Decide on the shape that will best fit your pumpkin carving design. For example, a large round pumpkin will look great with a chubby smiling pumpkin face, while a tall narrow pumpkin can be made to look spooky and ghost-like.
Determine the size that will best fit your decorating plan. A porch display might feature a trio of pumpkins – one large, one medium, and one small. Or, you might want a group of smaller pumpkins to display on a railing or windowsill.
Look for pumpkins that are very fresh and firm.
Avoid pumpkins that may have bruised or soft areas, as well as any that have cuts or other visible blemishes.
Pumpkins can be any color from light yellow-orange to bright orange. They also come in white and sage green. While color variations are not critical, you may prefer the look of one over another, and may wish to match the color of several pumpkins if they will be displayed as a group.
Smooth skinned pumpkins are generally easier to draw on and carve, though craggy exteriors can also make effective and sinister-looking creations.
Does the pumpkin sit straight on a hard surface? This will be critical unless you decide to cut off the bottom and scrape the seeds out from that opening. In this case a slight tilt can easily be corrected once the bottom is removed.
Set all of the pumpkins you plan to purchase on a flat surface such as a driveway or table to see how they look together and make sure they sit straight.
Choose pumpkins with at least one good side to display on a porch or window. Select pumpkins that look good from all angles if it will be used as a centerpiece.
Extra Pumpkin Selection Tips:
Shopping at farm stands may give you the best selection of fresh pumpkins.
Buy your pumpkin early and store it in a cool place until you are ready to carve it.