Thursday, March 31, 2011

Red Cross Month

Earlier this week, the American Red Cross announced that the public had donated $120.5 million to help the people of Japan. Thanks to your help, GCDSpa was one of the donors.

The week after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I went to the Red Cross website to make a donation. When I saw that March was Red Cross Month, I decided I'd donate more. As of today, we've donated 10% of our gross sales for the month to the American Red Cross to support disaster relief efforts in Japan.

If you're not familiar with the Red Cross, this is how they describe what they do:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at

I love supporting the Red Cross because an average of $.91 of every dollar they spend is on humanitarian efforts. We couldn't have done this without you, so thank you for helping!

Monday, March 28, 2011

I'm Listening

Sometimes (well, often) I find it hard to write. Writing in a blog means that I'm "talking" all the time. I have to think of things to say, things that are meaningful to me and that I think will be meaningful or helpful to you. I like it when you leave comments because then it feels more like a conversation. But a lot of the time it just feels like I'm sitting here talking.

Epictetus said, "We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak." I have two ears, but in addition to the voice I carry around in my head (which talks to me, I'll admit, at least as much as it talks to other people), I have another "voice" here at my blog, and another at Twitter and Facebook and every other social site at which I participate. I'm supposed to be "generating content" and "increasing my influence" and all of that, but what it feels like, some days, is that I have two ears and 6 mouths and the sound of my own voice is drowning everyone else out.

Enough. It's your turn.

I want to know what you think.

When you take time out of your day to come here and read, do you find what you are looking for? Do you find what you expect? (What DO you expect?) Or is there something missing? If so, what is it?

What would make this a better place for you?

When (if) you visit my site, what is missing there? Are there things that would really help you that I'm not offering? Services? Products? A particular design?

How can I help you?

I'm listening. And not just today, but tomorrow and the next day, too. As much as I chatter on at Facebook or Twitter I'm listening there, too. But does it seem like I listen? How could I do it better? Please let me know!

Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. When we really listen to people there is an alternating current, and this recharges us so that we never get tired of each other. We are constantly being re-created.” ~Brenda Ueland

Friday, March 25, 2011

How to Make a Candy Buffet for Kids

Last week I posted about how to make candy party favors for kids. With the recent popularity of candy buffets (and my office full of candy) this was the perfect time to try making a kid-friendly candy buffet.

I've talked about candy before. It's beautiful in centerpieces and a great way to incorporate theme colors into an event. And of course it also makes great favors. I still love the idea of giving candy to your guests to take home, and a candy buffet lets them pick and choose their favorites.

I decided to make a mini kid-friendly candy buffet in green and blue, and here are a couple things I recommend doing (or NOT doing) to stay within budget. First of all, do not go overboard on the candy. I know, it's tempting to buy dozens of bags, but it will be expensive AND your guests' parents will not be happy with you! If you're having 5 kids at your party, aim for 5-7 bags of candy.

Next, DO NOT buy anything except for the candy. For this mini buffet, we are using glassware (and props...just wait, I'll explain) that you already have. Start by collecting parfait glasses, trifle dishes, ramekins, apothecary jars, or candy dishes from your kitchen.

Then take a large serving platter and fit an assortment of glasses and dishes in different sizes on the platter. If you have 10 or more guests, you can set up two platters. Use a larger apothecary jar or storage jar as a focal point. Then fill each dish and glass with a different type of candy.

For my blue and green theme, I used blue and green m&ms, Kisses with blue wrappers, blue raspberry gumdrops, blue and green Good 'n Fruity candies, and green apple gummy rings. I also filled a large jar with lollipops. Use different sizes and shapes of spoons to serve the candies.

You can choose when and where you serve this buffet: since it's set up on a platter, it's portable. If you want to keep it as a surprise for the end of your party, simply "hide" the candy until just before the parents arrive. Then set your tray (or trays) on the table along with some of the favor boxes and bags we talked about last time. Help each child to select his or her favorites to take home.

What about the "props" I mentioned earlier? This is where you can get creative! Again, DO NOT BUY ANYTHING. Instead, check out your kids' rooms and "steal" some of their toys. Wash well with warm soapy water and arrange on the table along with your parfait glasses and apothecary jars to make a larger tablescape. For example, I borrowed my daughter's tea set and filled the tea cups with candies, then made a lollipop bouquet and tucked it into the teapot.

