Often, someone comes up with a brilliant idea, and later, upon realizing how much work the idea will take to come to fruition, the person gives up on the idea. However, when the idea is good enough, one might sacrifice quite a bit to make the idea reality.
Such was the case when, about six months ago, my then-fiancée and I decided we loved Chai Tea Latte. In fact, we became somewhat addicted to the substance. It didn't help that my sister and her husband encouraged the addiction :)
Stock photo... didn't have time to snap a shot of my own, as I happily drank it immediately!
After being introduced to some great-tasting homemade chai mix in Christmas 2009, Natalie and I decided we wanted to make enough chai mix to give two servings' worth to each guest at our wedding reception. Little did we know how much time and effort it would take to make this wedding favor.
Not only did we want the mix for each guest; we also wanted to put the mix into 'cute' little baby food jars with cloth-covered lids and custom labels. Cue step 1 - gathering supplies! Click through to continue reading...
1 - Gathering the Supplies
Our journey originally started at Sam's (a warehouse discount store)... we figured, since we needed insane quantities of almost every ingredient, we could buy it in bulk at Sam's. Unfortunately, only a few of the ingredients (the cinnamon and one of the spices) could be had at Sam's. Bulk discounts were out of the picture :(
Marching on, we went to Wal-Mart, and after about an hour in the grocery section, found many of the other ingredients; we depleted Wal-Mart's stock of huge dried milk boxes (2% for more flavor!), Unsweetened Nestea jars, and cardamon spice. We wrapped up our shopping trip later in the week with a trip to Target, where we found a large quantity of powdered vanilla coffee creamer, and more Nestea. We topped off our supplies with one trip to the local Shop n' Save, and were ready to mix!
2 - Mixing the Mix
After we gathered a troop of mixing helpers, and every huge mixing bowl we could find, we started the long and hard-but-great-smelling process of mixing together many gallons of Chai Tea Latté dry mix. My sister (in black above) put together and hand-stirred the ingredients. I poured them into the food processor, ran it, then dumped the mix into a large bowl, and my (now-wife) put 6 tbsp. into each baby bottle.
At the end of the mixing process, the entire kitchen was covered in a 1/10" layer of chai, and there was a wonderful smell (though sometimes overpowering) throughout the condo. Sneezes also left a bit of a brown tinge, due to the aerosol-ized Chai! I think there might still be a little in my lungs!
I won't post the entire recipe here, but you can look elsewhere on this site for the recipe: Go ahead and make your own chai tea latté mix using our recipe. You won't regret it!
3 - Filling and Capping the Bottles
This was probably the part of the process I disliked most; to fill the bottles, you had to stick a little scoop into the mix and dump it into a baby bottle—about a million times. The mixture has a tendency to get slightly sticky in large quantities (most likely due to the dry milk), and you simply feel a little grimy at the end.
Then, there's the bottle-capping. For sterility, we had washed everything twice, and we decided to put plastic wrap over each bottle top before putting the lids on. This proved to be the bottleneck in our process, as it took a great deal of time to do this properly.
These bottles are saying "cap me, I dare you!"
But, in the end, we got all 258 bottles wrapped, capped and sealed, ready for a finishing touch!
4 - Designing the Labels
Natalie and I wanted these favors to look like the 'real deal,' and we also decided we'd use them to promote our wedding website, as well as our new mailing address. Plus, I love designing things ;-)
So, after a few revisions, we decided on the following label:
The biggest problem I had was finding a company to print these things cut-to-size on good label paper. Many companies required a huge premium for custom-cut sizes like this (7.5" x 1.15"), and I wasn't about to hand-cut over 250 labels from a larger paper size!
We finally found a great company in 48HourPrint.com; they helped me through the whole process, and just needed me to add a bleed to the image. They had the prints shipped within 48 hours, and they looked great!
5 - Finishing Touches
Can you tell they were getting tired at this point?
My Mom, my two sisters, my (now) wife and I spent the next couple hours
eating Psghetti's food and relaxing putting brown cloth squares on top, secured with a rubber band, tying a red ribbon around the rubber band, and counting the bottles. Finally, my (now) wife and I secured the baby bottle labels with some double-sided tape a few days later when the labels were shipped.
So... was it worth it? YES! The baby bottles are awesome, and I wish I could make more—the smell of the sweet chai mix lingered in my condo's kitchen for a few days, and I felt invigorated breathing in the vaporized caffeine and sugar ;-)
The guests loved the favors, and they were very practical—the bottles served as an advertisement for our new mailing address and wedding website, and were also the seating placards. Not to mention, they contained two servings of the sweetest and most addictive tea known to mankind!