For an interesting Christmas ornament, try creating wreaths from those hard peppermint candies sitting in your holiday candy dish. Except for some low-temperature baking, creating these ornaments is a good child-safe project to do on rainy afternoons.
Here’s what you’ll need in order to make wreath-shaped Christmas ornaments from hard peppermint candies:
A bag of hard peppermint candies (think Starlite Mints, not soft sugar-based varieties), unwrapped.
An ungreased aluminum baking sheet or cookie pan.
An oven capable of maintaining 250 degrees. Preferably, the oven should have an internal light and a clear glass front for easy viewing.
A supply of twine or ribbon.
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Make sure it is set on Bake, not Broil.
- For an average-sized round wreath, use at least 7 unwrapped peppermint candies. Arrange these mints in a circle on an ungreased aluminum baking sheet or cookie pan. Make sure all of the candies continue to touch each other throughout handling. Place as many circular wreaths as possible on the pan without crowding.
- Once all of the candies have been arranged in circles, CAREFULLY place the aluminum baking sheet onto the middle rack of the heated oven. If so equipped, turn on the internal light and watch the candies through the glass window. The candy should begin to melt slightly within 5 minutes. Those without glass windows should set a timer for five minutes and check the oven periodically.
- Once the candies have melted slightly and have appeared to merge together, open the oven door and carefully remove the aluminum baking sheet. Place this sheet on a safe, flat surface suitable for cooling. Do NOT touch the candies until they have had several minutes to cool. Not only could this cause some minor burns, it may cause the wreaths to fall apart. The candies must be given enough time to adhere fully.
- The cooled candy wreaths can be lifted off the aluminum sheet and placed on wax paper. To finish off the ornament, attach a length of ribbon or twine through the wreath and hang the finished product on the Christmas tree. Although nothing toxic has been added to the candies, they may pick up some contaminants from the tree itself or from exposure to the air. Children should be discouraged from eating the ornaments after they have been used on the tree.
For variation, try making other shapes using the same type of peppermint candies. The individual candies need to touch at least one other mint for stability’s sake, but squares and stars could also be formed. Other hard candies such as butterscotch disks or blue mints could also be used in place of the Starlite-styled candies. Lollipops could also be removed from their sticks for even more variety. The trick is to melt the candies slowly and only to the point of a slight stickiness. Candies with chocolate or powdered sugar base will not survive this process, so avoid too much youthful experimentation.
Children may enjoy the feeling of an assembly line, so parents may want to assign each child a specific task (unwrap mints, arrange the wreaths, prepare the ribbons, etc.). These peppermint wreaths also make good fund-raisers for church or school holiday bazaars.Children may enjoy