Sunday, September 9, 2012

Misadventures in Hallowe'en Gift Urn Making, or Don't Give up your Day Job

About a month ago, the insomniac  offered to make a donation to a silent auction at the local community centre for their Taste of the Neighbourhood event. One had originally planned to contribute a piece of garden decor as, out of all the items offered in the Attic, it seemed most likely to appeal to most everyone. But since gardening season is definitely over for this year, a good portion of this past week was spent trying to come up with a somewhat better idea. 

Eventually, a dimly lit lightbulb flickered on over the insomniac's  head, and she decided to create a Hallowe'en Gift Basket for the event instead. And even if most people (excepting those whose Blogs and Facebook Groups the insomniac  stalks) don't start thinking about Hallowe'en until mid-October, it seemed a wiser choice than a piece of taxidermy. Because although the insomniac  herself would bid a good deal of money at a silent auction for a piece of taxidermy, she is well aware that her tastes are certainly not everyone's tastes ...

The creation of the Hallowe'en Gift Basket (slightly modified to become a Hallowe'en Gift Urn, which should prove useful in the lucky bidder's garden NEXT year) did not go well. Following are a few important lessons the insomniac  learned, in case you'd care to attempt one yourself.

Gift Urn and contents neatly assembled on the Dining Room Table  ...

Even having had previous experience creating gift baskets comprised of food and wine, the baskets in question have always been of a substantial size to accommodate the large quantities of wine (and lesser quantities of food). And so the insomniac  was quite baffled when, after adding the very first item, she discovered it completely filled the urn, leaving no room whatsoever for any of the other items neatly laid out on the Dining Room Table.

Important Lesson #1
Pick a Gift Urn large enough to hold the Gift Urn contents.

After Google-ing what one should do in the event one's contents are larger than one's receptacle, one suggestion was to try inserting a piece of floral foam into the urn, inserting wooden skewers into the content's packaging, inserting the inserted skewers into the inserted floral foam, all of which would enable the insertion of many more items into the urn that would not have been possible without all the aforementioned insertions.

The insomniac  chose to use leftover styrofoam to avoid having to make a special trip to the craft store to purchase floral foam. Thinking herself quite clever, she took the styrofoam outside before cutting it down to size. In hindsight, probably far easier vacuuming up the styrofoam bits from the carpet than picking them out of the moss between the flagstones.

Important Lesson #2
Next time, make a special trip to the craft store to buy floral foam.

Next, the insomniac  removed the skull candle from its box and, as suggested by the helpful Creative Gift Basket Hints website, inserted the skewer into the rear of the box. Only to discover when repackaging the candle that it was actually the front of the box and not the back, as originally thought. Not to mention, it was crooked.

Important Lesson #3
Pay closer attention when skewering the packaging
as to where the skewer will actually emerge.

After this slight error in judgement, the remainder of the urn arrangement proceeded fairly uneventfully. Although it's difficult to tell because of the large amount of beige shred laying about, the skull candle is actually sticking out well beyond the rear of the urn, allowing for the insertion of the remaining items left languishing on the Dining Room Table.

Although one would prefer to lay blame for the difficulty in seeing this illustrated in the following photographs to the beige shred, it is more likely attributable to one's weak photography skills. Adding to the list of ideas one should never entertain as potential business plans ... Photographer. Hand Model.

Large Skull Candle Precariously
Firmly Secured with Skewer

Remaining Items Jammed In
Artistically Displayed

Once everything had been added, the Gift Urn and Gift Urn Contents were enclosed in cellophane. After spending a good twenty minutes fussing with the cello, the insomniac  tried another suggestion from her Google research and used a twist-tie to hold the cello together until the ribbon and other adornments could be added. Unfortunately, one twist-tie proved to be insufficient in length to encircle the cellophane, which then had to be released while one joined two twist-ties together, then spent another twenty minutes fussing with the cello. Two twist-ties also proved to be insufficient. Cello released a second time. Three twist-ties joined together. A further twenty minutes fussing.

At this point, one then remembered the Creative Gift Basket Hints website had also suggested removal of the sharp point from the skewer, to avoid risk of potential injury when the winning bidder unwrapped the Hallowe'en Gift Urn. Cello released for the third time. Sharp point removed from skewer. Further fussing. 

Important Lesson #4
Remember to eliminate the pointy end of the skewer
before  enclosing everything in cellophane.

At the conclusion of this somewhat dismal attempt at creative gift basketry, the insomniac  discovered the cellophane pretty much obscured the contents of the Hallowe'en Gift Urn, making it next to impossible for a potential bidder to see what's inside. The event is being held September 22nd, which gives the insomniac  an additional two weeks to come up with a better idea for something to wrap the urn with besides cellophane. The insomniac  is NOT planning on attending the event, to avoid the humiliation of seeing one's donation singled out as the only one in the silent auction without a bid ...

Important Lesson #5
Never give up the quasi-security of Contract Work
for a Hallowe'en Gift Urn Business

In order to end the week on a somewhat more satisfying note, the insomniac  then went on her first Hallowe'en shopping excursion to her favourite discount home decor store, where she purchased the following items: cupcake sprinkles cleverly packaged in plastic coffins; cupcake sprinkles cleverly packaged in plastic test tubes; cupcake holders with a damask skull pattern; a new jumbo-size cup with pictures of a crow, a tarantula and an owl that holds close to THREE cups of coffee - perfect for The Day After a Sleepless Night.

