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Offbeat Candy Ideas

Flowers for Valentine's Day – The Dollar Store Way!

bud vase image credit: partyhire.co.nz

If you love shopping at the dollar store even half as much as I do, you may have stood before the tiny bud vases so many of those stores offer thinking, “They’re so cute, but what can I possibly use them for?” Yes – I have eyed up those vases more than my fair share of times. I’m drawn in by their charming tininess, but can never seem to think of a way I can use them, so I walk away well-aware that the last thing my house needs is yet another piece of decor I can’t figure out what to do with! Until now, that is.

I can excitedly say that I finally have a reason to pick up a few bud vases, and a good reason at that! Not only do I plan to create a few ‘arrangements’ for my own home, but I think my idea will make for darling little Valentine’s Day gifts for friends. And – it’s super cheap and chic! Aren’t you glad I’m the sharing type? 😉

So, what is this genius idea? It’s super simple, and will take literally a few minutes to create. The only supplies needed are bud vases, conversation hearts, and Valentine’s Day lollipops. You can grab some ribbon too if you’d like to wrap a bow around the vase, but I think it would be pretty either way. Here’s the easy-peasy steps…

1.) Wash and dry the bud vases.

2.) Fill the vases 3/4 to the top with conversation hearts.

3.) Stick a Valentine lollipop or two in the center as ‘flowers’.

4.) Smile – you made an adorable decoration or gift!

In addition to the little vases I’ll be placing on my desk, bedside table, shelves and such, I think I’ll also make a larger one to serve as a table centerpiece. And that means I’ll also have to pick up a larger vase while I’m at the dollar store. Oh well – someone’s gotta do it!

Stuff Those Stockings Early for Thanksgiving!

As much as I have always loved holidays, spending quality time with friends and family from near and far, there are some holidays that can get a little bit boring for kids. Though it’s been many years since I sat at the ‘kid table’ on Thanksgiving, I still keenly remember the boredom that set in once the turkey had been put away and the pumpkin pie sliced, served and savored. The adults were tired and settled into the sofa for a nap or to watch a football game, and the kids didn’t have much to do except talk over what they hoped Santa would bring that year. And…that’s a shame. Because as much as I love Christmas, it hurts my heart to see Thanksgiving serve as a mere stepping stone to Christmas. Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday all on its own! And I have a fun way to celebrate it with your little ones – and fellow adults – this year…

The Turkey Won’t Be the Only Thing Getting Stuffed…

As long as I can remember, I get most excited about stocking stuffers. I love my ‘big gifts’ as well, of course! But that oversized, Christmas sock stuffed to the brim with candy, lotions, perfume, nail polish and more is what sets my Christmas morning heart aflutter. So – why reserve that feeling to just one day a year when it can just as easily happen twice? Why, indeed!

This Thanksgiving, I’m breaking out the stockings early, and asking guests to bring theirs along as well. I’m heading out to do some shopping tonight, so I’m going to pick up a nice selection of stocking stuffers for people to gift one another. I’ll also get some goodies right here at Blair, of course. A stocking isn’t a stocking without a serious selection of candy! But it isn’t the bubble bath and Bursting Berry Blow Pops that will make these stockings extra special – it’s the notes of thanks, appreciation and love we’ll each be slipping inside them.

1.) First, I plan to ask everyone to hang their stocking, letting others know which is theirs if it isn’t obvious (my name is embroidered on mine!)

2.) Next, each person will pick one candy treat to stuff inside each stocking, and one non-candy treat as well. Once everyone has chosen one candy and non-candy treat each for everyone, the stockings should be looking pretty stuffed! But the real gift is yet to come…

3.) Lastly, I’ll ask everyone to write something thoughtful about everyone else there – one thing per person. It could be something about that person they particularly enjoy, something that person has done for them that they are thankful for, or really anything that would be nice to know or hear from someone you care about. Just like the candy and non-candy treats, these sentiments will be nestled in the stockings, adding up to paper slips far sweeter than even Pixy Stix! Once complete, we’ll all sit around together and take turns reading our slips aloud. While eating candy, naturally!

