Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Build your best Gingerbread House ever … and don’t be shy with the candy decorations! Candy.com and MyCandyCrafts.com are sponsoring a 2011 Gingerbread House Competition …

The competition is open to bakers of all ages and skill levels, and the winning baker/builder will receive a $75 Gift Certificate to Candy.com or MyCandyCrafts.com. Winner’s choice!

To enter, just go to https://www.candy.com/Gingerbread-House-2011-Contest_ep_94-1.html and follow instructions to submit your original photographs of your gingerbread house, along with a brief (300 words or less) description of your project. There is no limit to the number of entries per person, but each entry must be a different gingerbread house. (Gingerbread “houses” can also be other structures such as a windmill, boat, candy shop, etc.)

The deadline to receive photos and project descriptions is December 15, 2011, so fire up your rolling pin and get cracking!

Winners will be announced on Dec. 20, 2011, and will be unveiled in a blog post, right here, so keep your eyes peeled. Thank you in advance to all who participate! We’re looking forward to seeing and sharing your great work!

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in Candy, Christmas, Contests, Holidays

Starbucks cups are dressed in red, Target’s Christmas aisles are up and twinkling, and peppermint candy canes are selling like hotcakes at Candy.com. This can only mean one thing. It’s game on for holiday party season.

That said, I did a little holiday party planning homework for you by contacting two prominent party planning/candy buffet experts to find out which candies they’ll be using on their clients’ holiday dessert tables and what trends they’re noticing as the holidays draw near. Here’s the skinny …

“Out with traditional red and green, and in with unique pairs like red and aqua, red and pink, and silver and white!” That’s the holiday hue forecast from Courtney Dial, founder and editor of Pizzazzerie, co-founder of The Bakery Spot, and author of the new book Push-up Pops, which is now available for pre-order.

Courtney’s forecast closely matches Pantone’s Color of the Year 2011 – Turquoise 15-5519, and Color of the Year 2010 – Honeysuckle Pink 18-2120.

To get Courtney’s modern and chic color palettes to really pop on a dessert table, try using SweetWorks’ new Celebration Collection of single-color candies, which includes Sixlets, Gumballs, and Candy Pearls in matte and shimmer options as well as foiled chocolate hearts and balls. (Click on any of the SweetWorks candies below to learn more.)

According to Courtney,  “Retro Holiday” is also hot. To set the stage for a nostalgic vibe, she suggests candies like Mallo Cups, old-fashioned candy sticks, and thin ribbon candy, and using wax lips as a sweet prop in a photo booth station. “Of course everything on a stick is as popular as ever,” she adds, “so use a bit of royal icing ‘glue’ to attach the wax lips to a lollipop stick.”

Courtney’s also a big fan of gingerbread decorating parties. “Whether it’s a princess pink gingerbread house theme or a traditional one, kids and adults alike absolutely go crazy over decorating sweet houses for the holidays,” she says.

Last year, Courtney hosted a Holiday Pink Tea Party where the guests created pink and white gingerbread houses. “It was a huge hit,” she says. Looking at her blog post and photos, yes it was.

Photos courtesy of Pizzazzerie

When asked what specific candy Courtney and her team favor during the holidays, Courtney offers up the peppermint stick. “They’re the cutest treat to serve alongside a hot chocolate bar or dip in chocolate for an extra-sweet favor,” she explains.

Courtney suggests building a peppermint candy station at holiday parties and letting kids dip their peppermints in milk and white chocolate and add a variety of colored sprinkles. Cute!

Marie Dannettelle, the founder of California-based Sweets Indeed, a company that specializes in high-end custom candy and dessert stations, says she consistently gets rave reviews when she includes caramels, peppermint bark, and homemade toffee on a holiday dessert table. Another of Marie’s perennial favorites? Gumdrops.

“To me, it’s not the holidays unless there’s a bowl of spice drops (gumdrops) around,” she explains. “In past years, we’ve even used them to make wreaths, trees, topiaries, necklaces, and more! One of these days I’ll create a dessert station centered around them.”

Candy.com now has mini and jumbo gumdrops to create the coolest Gingerbread House on the cul-de-sac. (For more product info, click on the gumdrops image above.)

For the 2011 holiday season, Marie also says she’s going to mix it up and stay away from traditional red and green. “I think pastels will make a big show in Christmas decor this year, especially in the desserts and candy section,” she says.

