Now's the time when children across the land, with parents in tow, set out in search of the perfect pumpkin. Most will return home pleased, sure that their specimen is at least as good as last year's Christmas tree.

If a tree's branches are a little scrawny, the needles too few, a couple of ornaments and a lot of tinsel will do. But what about the pumpkin, is there a camouflage for this curcubit? Gordy Falk says there is. It's all in how you carve it.Most of us, when we start scooping and scraping and cutting our pumpkin faces, set the eyes too close, make the mouth too small. The nose has no character, and the candle won't stand tall. But Falk carves what he calls "personality pumpkins," hundreds each Halloween, and his best advice is: Don't be afraid to make the features big.

Falk, of Whitefish Bay, Wis., started carving pumpkins in 1977 for a family Halloween party. In succeeding years, he ornamented his lawn, then the town park, carving some 800 pumpkins each year. He's still carving - and teaching others how to make the best jack-o'-lanterns. It's all in a 30-minute videotape, "How to Carve Great Faces for Halloween."

In addition to lots of ideas for scary, happy, evil and friendly faces, Falk offers good basic tips on how to cut the top so it has a rim (at an angle); what type of knife to use (small and skinny, preferably a fruit knife) and how to correct mistakes (use toothpicks). He suggests a large kitchen knife works best to cut a hole through the bottom of the pumpkin for the candle. Not only will the candle sit securely, but if it burns all the way down it will be easy to push out through the bottom.

The tape, $9.95, is available at Waldenbooks and Woolworth's.