My son's dump trucks made great candy dishes, too. Front loaders and pickup trucks also work well. Park them all over the table and put them to work moving all of your goodies! A sandbox toy set would be super for a beach-theme party (okay, I'll let you buy one of these if yours is too sandy to be washed!). Use the trucks and sand pails to hold the candies, and the mini sand shovels to serve them.

Look for toys that fit with your party theme. If your child loves Legos, for example, use them to build your candy "containers" and line with food-safe plastic bags or boxes. There are so many creative ways to use dishes and "props" that you already have; there's no need to spend a lot to make a really fun candy buffet!

Remember last time when we talked about choosing safe candies:

• Make sure candies are age-appropriate. For example, hard candies are not appropriate for children under the age of 5.

• Consider food allergies. Many children are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, so make sure you are offering options that are safe for your guests.

• Some children are sensitive to artificial colors and flavors.

Again, we think these are great reasons to select an assortment of different candies and serve them up as favors that kids can take home!

Of course I also like the idea of serving up sweetie lip balms in my candy buffet! Our new Blue Raspberry lip balm fits perfectly with the blue-green theme we've set up, and joins Green Apple, Orange Cream, Grape Soda, Lemon-Lime, and Melontastic flavors in our new Candy Jar Lip Balm Collection. For our blue-green party, we filled a jar with Blue Raspberry and Green Apple balms and added a "scoop" to favor boxes or bags along with the candies.

What do you think? Have you tried making a candy buffet? What types of candies do you like to use? Please share your thoughts!

Want to see our new ideas as soon as we post them? Why not subscribe to our blog by email or reader? Thanks so much for your interest!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Birthday Party Favors for Tammy

Yesterday I showed you the designs I prepared for Tammy, the winner of the Party Favor Giveaway. These are the designs that Tammy chose! I'll be talking more about these new multi-colored balms and offering them in lots of other colors and patterns soon. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Making Custom Favors

A week ago I selected a winner in our Party Favors giveaway. Since then I've been working with Tammy on her son's birthday party favors and I wanted to share the fun with you!

Most of the time when someone orders favors from my website, they select from one of my designs and add their own personal details. That might be as simple as custom text like a name or a date, but it can also include theme colors, a different font, or different wording from the example tag or label. When I get these details with an order, I always prepare a sample draft (or two) and email it for approval before I make the favors. It's my way of making sure I have all the spelling and wording correct so that when you receive your order there are no "surprises"!

If you're working with a unique theme—or if I just haven't designed anything yet that's a good fit—sometimes I'll make something completely new. Tammy's party theme is "those plastic building blocks that start with L- and end with -egos" and since I didn't have any designed, I started from scratch! Tammy specified some text, a date, and some colors (we're working with blue, red, yellow, and green), and I put together an assortment of ideas for her to choose from.

Here are some of the tag designs:
And here are some of the labels I made for her:

You'll notice that there are different fonts to choose from, too. When I prepare drafts for you, you can "mix and match" and I'll put together a new draft for you with the font and the layout you like.

Once Tammy has chosen the design for her L.... plastic blocks label (which sticks to the top of the jar of balm) and her tag, she'll select the tulle bow color (or colors) that I'll use to decorate her son's favors. I also have a new idea for wrapping that I can't wait to share with her (and with you!). Stay tuned to see how her favors turn out!!

What do you think? Which of the designs would YOU choose if these were your party favors? Please share your thoughts below!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Blog Feature at MMS

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Andee at Adventures With The Sage (the Majestic Mountain Sage blog), asking if I would answer some questions for a blog feature. I was so excited to participate!

I'm fortunate to work in a field just full of exceptionally helpful manufacturers and suppliers; among these, Majestic Mountain Sage stands out. When I was just "dabbling" with sugar scrubs and bath salts (before I even dreamed of starting a business), I ordered some supplies from Majestic Mountain Sage. I still enjoy ordering from them (even though I'm in Maine and they're waaaaay out there in Utah) because they have a great selection, they offer smaller quantities (hobbyists take note!), and their quality is excellent. And every time I've had a question—and the rare occasions when I've had a problem with an order—they have always been quick to respond with helpful information. Plus, they're just really nice. Truly, genuinely nice.