        I hope some of you will consider trying this at your home this year. Even if your plans do include spending Thanksgiving evening in line at a favorite store, don’t forget to give Thanksgiving its fair share of the spotlight. We all have things to be grateful for, big and small, and we couldn’t stuff all our blessings in a stocking if we tried.

        Fun and Flavorful Candy Cocktail Ideas for Adults!

        While enjoying dinner and drinks with friends a few weeks ago, I was met with a fun-tastic surprise while browsing the cocktail menu. As if they were designed from my own mind, the restaurant had incorporated candy into many of its martinis! Once my excitement subsided, I was dumbstruck by the fact that I had never thought to do this on my own. Not that I think I’m a genius, but I’ve been surrounded by candy since birth – somewhere along the way it should have come to me!

        I wasn’t driving that night so I was able to satisfy my sweet tooth with a sampling of sweet ‘tinis. My first choice a Pop Rocks martini, featuring a glass rimmed with, you guessed it, Pop Rocks! Seriously people, how did this never occur to me? My next tasty temptation was a bubble gum vodka martini with a Charms Blow Pop dunked inside and poking out the top of the glass. Whatever bubble gum-loving guru was behind that creation was one smart cookie! I may have even had two.

        Reminiscing now on those marvelous martinis, I did a little search to see what other ideas might be floating around out there. And I quickly discovered I need to have a get-together with my favorite ladies and fellas as soon as possible! Candy cocktails would be delicious any time of year, but they’re simply perfect for summer. And one of my favorite ideas doesn’t even involve putting candy in the glass, but around it! In this mouthwatering post on the A Beautiful Mess Blog – A Candy Cocktail Party – I was literally left gasping over the Orange Soda Cocktail. Garnishing the stem of a martini glass with Ring Pops? Brilliant! It also solves the question of whose drink is whose – just remember your Ring Pop color and you can keep swapping gossip and having good times without sharing germs.

        I’ll be keeping my eye out for more summery sweet candy cocktail ideas, and would love to hear from you if you have any awesome ideas! As for this moment I’m still at the office, so I’ll simply be sipping my lemonade with one of the Striken Strawberry Sour Punch Twists that are never far from reach. 😉

        Making That Birthday Gift Box So Much Sweeter

        We’ve been making lots of candy-coated changes here at Blair Candy over the last few months, including moving soon into our brand new candy warehouse. We’ve just debuted another “new” – our Candy By Decades section on our website! We say with pride and affection that we’re pretty nuts about candy, and we’ve long been in wonderment on the different types of sweets that have blossomed from various decades over the last century. Doesn’t it just make sense that Fun Dip debuted in the same decade as when we needed a little “carefree” in our lives post-WWII?

        We found ourselves chatting with many a customer on candy gift ideas, including offering up gift suggestions that relate to the gift recipient’s birth year or the decade they grew up in, so we figured, hey, why not make it easy and create a category of candy from each decade? A great birthday gift idea is to pair candy from the decade they were born or grew up in with a small gift that fits into that decade, as well! We put our heads together and came up with some awesome ideas for you:

        • Candy From The 20s: Pair some Caramel Creams, Chiclets, and Clark Bars with Betty Boop memorabilia, a typewriter key bracelet, or a Babe Ruth figurine.
        • Candy From The 30s: Combine delish Candy Buttons, PayDay bars, and Snickers with a so retro “tick tock” cat clock, Fedora hat, or a sleek cocktail shaker.
        • Candy From The 40s: Wrap up Junior Mints, Bazooka bubble gum, and Fun Dip in a package with a vintage pin-up girl poster, WWII coin collection, and a pack of Coca-Cola in the original Coke “bottle” look.
        • Candy From The 50s: Put a bow on a gift of Candy necklaces, Dum Dum lollipops, and Satellite Wafers by pairing it with a whimsical Gumby and Pokey set, Silly Putty, and a retro apron.
        • Candy From The 60s: Reflect on one fun decade by combining a gift of Gummy Swedish Fish, Fruit Stripe Gum, and Twizzlers with a tie-dyed shirt, Beatles poster, and a space shuttle figurine.
        • Candy From The 70s: Break that disco ball out and give a gift of PopRocks, Laffy Taffy, and Bubble Yum, along with a disco ball keychain, lava lamp, or anything with “groovy” written on it!
        • Candy From The 80s: Celebrate this neon-hued decade with a gift of Gummy Bears, Runts, and Nerds, paired with a so-fun Atari video game, Pac-Man wind-up toys, and a Rubik’s cube.

