Looking to host one more outdoor party before the cold weather sets in? Consider a gathering centered on pumpkin carving. It's a fun way to get friends and neighbors together for a little Halloween cheer.

Looking to host one more outdoor party before the cold weather sets in? Consider a gathering centered on pumpkin carving. It's a fun way to get friends and neighbors together for a little Halloween cheer. WHAT: A Pumpkin Carving Party WHERE: Your house WHY: There's something about crisp fall weather that makes you want to entertain. Halloween has become so popular, it's an easy theme to build a party around. You'll find lots of affordable decorations, favors and snack ideas. Plus your friends will love you for hosting this messy party in your home. INVITATIONS: Make it clear on the invitations that grown-ups must accompany their children. Kids need lots of adult supervision while carving pumpkins. COST: Plan on spending $2 to $5 per person for a pumpkin, says Colleen Sapp at Dill's Greenhouse in Groveport. A pumpkin the size of a cantaloupe costs about $2. For something larger (basketball size), expect to pay about $5. You can also ask guests to BYOP (Bring Your Own Pumpkin). Food costs can vary greatly. A simple menu of donuts and cider would be very inexpensive. Hosts can pick up a dozen pumpkin donuts from Jolly Pirate Donuts for $7.29. Soup and sandwiches - or even crusty bread - would be another affordable option. WHEN: Most communities will celebrate Beggars Night on Oct. 31 so the weekend before would be an ideal time for the party. You can't hold it too early because carved pumpkins will not last more than a week, said Carly Neff, owner of Rhoads Garden Center & Landscaping in Circleville. Allow about an hour for carving and an hour for eating and visiting. As with any fall party in Central Ohio, check the OSU football schedule to avoid conflicts. WHAT YOU PROVIDE: Carving tools are a must. Most discount and drug stores sell carving sets for $5 to $8. You also should provide several large knives for adults to use to cut into the pumpkins. Set out black crayons, markers and pencils so carvers can outline their design before cutting into the pumpkin. It's also helpful to print out carving patterns from the internet (pumpkinmasters.com/free-patterns.asp) or provide sketch paper for people to doodle ideas on. Have candles available so guests can view their finished product lit up. A dozen tea light candles cost less than $15. TIPS: Ideally, this party should be held outside because it's so messy. Wherever it takes place, put down disposable plastic tablecloths and set out multiple garbage cans to collect the pumpkin seeds and guts. Smaller children may grow bored of pumpkin carving so it's nice to offer other choices. Sapp suggests filling a kiddie pool with feed corn and letting children play in it like a sandbox. The corn is tactilely pleasing and fun to scoop and stir, she said. Pumpkins can be incorporated into traditional party games like hot potato, relay races and three-dimensional tic-tac-toe (use different colored pumpkins as 'X' and 'O').