Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: Pumpkin fun without knives!

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: Pumpkin fun without knives!

My children love carving pumpkins at Halloween. I worry about them cutting their fingers. How can we keep everyone’s hands safe?

Take a look at the safety tips published last year by the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH). The pumpkin carving tools in the kits at your grocery or pharmacy are safer to use than knives. There is a blog article from last year on just this topic!

There are tons of fun decorating ideas that don’t involve young folks using knives. Here are just a few:

  • Use push pins or adhesive jewels to script a word such as “EEK!” or “BOO!” or to draw the outline of a ghost or bat.
  • Push small picture-hanging nails into the pumpkin and use brightly colored yarn wound around the nails for an abstract pattern.
  • After an adult scoops out the pulp and seeds, use a hand drill or spin a screwdriver to punch out the dotted outline of your favorite scary pumpkin face or the outline of a haunted house. A light source inside will shine through the holes and illuminate your scene. A string of Christmas lights can be pushed through the holes for a sparkly effect.
  • Coat your pumpkin with chalkboard spray paint. Use a white chalk marker to create a spooky design.
  • Use a hairdryer to melt crayons over your pumpkin.


  • Have an adult scoop out the seeds and pulp and cut a large window on one side. Use things outside such as gravel, dirt and pine cones along with toys such as match box trucks and Lego people to create a busy fall scene.
  • Use tree branches to make antlers and paint or draw the face of a deer or moose. Hang small bats from the tree branches to make a Halloween tree with the pumpkin as the base.
  • Paint your house number or logo of your favorite sports team on the front of your pumpkin.
  • Potato Head pieces can be pushed into the pumpkin for a crazy expression.
  • The surface of the pumpkin can be scraped with a wool carving tool from the craft store. The contrast of the darker skin of the pumpkin with the lighter under layer provides a canvas for your creative ideas.
  • Have an adult cut off the top and use the pumpkin as a planter for your favorite succulents, ferns or mums!
  • Hot glue plastic bugs and spiders crawling on your pumpkin! EEK!

All those sound great! What should I do if there is an injury?

Know your first aid. Place direct pressure to an injured area to stop bleeding. Clean and bandage the wound. Go to your local emergency room if the wound is deep, if the bleeding will not stop, or if there is a loss of feeling or ability to move. Call a hand surgeon to have the injury properly treated if the emergency room physician diagnosed any nerve or tendon injuries. Always have a Certified Hand Therapist ( help with the rehabilitation.

Stacy Hite, PT, DPT, MS, CHT is a Certified Hand Therapist and a member of the American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT).