I first heard about melt and pour soapmaking when hanging out with a friend whose daughter had gotten a melt and pour soap as a valentines day gift at school. I’m pretty sure we laughed about the overachieving mother at the time. But the soap actually worked pretty good–and it looked cool, so of course I looked it up afterwards.
One of the things you realize as a parent is that kids can be bribed to do many useful things using small incentive gifts. As such, these items are incredibly useful. But most of the commercially available items in this category are exemplars of cradle-to-grave awfulness. Halloween is a classic illustration of this problem. Trick or treating itself is fantastic–it’s the only time each year when the public is welcomed onto private property, and is the last standing American version of many older traditions (mumming, caroling/wassiling, Guy Fawkes) that were focused on the redistribution of wealth from those that had plenty (single family homeonwers) to those that have little (i.e., children–though they may have a reputation for being spoiled, 25% of the kids in Southern California live below the poverty line). Unfortunately, really crappy candy is the only incentive that gets the kids out pounding the pavement and ringing the doorbells of elderly neighbors.
Conscientous parents everywhere have tried to salvage this holiday (and Easter and Valentine’s Day) by switching over to less damaging incentives–but the small, cheap, non-food alternatives are all problematic in their own way– mostly plastic, random stuff that breaks and then transforms into the flotsam that becomes an understory of litter in children’s bedrooms and drawers, and is ultimately transitioned to the trash. Add to that the happy meal toys, half-spilled bottles of bubbles, dust-tarnished bouncy balls, it really adds up.
I’m not sure that soap is as fun as silly string, but at least it doesn’t come in a container and it will, if used, ultimately disappear down the drain. For these reasons it’s become my go-to holiday/ birthday party incentive.
I did a more comprehensive blog post about melt and pour soap for Halloween last year. This year we didn’t give out Halloween treats but I did make some soaps for Oliver’s birthday giveaways. Getting a lot of use out of my World Market silicon baking mold.