The fall pumpkin-carving party I've been sharing this week isn't the first pumpkin-carving party I've hosted. In fact, this party has become an annual tradition for my friends and me, and along the way we've picked up a few tips and tricks for hosting a better bash, one that provides your guests with everything they need to carve a great pumpkin, but leaves you with enough time to join in the fun.
Tip #1: Have guests bring the pumpkins and you provide the carving tools.
You have enough to worry about when hosting a party — you don't need to add lugging home a trunkful of pumpkins to your prep list. Ask each guest to bring their own pumpkin and tell them you'll provide the cutting tools and tea lights. It might be tempting to just break out the steak knives, but my friends and I have found that nothing in our kitchens work quite as well as those little knives that come in pumpkin carving kits. (You don't need one kit per person; people can share.)
Here's a list of what I recommend having ready:
Tip #2: Roast the seeds...or not.
I love roasted pumpkin seeds and in past years always popped a tray or two in the oven after carving was through. But at this year's party, I felt like I already had enough tasks keeping me in the kitchen and away from the guests, so I decided not to take on the job of cleaning and roasting the seeds as well. Instead, one happy guest took home a big bag of seeds and guts to clean and roast at home.
That said, I did miss having a pan of toasty, salty pumpkin seeds at the end of the party, so I recommend doing it if you have the time.
Tip #3: Keep the food simple.
You won't have time to carve a pumpkin if you are in the kitchen. And no one will be in the kitchen keeping you company because they will be carving their pumpkins. This is a party where you want to be in the kitchen as little as possible, so I recommend a menu of make-ahead dishes that just need to be warmed up, an appetizer spread, or a potluck dinner. All make it easy to feed your guests and have fun at your party.
Tip #4: Make a punch or two.
As with the food, keep the drinks mostly hands-off will make things a lot easier for you. Of course, you could just serve wine and beer, but mixing up a seasonal punch is a little fancier and more festive, and typically more budget-friendly, too.
Do you have any tips for hosting a pumpkin-carving party?