Decorating pumpkins is a holiday highlight. Here's how to keep the annual activity fun and safe.

You've picked your pumpkin, and now it's time to start carving it. While children under 5 should never partake in the cutting, there's still plenty they can do to make the experience as fun as it is safe, according to the Home Safety Council in North Wilkesboro, NC.

For starters, let your child draw on the face with a marker. Then you can cut out the design using a thin-bladed knife with a long handle (for the bigger portions) and a small paring knife (for the details). Prefer to avoid knives altogether? Try a plastic pumpkin cutter, available in grocery stores. If your child older than 5 wants to carve with either tool, place your hand on hers to guide the process and help avoid accidents. Then have her remove the seeds and pulp with a large spoon, an ice cream scoop, or her own hands.

Once the pumpkin is carved, illuminate it with a glow-stick or battery-powered light instead of a candle. If you use a candle, a votive inside a glass baby-food jar is safest. Place candle-lit jack-o'-lanterns three feet from any decorations, flammable materials, and locations where children will be walking or standing.

Safer alternatives to carving a real pumpkin: Decorate one with stickers, draw or paint a face without cutting it out, or use an artificial pumpkin with easy-to-cut foam, such as Funkins.