Please take a minute to check out Adventures With The Sage. If you're not interested in the feature about GCDSpa, then you might enjoy posts about soap making or scrubs or even party ideas. And if you're ever interested in making your own bath and body products, check out the supplies at Majestic Mountain Sage!

A Matter of Perspective

The other day I was reading an article about Russell Brand in Elle Magazine. The interviewer details a visit to Brand's office, describing the movies, photos, and posters in his space and noting the presence of a life-size cutout of Homer Simpson. I thought this was funny, but Brand's comment about the cutout was thought-provoking: "It's been in the room less than 24 hours, so don't let it dominate your perspective."

We bring lots of things into our "spaces"—and not just our offices or homes, but our interior spaces, too. Some of these things (relationships, feelings, attitudes) fit and make sense and really represent who we are. Some of them...not so much. Some would take years to "dominate your perspective" while others could take over after a few minutes or hours.

This week I'm thinking about sharing space, and wondering if everything around me fits with who I am. I'm considering whether certain attitudes or relationships dominate, and if so, do they give people the right idea about who I am? Or am I giving too much real estate to things that don't really belong?

What do you think? Do YOU have a life-size cutout of Homer Simpson (or something else that might dominate people's perspective)? What do you do to surround yourself with people, relationships, and attitudes that "fit" with who you are?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New Botanical Facial Cleanser

Last year after several requests we added a Facial Moisturizer to our product line. We've had some great feedback and now I'm delighted to announce a new facial care product, our Botanical Facial Cleanser. We've also updated our moisturizer packaging to match our new cleanser! (If you've ordered before, it's the same product but now it's in pump bottles!)

Our unscented cleanser has a gentle foam thanks to coconut-, corn-, and sugar beet-derived ingredients. Botanicals such as Aloe, Cucumber, Green Tea, and Chamomile extracts lend anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties to smooth and soothe the skin. With a creamy lotion consistency, our cleanser is suitable for daily use and mild enough for all skin types.

To use, apply a quarter-sized amount of cleanser to damp skin with a wash cloth. Rinse well, then pat dry. Botanical Facial Cleanser can also be used to remove makeup.

Cleanser and Moisturizer may be purchased separately, or together at a special price. We're also including samples in March orders while supplies last.

Have you tried the Facial Moisturizer? Or maybe you've received your Cleanser sample...what do you think?

Friday, March 18, 2011

How to Make Party Favor Tags

This is the second post in our series about making your own party favors and decorations. Last time we wrapped candy favors for kids in a couple of different packages, but we haven't personalized them! Personalizing your favors makes them even more special, but what if you don't have a scanner or software to design them? You can still make pretty tags using some of your patterned paper, card stock, and address labels from your printer.

We took standard address labels in 1" x 2 5/8" size and created tags in a couple of different sizes and styles. Our first favors use the full size of the address labels to personalize. Try using a fun font (there are many online that you can download free for your personal use) and thank each guest personally. See below for an example.

You can cut these labels into smaller ones to make different sized tags. Try writing a single line of text across the whole length of your label, then center these narrow labels onto long tags like the one below. We used a paper punch to scallop the tag edges, but you can leave them square or use deckle scissors to embellish.

Another option is to create small blocks of text about 3/4" wide on your address labels, then cut each label into 1" squares. You can center the squares onto patterned paper with a narrow border, or rotate the labels 45 degrees and hang the tags at an angle. You can also create different tag shapes and center the squares inside them, embellishing again with deckle scissors or paper punches. See below for some examples of these tags with square labels.

If you have colored labels, you can use those, too. On the next tag we've used vellum to make layered tags, then topped off with the colored labels. Of course you can always print on paper and use glue to stick the personalization on the tags, but we love how quick and easy (and mess-free) these labels are. Choose ribbons of all sizes, widths, patterns, and colors to attach to your favors or packages. (I found ribbons on sale at craft stores and also in the $1 bins at Target, so always be on the lookout!)

