Sunday, February 5, 2012

Custom Fun-Size Candy Bags

This year, my darling daughter made it to Regionals in her chosen sport: Figure Skating.  How exciting!  Happily, that meant we were a part of the "Good Luck" party for all the skaters who go to this event.  We're fairly new to skating and communication among Skate Moms is a little tricky because of the diverse training schedule. I considered myself very fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time to overhear that there is a tradition among the skaters to bring a little good luck gift for each of the other skaters.  Fortunate, and a little freaked out since it was two days before the big shin dig AND we had an exceptionally large competitive team this year of 26 skaters!  It was much too late to find a deal online and I didn't happen to have a chunk of change lying around. (at just $5 per skater, it would have been $130!!)

After a frantic call to my therapist (aka:  BFF always willing to lend an ear to my rants), I remembered seeing this pin on Pinterest.  Annie, over at Peppermint Plum, had sewn brown paper together in fun shapes with candy inside.  Brilliant! I (sorta') enjoy sewing, but didn't really feel like dragging out my machine. Hmmm...what to do?  And BLAM!  Like a creative lightning flash sparked by Annie's initial brilliance, I had it!
I had a skate stamp hanging around from a past project, I had freezer paper, and I had an iron (that is only used for craft projects, btw).  I swung by the store, grabbed a few large bags of M&Ms, and I was in business.  I had no idea if this would work, but I was desperate.  It took a little trial and error, but I made 38 candy-filled skates for less than $8! Score one for the Last-Minute-Mama!

Here's how I did it:

  1. Stamp out your design on the paper side of the freezer paper. (The slick and shiny side has a plastic coating that will be melted to form the "seam" around the edge.)  Leave lots of room around each image so you can do a rough cut around them.  Since I almost never have stamp pads lying around, but ALWAYS have acrylic paint, I used that.  Choose whatever you like. You can even hand-draw a design if you're so inclined.  Whatever floats your boat.
  2. Rough cut your designs and match them up with a similar sized cut of blank freezer paper.  Line them up with paper-sides out.  It doesn't have to match perfectly all the way around, just make sure you have one edge that you can line up AND the blank piece is large enough to cover the entire image. Don't cut around the entire image just yet.  Trust me on this.
  3. With your iron set on high (no-steam), use the tip of the iron to meld the two pieces together along the one edge you have lined up. I chose the edge along the skate blade just to make it easy.  Once the two pieces are joined together, it's much easier to cut out.  Cut around the entire design, leaving about a quarter of an inch along the outside edges. Continue ironing along all but one of the edges, leaving an opening for the candy.  Be careful to keep your iron along the edges so the center of your bag will remain open.
  4. At this point, you can add a handwritten note or add more color to your design.  Colored pencils are probably your best bet here.  Marker colors will show through because the paper is not very thick, but the candy will be protected by the plastic lining.
  5. Fill with your choice of candies, making sure not to overfill. Iron the opening closed.

Tips & Tricks
  • Add a handwritten note.  I found this is easiest after the bag is constructed and cut out but BEFORE filling.  I stacked up the ready-to-fill bags and let the kiddo write "Good Luck!, from M..." on the backside.
  • Keep the fill opening small.  It's tricky to fill bags with a small opening, but a large opening will make it very difficult to iron the bag closed once the candy is inside.  The bulk from the candy will cause bulges making it very hard to line up your edges.  Go with the smallest opening possible - mine was at the top of the skate and was large enough for me to poke it open with my index finger.  I dumped the candy into a large bowl and held the bags over the bowl while filling.  That way, whatever didn't make it into the bag didn't end up on the floor.
  • Examine the edges as you're filling the bags.  It will be easy to spot weak "seams".  Just run the iron along them again to seal them up, but be careful not to melt your candy inside.
  • Stamp more than you need.  Unless you're confident that every image you stamp will be perfect and you'll not hit any snags in the construction process, I recommend stamping out a few extra of your design.
I had so much fun making these, I already have plans for more!  I'll post them as I create them.  Want to try some of your own?  I hope so!  I can't wait to see what you come up with!

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