As most experienced wedding pros will tell you, favors are generally a “hit or miss” thing; guests will either love them or totally ignore them. It’s not at all uncommon for many favors to be left behind at the reception and thrown away by the cleanup crew. Quelle horreur! That’s a lot of time, money, and effort wasted right there, my friends.
Because I loves ya, I’m going to let you in on a not-so-secret secret: edible favors are (usually) the foolproof way to give your guests a little gift of thanks that they’ll appreciate. Almost everyone digs a sweet treat or something to munch on; hardly anyone wants to drag home a ceramic tchotchke or a random trinket engraved with someone else’s initials.
Today, you lucky League of DIY Awesome™ friends, I’m going to show you how to make a gorgeous luxury-level favor that’s both pretty and sure to be appreciated by your adult guests.
With the help of Freixenet, the producers of these beautiful mini bottles of cava sparkling wine (also known as cava), I’ve created this little box of pure joy. And wait until you hear what Freixent has in store for you!
My, my… what do we have here?
A beautifully adorned wooden box. Isn’t the black, white, and gold combination just beautiful? (The correct answer is YES.)
A simple embellished Freixenet cava mini bottle and a pair of gorgeous sweet treats nestled inside a box with a gilded interior lid. How could one not swoon over such a luxe presentation?, I ask.
Before we begin the instructional part of this post, Freixenet is offering DIY Bride readers an opportunity to win 125 mini bottles of Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut and a Memory Magnum for your wedding day. Enter the Freixenet All Love Sparkles Sweepstakes Facebook contest for a chance to win one of 6 prize packs. One lucky winner will be selected each week starting March 24th, 2014. Good luck, lovelies! The Cordon Negro Brut is absolutely delicious; don’t miss this opportunity to share it with your guests.
If you’re not familiar with Freixenet, they’re the sparkling wine expert. Based in Spain, they’ve been making sparkling wine for over a century and this year marks the 100th anniversary of their first bottling. Freixenet (pronounced fresh-en-ay) Cordon Negro, a sparkling wine crafted in the same method of French champagne, takes two years from grape to glass to produce and they are known for the attention to detail and great care paid at every step in order to maintain the consistent quality they’re known for. You can find Freixenet at their Facebook page or on Twitter.
INSTRUCTIONS for THE BOX
Unfinished wood box, approximately 8.375in x 5.25in x 3.43in., found at craft stores
Black gloss acrylic paint
Foam paint brush
Gold leaf (copper leaf or silver leaf works just as well)
Soft-bristled paint brush
Newspaper or other material to protect your work surface.
1. This part is pretty easy! Paint your box with the black acrylic paint and the foam brush. You’ll need about 3 – 4 coats of paint to get a nice, dark and evenly painted surface. Though the paint dried very quickly, I did the exterior painting on one day and the interior painting and embellishing on the next. I also painted the hinges and hardware black because the gold hardware clashed with the copper embellishment on the inside of the box. Pro Tip: Be sure to paint with the box open otherwise you run the risk of painting the box shut. Go ahead – ask me how I know this. :-/
2. When your box is fully painted and dry, it’s time to gild the lid’s interior. Using a clean foam brush, apply decoupage to the interior of the box lid. Let it sit for a few minutes (3 to 5 minutes should be aces), just enough to get tacky but not dry.
3. Using the soft-bristled brush, pick up a sheet of copper leaf and apply it to the box lid interior. The idea is to carefully lay the sheets down with as little folding of the leaf as possible.
4. Using the soft bristled paint brush, just gently tap, burnish and rub the leaf down. It gets really easy with practice – you’ll feel like a pro after just a few tries. It’s ok to overlap the sheets a little bit; in fact, it’s unavoidable. Don’t sweat it. You’re doing it right.
5. Keep adding leaf until the interior lid is covered. You should be able to scrape away any leaf that strays – and there will be a lot of it – that settles on any surface that doesn’t have decoupage on it. That’s really all there is to it. Do go ahead and admire your work and starting planning the next 100 things you’ll want to add metallic leaf to.
(The gold leaf in these shots look a coppery. The real color is a true gold.)
INSTRUCTIONS for THE BOX LABEL
1 piece of striped cardstock cut to 4 in. x 4 in.
