Pumpkin-Carving Halloween Party

Sisters carve some fun into fall, with pumpkin-carving parties for family and friends.

Cindy Syria and Sandy Manion with pumpkins

A bumper crop of fun is had by all at the pumpkin-carving bash hosted by sisters Cindy Syria (left) and Sandy Manion.

Al Karich cleaning his pumpkin

Artistic partygoers have a gooey good time "degunking" pumpkins of all shapes and sizes.

Sisters Sarah and Kelly Sytria carving pumpkins together

Pumpkin Picassos can take their pick of patterns and carving tools to create their glowing masterpieces.

Natalie Pfeiffer and Emily Syria cleaning pumpkins

Young guests have their hands full helping adults clean out pumpkin innards.

John Karich carving his pumpkin

A Halloween-themed vinyl tablecloth adds to the decor and cuts down on mess.

Grandma Alice Frestedt carving pumpkin

Carvers of all ages use their imaginations to create gourd-geous jack-o'-lanterns.

Cindy Syria and Sandy Manion with pumpkinsAl Karich cleaning his pumpkinSisters Sarah and Kelly Sytria carving pumpkins togetherNatalie Pfeiffer and Emily Syria cleaning pumpkinsJohn Karich carving his pumpkinGrandma Alice Frestedt carving pumpkin


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.

Carol Ann Speight aka Canadian She Wolf 1 October 4, 2014 at 10:34 am

Fantastic idea! My husband & I are in our late 60’s(he’s 70 in 21 days), and we do a very extensive display for halloween.(My pride and joy is an 18-foot Grimm Reaper inflatible!!! followed closely by the 25 or so other inflatibles, plus incidentales…;)… ;)..) .Think this would be a great idea to get “the blood flowing” in the community!
Thank you.


D Bicket 2 October 16, 2015 at 4:14 pm

Loved this idea ! My high school senior wants a Halloween party. This sounds like great way to intertan teen age kids for a safe and fun few hours !


Kimberly Browning 3 October 18, 2015 at 9:17 am

Our family does this every year, as well. We usually head to one of our park’s shelters. The shelters are first-come, first serve. If none are available, we just grab a couple of picnic tables and set-up. Since, we are at the park, the children and adults have access to a large area to run, play, whatever. If we are fortunate enough to find an unoccupied shelter, there is access to electricity, so if we bring a boombox, we can also have music, fright soundtracks or other spooky lights. We bring simple paper décor. We use either old plastic table clothes or the inexpensive dollar store kind and then bring lots of newspapers, so we can throw away anything left. Some people take the paper and pumpkin scraps to compost. I know the deer and other animals may appreciate any extra treats-pumpkins scraps-left behind, but some parks prohibit it. Many guests will take the pumpkin seeds home, however. We supply some foods and treats, but also ask guest to bring something, including their own pumpkin. We have collected various carving tools and stencils over the years. I always scout around for clearance items to pick up for next years’ fun too. This fun event could work for churches, community groups, workplaces, etc.


Kimberly Browning 4 October 18, 2015 at 9:21 am

Another good idea for the pumpkins is to get the $1 pack of led or battery operated tea lights for the pumpkins. They typically com 3 or 5 to a pack. You won’t have to worry about flames/fire.


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