The inspiration for my Halloween Party Centerpiece came from the classic champagne fountain, which was much more popular in the past than it is now. I wanted to have some sort of “ghoulish” punch flowing all night long so that guests could simply serve themselves. Rather than buying or renting a formal fountain, I built my own using a simple water pump, some plastic tubing and two pumpkins.
My local home center store carries small submersible water pumps designed for indoor or outdoor water features, like a fountain or birdbath. These pumps are less than $20 and are reusable. They typically come with a 3/8” – 1/2" hard plastic insert through which water is expelled. Based on the size of this insert, you’ll need to purchase about 18” of clear plastic tubing that will attach to it. Because I wanted a narrower stream of liquid to come out of my fountain, I also purchased a 18” piece of 1/4" plastic tubing. To link the two pieces of tubing, I purchased a brass hose barb that fit the large tube on one side and the small tube on the other. There are a variety of sizes of plastic tubing at the store. You may have to play with different sizes and different barbs to get a combination that works. You want the connections to be tight so that there is no leakage when you turn on the pump (just in case, you might also get Teflon tape to help seal the connection). The tubing and barb were less than $3 total and are available at most home center stores.
The next step is to prepare the pumpkins. I selected an extra large pumpkin for the “punch bowl” and a smaller one for the “mouth of the fountain”. Clean out both pumpkins and discard the top of the larger pumpkin. After removing the seeds and loose flesh, I used a green scouring pad to smooth the inside of the large pumpkin so that no pumpkin pulp mixes in with my punch. I also put a notch about 2” down the side of the larger pumpkin so that the pump’s tube and power cord don’t rest on the top edge of the pumpkin. Place the pump in the center of the big pumpkin and run the tube and cord through the notch.
Carve eyes and a nose into the small pumpkin. For the mouth, add a small hole just about the size of the smaller tube. Also, add a tube-sized hole in the back of the pumpkin. Set the smaller pumpkin on a box or platform just above the edge of the larger pumpkin (I simply stacked a few small boxes and then covered them with a black tablecloth). Run the small tube through the back of the small pumpkin and through the mouth, extending it only about 1/4” from the front. Connect the small and large tube using the hose barb. Cover as much of the tubing as possible using your table cloth or other decorative items.
The final step is to fill the larger pumpkin with your punch. I used a combination of pomegranate, cranberry and orange juice. But, be creative and make a punch that suits the tastes of your guests. If it’s an adult party you also have the option of adding spirits if you like. When the party is over, clean the pump by running a solution of 1 gallon of water to 1 tablespoon of bleach for about 20 minutes, then flush for 20 minutes with just water. Repeat the process the next time you get ready to use the pump.
I also had a few other simple ideas for my party. Many folks have done variations on the “vomiting pumpkin”, taking the insides of the pumpkin and basically pulling it through the mouth that has been carved into it (and a face that looks rather ill). Instead of using the seeds and flesh of the pumpkin, make the presentation edible by having candy corn and other candies spewing from your carved pumpkin’s mouth.
Another idea is to make “eyeballs”. I created a segment a few months ago called “cake bites”, small round truffle like cakes coated with semisweet chocolate. You can use this same recipe to create eyeballs by using white chocolate instead. For the iris of the eye, I used fruit rollups that I cut into little circles (with a small hole in the center) using both ends of a pastry tip. I filled the center of the eye buy cutting off just the tip of a licorice jelly bean.