        These are just a few ideas that our sugar-filled team came up with – what are some Candy By Decade candy and gift pairings that you’ve gifted or would love to gift?

        Encourage Your Children to Do Their Chores with St. Patrick’s Day Candy!

        We’ve all heard of “The Luck of the Irish,” but as an Irish lady herself, I can tell you much of that ‘luck’ comes from hard work! In fact, an excerpt from one of my favorite Irish blessings gives a hint at how important hard work has historically been to the Irish – “May there always be work for your hands to do, May your purse always hold a coin or two, May the sun always shine on your windowpane, May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.”

        I can still remember a much younger me sitting at my grandmother’s kitchen table sipping Ginger Ale and re-reading that blessing again and again. I didn’t realize at the time that work was a blessing unto itself, but I knew that I loved the little treats high honors on my report card brought! So I worked hard then, and I work hard now, and I’m lucky that my purse always holds a coin or two.

        While we can’t expect young children to inherently understand the value of work, the time will come when teaching them is essential. There are countless ways to encourage your children to work hard in all they do, and just as many ways to reward them for it. This isn’t to say they deserve a prize for every dish they wash, but little presents here and there are fun for everyone. After all, you probably wouldn’t show up as often for your job were it not for the paycheck!

        With St. Patrick’s Day approaching and “The Luck of the Irish” on our minds, we thought up a fun, festive way to help your kiddos cross some chores off their ‘to do’ list while earning some magical goodies!

        Step One: Choose a Few Chores to Reward – The number of chores will depend on how many they have, but let’s imagine they include Dusting, Making their Bed and Vacuuming. Jot these down in a notebook, and move to Step Two!

        Step Two: Get Ready to Channel Your Creative Side – The Irish Blessings we all know and love didn’t write themselves, and neither will yours! Don’t worry; this is designed to be fun. Think of the chore at hand and write a little 4-line blessing to give your child a clue at the prize. Let’s assume you will reward them with Green Apple Tootsie Frooties for dusting the living room. Your Irish Blessing might read: None of us like to live among dirt and dust, And this is what makes regular dusting such a must! But fret not for when you have finished your dusting duties, Your taste buds will be rewarded with Tootsie Frooties! OK, to be fair, it’s more of a poem than a blessing, but it’s close!

        Step Three: Decide How Magical You’ll Be – Now you’ll have to decide how to gift the goodies. You can always let your child know beforehand that their chores will come backed by treats this week, sharing the Blessings with them, and handing the candy out upon completion. Or, you can make it more magical, which works especially well for younger kids, but can be fun for teens as well. For the magical angle, it will be a bit like a treasure hunt. Let’s take the chore of vacuuming as an example. You can first take the vacuum from the closet and have it ready for them to use. Then, you can place the candy prize in a bag in the spot where the vacuum lives. Once they’ve finished and are ready to tuck it back into the closet, they’ll open the door to reveal their riches! Were they left there by a little Leprechaun? That’s up to you!

        Your kids can’t possibly consider work a blessing every minute of the day – no sane person can! But the truth is that it’s more than just an essential aspect of life; it’s a fulfilling one as well. And if candy can help instill that from an early age, we think that’s a pretty sweet deal. 🙂

        Share the Love and Contribute to a Good Cause with Valentine’s Lollipops!