These are really simple ideas for those of you who aren't very crafty, but if you like paper crafting you can go to town! Add sequins, fabric flowers, or glitter to really make your tags special!

What do you think? Do you make your own gift and favor tags? What types of paper and embellishments do you use? I'd love it if you'd share in the comments!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We have a winner!!

Today at noon I selected a winner for the Party Favor Giveaway! Out of the 31 entries, chose number 4, which is the comment below. Tammy Wall-Brodbeck is the winner! Congratulations, Tammy!

I'm really excited to work with Tammy to create favors for one of the birthday parties she has planned! I'll be posting again soon to share more about Tammy's favors and show all of you the process that I go through every time someone orders custom party favors.

If you entered and didn't win the giveaway and you're still interested in party favors, please contact me for a special coupon just for you. (I can be reached at emily {at} I really appreciate your interest and participation here and would love to work with you, too!

What do you think? Was this a good idea for a giveaway? Would you prefer a giveaway of a different kind of product? Please share your thoughts!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cheap Party Favors for Kids

Though I provide reasonably-priced kid's party favors with low minimums to accommodate even small parties, I realize that not everyone is excited about lip balm favors. Or lotion or bath gel favors, either! But everyone loves candy favors. If you're planning your child's party on a budget, you can still have fun favors without breaking the bank. Today I'm going to show you how you can easily make cheap party favors for kids (read: inexpensive) using materials you can find at your grocery store, local craft store, or dollar store.

Spring is a perfect time of year to find candy in all kinds of pastel colors to match kids' party themes, so plan on stocking up when it's on sale! Chocolate (even candy-coated chocolate) freezes well; when you thaw it, just make sure it warms to room temperature before you handle it. Once you have an assortment of candies in your theme colors, it's time to wrap them up! Here are a few ideas for wrapping.

Mini Cone Favors
I love the way cone bags look (see the favor above) and they are easy to make if you have a food sealer. Before you start, make sure that your sealer will work with standard zip bags. I used quart-sized zip bags (get a generic brand so they don't have any writing on them) and cut off the zipper. Then cut the bags diagonally from one of the bottom corners to the opposite top edge. Use your food sealer to seal the diagonal edge on each half, then cut the open edge straight across. (See the diagram below for help with where to cut and where to seal! Depending on how your sealer works, you may have to seal the center seam before you cut. )

Fill the bags with a handful of candies in your theme colors, leaving a few inches at the top to tie. (Remember that you don't need to use all of the colors in your mix of candies; for our theme we used only the green and blue m&m's and saved the rest for later!) Then tie with ribbon and attach a gift tag. (The next post in our series will show you how to make the tags.)

Don't have a food sealer? You can still use the corner of a zip or storage bag to wrap your candy favors. Cut off the zipper and cut your bag diagonally from a lower corner to the opposite top corner. Fill with candy, leaving several inches at the top to tie. Attach a bow and gift tag. These cones are "fuller" than the sealed bags, but still a cute way to present a candy favor.

Tiny Boxed Favors
Boxes are adorable containers for candy favors, and these are really simple to make. Choose card stock or heavy patterned paper in your theme colors, then download our template. You may print this directly onto your card stock, or use it to create a template that you trace onto your paper. Follow the template directions to cut along solid lines and fold along the dotted lines of the pattern, then glue where directed to create the box.

Fill with your choice of candies, close the box, tie with ribbons, lace, or twine, and embellish with beads, flowers, or any other items that match your theme. You're welcome to print the box in any size you'd like to create the perfect tiny favor boxes. Try making multiple sizes in different colors and patterns, and wrap stacks of boxes containing different candies.

Candy Roll Favors
To make these next favors, you'll need card stock in any color, a 6" x8" scrap of fabric, ribbons, and candy of your choice. Cut a letter sized piece of card stock into six equal pieces. (Cut in half, then each half into thirds.) Roll each piece as shown below right, and tape into a tube.
Roll your fabric scrap over the tube, then gather one end and tie one of the ribbons into a bow to close the end, as shown below. Then fill with the candy of your choice and tie the other bow to finish.

