Coconut Jack-O-Lantern: Add the Caribbean to Halloween
So, you want to decorate for the spookiest day of the year? Well, this Halloween, punt the pumpkin and make your Halloween decorations a little more tropical with this coconut jack-o-lantern.
Halloween and Coconuts
But before we get started, let’s clear two things up.
One: we were born into a split existence as it relates to Halloween. On the one hand, the Caribbean isn’t known for celebrating the holiday—mostly because year-round, it takes jumbies, duppies, and spirits very seriously. But on the other hand, we were born in the U.S. Virgin Islands—a region with many mainland influences. So, we got to choose. And I think I can speak for both of us when I say, we chose Halloween.
Two: coconuts are not native to the Caribbean. No, all coconut palms that now grace the West Indies were brought to the region from India and Southeast Asia during the age of European colonization—sometimes purposely, sometimes thanks to shipwrecks spewing them across beaches, or sometimes merely thanks to indifferent sailors dumping them.
Regardless of these two complications, the truth is, I like celebrating Halloween, and I like coconuts! So without further ado, here we go!
How to carve your coconut jack-o-lantern
- 1 Large Coconut (Husked)
- 1 Hand Drill
- 1 Hole Saw Bit
- 1 Tiny Drill Bit
- 1 Larger Drill Bit
- 3 Toothpicks
- 1 Tealight candle
- 1 Bottle of Rum (Optional)
Step 1: The Hole
We gotta get inside the coconut. Ideally, we need a hole at the top large enough to remove the coconut’s contents and fit a tea candle when we’re ready for our ‘nut to get lit.
For this task, I used a cheap hole saw bit from my local hardware store. A steady hand and a little patience were all it took before I had a neatly circular hole in the top.
Set aside the coconut cover you cut. We’ll need that again in a bit.
Step 2: The Cleaning
Next, we need to get all the meat out of the coconut. We’re going to need a knife that’s relatively short, sharp, and sturdy.
The tool I used for this job, oddly enough, was an oyster knife. It checked all the boxes, and I happen to have one, so there you go.
The technique I used was to slice the meat up inside, then pry the pieces out. It should be easy. If you’re struggling or making a total mess out of everything, make sure your slices are close enough to the edges.
When you have all the meat out, give your coconut a wash to make sure the inside is clean.
Also, you’ll want to set aside all the coconut meat you get out, too. Not because we’ll need it later for the jack-o-lantern, but because there’s nothing like chewing on fresh coconut while sipping rum!
Step 3: The Face
Almost there! We have a clean coconut, it just needs a scary face.
Now, here again, I’m sure there are many ways to achieve our goal, but I wanted to keep it simple. My secret: perforation.
With a tiny drill bit draw your face with little dots. Make sure your dots are as close together as you can comfortably make them! It may feel a tad repetitive, but it’s a super simple way to get everything into place.
Once you’ve gotten your whole face drawn in little holes, switch out your drill bit for a fatter one and widen all your holes. If you’ve kept your small holes close enough to each other, the new larger holes will connect them.
Boom! You’ve got a face.
Step 4: The Cover
To finish off your coconut jack-o-lantern you’re going to need to get that cover back on, but there’s a problem. Because of the width of the hole saw bit we used to make it, the hole at the top is a little bigger than the cover.
To solve this problem, I snapped a few toothpicks in half, then superglued them to the inside of the hole. Be sure they extend just enough to support the cover.
Also, be careful not to superglue the cover to the toothpicks! You’ll need to be able to open and close your coconut jack-o-lantern, right?
Step 5: Get Lit
With your scary little coconut jack-o-lantern all carved drop your tea light in and light it up!
Now all you need to do is sit back, pour yourself a nice rum (or Halloween cocktail), crunch some coconut, and admire your masterpiece.