        Whether you’re trying to raise money for a school team or group, want some help making a charitable contribution on behalf of your company, or need new supplies for a non-profit, a fundraiser can be key in achieving your goals. There are many types of fundraisers to consider, and many fundraising techniques that have been used successfully, but the results can be mixed at best, and several of those types and techniques require a lot of time input that you may or may not have at your disposal. Just like the money itself, time is an asset, and if your schedule is already packed with the team, group, company or non-profit that needs money in the first place, chances are good you don’t have the hours in the day to make countless phone calls or send out requests for donations. This is where a fundraiser with a tangible incentive can save you time, help achieve your donation target, and offer people something fun and flavorful for their support. That tangible incentive would, of course, be candy!

        In our last blog post we talked about how Valentine’s Day can be a special holiday not only for kids and couples, but for all the people we treasure, from friends and family to co-workers and beyond. In fact, many of us may feel especially inclined to share a little sweetness with the special people in our lives who won’t be celebrating Valentine’s Day with a romantic partner; to add a smile to a day when the whole world seems to be telling them that love is in the air for everyone else!  This is what makes a Valentine’s Day fundraiser so easy and enjoyable – people will love the opportunity to gift their friends a sweet treat, and you can hit your goals more quickly in the process.

        I’m stealing the idea for the Valentine’s Day Lollipop Drive from my high school, which I attended more years ago than we will openly discuss here! However, I’m sure other high schools had a similar drive, so you might remember it even if we didn’t grow up together. While this idea worked out very well for my school, helping to raise money for the football team, it can also work to raise money for almost any institution where a lot of people work or visit every day.

        The price you charge for the Valentine’s lollipops, or whichever sweet you choose, should take into consideration how many you think you can sell, and how much money you hope to earn. There should be a limit, of course – most people won’t spend more than a dollar or two on a small lollipop. But let’s assume you work with 100 people and everyone interested would want to send a special Valentine to 5 friends in the building. If even half of your co-workers participated and bought a $1 lollipop for 5 friends, you can bank $250 in a day! If your lollipop of choice is our Jolly Rancher lollipops, 9 bags would equal 252 lollipops, costing you just $36.81, leaving you with over $200 to devote to your fundraising goal. Pretty sweet!

        As for where to sell the lollipops? If your building has a front desk or central area that most people will pass by throughout the day, these are good locations to consider. A secretary or other employee can collect the money for the drive, and keep track of who the lollipops are from, and who they will be going to. Near the end of the day – or the next day, if you want to be sure to capture as many sales as possible – someone can act as Cupid and deliver the Valentine’s lollipops to everyone. Whether or not to make it a secret Valentine is up to the person who purchased the pop!

        Conversation Hearts Do More Than Get People Talking…They Get Them Crafting and Creating!

        Here at Blair Candy, we’ve already got Valentine’s Day on our minds weeks before we’ve packed up the Christmas decorations and put our presents in their proper place. Don’t get us wrong – we aren’t ‘holiday rushers’! We like to devote our personal time and energy to the current holiday season no matter what it may be, but when we’re at work we have to prepare for the next special day on the horizon. And that is precisely why we were placing orders for Necco conversation hearts and Valentine Peeps while we were still listening to Christmas music and sucking on candy canes. Yeah, we can holiday multitask with the best of ‘em!

        But our multitasking abilities go beyond this talent alone. We’re also good at multitasking while working – you know, answering an email while checking out the fresh candy stock while perhaps browsing Etsy.com a bit? And that’s precisely what happened this morning. Once I caught sight of the Necco conversation hearts – bags and boxes upon bags and boxes of sweet sentiments – I quickly remembered all the fabulous accessories the countless talented artisans of Etsy have whipped these sweet wonders up into, or used as inspiration for awesomeness!

        We can’t possibly feature every conversation heart creation on Etsy.com that we love – after all, this morning’s search for ‘conversation heart’ yielded 872 items! But we’ve chosen 3 favorites that we think would make a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift for the conversation heart lover in your life. Just don’t forget to include a bag of conversation hearts they can eat, too!

