First you need a gorgeous fall day.
Then you need a pumpkin patch. This would preferably be a charming local pumpkin patch that can be reached by hayride and then can be strolled through slowly until everyone has found their favorite pumpkin.
The fall day can also include a corn maze and a corn pit. This is of course, completely optional, but makes the pumpkin experience that much better.
The next step is to have an entire evening devoted to carving pumpkins. The evening should include some great snacks, some squealing over the grossness of pumpkin innards, and some music (ABBA is not required, but highly recommended.)
A great pattern is also needed. Over the years, we've collected quite a few. I pull out the folder of pumpkin patterns and the boys choose their favorite. Or decide that they are too old to have Curious George on their pumpkin and they need something cooler, so I spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to find video game related pumpkin stencils.
Creating the perfect pumpkin also requires a great deal of patience. These pumpkins just take a while. Especially since the boys are not actually able to carve their patterns themselves (even though they take all the credit at the end).
At the end of the evening, there will need to be candles and a very dark room. Light the candles, then stand back and enjoy. "Oh"ing and "Ah"ing and overall exclaiming at the pumpkins is essential.
I'm sure that there are other ways to carve pumpkins. I'm sure that pumpkins bought from a grocery store work just fine. I know that a couple of triangles and a smile make children just as happy. But for the absolutely perfect pumpkin, and the perfect memories to go with it, this is how we do it. Trust me, it's worth it.
And the pumpkins aren't that bad either.
Hubster's Pumpkin (once again, the best one).
(And just because I think they are incredibly cool, here are the links to the pumpkins we have carved in the past: 2005-2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011).