Halloween really was not a big thing in the U.K. when I was a kid, but then we left there when I was 2 years old, so what do I know? I think my first memory of going out trick-or-treating was when we moved to Cayman, and places like Merren’s department store and Comart carried your basic masks. Remember the ones? With just a thin piece of elastic that went around the back of the head?

My mother would take us around to houses, and I would sing in the hope of getting more treats. Yep, even at that age I was a bit of a grifter.

Of course, Halloween is a completely different ball of wax these days. The costumes, decorations and trick-or-treating is all the rage and I think even the U.K. has caught on that it’s a fun time of year, even with that stiff upper lip.

Although I’ve really enjoyed attending Halloween parties and making my own costumes from scratch for years now, it’s only been since about 2013 that I’ve turned my hand to the rotund orange symbol of this popular holiday. I’d seen numerous pictures of professional pumpkin carvers’ creations, but never tried carving one myself.

My first attempt was surprisingly good, and so I fancied myself a bit of an expert from the git-go. That led me to arrange a pumpkin carving day each year with my nephews, niece and the rest of the family.

As we are about to embark on this messy, but very fun, endeavor once again, I am passing on some tips to others. Most importantly, however, buy your pumpkin soon. It is not unheard of for the local supermarkets to run out before Halloween … and grab a pumpkin carving kit while you are at it.

This may be a touch advanced for first-timers.
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