A few things to note about candy choices:
• Make sure candies are age-appropriate. For example, hard candies are not appropriate for children under the age of 5.
• Consider food allergies. Many children are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, so make sure you are offering options that are safe for your guests.
• Some children are sensitive to artificial colors and flavors.
These are just a few of the reasons why we love saving the party candy for favors: they go home where parents can supervise their kids' consumption.

Don't forget that our next post in this series talks about some simple party favor tags you can make using your patterned papers, card stock, and address labels. Then we'll talk about making a kid-friendly Candy Buffet, so stay tuned!

I'd love to know what you think! Have you ever made candy party favors for a kids' party? How did you wrap them? If you have a site that shares party favor ideas and ways to wrap them, please leave a comment and share your link below!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Customer of the Week

Last week I got an email from a friend and customer. She wrote, "LOL! Thought you'd appreciate the comment below from my dad. New uses for your products never cease to amaze me."

What followed was a brief email exchange between my friend and her dad. She asked him, "How is the orange lotion working out for you? Do you need any more? Let me know."

He replied, "I'm fine. It worked w/some other stuff I had. Now I'm using on Diesel's feet."

Meet Diesel.

Diesel is a rottweiler. A rottweiler who apparently has really moisturized feet. (And who, we can only presume, is enjoying his Spiced Orange hand cream. Or was that foot cream? Paw cream??)

I may not have been clear about this before but I feel it necessary to state, for the record, that GCDSpa does not test products on animals. We do all of our testing on willing human participants. But our customers test on animals. Frequently.

There's that friend of mine whose first Aussie loved Fuzzy Navel lip balm. He consumed several—tube and all—with no ill effects. Of course that was an unintentional product test. But we passed! (And I guess the balm did, too, though I didn't ask...)

More recently another customer's pampered pooch made off with a peppermint balm. She also suffered nothing more than minty fresh doggy lips. Which for most dogs (let's face it) is not the end of the world.

So Diesel: you're our Customer of the Week. Though we don't formulate products for canines (and can't really vouch for their effects on paws), we hope you're enjoying your moisturizing.

If you are ever concerned about the use of any product on your pet, please refer to product labels or contact the manufacturer for ingredient information and consult your veterinarian. And if you'd like some fabulous products that ARE formulated for dogs, I've heard great things about Dirty Dog Organics (some of my favorite pampered pooches gave them the paws up).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Celebrating International Women's Day with Kiva

For a couple of years I've been writing about Kiva. (And here.) I love donating to this organization because it's a great way to support other entrepreneurs all over the world. Most of the small loans that my company has given (micro loans, really) have gone to women. Weavers, store owners, seamstresses, manufacturers, shoe saleswomen. And so far, each has been paid back in full. Which means I get to loan the money again!

Last week I took all of the funds that had been repaid, added more, and made another 10 loans. This time the loans went to women in Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Philippines, Honduras, Palestine, and Armenia. I can't think of a better way to celebrate International Women's Day (which was earlier this week) than by supporting women-owned businesses. I am fortunate to have so many opportunities available to me, and it's important to me that I'm able to help make opportunities available to other women, too.

Since Kiva was founded, they've loaned $199 million. I'm so excited to be part of this! I encourage you to visit their site to read about what they do for entrepreneurs all over the world. Last year I said my goal was to build up my funds so that I could loan and reloan up to $50 per month from my account. I'm still working toward that goal, and as the loans get paid back and I can loan again, I plan to share with you here!

What do you think? Please share your thoughts!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Tortellini Soup

Flashback to 1994: I'm newly married, working at my first job in a lab, and commuting 2 hours a day. I'm also learning how to cook and having to come up with dinner every night after a long day. My boss gave me this recipe back then and with a bit of tweaking it became one of our favorites.

Last week I was pressed for time (and I'm sure that NEVER happens to you, right?!) and saw a bag of tortellini in the freezer. I had the tomatoes and spinach, too, and remembered how easy this was. It's so easy I feel guilty calling it a recipe. Even my son loved this, spinach and all. I plan to keep all of the ingredients on hand for repeat performances!

