Like crisp air, changing colors and spiced treats, pumpkins are wonderful hallmarks of the fall season. They make fun and spooky Halloween decorations, as well as festive Thanksgiving décor.

As you get ready to pick out and decorate your pumpkins this fall, here are some helpful tips for choosing the best pumpkins to carve and decorate – and for making your pumpkins last as long as possible.


Whether you’re getting pumpkins from a retail store, a pumpkin patch or elsewhere, you can pick out the best ones by checking out the:

  1. Color – Look for evenly colored pumpkins. Also, keep in mind that pumpkins will stop changing color after they’ve been cut from the vine. So, don’t expect a spotty or discolored pumpkin to continue to change colors after it’s been cut.
  2. Firmness – Healthy pumpkins will have firm shells. Softer, squishier shells are usually signs that pumpkins are starting to rot. Test firmness by pressing shells with your fingernails. Perfectly ripe (and not rotting) pumpkins won’t dent or scratch when you do this. Also, if you plan on carving your pumpkin, make sure the shell isn’t too firm. Pumpkins with really thick, hard shells can be difficult and risky to carve.
  3. Shape – Whether you want to pick a tall, short, narrow or round pumpkin (based on your carving or display plans), make sure you pick a pumpkin that’s balanced and won’t roll on its side when you try to sit it up.
  4. Sound – When you gently tap the pumpkin’s shell, listen for a hollow sound.
  5. Cracks & splits – Avoid pumpkins with these features that can easily lead to rot or hide mold.
  6. Bottom – Check out the bottom of the pumpkin to make sure it doesn’t have any bruising, cuts or other damage that will make it rot faster.


  • Pick out your carving design before you pick out your pumpkin. This can help you figure out what pumpkin shape will be best for your carving plans.
  • Avoid carrying pumpkins by their stems. This can break the stems off, creating gashes that can quickly rot.
  • Once your pumpkin is carved, display it in a cool, shady place to make it last as long as possible.

How are you using pumpkins in your fall holiday decorations? What are your fun carving and display plans? Share your plans, pictures, tips and more with us on Facebook!

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