Thursday, October 16, 2014

Halloween is Happy

Online relationships.  IKR?  Hear me out.

About 2 years ago, I joined this online community called "Mommyish".  They dig parenting.  I dig parenting.  We dug each other.  It was great.

We splintered off into a Facebook group that I called "The Taco Belles".  Yes, I commandeered that logo, what else is my Photoshop good for?  This group, I have to say, is just an incredible collection of like-minded moms that I'm proud to be a part of.

So, Eve (you all know Eve) sets up a gift-exchange for Halloween.  We draw names and have ~$20.00 to gift each other.

I drew Jennifer Mahoney-Sty.  She lives in Arizona.  She likes bubble baths.  I get to work.

1.  I decided on a Lush bath bomb.  Not just a bath bomb, though.  I wanted a spooky bath bomb.  In the past, Lush offered Halloween-themed items.  However, as luck would have it, nothing this year (times be tight, yo).  So, while a normal-brained person would just fixate on some other gift, I was not so normal-brained and decided to MAKE IT SPOOKY.

I really like Dia De Los Muertos Calaveras (sugar skulls).  They are just so colorful and vibrant on an otherwise grim and deathly concept.  Why not combine Day of the Dead with Bath Bomb?

I had plenty of patterns and footage to design from.  The only real considerations were:  what ink or paint to use and how to carve it out.  I could choose between acrylic paint, watercolor, and Sharpie marker.  In the end, the Sharpie ink won because it was highly controllable, non-toxic, and wouldn't dissolve the bath bomb as I worked on it.  After some X-Acto blade work, I had a really nice present.

But I needed more.

Eve (you all know Eve) had mentioned a wonderland of a candy store in New York.  Dylan's Candy Bar, it is called.  Those of you who are not familiar with Dylan's - I'll just say it's the only candy shop that I've been to where you can get drunk.  It just so happened that I was taking my family to New York City to vacation for an extended weekend.  Timing could not have been better.  There was really only one choice for this gift, though - that would be Dylan's collection of Dia De Los Muertos chocolate bars.  Maintaining the theme, right?

It was at this point I started conceptualizing the packaging.  I had to ship these gifts so they would arrive intact.  Chocolate - in Arizona.  I actually looked up a company online that provided free samples of water-activated freezer packs to keep food cold.  That combined with a styrofoam wrapper should be enough, I decided.  I had a really nice stockpile of foam packaging to keep everything stable and lots of cardboard to fashion boxes out of.  Logistics aside, now it's time to design.

I had one Treat.  Might as well make the other a Trick.  Throughout this planning, I started collecting boxes of all shapes and forms.  The hobby store had pre-made boxes with lids for $2.99 each but, again, abby-normal me rallied against it.  I did pick up a spool of black ribbon, a spool of orange ribbon, and an orange vinyl tablecloth.  This stuff is really cheap after coupons.  You really want to know how deep this rabbit hole went?  I considered making the treat box (with the chocolates inside) not-black to keep it that one-degree cooler.  Anyway, I found two box patterns that would hold my items and enough foam insulation to work comfortably.  Gloss black spray paint for "Trick" and Orange vinyl with spray adhesive for "Treat".  Contrasting ribbon work on each along with hand-made bows and chevroned tips.

I really like Victorian scrollwork and antiquated typewriter fonts for this.  Out of the myriad of fonts freely available online, I found one called "Underwood".  PERFECT - because I just finished watching "House of Cards".  Not satisfied with defaults, I customized the Victorian border with a skull.  Photoshop allowed me to match the contrast levels so it produced a fairly seamless design.

I felt I should also include a note inside the boxes - sort of like that Whitman's sampler map they give you.  Just so everybody is on the same page.  More Underwood font and tentacles.  Because cephalopods are so sexy.

That was it.  I really loved putting all this together.  It really is my favorite holiday of the year.  Jennifer was also very, very pleased.

Oh, one other thing.  During all this, Jennifer gave birth to a beautiful daughter.  I really wrestled with trying to find something for the baby but, in the end, I decided that this box would be totally hers.

Happy Halloween!

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