        Conversation Hearts Soaps – With an Etsy Shop name like SoStinkingSweet, we were already in love!  That love only got stronger when we started perusing her virtual soap shelves and found not only the adorable oversized conversation heart soaps, but also “Goodie Goodie Gum Drops” soap and soap on a stick that serves as a delicious-looking double for a Neapolitan ice cream bar. Getting clean just got even sweeter!

        Conversation Hearts Valentine Cards – The Etsy artist behind the craftynikki shop creates some of the coolest, cutest Valentines you’ve ever seen! But for as darling as her set of Vintage Valentines are, it’s the Glitter Candy Hearts cards that have won me over most. Each set of 6 mini cards is just $3, making these aww-dorable and affordable!

        Conversation Hearts Jewelry – If you’re looking for fun Valentine’s jewelry you can wear all year round, take a peek at the micahjonesstudio Etsy shop! Crafted from sterling silver, these pieces are as fun and fresh as costume jewelry, but have an unmistakable quality and wearability that costume jewelry often doesn’t. My favorites include the “Soul Mate” ring, which would make a truly touching gift for a partner or close friend, and the blue conversation heart necklace accented with a clear, heart-shaped CZ. Though I might like the second one so much because blue conversation hearts are my absolute fave! Well…blue and white. And pink. And yellow. And really every color except orange. (Sorry, orange!)

        Decadent Dessert Ideas from Taste Of Home!

        Photo from TasteOfHome.com

        With Halloween now behind us and Thanksgiving on the horizon, my mind has been swimming in savory thoughts of juicy turkey, flavorful stuffing, fluffy mashed potatoes, buttery crescent rolls and my sister’s culinary masterpiece, oh-so-amazing-I-can’t-stop-eating-it zucchini casserole topped with melted cheese. There is little debating that when it comes to ‘food holidays’, Thanksgiving takes the turkey! But did you know Thanksgiving could take the cookie as well? Take the cookie and turn it into a delightful dessert that is fun for the whole family and delicious, too? Well…it can!

        As I stood in line at the grocery store over the weekend watching the woman in front of me unload what must have been the 100th can of soup onto the belt, I decided to make the most of my wait and flip through the magazines at the register. I skipped over the tabloids in favor of something more appealing – the brightly-colored little glossy full of Thanksgiving recipe cards, taste of home. While I whole-heartedly recommend you grab a copy for yourself, I should warn you this is not an issue to read while hungry. It is absolutely packed with deliciousness! But beyond the mouthwatering recipes for apple & herb roasted turkey and gingered pumpkin bisque – and mouthwatering they are! – I came across a couple dessert recipes that broke the traditional Thanksgiving mold of pies and muffins. Don’t get me wrong, I love pies and muffins! But these petite treats are much cuter, and include candy, which I’m kinda partial to. 😉

        Turkey Pilgrim Cookies – The first candy-covered dessert to catch my eye was the Turkey Pilgrim Cookies. These are almost too cute to eat, but I think if I close my eyes I can manage! The recipe calls for the following ingredients, which should give you some insight into what makes these so good: Oreos, candy corn, miniature peanut butter cups, candy corn kisses, chocolate frosting, vanilla frosting, mini marshmallows, mini Oreos, Rolos and orange food coloring. And the best part, other than all the tasty ingredients, that is? There is absolutely no baking required! The frosting serves as a ‘glue’ of sorts for all the candy and cookie building blocks making these a dessert the little ones that can help put together. As there is no baking required, the kids can create these while you’re cooking to keep them busy, or it can be a fun family project the night before.

        Pilgrim Hat Cookies – Just like the Turkey Pilgrim Cookies above there is no baking required for these yummy treats. Ingredients include: vanilla frosting, yellow food coloring, orange mini Chiclets, miniature peanut butter cups and fudge-striped cookies – that’s it! These are even easier to create than the Turkey Pilgrim Cookies, though I have to admit they aren’t quite as cute. What can I say – a dessert with marshmallow eyes wins my top vote! That said, I plan to make both cookie and candy concoctions this season, if not for Thanksgiving itself as a fall-themed snack for anytime. After all, with so much amazingness on Thanksgiving day, and the days full of delish leftovers that follow, I want to give my candy-packed desserts an opportunity to shine.

