Spooky, silly or symbolic, carved pumpkins are an essential ingredient to any Halloween celebration. This year, scare up some special fun for your party with a wicked watermelon carving, instead - but don't stop there.

After crafting your watermelon into an artful mummy, take advantage of the healthy, immune-system supporting qualities of the lycopene leader among fresh produce. At 92 percent water, as well as an excellent source of vitamins A and C, watermelon is a hydrating post-art snack. 

Carving a creative design into a watermelon is a simple way to kick off the festivities and requires only a handful of common tools. Add a twinkling candle to make a fantastically frightful centerpiece. Or fill it with a fresh fruit salad or salsas for a more functional, practical approach.

Even if you're planning on a hollowed-out carving, keep the sweet juicy fruit and make it a healthy addition to your Halloween party menu with a recipe that puts to use all your carving leftovers. 

To take advantage of all a watermelon has to offer - outside of the fun carving - try Frosted, Frozen Watermelon Balls or Kids Watermelon Pizza Supreme. These fun, simple recipes make it easy to incorporate a healthy snack after all your hard work carving up a Halloween masterpiece. 

Find more recipes, carving patterns and inspiration at watermelon.org.

Carving Tips

* Prior to carving, read through all of the directions.

* Cuts are easiest when the watermelon is at room temperature. Once your handiwork is complete, chill the carving and contents before serving.

* After drawing your design on the rind, insert toothpicks in key places to guide your cuts.

* A sharp knife with a pointed tip makes the easiest, cleanest cuts. 

* Remove excess flesh in large pieces, when possible, to allow for easier melon ball or cube creation.

* Use round toothpicks or skewers to attach pieces to your design as flat toothpicks are not strong enough to bear the weight or stand up to the thickness of the rind.

Choosing a Watermelon

With a thick rind covering the fruit inside, you may wonder how to choose the best watermelon at the market. Here are some tips for picking the perfect one:

* Look it over. Look for a round, oval or oblong shaped watermelon that is free from bruises, cuts or dents.

* Lift it up. The watermelon should be heavy for its size. On average, a 5-pound watermelon yields 15 cups of edible fruit.

* Turn it over. The underside of the watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.

Wash watermelon under cool running water and pat dry.

On cutting board, place watermelon on its side and use kitchen knife to cut off 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch from bottom (end opposite stem), being careful not to cut too deep into white part of rind. 

Cut 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch from stem end to create opening large enough to fit small bowl.

Using dry erase marker, draw eyes, nose and mouth, along with wavy slits around carving to let more light flow through. Use paring knife to cut out design, being sure to cut through to red fruit.

Use fluted or regular melon baller to hollow out inside of watermelon. Use scoop to remove excess watermelon.

Peel green rind off outside of watermelon. (Tip: Different peelers work well for different parts of the watermelon, depending on how flat or round the melon is.)

Wrap thin strips of cheesecloth around mummy carving and secure with straight pin, if needed.

Put battery-operated candle or light into carving. Fit small bowl into top of carving and trim away excess rind to make bowl fit securely. Fill bowl with melon balls and attach candy or blueberries to make eyes.

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