A Safe Halloween and Trick-or-Treating

What kid doesn’t love Halloween?  I think I have known only one, and he has such a profound fear of masks that the entire weeks surrounding the holiday are pretty much torture for him.  Okay, so I guess there are kids out there who don’t like it, but for the most part even the faint of heart still like to go out and knock on doors and have their costumes oohed and aahed over.


Unfortunately, there are definitely some safety precautions that need to be put into place in this day and age.  Halloween might be a really fun time, but it’s also a good opportunity for people who are up to no good, and the busyness of it all can have us off our game.  Here are some helpful things to keep in mind:

  • Most of us probably know that you should inspect all Halloween candy before opening and eating. Even items that look sealed (skittles, little candy boxes of nerds, snickers…).  If a wrapper looks a little weird, like it’s faded, torn, or even unwrapped, you should absolutely throw it away.
  • Eat a good dinner before you go trick-or-treating so you don’t fill up on too much candy while you’re out. Those little candy boxes of nerds that I mentioned earlier won’t seem nearly so detrimental if you already had mashed potatoes and meatloaf.  Make it fun by coming up with a meal that you can make as a tradition each year.


  • Do not homemade treats that people are passing out, unless you know the people.
  • Remember that chocolate is poisonous for dogs, so make sure they can’t accidentally get into your stash.
  • Be aware that a lot of costume jewelry made outside of the United States may contain lead, which can be toxic if it is ingested.
  • Have the number for poison control on hand just in case you think you’ve been poisoned.
  • It’s going to be dark, and there are going to be a lot of kids running around. Even crazier- they are all going to be in disguise!  Find a way to distinguish your kids from the others.  Maybe have them wear a glow bracelet or necklace, and be sure that they have a copy of your name, phone number, and address in their pockets or pinned somewhere to the inside of their costume.  Be sure you go over what they should do if a stranger invites them into their car or home.
  • Finally, what do you think 10 candy boxes of nerds equals? A stomach ache!  You can get pretty ill off of all the sweeteners from candy, so if you overdo it and wind up feeling terrible, chances are that you haven’t been poisoned and just overdid it.

Quirky Packaging Plus Clever Marketing Equals Successful Sales

Did you know that people have been packaging their products for thousands of years?  As technology has advanced the process has only gotten that much more complex…and necessary!  We now live in such a competitive business world that your packaging design and marketing strategy are what is going to set you above your competitors and bring you in sales.  This is done by brainstorming, choosing the right packaging supplies, and having a team of qualified people (whether or not that includes you.  Sometimes you just gotta let other people do what they are good at, and you stick to what you are good at).


As a matter of fact, packaging has evolved into its own industry.  The qualified people I was just talking about?  Their entire career is based on packaging and sales.  Ever seen that show Mad Men?  While I don’t know how or why the show ended the way that it did, the entire thing was based off of people in the advertising industry.


When it comes to packaging design you need to decide what kind of packaging supplies you are going to need, and how you are going to utilize them.


Have you ever seen the sandwich baggies or brown paper sacks that are covered with fake mold so that no one will want to steal your lunch?  That’s pretty stinking genius.  So the packaging supplies are pretty basic: plastic bags, paper bags.  It’s the creativity, the quirky idea of putting fake mold on the packages to deter lunch thieves, and the clever marketing campaign that calls them “anti-theft lunch bags” that makes this incredibly simple idea a huge success.


It’s not always going to be that obvious, or that easy, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be possible.  Quirky packaging ideas and clever marketing strategies can be applied to any and all products, no matter how basic or mundane they may be.


A colorful, shiny, meticulous design will speak of quality.  People want to buy something of quality.  I would sooner by a more expensive candy bar that uses muted tones, professional font, and pictures of the ingredients than I would buy one from Hershey’s.


What are some ways that you can really attract customers to your product?  The ideas you come up with don’t even necessarily have to correlate with your product, they just have to draw people in.  Like the little tubs of ice-cream that you set on a mechanism and they essentially become bobble-heads.  This is because there would be the face of a monkey painted on the side of the cup and the mechanism is the bottom of the monkey.  Neither monkeys or bobble heads have anything to do with ice-cream, but people will choose this product purely for the novelty.



Homemade Candies and Boxes for Valentine’s Day

Homemade candy is a perfect gift for any occasion, but you can really seal the deal if you wrap that sweet treat up in DIY candy boxes.  People are really getting into homemade stuff these days.  I remember when everything was DIY in the 80s because no one had much money.  I still don’t think people have much money but credit cards have really been embraced so I wouldn’t be surprised if all those DIY supplies have been charged and the whole thing has become, yet another, popularity contest.


Wow!  Way to be a Debbie Downer about homemade candy… I apologize.  Regardless of the socioeconomic implications of homemade candy boxes, they are super fun to make, super adorable, and super appreciated by anyone from any walk of life.  Here’s how to get ‘er done:

You can buy some plain, heart-shaped candy boxes at your local craft stores or you can even find some at department stores like Target.  If you really aren’t interested in the scavenger hunt for the perfect boxes, you can buy ones that already have chocolate in them (you can get them for like a dollar at most stores) and then just give the original box a makeover.

