Mary Beth Johnson is a writer based in Atlanta, GA. She is currently writing her first book in between school drop off and laundry piles.
She can be found every day on Instagram and at the local coffee shop.
The traditions surrounding autumn can be some of the most beautiful memories families create. Between corn mazes, visits to the pumpkin patch, mums on the front doorstep, and late nights carving pumpkins, there’s no shortage of things to do just because the swimming pools have closed for the season. Our family’s favorite tradition is to take the kids to pick out their own pumpkin and then come home to carve special designs they each select. This year, we decided to take a shortcut and make these darling carrot-nose jack-o’-lanterns.
While you can certainly go to your nearest Trader Joe’s for pumpkins, it’s fun to scout out the nearby farms and make a day out of picking out the perfect pumpkin. We like to take a Saturday, grab coffee on the way, and give the kids plenty of time to meander around the farm, pet the animals, and snack on our favorite southern tradition: boiled peanuts.
This time of year, farms are bursting with countless varieties of pumpkins and gourds to choose from with breaks for corn mazes, apple cider donuts, and hayrides. Some farms have a more touristy vibe with lots of people, more food options, and weekly kid-friendly events. We prefer the quieter farms that are less well-known, with smaller crowds, and more farm animals. Check local blogs or Facebook groups in your area to get reviews on nearby options.
Coming home to carve the pumpkins may be the most beloved part of this fall tradition, but also the most tedious. If you have more than one child asking for an elaborate design it can take several hours to scoop out the flesh of each pumpkin; print and stencil the design; and carve the faces onto the pumpkins. This year, our family decided to go an easier (and cuter!) route by replacing all the carving with these carrot-nose jack-o’-lanterns I’d seen floating around the internet.
All you need for these are: pumpkins, carrots, a knife for carving, and wooden skewers.
There are two ways to make the carrot-nose jack-o’-lanterns: the slow way and the fast way. You can cut off the top of the pumpkin, scoop out the inside, and then carve the eyes. But halfway through this project, we found it was way faster to skip all the cutting and scooping and just cut triangle eyes directly into the pumpkin. We popped those triangles out like puzzle pieces. Not only was this method faster, it also helped the pumpkins last a bit longer.
Depending on your weather, the carrots may not last more than a few days. Cut some wooden skewers in half. Then, cut off the ends of your carrots and poke wooden skewers into the “flesh” as seen below…
Poke the skewered carrot into the pumpkin. Swap out for a fresh carrot whenever the old one starts to wilt.
These carrot-nose jack-o’-lanterns give a fresh look to a standard tradition. They look especially whimsical gathered together like a family on a front step with some mini pumpkins and acorns scattered about.