1.) The best place to purchase a pumpkin is at a pumpkin patch, as that way you're assured that the pumpkin is fresh from the field and did not have to endure the jostling that occurs during shipment to supermarkets.
2.) It's important to look at the pumpkin from all sides before picking it. Look to make sure that the entire pumpkin is colored bright orange and that there are no bruises, soft spots, scars or mould.
3.) Choose a pumpkin with a large enough surface to easily carve, but not so large as to lose your design.
4.) Sit the pumpkin upright to make sure that it will sit level once you've brought it home to carve and display.
5.) It's important to make sure that the stem stays attached to the pumpkin. Pumpkins that are ready for picking should have dried, somewhat brittle stems that make them easy to pluck from the vine.