Your kitchen becomes an enchanted place when you let the kids dip pretzels into chocolate to make colorful magic wands.
In a medium saucepan combine candy coating and shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Gently stir in pretzel sticks. Remove coated pretzel sticks and arrange into star shapes on parchment or waxed paper (reserve remaining melted candy in saucepan). Sprinkle sticks with colored sugar or decorative candies. Chill about 1 hour or until firm.
Dip pretzel logs into remaining melted candy coating. Place on parchment or waxed paper. Sprinkle with decorative candies. Add the star tops, if desired, using some of the remaining candy coating as "glue." Allow coating to set up.
If desired, tint any remaining coating with paste food coloring. Place in a heavy, self-sealing plastic bag. Cut off a tiny corner of bag. Pipe melted colored coating onto wands. Or, dip one end of wand into a contrasting color candy coating and sprinkle with colored sugar. Chill about 1 hour or until set. Makes about 15 wands and stars.
Place wands in layers in an airtight container, separating layers with parchment or waxed paper. Store pretzels in airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.
You will need a metal tin (about 5 inches high by 4 inches wide), black acrylic paint, paintbrush, decoupage medium, cotton embroidery floss in desired colors, plastic wrap, popped popcorn, scissors, papers in white and black, glue stick, and paper punch.
Before painting, wash the container gently and dry it. Paint the outside of the container using black acrylic paint. Let dry. To hold the embroidery strands in place, use decoupage medium. Paint on the decoupage medium in rings as you work so it is wet when the floss is applied. Wrap floss over the wet decoupage medium, changing colors when desired. When the entire can is wrapped, paint another coat of decoupage medium over the outside of the container. Let dry. Line container with plastic wrap; fill with popcorn and wands.
Cut a triangle from white paper. Glue onto black paper and trim just beyond the white. Let dry. Cut a 12- and a 24-inch length of one floss color to wrap tassel. Using all colors of floss, wrap around 2 fingers approximately eight times. Slip the 12-inch length of floss through the center of the floss bundle and tie tightly at the top. Use the remaining 24-inch length of floss to wrap the floss bundle, 1/4-inch from where it is tied at the top. Knot and trim ends. Punch a hole in each corner of the paper triangle. Thread tassel ties through the bottom hole and one strand through each top hole. Knot ends together.
A short crock from the flea market can also hold the birthday wands. Add color to the crock by wrapping with colorful rubber bands.