And lastly, this extremely large and magnificent black owl. After setting him down on the Dining Room Table with a dramatic flourish, the spouse remarked he'd seen a nicer one at the hardware store. When quizzed as to the reason why  it was nicer, he replied that it was painted to look like a Real Owl and wasn't Just Black. Apparently, even after all these years, he really doesn't know his spouse terribly well ...

He will grace our Dining Room Table
until he heads outside for the Hallowe'en Night Display ...

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. And as the discount home decor store promises “a new shipment every week”, one anticipates at least another eight more shopping trips before the arrival of Hallowe'en, which pretty much guarantees many sleepless nights planning what to purchase next. Goodnight, my pretties.


PostScript: This week, one was fortunate to have one's contract extended for an additional month, which will allow plenty of time in October for the creation of, hopefully, slightly more successful Hallowe'en crafting projects. This extension has also enabled the purchase of black feathery Hallowe'en trees, batty garlands, orange and black tinsel, glittery owl ornaments, spooky spider lanterns, glittered tombstones and an attractive skeletal arm votive holder for the Attic. One plans on spending the remainder of this weekend figuring out what to order next with one's remaining paycheques, as for those of us who eagerly anticipate this short Hallowe'en shopping season, we are all well aware it comes to an end far too quickly.

And Furthermore: The lovely candles and solid perfume used in the Hallowe'en Gift Urn are from Patch NYC. As one of their wholesale customers, the insomniac  received an announcement email yesterday about the launch of their new collection at Target next week, which includes a number of owl items. As Target has yet to arrive in Canada, one is hoping there will be an online shopping option available ... ** Wide-Mouthed Grin **


  1. I love this post! It's great that you can see the humour in the misadventures, and it made me laugh. I also like how you refer to yourself as 'one' in the story. Very classic!

    1. The referral to one's self in the third person began in the very first post, Laura, when the insomniac  discovered it was very difficult to write about herself in the first person. Writing does not come easily to her, and she finds this technique helps somewhat. It is definitely not used, as Wikipedia suggests, “to impart an air of grandeur or to give the speaker lofty airs”.

      She is very glad you enjoyed the post, and is especially glad it made you laugh! ;o)

    2. yes, it is grand! :) Surprised I didn't notice it til now.

      I replied to your question about the book on my blog post, but I'm not sure if Blogger lets you know, it doesn't seem to do it for me. I think it's a good book to get because it really goes into the theory. The other one I am currently reading is great and goes more in depth into some of the modern literary and music history, but I think being able to explain the theory and ideas and how they link in with the subculture is useful, especially if you ever need to argue against detractors of the Gothic.

  2. Oh how I wish we had stores with Halloween decorations here!
    It was fun to read about your struggles with the Halloween gift basket :) I think it turned out lovely in the end. It would be strange if no one put a bid on the basket, because it looks lovely and the urn is usable all the year.
    The owl is magnificent!

    1. When the insomniac  purchased this magnificent owl, she immediately thought of you, knowing it's your totem animal! How sad there are no Hallowe'en decorations available in Sweden ... the only good thing being all the money you're saving! ;o)

      One is not terribly optimistic about getting any bids on the Gift Urn - we shall see!

  3. Aw, Halloween crafts. I see your point, for me it is the best celebration in the whole year. I wish it were already October, though the previous preparations are as exciting as the proper party.

    By the way, I am running a give away in my blog. Feel free to check it out :-)

    1. Ah yes, Violette - Hallowe'en really is the best celebration of the year when it comes to decorating and craft projects. And let's not forget the shopping!

      One will head over to your blog forthwith to check out your giveaway!! :D

  4. In spite of your frustration with the packaging, I think that you've been wonderfully creative. I would love to be the winning bidder and recipient of this package.

    1. Thank you, Nightwind! Should there be zero bidders on the Hallowe'en Gift Urn, perhaps the insomniac could send it to you instead? Although she might have to transfer the contents to a basket, because the postage for that urn would be substantial - being cast iron and the heavy sucker it is, you understand ...

      Your last post was magnificent - for the all too brief moment it took the insomniac  to read it, she felt like she was there, in the middle of the storm. Nicely done! :o)

    2. Thank you for your kind comment. I would love to receive your Hallowe'en Gift Urn but I suspect that you'll have many bidders for that fine piece of creativity. If by chance you don't, I would accept your gift most graciously and of course, would help with the costs.

    3. Nonsense! If there are no bids, consider it a gift. It's not like one could sell it with a slightly off centre hole punctured in the box, anyway! One's fingers are crossed that it becomes yours ... :o)

    4. My fingers are crossed here as well!

  5. Cellophane sucks. Try black tulle instead.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Tante F! One does prefer working with fabric than slippery plastic stuff. An excellent excuse for an excursion to the wholesale fabric store! ;o)

  6. I am impressed that the urn is cast-iron! That alone is worth bidding on. I have made my own gift baskets. I always cheat and buy one from the store, which look good but are very skimpy. Then just add to it. It is so much easier that way. Works for Easter baskets too. That’s if you can find ones that don’t look cheap.

  7. Oh my goodness, you totally make me giggle out loud. Mind you, I am laughing WITH YOU, not against. ;)

    I would bid on that basket BTW.

    1. Lady B, even if you were laughing AT the insomniac, you're still laughing - which is GOOD! ;o