Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Party Laboratory

What would you make with these ingredients?
                                                      -       Plastic test tubes
                                                      -       Mini-M&Ms and/or Skittles
                                                      -       Mailing labels
                                                      -       ribbon

Here’s what we made – party favors!

With a bat mitzvah party theme of microbiology in her mind, Youngest Daughter’s idea of party favors was that she would make booklets with microbiology facts.  Um, no – I had to make a booklet for the worship service, and did not want to become a printing business.  No more booklets.  Plus, who wants to go to a party and be handed a textbook? (Well, who besides my daughter?) So I began searching the web for ‘science party favors.’

After wording my search twenty different ways, I managed to find these chintzy microscope centerpieces.  Score!  

YD was thrilled with them; my husband was appalled. The only possible cell-related party favors I found were plush brain cells and microbes, at $5 apiece.  Too expensive.

But in the process of searching, I also found plastic test tubes for sale to the general public, at a reasonable price.  Brain cells sparking, I thought, ‘test tube filled with little candies’ equals science party favor.  Not precisely microbial or cellular, but in my view that was for the best.  
It was key to get test tubes made of plastic, not glass.
Do not give teenagers glass objects at a party.

Here is our recipe (see below) for these science party favors.  It’s a long description, but it was pretty darn easy.  Tying the ribbon was the most time-consuming part. 

Serving suggestions:
Order straight-sided plastic beakers and place 8 tubes in each beaker; one beaker per table. 
- or -
Order test-tube racks, but beware it is difficult to find racks that hold 8 tubes, and 8 people at a table is the standard for those round party tables.
- or -
Place test tubes in a bowl for people to take home at the end of the party.  This is what I wanted to do, but I was overruled.
- or -
Place on test tube at each person’s table setting, above the plate.  This was what my husband wanted.  By the end of the evening, there were empty plastic test tubes scattered everywhere, at least on the kids’ side of the party room.

Recipe for Test Tube Party Favors
(makes 80 favors)

80 test tubes with caps; size 16 x 150 mm  (order online, in packs of 10)
2 pounds of Skittles candy
2 pounds of mini-M&M candy (note: regular M&Ms were too big)
White mailing labels (optional, but fun). 1” x 2 5/8” (Avery #8160)
67 feet of ribbon of any color you choose (optional, but pretty)

I am not entirely sure about the amount of candy needed.  We had some left over, after filling 80 test tubes.

To print the (optional) labels you also need a computer and printer, but that’s kind of like a recipe saying that you need an oven.  We used two kinds of candy because some of our guests had gluten or nut allergies, and M&Ms are not certified to be free of those.

Wash hands.  Fill large bowl with all the Skittles.  Dip a test tube into the Skittles, pushing the candy into the tube.  Do not worry about making a color pattern with the candy, or you will be doing this task all night.  Once test tube is full, place cap firmly on tube.  Repeat for 40 test tubes.  Place in plastic bag labeled “Skittles.”  Set aside.

Notice that one of the test tubes has 4 of the same color in a row.  Wonder what the probability of that occurring again is.  Stop wondering because you don’t have time.

Wash hands again and get a new bowl.  Fill it with the mini-M&Ms.  Fill the remaining 40 test tubes, using the same technique as you did for the Skittles.  Place in plastic bag labeled “M&Ms”. Set aside.

Go to your computer and set up a document for printing the labels.  We found that Microsoft Word has a template for Avery labels, and that worked mostly fine.  Here’s what we put on our test tubes, to make them look all officially scientificky:

Laboratory of Youngest Daughter
Experiment Title: Mazel Tov!
Test date: 2012-08-25
Contents: Skittles
Purity: gluten-free

For the M&Ms the last two lines said:
Contents: mini-M&Ms
Purity: may contain gluten and/or nuts

Print the labels first on a plain sheet of paper to check that the print will line up with the labels.  Make adjustments if necessary.  Print 40 labels for Skittles, and 40 for mini-M&Ms. 

Get out your test tubes.  Start with the Skittles first. Peel off label, and line up carefully along test tube, then attach to test tube, rolling to make label adhere smoothly.  Use the same process for the mini-M&Ms.

Finally, cut ribbon into 10-inch segments.  Tie around test tube, making a bow.  Curse that your fingers are too fat to really tie a bow that small.  Decide that next time you would skip the bow, but admit that they make these look quite festive.

80 test tubes with caps ($2.15/pack of 10)                        17.00
Candy                                                                                 50.00? approx.
White mailing labels                                                            13.00
Ribbon                                                                                  8.00
Total                                                                                   83.00 or about $1.00 each favor
Large bowl filled with many mini M&Ms

Test tube with Skittles and ribbon, before the label.

With the Skittles label.

This is what the M&M tubes look like without the labels.

The finished product.


Angie said...

Very clever and creative!

Anonymous said...

SUPER cute!

The Crislers said...

Your daughter wanted a microbiology theme for her bat mitzvah? You live in a very interesting household. And I mean that in the best way possible.

And the test tubes- what a cute idea! I read the part about 80 guests and shuddered, though. Better you than me.