Materials you will Need-

  • Small candy boxes
  • Craft paper with cute designs on it
  • the normal stuff like scissors, pencil, glue, tape…
  • paint and paintbrushes
  • small candy papers or crepe/tissue paper

If you bought prepackaged candy boxes from the grocery store, remove the candies and the plastic liner.  This will be the starting point for the empty craft boxes.  Paint the sides of the top and bottom pieces.  You can paint the inside of the bottom box, too, if you any form of OCD (like myself).  When the paint has dried, place the lid upside down on the decorative paper and trace it.  Cut it out and glue it to the top.  Once again, if the OCD is singing to you, you can do this to the bottom of the box.

Once you’ve made your candy, use the candy papers or cut out circles of crepe/tissue paper to use as candy papers.


I personally recommend that you try making White Chocolate Cereal Truffles.  These are just amazing, and that’s probably because you put crushed cereal inside of them.  Fruit loops tend to be my favorite because they are colorful.  These are so stinking easy to make!  You need five simple ingredients.  After you’ve prepared the truffle insides and it is setting in the fridge, you prepare the outer shell.  When the inside has hardened and you can form it into a ball you dip it into the melted chocolate, cover with sprinkles, and put back in the fridge.  Can I get a “voila!”?

Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Moving Tips You May Have Never Heard Before

There are a lot of blogs and websites offering moving advice, mentioning everything from shipping boxes to unpacking, but there are probably some helpful hints that you may have never heard before.  I have searched high and low for those tips that don’t seem to make a regular appearance, and probably should!

  • Some movers will put your beds back together for you.
  • Unpack the kitchen first, so that you can feed your hungry helpers. Then unpack a bathroom, because you are going to need it sooner than you think you will.  Then unpack at least one bedroom so that you can collapse after you eat and have a shower.
  • Having moving supplies is obvious, but having the right quantity and everything you need is not. Have a range of shipping boxes with a lot of small (for heavy items), the most in medium, and some large.


  • If you are moving more than a hundred and fifty miles away, and your moving truck can’t be delivered in less than twenty-four hours, there are going to be quite a few things that a moving company are not going to be allowed to transport. Federal, state, and local laws prohibit a moving company from moving guns, ammunition, and fireworks.  Those are obvious, right?  What is not so obvious is that they are also not allowed to move things like household batteries, nail polish and remover, and even liquid bleach.
  • Download a moving checklist that starts eight weeks out and tells you what to do each week.
  • Do not use newspaper to wrap fine china with! The ink will transfer to the china and stain it.  Use clean packing papers and pack them in small, sturdy shipping boxes to ensure the safest journey.
  • Wrap your furniture with plastic wrap to protect against dirt and damage.
  • When packing a moving container, start with appliances and distribute weight evenly from side to side and end to end.
  • If you have extremely valuable and antique items that are going to be moved, get them appraised beforehand. Properly photograph and video document these items in case something gets damaged and a claim needs to be opened.
  • Did you know that your shoes probably contain some moisture and should be aired out prior to a move so that they don’t develop mold in the process?
  • Do some research and prepare your children ahead of time for the move. So often we forget to really sit down and explain to our kids what is going to be happening, and after a long day of unloading the moving van they start asking when you are going to go back home.  Say what?  Preparing them can alleviate so much stress for both parties involved.

Faster, Easer, Better Shipping in Five Steps

The hidden “suck” of any small business is going to be shipping, whether it’s spending the money on shipping supplies or spending the time on packaging and mailing.  Thankfully, the internet has made opening and running small business easier than ever, which means that we have so many more small businesses than we did even ten years ago, which means that we are learning steps and strategies for maximizing our resources and making things work!


  • Ever heard of a thermal printer? This is the first thing that I would suggest you get for your small business.  How many of you realize that printer ink, toner, and ribbon all belong to your list of shipping supplies?  Seeing as they are what print out your shipping labels it should be obvious, and yet it’s not.  You probably spend a ton of money on these items, but if you buy a thermal printer, which essentially burns the surface of the paper, you avoid the need to constantly buy them.  They don’t cost more than any other kind of printer, but even if they did I would say that the savings are surely worth the expense.
  • While a thermal printer will save you money, printing your shipping labels in batches will save your time. Your shipping software should allow this function.  (Check out ShipStation if you don’t already have one.)
  • I would also suggest including a return label along with your shipment, which might sound like the opposite of saving on shipping supplies, but the point is to promote customer satisfaction, which should result in less returns, which should reduce the amount of time and resources you spend on dealing with returns.
  • You can save yourself a bunch of time (and gas money) if you set your small business up with pickup services from the USPS, UPS and FedEx. They all offer different options, so the fees will vary, with some of them even being free.
  • I’ve already pointed out that technology is on the side of the small business owner in this day and age. Shipping software makes product shipping just about as easy as possible, and there is nothing so tedious in the shipping process as determining how each product should be shipped. This depends on the weight and location, to name only a couple.  Thankfully, shipping software can automatically do the work of figuring all that out, resulting in less errors and saving you the time.

BONUS:  All of this is good to know, but it’s also equally as important to make sure that your shipping station is set up for maximum efficiency.  Having your shipping supplies constantly stocked and organized will make the whole process go that much smoother.