Here’s an easy, mildly creepy, stocking stuffer idea that’s a particularly big hit with kids: Soap with a big icky insect embedded inside.
The project uses melt-and-pour soap base, which is easy to work with and doesn’t require any specialized equipment. You can make lots of these in a single afternoon and they’re ready for giving the next day.
The soap base is available at many craft stores and can also be found online at soap supply retailers (I like Bramble Berry) or Amazon. You’ll want to choose a transparent base (instead of something like goat’s milk) to be sure that the bug is visible.*
For nice, uniform bars you might also wish to purchase a silicon soap mold (which should be available at the same suppliers which carry the base); you’ll probably want just a plain bar mold for this project, but they also come in all kinds of fancy styles. You can also use margarine tubs, plastic food-storage containers, or similar items; just make sure that your molds will “give” slightly when twisted, to make it easier to remove the solid bars.
Then all you need are some novelty plastic bugs. You can find these in toy stores, party-supply places, or online. Choose ones that are fairly flat–you don’t want to displace most of the soap–and which don’t have legs or other bits that extend to the edges of the mold.
The soap base will probably have instructions on the package, but the basic method is simply to cut it into chunks and then melt it; either stir the chunks in a saucepan on low heat, or heat them in bursts in the microwave, stirring occasionally. The Dummies site has detailed instructions.
Place the molds on a flat surface. If desired, spray them lightly with vegetable oil to help the bars slip out easily. Pour a thin layer of melted soap into the bottom of the molds and let it sit for a few seconds, then carefully position an insect belly-up in each mold. Slowly pour in soap until it reaches the top of the mold. If bubbles rise to the top, carefully scrape them off using the edge of a knife or spatula.
Let the soap sit undisturbed overnight, then pop the bars out of the molds. They’re ready to use immediately. If you plan to store them for a while, wrap them in plastic wrap and store in a cool dry place. To give as gifts, put them in cellophane bags and tie a plastic magnifying glass to each bag with a bit of ribbon.
You can vary the basic project by coloring the soap and using different inclusions: Embed a spider in a bar of radioactive green, or a set of plastic vampire fangs in blood-red. You could also color the bars to resemble amber and add “fossil” insects for a more Jurassic Park-like vibe.
*If you’re feeling evil, you can use an opaque base instead and not mention the bug. They’ll find it when the soap wears down far enough to expose it.
(Image from Country Living)