Custom Carved Pumpkins

Unfortunately, the last project on Halloween day is carving the pumpkin (no one wants moldy pumpkins for the big event), so there's always a mad rush and at least one bleeding finger. Artificial pumpkins are a good way to go for the home haunter, but they are unforgiving ("Harpy Haloween!"), somewhat expensive, and you need storage space for the bulky fauxgourds.

For those who might not be good with a knife or are pressed for time, Michaels now offers custom carved pumpkins. The base price starts at $20 (small), $30 (medium) or $40 (large) for their artificial pumpkin plus an additional 30% for design and other embellishments. Sure, it's a little odd that a business that promotes craftiness is offering to do it for you. Also, the design options are limited so don't expect to walk in with your own template.

However, for a fully customizable option head over to the good folks at Stoneykins. In addition to selling some nifty downloadable pumpkin patterns, they will also custom carve an artificial pumpkin with any photo or logo you submit. The cost depends on the complexity of the design and ranges from $80-$150 (they will prepare a quote including shipping costs upfront). Their carving also features a shading technique where the skin is removed but the some of pumpkin remains intact. When illuminated, parts of the design glow in a subtler shade adding to the overall depth of the design.