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Perfect pumpkins are one of the favorite autumn icons. Here's how to find, carve, and care for a Halloween pumpkin.
* Consider possible locations for your pumpkin. On a front porch you may have space for a pair of large pumpkins or a trio of small, medium, and tall sizes. Smaller pumpkins can be a better fit for mantels, stairways, or windowsills.
* Look for unblemished pumpkins that are solid, not mushy.
* You'll want to select a pumpkin with at least one good side if it will be placed against a wall. All sides should be presentable if the pumpkin will be used in a table centerpiece.
* It is generally simpler to carve pumpkins with a smooth, hard surface.
* The style of your carving pattern should help determine what shape pumpkin to purchase. Smiling faces and designs with carved wording fit easily on large round pumpkins. Look for tall, narrow shapes to add variety or create spookier face designs.
* Choose your favorite pumpkin color. If zesty orange isn't in your decorating scheme, consider harder-to-find pale green, dark green, bluish gray, or all-white pumpkins.
* Consider choosing matching pairs of pumpkins for a symmetrical look on either side of a front door, or have fun putting together a mix-and-match grouping of different colors, shapes, or sizes.
* Most pumpkins need to sit flat on a table or floor, so test your pumpkin to make sure an off-center base doesn't cause it to topple over.
* Store uncut pumpkins in a cool location before carving.