1 Tbsp olive oil
about 1/4 cup chopped onion
basil, oregano, black pepper to taste
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
15 oz canned tomatoes (whole or crushed)
9 oz bag tortellini (I use the frozen tricolor variety)
2 cups fresh or frozen chopped spinach
parmesan or romano cheese to serve

In a stockpot or soup pot, saute the onion in the olive oil until translucent, 4 or 5 minutes. Add the broth and water, canned tomatoes, and spices and bring to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook until almost tender. A few minutes before the tortellini are finished, add the spinach and heat through. Serve with a grating of fresh parmesan (or romano) cheese on top. That's it! Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Word of the Week: Failure

Once upon a time, I was terrified of failure. I was scared to look stupid, to work hard at something that people laughed at or rejected. (Because really, wouldn't that mean that people were laughing at or rejecting me?) Then I started a business making such products as Greeting Balms, Pamper Me Purses, and Conversation Heart Balms. If you've never heard of them, you're not alone. They were utter failures.

Of course I made other products in my business, like Linzertorte lip balm and Citrus Rose lip balm and Butterfly lip balm...wait, those things also didn't sell. And by most standards that would make them failures, too. In fact these are only a few of my failures. I have failed at lots of things. My first business was ultimately a failure, and many, many of my product ideas have not worked out as I hoped and planned.

If I ever felt bad about all of those failures, Steven Pressfield's post last week about Seth Godin's new project made it all better. In What I Love About Seth Godin, Pressfield says,

"The other thing I love about Seth is that he has failed at a boatload of ventures. Seth has started publishing companies, internet companies, high-tech companies. How many have crashed and burned? Lots. But before the flames have even been extinguished, Seth has generated another idea and he’s off to the races.

"Poke the Box is about that. It’s about starting. Not talking, not dreaming, not planning. Starting and doing. Finishing and shipping."

The next logical thing for me to do was to read Poke the Box (affiliate link). It's fabulous, of course, with useful nuggets throughout. "The more you do, the more you fail," he reminds us. And, "We reward those who draw maps, not those who follow them."

But the part I'll be thinking about all week is: "This might not work."
"Change is powerful, but change always comes with failure as its partner. 'This might not work' isn't merely something to be tolerated; it's something you should seek out."

It's a new way of looking at failure, a new way to acknowledge this inevitable result of creativity and innovation. And for me, I guess it means more wacky lip balm flavors and experimental products, more blooper reels and funny Facebook anecdotes. I'll "focus on the work" and continue to learn from my failures.

I highly recommend this new book/manifesto of Seth Godin's (as well as Steven Pressfield's excellent blog).

What do you think? Do you try to avoid failure, or do you embrace it, risk it, accept it, learn from it?

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Party Favor Giveaway

As I mentioned last week, I've recently received several requests for party favor donations. Of course I can't provide free products to everyone who asks, but I find it difficult to select just one recipient. How would I choose? It's impossible to do it fairly unless everyone has a chance and the selection is random. That's why I decided it was time to offer a Party Favor Giveaway.

If you:
1. are planning a party in April or May
2. live in the U.S. (or can have items shipped to a U.S. address)
3. are at least 18 years old, and
4. are willing to share your party details with my blog readers, Twitter followers, and Facebook friends...I'd love to create your party favors!

What type of party? Any kind! I've made thousands of favors for bridal showers, bachelorette parties, birthday parties, baby showers, girls' nights out, even divorce parties and so many other events!

What type of favor? For this giveaway, I'm offering lip balm in your choice of jars, tubes, or tins.

What type of design, decoration, or flavor? Here's the fun part: I will work with the winner to create favors that fit with your party theme. You will get to choose the design, flavor, colors, and embellishments I use to put together your favors. Every one of my party favors customers goes through this same process, but this time I'll be sharing the process with Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and blog readers through regular posts (so make sure you don't mind having us all discuss your party details in public).

Don't worry
: even though I'm hoping that our readers will share their opinions as we work on your project, the final choices about the favors will be yours!

How many favors? I'm excited to donate a set of 20 personalized favors. (Lip balm favors with custom labels and tags, wrapped in clear bags with bows usually retail for $75.00, so this is the biggest giveaway I've ever done!) Of course you may choose to have only custom tags or labels—it's up to you!

