After spending the last few days looking at pictures of Jack-o-Lanterns made with alternative materials, I decided to try my hand at making a Jack-o-Lantern out of a Butternut Squash. I’m glad I did. Not only was it a very fun project, but it turned out so much cuter than I expected.

What I enjoyed most was how easy it was to work with. Pumpkins are wonderful, but I’ve always gone for really large ones, which means that they can be a bit unwieldy. But my little butternut squash fit in my hand nicely and his face just seemed to “fit” him. Want to try this fun project for yourself?

Pick Your Squash

Butternut squash comes in all shapes and sizes. I have several in my refrigerator right now – ranging from long and slender to short and squat. What they all have in common, however, is that they are made up of a large, round base, and a longer, narrow “chimney” shape on the top. The seeds are contained in the bottom. So the first step is to pick the squash you wish to work with. I went for a rather short one – about 10 inches tall – with a nice round shape I was happy with.

Cut the Bottom and Clear the Seeds

When people cut pumpkins for Halloween, they normally cut a circle around the stem on top. But since the seeds are contained in the base of a butternut squash, I sliced the bottom off and scooped the seeds out that way. I also scraped the walls clean until they were just a little over a quarter of an inch thick. I scooped up into the “chimney” as well, so that I could cut a couple of air holes in the back to help the candle stay lit.

Draw and Cut Your Design

Normally, I would split this into two steps – first drawing and then cutting. But I am well aware that some of you creative types out there don’t bother with the drawing part. I’ve known several people like that over my years of cutting pumpkins and please allow me to say – you non-drawers are really annoying – especially when you just whip out these fabulous and beautiful designs effortlessly. Me, I have to draw my design and then it still is not something I can do fabulously or beautifully. But, that’s okay. Ugly Jack-o’-lanterns deserve love too.

Create whatever kind of face or design works for you – and works for the squash you have chosen. Mine just kind of struck me as a little boy for some reason, so I drew his face with him being all kind of pouty, with some of his teeth missing. He’s not fancy, but I think he’s adorable.

Light Your Jack-o’-Lantern

This step might seem really simple – grab a tea light or votive candle and light it. Put your squash over it. End of story. But it really isn’t that simple. Keep in mind that fire requires oxygen and the inner chamber of your butternut squash is not that large. So, depending on how you cut your design, there may or may not be enough oxygen coming in to keep your candle lit. The only way to know is to test it out and cut air holes in the back if necessary.

Cutting a couple of small air holes in the bottom part in the back, along with a couple in the top part of the chamber in back helps to create a bit of a vacuum effect, as the heat draws the air in from the bottom and lets it escape out of the top. Just keep testing and cutting until your flame stays lit – or use a non-fire source of light and avoid this issue altogether.

Either way, when you see your little squash all lit up, it’s quite fun. I thought my guy looked all cute and pouty when he wasn’t lit. Put some fire behind him, however, and he looked fierce!

Have Fun and Be Creative

That’s the most important step of all. Halloween is fun and so is being creative. Get together with your kids or your friends and have a Jack-o’-lantern party, or cut yours up as a solo activity to enjoy along with a scary movie and some popcorn. However you choose to do it – I hope you have fun!