1 piece of glittered cardstock cut to 3.75 in. x 3.75 in.
1 piece of white cardstock cut to 3.5 in. x 3.5 in.
Rubber stamp with “thank you” design
Glue gun and glue
1. This one’s easy! On the 3 inch piece of white cardstock, stamp “thank you” with black ink.
2. Using double-sided tape, stick the cardstock layers together: stripe on bottom, glitter in the center, and the white cardstock on top.
3. With a hot glue gun attach the label to the front of the box, in the center. I used one dot on each corner to make the label did not budget. You might get away with less glue. BE CAREFUL with the hot glue!
INSTRUCTIONS for THE FREIXENET BOTTLE
- Freixenet mini bottle of sparkling wine
- Masking tape
- Spray paint in gold
- Newspaper, old cardboard, or other material to protect your work surface
- Newspaper or cardstock to protect the top of the bottles
1. Remove the labels from the bottles. An overnight soak in the sink (or a tub) will do the trick. Let me assure you that scraping labels off bottles is no fun. Let the water do the work for you.
2. Dry the bottles by either wiping them with a dry cloth or letting them air dry. Remove any leftover debris from the labels, as necessary. You want a smooth, clean bottle to work with.
3. Next, add rows of painter’s tape to the bottle to create a template for the gold stripes. The area between the rows of tape will be where you the paint goes. Don’t be afraid to vary the size or number of stripes here! I did three simple stripes for ours but you can be as creative as your heart desires.
4. To protect the top part of the bottle from being painted, I used wrapped a piece of cardstock around the top and secured it with masking tape. This can be reused over and over. Wrapping newspaper around the top works as well.
5. Spray the bottles with light, even strokes.
5. Let the paint dry per manufacturers’ instructions. Mine took a couple of hours to become fully dry.
6. Gently remove masking tape and admire your beautiful gilded bottle.
INSTRUCTIONS for THE COOKIES
Lemon Shortbread Cookie Recipe
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 325º F.
2. Line two cookie sheet pans with parchment paper.
3. Sift the flour in a small bowl; set aside.
4. In an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy, about 3 minutes.
5. Add sugar and continue to beat, about 3 minutes more at medium-high speed, until very light and fluffy, scraping down the sides once or twice.
6. Beat in the vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
7. Gradually add flour, mixing just until blended, scraping down bowl once or twice.
8. Roll out cookie batter to 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured board and cut out with a circle cookie cutter. Place cookies on a baking sheet about 1-inch apart and chill at least 1 hour.
9. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bottoms are just turning golden; the tops of the cookies should remain pale. Cool cookies completely on pans set on wire rack.
Cava Buttercream Filling:
- 1 stick [1/2 cup] unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 to 3 tablespoons Freixenet Sparkling Wine
- A pinch of salt
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
2. Add the honey into the mixture.
3. Add the Freixenet Cava, 1 tablespoon at a time, until filling holds together and is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
4. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and set aside until ready to use.
ASSEMBLING THE COOKIES
- Pastry Bag. Either a cloth pastry bag or a disposable one will work.
- Star Tip. I like Wilton’s 8B tip but any medium to large star tip will do.
- Wilton’s Sugar Pearls in Black
- Luster Dust in Gold
- Edible Glitter. This is NOT the same as craft glitter. Craft glitters, though often non-toxic, are made of plastics and are not meant for human consumption.
- Offset knife for spreading icing
- Spoon for sprinkling glitter
Directions for the sparkly gold cookie sandwiches:
1. Using a small offset knife – or better yet, your clean finger – smear a thin layer of icing around the perimeter of the cookie.
2. In a plate, mix equal parts edible glitter and luster dust. You can actually use one or the other but I like to mix the two for maximum blingage.
3. With a spoon, gently drizzle the glitter/luster dust mixture over the iced edges of your cookie.
4. Now, we’ll do the filling. Fit your pastry bag with the star tip.
5. Using a rubber spatula, fill the pastry bag with frosting. To stabilize the pastry bag while filling it, set it inside a large plastic cup. Fill the pastry bag only about half full then gently push the icing down into the bag so there are no air pockets. Air pockets will break up your pretty design. No one wants that.
