Halloween can be an expensive holiday, what with buying pumpkins, pumpkin patterns, candy, costumes and decorations, but there are some hacks that will still let consumers enjoy the holiday without it costing an arm and a leg. Read on to find out what some of these hacks are, a little bit about the history of Halloween, and where to get pumpkin patterns for the low price of FREE!
One way to get the best prices for Halloween pumpkins to carve into Jack O’ Lanterns is to buy them from a local pumpkin patch, if one is around. The pumpkins there are usually in a wide variety of sizes and colors and the money often will go to a good cause, like to help support a local Girls or Boys Club. Sometimes it is also possible to get offered a better price if they are bought in larger amounts, also, like quantities of 10 or 20. Occasionally, the prices for pumpkins are less expensive at local stores, though, so it can pay to shop around.
Every year, the faces of carved pumpkins on doorsteps and porches greet the eyes of people who walk and drive by houses, but where did the practice of carving them come from and why are they called Jack O’ Lanterns? The practice of carving vegetables into faces originated in Ireland and Scotland, though there were not any pumpkins available to be carved. Rather, the vegetables that were carved were ones that were around, like potatoes and turnips. People in England would sometimes use large beets. Irish immigrants who came to America brought the tradition of carving vegetables to the New World, where pumpkins flourished, and they found the perfect canvasses for their annual artwork in the large orange gourds.
The name, Jack O’ Lantern, for pumpkins after they have been carved comes from an Irish folktale. The story relates the history of a man who was so cheap, people called him called Stingy Jack. Stingy Jack did not enjoy parting with his money, though he did like having a drink at a tavern now and then. He made a deal with the Devil after he asked the Prince of Darkness to imbibe in a drink with him. Jack thought up a way to get out of paying for the drinks. He used his gift of gab to convince the Devil it would solve their problem if he turned himself into a coin to use to pay the bill. Then, Jack decided to keep the coin, instead, and he put it into his pocket next to a silver cross so that the Devil could not change back.
The story goes that Stingy Jack eventually told the Devil that if he left him alone for a year and also did not try to claim his soul when he died, he would free the Devil. The very next year, Jack tricked the Devil once again by convincing him to climb up a tree and pick a fruit for him. Then, once the Devil was up the tree, Jack carved the shape of a cross into the bark and Jack made another deal with the Devil. It was that the Devil would not bother him for ten more years if he let him come down.
Not very long after, Stingy Jack died. God did not want him in Heaven, because he had sinned and had a bad reputation, as he consorted with the Devil. The Devil did not like it that Jack had tricked him and he also had been forced to promise not to claim Jack’s soul, so he would not allow Jack into Hell. Jack was sent off into the night, with the only light to see by a burning coal. Stingy Jack made a homemade lantern by placing the coal into a hollowed-out turnip and he is still roaming the earth to this day. The people of Ireland began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and eventually this was shortened to just “Jack O’ Lantern.”
To carve a pumpkin into a Jack O’ Lantern, just a couple of simple tools are needed, like a pencil or pen to draw the design on the gourd, a knife to cut out the eyes, nose, and whatever else might be necessary to complete the pattern, and a spoon to scoop out the pumpkin seeds and “guts.” However, pumpkin carving cuts are also available, which offer a few other tools to choose from that might make the task easier. Some intrepid souls even use other tools they have, like drills. Drills and knives, of course, should only be used by adults who are carving pumpkins, or under close adult supervision.
A pumpkin can look festive and get people into the Halloween spirit without being carved, as well. With just a little bit of paint and possibly stickers and/or glitter, a regular pumpkin can be transformed into a holiday masterpiece!
Stencils and patterns for creating elaborate Jack O’ Lanterns can be found and downloaded for FREE on the Internet to add to the Halloween fun and festivities. There are even patterns for President George W. Bush, and for President Obama and Michele Obama. For fans of The Walking dead, there are also zombie patterns available at some sites. The more complex designs are best left to an adult in the household who has an artistic bent to them.
PumpkinMasters.com is one of the web sites where a person can download patterns, and it has a lot of other cool stuff to check out, like How-To videos and there is even a Pumpkin Carving Contest there that offers $5,000 in prizes. One of the patterns is of a headless horseman-like figure, and another is of a witch.
Another great site that offers FREE downloads of pumpkin patterns is ZombiePumpkins.com, also with a clickable link below. There are many terrific patterns to choose from there. There are some representing traditional movie monsters like the mummy, and other patterns that are fun, like one of Mario from The Mario Brothers and one of rock ‘n’ roller, Jim Morrison.
What about a few other “Halloween Hacks,” like a container to carry around the stash of candy and other Halloween goodies? Plastic or plush containers can be purchased at stores, of course, but there are some containers most people have around their houses that kids can use without paying any further money, such as pillow cases or a re-purposed brown grocery bag with handles that the kids can decorate with crayons, markers or paint.
Also, home computers and printers can be used to print out FREE Halloween decorations, although there is still the cost of the paper and ink used. There are FREE Halloween banner patterns online, as well as posters and signs. One of the many sites that offer such FREE Halloween decorations is Parents.com, also below!
For costumes, one idea is to hit Thrift Stores. Having costume exchanges with friends is another, or re-using last year’s costume, but with changes to make it into an entirely different look. A Gypsy costume from one year, for instance, could be altered and made into a fortune-teller’s costume or possibly even into a witch’s costume.
When it comes to Halloween candy, it is a bit difficult to get around some expenses; but, if candy is purchased that family members do not like very much, they will be less tempted to eat it, so the candy will be available to hand out, instead. Also, look for sales, and do not allow trick-or-treaters to grab handful of treats. Rather, just give out one or two pieces at a time, to ensure that the candy lasts throughout the entire night of Halloween.
These are just a few of the many “Halloween Hacks” that are available to consumers to make sure that the holiday is still fun, but does not cost a fortune. Halloween is a time of the year that everyone in a person’s family can enjoy, without it being a financial burden. Have a very Happy Halloween!
Written By Douglas Cobb