        The Thanksgiving Recipes Cards issue of taste of home is $4.99 and marked for sale through November 22, 2011. Grab your copy the next time you hit the grocery store, and check out more great recipes on TasteOfHome.com today!

        Candy for Dinner Can Be a Winner!

        While I don’t endorse making a habit out of replacing meals with candy, I must confess that my dinner a few nights ago consisted of cola, M&M’s, Flipsticks and Candy Cigarettes. The day was long, I got home late, and even heating a TV dinner seemed too much work when all I really wanted was a smattering of sugary treats. So…that’s what I had! I laid them out on the table beside the couch and lazily ate my candy dinner while I watched Hoarders. I enjoyed every bite of candy goodness while I marveled at the Hoarders’ homes with eyes wide, occasionally uttering an “oh my gosh!” in response to something especially shocking. In short, it was a nice end to the day – some of my favorite candies complemented by one of my favorite TV shows.

        While it felt a bit like a childlike thing to do at first, making dinner of candy, I was soon struck by how very adult it actually was. Surely I wouldn’t have been permitted a candy dinner as a child, or been allowed to eat so late in the day while watching television for that matter! But as an adult, these are the decisions we all get to make. Little treats to ourselves that make all the stresses and obligations of being a grown-up a bit more bearable. We can’t make them every day, of course. A daily candy dinner would not only lack the nutrients we need from such an important meal, but would also take away the pleasure an occasional indulgence brings. And that pleasure is important to me. While being an adult means we have to make a lot of tough decisions, expensive decisions, and potentially life-altering decisions, it also means we can let the chicken freeze for another day from time to time. We can kick our shoes off, fire up the DVR, and make a meal of Sour Punch Twists and Gummy Strawberry Creams.

        Perusing CNN’s Marquee Blog today, I learned that I am not alone in my ‘candy is for adults’ thinking! I mean, I always knew, but to have celebrity confirmation is always fun. Right there before me was an article – Ryan Gosling really, really loves candy. Well, I really, really love candy too, and I also really, really love Ryan Gosling, so you can bet your Assorted Sixlets I clicked! This short and sweet post quotes Ryan as saying, “Sometimes I think that the one thing I love most about being an adult is the right to buy candy whenever and wherever I want.” Swoon! A man after my heart and my chocolate hearts, it seems! 🙂

        Blair Candy Has the Sweetest Picks for Shark Week!

        Yes, dear reader. It is finally here. That glorious week awaited by millions – nay, billions! – across the universe. The one…the only…SHARK WEEK. Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is anticipated by some the way an anxious child awaits Christmas morning. Typical plans for the week are cancelled or never made. Perhaps a few sick days have even been saved up for some Shark Week sniffles – dangerous business; definitely should stay home! But while your remote may get a vacation during Shark Week as you watch show after show without fail, your belly is gonna start to grumble. Man and woman cannot live by Shark Week alone. You need to keep up your strength so you don’t miss anything!

        So what to put on the Shark Week menu? Seafood is always a good choice. Watching sharks, eating like sharks, makes sense to us! And when the time comes for dessert or a late night snack, you can keep the ocean theme wave rolling in. Don’t worry – we don’t have any recipes for crab flavored ice cream up our sleeves. Just some sweet, summery treats that are shark-tastic!

        Gummi X-Ray Fish – These fruity gummies are fun to look at and neat to eat – gummy bones and all! Each box contains 36 see-through fishies, individually-wrapped and ready to enjoy.

        Swedish Fish Aqua Life – Offering all the fabulous favors the Swedish Fish family of gummies has to offer, Aqua Life brings quite a bounty of oceany options, including gummy starfish, gummy blowfish, and gummy dolphins and seahorses.

        Salt Water Taffy – A boardwalk favorite that will shore-ly make Shark Week all the better! It will feel like a true vacation when you add Salt Water Taffy to your SW menu, though an actual trip to the beach will likely be the furthest thing from your mind. The Midwest, anyone? I hear it’s gorgeous this time of year!

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