Halloween is next Thursday and people have been decorating their yards in my neighborhood for weeks. One of the fun things to do with your kids (or not) is to carve a pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern. The problem is that after carving they always start to get saggy and ugly. Here are some handy tips to keep yours looking fresher longer.

First off, clean the heck out of it. A little bleach water goes a long way toward banishing the bad bacteria on your pumpkin and that will keep it looking better. After you’ve opened it up and cleaned out the inside hit it with some bleach water too.

Once you’ve got your masterpiece carved exactly the way you want it rub a little Vaseline along the edges of your cuts, this will help seal it and keep it looking like you just did it yesterday. You can use other things like WD-40 or even vegetable oil but keep in mind that ALL of these are flammable so if you plan on using an actual candle inside don’t do this. A flameless candle will be fine.

When it doesn’t need to be outside for the whole neighborhood to see it's a good idea to take your carved pumpkin inside, wrap it in a plastic bag and place it in your refrigerator. Any cool, dark location will help keep it looking its best.

If it does start to look a little rough just give it an ice bath. It starts to sag because it’s becoming dehydrated so giving it a good dunk in some icy water will help to rehydrate it. After you do this it’s a good idea to dry it thoroughly to prevent mold growth.

If all that sounds too complicated you can always choose to paint or decorate your pumpkin instead of carving it. There are tons of ways to make your giant gourd look festive without actually cutting into it.

Check out this story at Woman’s Day for even more pumpkin carving tips.

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