Autumn and winter holiday traditions tend to rely heavily on very specific kinds of vegetation—we’re talking pumpkins, orange fall leaves, Christmas trees, etc. Now, this is a very joyful annual experience if you’re living in a chilly climate, but for someone like me (a New England transplant living in Southern California) it can be pretty dismal. This time of year, I make a valiant effort to rebel against the ecosystem I now call home, pulling my leather riding boots over my sweaty legs in 80 degree weather each day, living in sweet, sweet denial. I live for fall and winter holidays! But I’ll admit that trying to recreate my traditions here has become a difficult, kind of kind of tragic disaster.
Exhibit A: Last year I trekked two hours to a mountainside pumpkin farm to get the perfect giant pumpkin for a carving party. I realize I could’ve gone to Trader Joe’s, but the experience of going to a farm is what counts here. Sadly, what I found was a farm that had been completely pillaged and depleted of its healthy pumpkins. It was 90 degrees in October and there had been a drought. These things happen. It took me a solid hour to find the only decent one in the patch and it still cost me $30.
Exhibit B: Last year I spent $75 on a Christmas tree that was less than half my height. I am 5’0″. I think that speaks for itself.
So, if you live in LA, Miami, Dallas, Santa Fe—heck any tropical and/or desert biome—and don’t want to drop $30 on a pumpkin, or if hacking them to pieces is somehow traumatizing, then this article is for you. Instead of carving a pumpkin for Halloween this year, why not try something different?
Below, for your holidaying pleasure, is a list of items that are easily accessible in grocery stores nationwide, are super fun to carve for Halloween, and even more fun to eat afterwards. (Because let’s be real: pumpkin seeds are actually pretty gross unless you toast them JUST right! But I digress.)
- Apples: Hollow them out, use the innards to make an adorable tiny pie (because if you don’t love tiny pies, who are you?), and carve a face!
- Butternut squash: Same deal. Hollow ‘em out, carve a face, and eat the insides (I recommend roasting them with some butter, agave nectar, and brown sugar).
- Turnips: Did you know the very first Jack-o’-lanterns were made of turnips and people hung them in their windows to keep evil spirits away? Find a big one, hollow it out, carve it up, and then see if it helps keep the creepers away from your first floor apartment!
- Oranges and Grapefruits: Don’t carve out the insides of these because that would be a very sticky situation! Just perforate the design you want on the peel with a serrated knife, and then pull the peel off. I highly recommend chopping these bad boys up for autumnal sangria or a toasty mulled wine afterwards!
My mission this year is to adapt to my environment and create some fun new traditions. What are some warm-weather-climate Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas traditions that you have? Collecting advice and inspirations in the comments below!
Happy carving (of the pumpkin persuasion or otherwise)!
Photo by Liz Kerin