How do you enter? Simple! Visit one of our party pages (see the links above) at or check out some of my party favor designs and think about what type of party favors you'd like. Leave a comment below sharing the flavor, design, or theme you liked from the site. If you prefer, you could also tell us what type of party you're planning for this spring along with any of the theme or color ideas you've already come up with! (If you don't have a party planned yet, that's okay! We're sure you can come up with something!) Make sure you leave an email or name in your comment so I know who you are.

For extra entries, you can:
- follow GCDSpa on Twitter
- tweet about the giveaway (only once per day, please)
- join our mailing list
- "like" our Facebook page

Please make sure you add a separate comment for each of these entries. We'll be selecting a winner at noon on Tuesday, March 15, and then the fun begins!! So make sure to visit the site and leave your comment below!

Thanks so much for your interest!

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Best Handmade Soap Blog Contest

I was so excited to find out today that this blog has been nominated in the category "Best Overall Content" in the Best Handmade Soap Blog Contest going on at the Great Cakes Soapworks blog. The other categories were Best Photography, Best Soap Reviews, Best Soap Showcases, Best Information about Making Cold/Hot Processed Soaps, and Best Information about Making Melt & Pour Soaps.

Please check out these great blogs and place your votes for the categories! You can see all of the nominees and take the poll at the Best Handmade Soap Blog Contest.

Thank you for the nomination! I am honored to be in such good company!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Green Clover Sink Sets are Here!!

Here we are just a few weeks shy of St. Patrick's Day, and I neglected to add a Green Clover & Aloe "Sink Set." A friend mentioned this the other day (thank you, Missy) and now you can get your fix of green. I know I need it!

In case you aren't familiar with Green Clover and Aloe, this fragrance is the "greenest" we offer. When the snow keeps piling up and it seems like the grass will never be seen again, I pull out this fragrance to get me through 'til spring. If you're looking for some wintertime cabin fever relief, check out our other Green Clover and Aloe products, too.

How do you make it through the last long weeks until spring? Do you find that spring fragrances help? Which are your favorites?

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

DIY for National Craft Month

Last week I received an email with a request for free products. It was sent from a woman who is currently unemployed, a mom whose daughter is celebrating a birthday soon. "I want so much for my daughter that I am financially unable to afford," she told me.

This kind of message really makes me sad, not just because it's one of several (I've received more emails like this in the past few months than ever before) but because my company is so small that I simply can't donate products to all of those who request them. I've been thinking about it a lot and wondering how many people are in the same boat. How many of us are pinching pennies? What choices are we making in order to save money? And how can I possibly help?

I know that one of the ways I try to save money is by making things myself. DIY for weddings and parties has become more popular in the past few years partly because many of us are watching our wallets. I started wondering what kinds of party decorations (and yes, favors) I could make from inexpensive items at my local grocery, dollar store, or craft store. And when I visited my own local craft store today, I discovered that March is National Craft Month. Perfect!

So all month long I'm going to share some ideas for cheap party favors and custom tags (and by cheap I mean inexpensive, not low quality!). These will be cute (I promise) and simple to make from materials you'll be able to find wherever you are. If you're still interested in my favors after you see all the fun stuff you can make for yourself, I'll also be offering a giveaway in March. I'm giving away party favor lip balms; everyone will have a chance to win a set of these personalized favors. Keep watching for details right here at the blog.

Lots of craft stores are offering sales and classes throughout March to celebrate National Craft Month. I found printable coupons for Jo-Ann, Michael's, and Hobby Lobby, but check your local store for their sales. The items I found on sale were ribbons, lollipop sticks (I recommend the extra long ones), and patterned paper stacks. We'll be using these items in some of the upcoming projects. I also recommend looking at the Easter candy and decorations that are everywhere right now. Candies in pastel colors match lots of party themes and many can be frozen for parties long after Easter. You'll also find colorful containers and packaging materials (Easter grass, tissue paper) that will come in handy when you're assembling your gifts and decorations. And at the dollar store, don't forget the balloons! All sizes, too...even tiny water balloons, we'll be using those for a project!

I know this isn't the same as sending everyone free stuff, but I hope that some of you will find this helpful! I'm looking forward to coming up with some creative ways to put together fun parties without big budgets. What do you think? How do you save money when you throw a party? Please share any of your thoughts in the comments below! (And stay tuned for more information about our Party Favor Giveaway.)


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