Pumpkin-Carving Party

There's more to carving a pumpkin than simply making a friendly or forbidding face. With the help of a stencil, you can create haunted houses, ghosts and even graveyards. And pumpkins aren't the only vegetables ripe for carving: winter squashes and most gourds can easily be hollowed out and carved.

Gather ten or twelve pumpkins in graduated sizes and carve them to suit your fancy. Place the largest one nearest your door, then align the rest in descending size along the walkway. With candles lighted inside, these glowing symbols of Halloween will welcome guests and beckon trick-or-treaters.

For a grown-up Halloween party, create a festive mood with candlelight throughout the house. Luminous carved pumpkins and squashes nestled among colorful fall leaves are beautiful on a mantel or arranged down the center of a buffet table. (Keep any dried plant material away from candle flames.)

Set out some gourds and clever tools that make carving pumpkins a cinch, then let guests get creative with their charming (or chilling) designs. All that friendly competition triggers hearty appetites. In the spirit of the holiday, we’ve created a menu where pumpkin rules—from braised pork shoulder served on pumpkin-Parmesan polenta, to spiced pumpkin cupcakes.