Pull out the carving knives and the precautionary first aid kit — it's officially jack-o'-lantern season. But the first and most important step is picking the perfect vessel for your spooky creation.

Whether you're diving to the bottom of the grocery store bin or heading out to your local picturesque pumpkin patch, keep these tips in mind.

Knock first. Check that the pumpkin is hollow.   Look for a deep orange color in the pumpkin. Pumpkins that are more yellow won't last as long.  Check for any "wounds." If the pumpkin has any holes, scabs or soft spots, it can indicate the pumpkin is starting to rot. Be sure to check the bottom as well.  Pick a pumpkin with a firm, green stem. A pumpkin with a green stem is more likely to last longer. Avoid picking it up by the stem though, as it can break off and make the pumpkin rot faster. Make sure it sits flat on the ground. You don't want a wobbly pumpkin, especially while you're carving it.  In terms of shape, round and oval pumpkins tend to be the easiest to carve. A more misshapen pumpkin may look spookier, but you'll have to be more careful to prevent any injuries during carving. 

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