Make sure this sweet-faced jack-o'-lantern doesn't spoil before his big day by buying the freshest, best-quality pumpkin available. To test for freshness, tug on the pumpkin's stem; it should be firmly attached, giving no indication of breaking off. Also, feel the pumpkin's surface with your hands to check for hidden soft spots. Be sure to carry the pumpkin by the bottom, not the stem; lifting a pumpkin by the stem may loosen its attachment and cause it to spoil quicker. And if you hear slosh inside your pumpkin when you lift it, set it down and choose a different pumpkin; it's likely rotten inside.
1. Print out your free smiley face stencil pattern, and attach it to the side of a hollowed-out pumpkin. (Hint: Select the flattest, smoothest side for best carving results.) Use a needle tool to create tightly spaced holes along the stencil lines, puncturing the paper and the surface of the pumpkin.
2. Tear off the stencil pattern and use the pin holes as a cutting guide, sawing gently dot-to-dot with a thin, serrated woodcutting knife. Allow carved sections to remain in place in the pumpkin until you've finished carving the design; then, simply nudge them from inside the pumpkin with your fingers to push them outward.
3. Rub a thin coating of petroleum jelly along the pumpkin's cut edges and light the pumpkin's interior with a regular or battery-operated candle.