Do you remember those corny valentines we used to give all of our elementary school classmates for Valentine’s Day? You were so purposeful in who you gave Valentines to. It held such meaning as to who gave YOU a valentine. In fact, the whole social structure of 3rd grade could be summed up in the giving and receiving of these cards. Well, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and contrary to what the jewelry stores would have us believe, there ARE other Valentine’s Day gifts besides diamonds that you can give to your loved ones-even cheesy valentines!
Besides the corny Valentines, my other inspiration for today’s craft is an M & M wreath that my oldest sister, Robyn made for my brothers and I for Christmas one year. She bent a wire clothes hangar into a wreath shape, and then tied on dozens and dozens and dozens of little baggies full of M & Ms. I can’t imagine how much money that cost her, or how much chocolate I must have eaten!
I wondered if it would be possible to create a mini version of the wreath and somehow incorporate some cheesy Valentine Day greetings to give to my friends and loved ones. So, here is what I came up with for my easy Valentine’s Day Gift…
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White and Red pipe cleaners
Pink Food Coloring
A box of fold-over type sandwich baggies
Flour and salt
Since I can never quite get the hang of planning ahead, I was forced to buy two large bags of plain M & Ms and sort them to get the red ones for my wreath. This took quite a bit of time!! Did you know they put more blue M & Ms in the bag than any other color? Next is green, followed by red. The things you learn….
I would suggest just planning ahead and getting to the Valentine’s Day candy aisle before everything is gone, or you can simply order the color of M & Ms you want on-line. Me? Now I have to eat all those M & Ms that were the wrong color- dang!
After I got my red M & Ms separated and mixed in with the White Chocolate Cheesecake M & Ms, I was ready for the second step- prepping the baggies. I laid out each baggie and cut from the bottom of the flap diagonally across the baggie to the top of the flap on the other side. This gave me roughly a triangle in which to put the candies.
My next step was to prep the “wreaths”. I decided to use pipe cleaners but I knew a single pipe cleaner wouldn’t be strong enough to hold the shape of the wreath. I have 20+ years of experience as a cosmetology teacher, so I thought, why not braid the pipe cleaners? Now an ordinary braid is flat, but if you do a four strand braid, it becomes round. In a four strand braid, the outside strands alternate, each crossing under two strands, and then wrapping back over one strand back towards the side it came from. Check out this video to see how this works in real life.
BONUS- you can now braid your daughter’s/granddaughter’s ponytail into an awesome round four strand braid- everyone will be amazed at your new skill and you can tell them you learned this from the Sledgehammer Queen, haha!!
After creating your wreath and wrapping the two ends around each other to secure in a circle, the combined ends can be strengthened with the addition of the hangar. Take a pipe cleaner, bend it in two, and then create a little hangar out of the bent end by bending it into a shepherd’s hook. Place this right above where the ends of the wreath are joined and then take the end of the pipe cleaner and wrap it around the joint. The video makes this process much clearer and it’s easy to do!
Now it’s time to fill your baggies with the M & M mixture. I secured the baggies with ¼ of a pipe cleaner, twisting it tightly. Cut the excess baggie off above the pipe cleaner and then attach to the wreath. Place the baggies equally around the wreath, using 5-6 baggies. You will have to experiment a bit, but if the baggies aren’t super full they are easier to work with when securing them to the wreath and it just looks better. At this point your wreath should look totally and completely pathetic!! You will have 5-6 baggies hanging from a pipe cleaner wreath and they will just look sad. If this is the case, congratulations- you are on the right track and your wreath is almost finished!!
At this point, I really had to put on my thinking cap to figure out how to secure the baggies to the wreath in an attractive manner. Again, this took some trial and error, but I discovered that if I wrapped a pipe cleaner around the wreath 3-4 times to secure it, with the end traveling up under the wreath and then over and down toward me I could then simply wrap right over the middle of the baggie and then tightly wrap it around the wreath on the far side of the baggie about twice. Repeat for the second baggie. After securing the pipe cleaner after the second baggie, I simply cut off the excess and started with a new pipe cleaner for the third and fourth baggies. I repeated this until all baggies were secure. Now the wreath really starts to come together. Check out the video…
Sorry you have to stare at my attractive thumb in the video still- it was a Sledgehammer Queen injury!
The only thing that was missing? Little pink hearts with cheesy Valentine sayings for on the wreath. My friend Leanna at Of Faeries and Fauna Craft Co. created these beautiful Salt Dough stars for Christmas. That inspired me to create hearts for my wreaths. I made salt dough ornaments with my sister when I was in elementary school and wow are they tough (not tough to make- just resilient). The two ornaments I made that day-I put them on the tree every year. A few years ago the first one broke and then a couple of years ago the last one bit the dust. The 2nd one lasted almost 40 years!
To create my hearts, I mixed 1 cup of flour, ¼ cup of salt and ½-3/4 cup of water. You add the water bit by bit until the dough is the consistency you want. I put on a vinyl glove (because my hands always look bad, and I just wasn’t in the mood to wait for the pink to wear off of them) and added several drops of pink food coloring which I kneaded into the dough until the color was consistent. I then rolled out the dough and cut out my heart shapes.
Before I transferred the hearts to the cookie sheets, I used a toothpick to add my cheesy sayings to the hearts. I have a quick video showing how to “write” the sayings in the dough- if you drag the toothpick it will mess up your dough, so check it out!
At the last second I realized I needed a hole through which I could attach the heart to the wreath. It is suggested to use a straw, but that would have been way too big for the heart. Instead, I inserted the toothpick straight down into the dough and moved it around a bit to create a larger hole. The hearts went into the oven for 1 hour at 300 degrees. They cooled down very quickly and in no time at all, I was attaching them to my wreath. I threaded grey thread through the hole with a sewing needle and attached the hearts.
Here are some photos of my Valentine’s Day Gift wreaths, placed on my dining room table with my Valentine decorations. Luckily I picked red as my accent color in the dining room, so I had lots of accessories with which to decorate. My bear was originally a Christmas bear, but a couple of quick snips with the scissors, and his hat and gingerbread doll were quickly removed and voila- Valentine bear! The egg scale (which I absolutely love) was my hubby’s grandmother’s and the big scale I got at a thrift store. Can’t you just see people in days gone past weighing their eggs and dry goods? I picture these two scales sitting in the store on Little House on the Prairie.
Have you ever created salt dough ornaments or created a candy wreath? If so, let me know what you made. Most of all, enjoy giving your M & M wreaths to all your loved ones to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day!
Celebrate the Season!
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