Have yourself a very Crafty Christmas! I certainly am. For the last couple of months I’ve been up to my eyeballs in building and painting decorations for a candy-themed Christmas party. (Which explains why I haven’t posted any blogs in a while.) Now that I’m finally finished, I’m free to move on to other projects, and more importantly, my husband is free to park in the garage again. Just take a look at how all my Christmas craftiness took over:
I’m happy to say all the work was worth it in the end. Our Sweet, Candy-Coated Christmas party, complete with a life-size Candyland board game-turned-gameshow, was a complete success. There are way too many details to cover in this one blog, so instead, I thought I’d share lots of pictures and give you just a quick description of how to make these decorations yourself.
Where shall I begin?
I guess, the MVP of this Crafty Christmas had to be insulation foam board. You can find it at Lowe’s or Home Depot. It comes in 8′ x 4′ sheets in varying thicknesses. I use this stuff for EVERYTHING. It’s cheap, it’s light weight, and you can cut it into any shape you need. You can see I bought only one thick sheet, which ran about $20, and the rest were of the thin, $7 variety.
I used this insulation foam board to make a giant gingerbread house, as well as various candies, gingerbread men, and signs.
You’ll notice, in the photos below, that one side of the insulation foam board is lined with a silver foil, and the other has advertising. You can paint directly on top of that lining or you can peel it off and then paint. Either way is fine. In fact, I did a combination of both. If you want a completely white backdrop, just be careful to peel the silver side slowly, because otherwise little silver specks will be left behind.
Depending on the thickness you use, cutting is a breeze. Since most of my foam board was thin, I used my electric kitchen knife. Yes, it’s the kind most people use to carve their Thanksgiving turkey, I just found a better use for it. For the thicker insulation, you’ll need a skill saw. Just be prepared for a huge mess. Those little white bits go flying everywhere and tend to stick to your clothes.
You’ll also notice that sometimes I cut my pieces first and then painted them, and other times I painted them and then cut them. I was just cranking things out as fast as I could.
For the candy, I used a bucket to outline perfect circles and then free-handed the painted swirls. Once the paint dried, I just wrapped them in cellophane and tied them with bows.
For lollipops, pool noodles work perfectly. Just keep in mind you can only find them in the summer. Knowing we were going with a candy theme for Christmas, we got ours early. I recommend the cheaper ones you can find at the Dollar store. The more expensive, thicker ones are harder to bend. You’ll first want to hot glue two or three noodles end to end. Then take colored tape and start wrapping it around the full length of your now elongated noodle. Once the noodle is swirled with tape, you roll it up tightly and glue it in place as you go. If hot glue isn’t doing the trick, try Gorilla glue.
I actually brought in reinforcements when it was time to make the lollipops. It was fun watching one roll & hold while the other glued and tried to keep a straight face. Apparently, it’s not easy.
At this point, I started working on how I was going to display the lollipops. I knew for sure I wanted to put a bunch together, so I found a tall garden planter and spray painted it hot pink for fun.
Once the lollipop circles were all completed, we tied them with twine to reinforce them while they dried. Later we switched to fishing line so that we could keep it on permanently for security and not have it be so noticeable. Then we just drilled a small hole into each of them and stuck in PVC pipes for the lollipop sticks.
Here’s what they look liked at the party, wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbon:
We also used pool noodles for a few candy canes. Because there were no white pool noodles, we use red ones and just used white tape for the swirls. We ran a wire hanger inside to give it the bend we needed, then tied it in place with fishing line.
Perhaps, the biggest project in my Crafty Christmas was the giant Candyland game board made out of hardboard tempered panel. It took me several weeks to paint this because I had to lay it out on my driveway and could only work on it when no one was coming or going. Add to that, the sun had to be out for me to see, but it couldn’t be too hot for me to work outside. (Living in Arizona, it can still get hot in December.) At any rate, here’s how it came together. I used six pieces of 8′ x 4′ hardboard. I just laid them out side by side on my driveway, smooth side up, then used painter’s tape to figure out how many bends in the road I could fit and where.
Once I was happy with the basic road map, I just started painting, knowing this wouldn’t be perfect. I just had to eyeball it. I rolled on alternating paint colors with a small roller, then lined my edges with a small paint brush.
The fun part was painting the embellishments like “Lollipop Woods” and “Molasses Swamp.” The whimsical art made me feel like a kid again. In fact, true story: when I was a kid, I burned our family couch over the game of Candyland. We had a couch that turned into a bed. When you lifted it up, sort of like a futon, there was an area for storage underneath where we kept our boardgames. My brother and I were looking for our Candyland game but couldn’t see it, so I had a brilliant idea to light some matches. Let me just say, it didn’t end well. But I digress.
As I painted this life-size Candyland game board, I knew I wanted to leave space for the planter filled with lollipops, and thought I’d also add gumdrops for another 3-D look. For this I used sand pails. (Here again, you’ll want to make sure to buy them in the summer when they’re readily available at the Dollar store.) Simply cut off the rim (my husband used a dremel to do that), and create a sugary exterior using spray adhesive and epson salt. I did this part. It came together quickly and I loved the result.
My Crafty Christmas continued with a “Peppermint Mountain.” To create it, I cut and painted candy canes from differing sizes of insulation foam board. I took leftover pieces of the same foam board, and stacked and glued them together for the base. Then I used wooden skewers to stick the candy canes into the base. This was a total last-minute improvisation, but I felt like the game board needed another 3D element.
Here’s what the finished Candyland game board looked like at the party:
Because this candy-themed Christmas party was for my church, we turned it into a television gameshow and tested our contestants with Bible trivia. If they got the answer right, they got to spin the wheel, and we had gingerbread-costumed girls be game pieces that skipped and danced their way through the board. The goal was to make it passed Lollipop Woods, beyond Molasses Swamp and Gumdrop Pass, over Peppermint Mountain and into….the Land Flowing with Milk & Honey.
While it was a lot of painting on my part, it was a lot of building on my husband’s part. He built the contestant stands and spinning wheel and helped in more ways than I can count. I had no idea how handy he was when I married him, but I sure am thankful for him. With us working together, it truly is a labor of love. My very Crafty Christmas ended with laughter shared, friendships forged, and memories made…and that is sweeter than all the candy in the world.