Whether you're opting for a gourd straight from the patch, or choosing to carve a synthetic pumpkin, make sure you consider your design or pattern when making a selection. Pick one that's large enough and shaped to accommodate the length and width of whatever design you're going to carve. And before you leave the pumpkin patch, Ryan Wickstrand of Zombie Pumpkins
recommends the following: "Make sure it can stand well on its own, and never carry a pumpkin by its stem."
If you dread seeing your hard work turn to mush—even with good care, a carved pumpkin will last about a couple of weeks—consider an artificial pumpkin, a la Funkins
. They have precut holes in the bottom to accommodate a flameless light source and its walls have already been "shaved" down to a thickness of ½
-inch, the ideal width for carving and shading.