned goods to the food bank. We provided each group with colored copies of the food bank’s brochure and gave them a “script” to use in case they got nervous and forgot what to say. We had a good response overall and it was a great experience for the kids to work together toward a worthy cause.
All in all it was a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon with friends! We will definitely do this next year, and I will never dread the hot mess of pumpkin carving ever again.