Sisters carve some fun into fall, with pumpkin-carving parties for family and friends.
For a couple of fun-loving Minnesota sisters, pumpkins have proved to be the life of the party.
“Every October, we throw a pumpkin-carving party on the Saturday afternoon before Halloween,” Cindy Syria says, describing the festive gathering she and her sister, Sandy Manion, have hosted for 12 years running. “It began as a fun activity to do with our kids when they were young. Now they’re all adults, and the party keeps going—and growing.”
The sisters take turns welcoming upwards of 30 people to their homes in rural St. Louis County. The invitations indicate this party is BYOP—bring your own pumpkin, of course—and guests bring plenty in various shapes, shades and sizes. “If the sun is shining, we carve outside so we can enjoy the fall colors and be as messy as we like,” Sandy continues. “When it’s blustery, we move tables into a heated garage and set the mood with autumn decorations. The more orange, the merrier.”
Pumpkin Picassos whittle original designs, while the less artistic use templates the hosts provide. “We shop the discount racks in November to stock up on carving supplies,” Sandy says. “Over the years, we’ve assembled quite a collection of carving tools and patterns.”
The pumpkin-palooza includes family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, ranging in age from 2 to 80-something. “For safety’s sake, only adults do the carving,” Sandy explains. “But the kids love reaching in and pulling out all the pumpkin gunk.”
A Halloween buffet keeps partygoers in the spirit. “Everyone brings a dish to pass,” Cindy says. “The kitchen is bubbling with slow cookers.” The carvers take frequent breaks to snack, toss a football or just roam around to admire everyone’s handiwork.
Lighting the Night
“Just before sunset, we hurry to finish carving pumpkins in time for the official lighting ceremony in the yard,” Cindy says. “That’s when our pumpkins really shine.” Each shell gets a candle, bringing the masterpieces to life. “We’ve advanced beyond the triangle eyes and crescent-moon smile to some pretty creative carvings,” Cindy notes, rattling off descriptions of dragons, ghosts, spiders, ravens and mummies from past parties. “Each year the ingenuity gets more impressive.
“After we’re finished oohing and aahing, everyone packs up their pumpkins to take home.” From porches and walkways, they extend eerie greetings to trick-or-treaters. That their annual carving party continues to kindle all kinds of excitement, even among the grown kids, thrills their moms. It looks like they’ll pass the torch—or more accurately, the jack-o’-lantern—to the next generation.
Host a pumpkin-carving party of your own with more bright ideas from Cindy and Sandy.
Photos by Cindy Syria and Sandy Manion.