I’ve been seeing lots of these about recently, particularly advertised as wedding centrepieces and just thought they were cute. I’m not a big fan of Easter eggs really as I think you don’t get a great deal for your money in terms of chocolate and the packaging seems kind of wasteful (although I have definitely seen this improve over the last couple of years as much more of it is recyclable) but anyway, I was looking for something a bit different to give for Easter and so I thought I’d have a go at making some of these sweet trees.
Should really have read the online tutorials first (there are tons out there – never ceases to amaze how generous people can be at giving out information for free when they could probably profit more from keeping it to themselves) but once I have a bee in my bonnet, I like to crack on and so I just wombled out and bought what I thought I would need. So this was
- Smallish terracotta pots (59p)
- Polystyrene balls 10cm (£1)
- Dry Oasis (about £1.20 for four bits from Wilkos which was handy as I was planning four trees).
- I had bought 8 tubs of toothpicks in Poundland a couple of years ago (well they were a £1. For 8. Who could resist?) and not being a house that actually uses toothpicks a great deal, I had tons of these left.
- The tree trunks are made out of 32mm white plastic plumbing pipe which I found whilst rooting around in the garage.
- Sweets – this was not as cheap. I bought Percy Pigs on offer in M & S, two packets for £2.50. Maltesers, four packets about £1 each in Sainsburys on special offer (only used three and bit, much to my husband’s delight), Pick and Mix from our local Mr Simms Sweet Shop, about £6 (thought this was enough for two trees. It was not.) Sherbert pips and chocolate crumble for the bottom, not quite sure on cost about £4 for the two I think.
I painted pots and cut the pipes and then turned to the online tutorials, pretty much all of which advised filling the pots with Plaster of Paris and setting the trunk solid in there. Ooops, too late so I persevered with my plan unsure whether it would mean that my trees had a tendency to topple but I didn’t have any plaster and the aforementioned bonnet bee was buzzing.
I pushed the pipe through the oasis and into the polystyrene ball (took a bit of brute strength and twisting but it did go in far enough in the end). Then I covered the oasis with a bit of card to form a tray for the sweets to go on the bottom (plus I’m pretty sure you should eat oasis, it doesn’t look in the least appetising). I just covered the exposed pipe with ribbon and/or string to hide it up.
So the principle is simple, you push a cocktail stick in the sweet and stick it in the polystyrene ball. I found it was better to cut the sticks in half so you didn’t have too far to push them in and also, if you push the blunt end into the sweet, you don’t get stabbed in the finger so much when you are pushing it in. That said, it did lead to a bit of finger soreness nonetheless. Luckily I am very brave.
The Percy Pigs and the pick and mix sweets (although it took £6 of sweets to fill one ball as some of them were so little and you had to pack them in tightly which meant that I used up loads) were easier to put together but I did have to layer them a bit to hide the gaps where they didn’t quite tessellate. The Maltesers were a bit more tricky as round things will naturally leave gaps, I tried to add in extras on the top (just cut the end off the cocktail stick so the bit you use is longer) but to be honest, you can still see the ball which doesn’t look great. I don’t think I would do them again for that reason. Luckily I wrapped the finished trees in cellophane which masked the gaps and meant that they all looked quite impressive. The oasis method seemed to work fine as the pots themselves were heavy enough to give the stability and it was a lot less messy than the plaster option.
Overall, I think they are a novel way of presenting sweets that looks quite impressive to the receiver. Let’s face it, a Malteser Sweet Tree (even with some gaps) will look a lot nicer to my dad than just plonking four packs of Maltesers in front of him. I think once you’ve given someone one, you probably wouldn’t give it again as it would lack the initial impact but for Easter, I’m happy that I’ve got some reasonably good looking gifts to give that will benefit from both the novelty factor and ‘haven’t you gone to a lot of effort’ factor.