To achieve the softer holiday schematic for her clients, Marie is looking to Hammond’s Candy for its hand-pulled candy canes, candy ribbons, pillows, and straw candies offered in non-traditional, yet highly festive colors like bubble gum pink, berry blue, and sour apple green.

Marie and her team are also relying on their own handmade holiday Candy Kabobs to punch up holiday parties. (Candy Kabobs are available for purchase at SweetsIndeed.com.) The candy combinations and themes are crazy creative, vibrant, and fun. Here are a few teasers …

Photos courtesy of Sweets Indeed and The Pixel Studio

Many thanks to Courtney and Marie for their holiday party tips, trends, and go-to candies!

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14 Oct

MIXO Madness 0

If you’re a Comic-Con regular, you may have already come across collectible MIXO tins, which debuted at the crazy huge comic book convention this past July in San Diego.

The adorable, yet slightly edgy food-safe tins are the latest creation by Mike Becker, a young and talented toymaker who’s already launched and sold two toy companies. MIXO is Mike’s third go-around at fun.

What’s great about these 8.25-inch (h) x 2.5-inch (w) unfilled tins is that they are unfilled. A blank canvas of sorts. Fill the Skeleton with a mix of Bloody Candy Bones, Spooky Eyeball Gumballs, and Candy Skulls to create a memorable Halloween favor that party-goers will want to keep.

I love the Wonder Woman MIXO tin above. Fill  her up with Starzmania candies and tuck in a Starbucks gift card for a pretty awesome teacher gift. (Sure beats an apple!)

Reis O’Brien, the artist behind all of the MIXO designs, says the Batman tin was the first of the four superheroes to fly off the shelves at Comic-Con. “It disappeared the first day of the show,” he explains.

Reis, who keeps pencils and artist paintbrushes in his Green Lantern MIXO tin, says the “Valentino” Vampire tin was also a hot commodity at Comic-Con.

How cool would it be to fill Valentino with Wax Fangs and blood Red Sixlets and put him front and center on a Halloween dessert table?

The ideas are endless with MIXO tins, and, according to Reis, it’s a line that’s growing fast. Hello Kitty tins will soon be available, as will additional superheroes and other licensed characters.

Here’s a peek at Hello Kitty …


If you catch the MIXO bug, let us know how you fill ‘em up!

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in Candy, Candy Buffets, Gifts, Halloween, Licensed, MIXO, Packaging

My ridiculously cool neighbor is watching my kids this summer and asked them to come up with a “Blue Sky List.” Huh?

A Blue Sky List, I found out, is all the things you’d like to do in a summer. Doesn’t that sound divine? And 10X better than a to-do or bucket list?

So, my daughter came up with …

1. nona’s house (Nona is my neighbor’s mom and has a pool. Love Nona.)
2. bowling
3. look at Bull Dogs (Fiberglass bull dogs painted by local artists for auction at end of summer.  They’re pretty cool.)
4. ice cream
5. ride bikes
6. play outside
7. make forts
8. tag
9. movies on rainy days
10. nelson lake (A favorite spot for hikes)
11. go out for lunch
12. put put golf
13. art
14. sleep overs
15. climb trees
16. bike ride

And my son came up with …

1. hockey
2. stick and puck (More hockey. Ouch on the pocketbook.)
3. baseball
4. golf
5. football
6. tag
7. play at pool
8. jump on the tramp (Next-door neighbors have a trampoline that’s been a bit hit)
9. have a good summer
10. eating contest
11. have sleepovers
12. play minute to win it
13. mini golf
14. ride bikes
15. hang out

What’s cool about these lists is that they’re pretty similar to what I would have come up with in the late 1970s when I was 10. (I didn’t know about “Minute to Win It” or have a neighbor with a pool or trampoline, so they’ve one-upped me there.)

All this list-making got me thinking Blue Sky. Here’s what I’ve got on my summer radar:

1. Go to our local outdoor French Market
2. Jump on a train to Chicago with my kids/husband for cultural events, and drag them all to Armitage Ave. boutiques.
3. Walk to our downtown ice cream shop and library, but not in that order
4. Eat Salt Water Taffy (the more chocolate pieces the better)
5. Make S’mores over a campfire, but try out different candy bars, like Ghirardelli, Cadbury, or Ritter Sport bars (maybe even take it a step further and try out different marshmallows, like StrawMallows or chocolate-bottomed Peeps)
6. Swiming, anywhere
7. Write about candy, on my front porch

I’m a simpleton, so if I achieve at least five of these items, I’m calling Summer 2011 bombdiggity.

What’s on your Blue Sky List?

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