6. Keeping the tip close to the top of the cookie – and keeping the bag straight up and down – begin piping by squeezing the pastry bag from the top while using your other hand to direct the bag. Draw a circle of icing near the outer edge of the cookie, moving your hands in a circle, spiraling it towards the center. Just as you finish the swirl of icing, push down slightly on the pastry bag in the middle of the cookie, stop squeezing the frosting out, and gently pull the pastry bag straight up from the cookie. Not so bad, right? Now do that for all of your cookies.
Directions for the black pearl cookies:
1. Using a small offset knife spread a thin layer of icing on the top of the cookie.
2. Gently press black pearls on top of the icing. To do this quickly, I poured a bunch of pearls into a saucer and pressed the iced side of the cookie onto the pearls. Any gaps in the pearls were filled in by hand.
3. Set aside and let the icing harden/set-up for about an hour or so before you move them too much. Voila! Beautiful, dark, sparkly goodness. Kind of looks like caviar, doesn’t it? Mmmm… caviar and sparkling wine!
ASSEMBLING THE BOXES
- Black tissue paper
- Decorated cookies
- Plastic treat bags
- Gilded Freixenet bottle
- Hot glue gun and glue
1. To bring it all together, gently crumple a sheet of black tissue paper and place it into the bottom of the box.
2. Place the Freixenet bottle inside.
3. Place the cookies in the clear treat bags.
4. Tuck the cookies into the open spaces beside the bottle.
4. Close the lid and attach the label to the box using a dot of hot glue if you haven’t done that already.
5. Finally, add a lovely striped ribbon diagonally around the box. I used hot glue to secure the ends so the ribbon didn”t fall off.
Your guests are going to LOVE this, guys!
// NOTES //
I have so many notes for this project!
This is probably the most expensive favor I’ve ever done for this site. The cost is about $9.00 per boxed set. (But look how awesome it is!) To keep costs down, I suggest:
- Use a cardboard box rather than the wood.
- Instead of gold leaf on the interior lid, use a gold leaf paint or a metallic spray paint. In fact, this will cut down your costs dramatically and still give you the oh-la-la shiny effect.
- Make only one of the cookies. If you do the glittery one, skip the luster dust and use only edible glitter. It’ll not be as sparkly, but it’ll still be pretty darned gorgeous.
Things to be aware of:
1. While the exterior wood box sizes were standard among the ones I bought for this project, the interior dimensions varied dramatically among the boxes. I used an electric sander to grind out enough space on the project’s final piece. This was not fun but it turned out just fine.
2. Two of the boxes broke during the project production. I dropped one and it cracked (my fault); the other split along the the lid as the paint dried. If you do this project, please keep in mind that you may need extras for quality issues or other problems.
3. The boxes tend to be rather rough in places; they’re not totally smooth. If that’s a problem for you aesthetically, bust out your sander and be sure to wipe away any sanded debris before you paint.
4. Plan out your production process before you start on this project. Where are you going to store – let alone assemble – 100 boxes? How will you store the cookies so they don’t go stale before the reception (hint: ziplock bags are your friend)? How long will it take you to mix, bake, and decorate x amount of cookies? This was a long process for me; it look 3 days to paint, bake, gild, and decorate. I estimate a couple could knock out 25 of these in a long day of DIY. Plan accordingly or this project could become quite overwhelming.
5. Make sure you burnish the tape (press it down fully so there are no gaps) on the Freixenet bottle before you spray paint it. Any gaps between the tape and the bottle will allow paint to drip and ruin your beautiful straight lines.
6. Keep one taped – and unsprayed – bottle as your template so all of your bottles will look the same.
7. Don’t like stripes? No problem! You can use stencils on the bottle instead. Monograms, icons, or whatever design complements your theme/style. Or get creative with tape or stickers. Lots of craft and scrapbook stores have great stickers in all shapes and themes that may catch your fancy.
8. Though I said it in the instructions, I’ll say it again: craft glitter is NOT edible. Please use only edible glitters from reliable craft/cake supply retailers. A couple of years ago, there were places that were trying to pass off “non-toxic” glitter as safe to eat. Technically, it is edible but eating tiny shards of plastic isn’t good for you. Or your guests.
9. Keep the cookies in a cool or chilled place out of the sun. Butter cream icing melts quickly because, big surprise, it’s made with copious amounts of butter. Melted butter cream tastes great but it looks bad.