Summer always starts so suddenly, like she throws you up against a wall and gets you all flustered, making you forget your own wardrobe. That you do, in fact, own 90 degree weather appropriate fare, except you begin scrambling. Before the Trans Women Belong Here dance party (we made $379!) last week it was so incredibly hot I tried a new outfit three times and ended up wearing this dress I've owned for at least five years. I've learned that once I try three unsuccessful permutations of a new outfit it is not happening I need to go with a tried and true favorite. Same thing happened with my hair, I had an idea in my head of what I wanted it to look like but after three attempts I just did my femmepadour and called it a night.
I’m a total crafter and I also totally adore the holidays (my birthday is Christmas Eve; I love all things glitter and sparkly). Since I am a deck the halls as much as possible person and I decided that after the really difficult year I had that I was going to go as all out as possible I encouraged Dara to get a menorah for Hanukkah so we could represent her cultural heritage in our holiday melee.
We spent a good amount of time looking online for a really cool menorah, even googling “awesome menorah” to see what came up. I saw a pez dispenser menorah and told her I could easily craft it for her. And so, the Awesome 80s Menorah began.
To make an Awesome 80s Menorah like the one above, what you’ll need:
9 toys that represent the 80s to you, one that is a little bit taller than the rest (or some type of platform to raise it) for the shamash
2 VHS tapes of your favorite 80s movies
Felt for the base
Nuts to act as candleholders
A hot glue gun and a whole lot of hot glue sticks
A set of Hanukkah candles
1. The first thing we did was gather our supplies. I really think the “craft” in this project is the curation of the toys used to create it. Dara and I went to a candy store in Williamsburg called Handsome Dan’s and got everything we used. We spent a long time (and a bit of cash) curating the right mix of emblematic 80s toys. They had some arcade game controller candy holders which we loved and thought was a little kitschier than only using pez dispensers. We loved the Tetris block as a way to elevate the shamash (helper candle). And the non branded My Little Pony looked enough like the 80s version that we thought it worked really well.
You could easily curate this from Amazon. Like this Star Wars set of pez.
You could also use 80s Hot Wheels cars or something else in the toy genre that expresses your nostalgia. Whatever.
2. I ordered the VHS tapes we used as a base from Amazon. Used tapes are only like $4 including shipping and came pretty fast. Dara’s favorites were Top Gun and the Breakfast Club so that’s what we got. You’ll need 2 in order to have a large enough base.
3. Once I had the candles we were going to use I went to the hardware store and bought nuts to create the candleholders. I checked to see that it fit the candles but I wish I had gone a size up, so when you buy it get some that are a bit bigger than your candles, and get double what I got, two for each candle holder, which will make your life easier.
4. Now it’s time to get crafty! Measure twice, cut once is my belief so take everything out of its packaging and set it up. I chose to get rid of the candy in the holders so that it wouldn’t attract mice or insects and be easy to store. That’s your call.
I played with the placement of everything, with Dara’s input as well as my friends Dewey and Johnny. It was really helpful to have extra eyes.
5. Cut a piece of felt just smaller than the size you need with both VHS tapes together. Cut another piece of felt just smaller than the bottom of one of the VHS tapes.
6. Hot glue the VHS tapes to their cases so they don’t slide around, then hot glue the smaller felt piece to the bottom of one tape, and hot glue the other tape to the bottom of the other VHS tape to make a long stand. (The orientation of the connection of the tapes is totally up to your design discretion, I went with the way the names of the movies looked best when viewed from the front.)
7. Glue the nuts to the top of the toys, making sure to not have a huge puddle of glue in the middle, or just take the hot tip of the gun and stick it in the nut to melt the little puddle of glue.
8. Now that your stand is constructed, start gluing the toys to the stand. I started with the center and worked out from there, paying attention to the photo I had of my practice run. (Measure twice, cut once or glue once.)
9. Insert candles! If you find your candles are a little too big or don’t fit quite right, you can use a razor to shave them down so they fit. If you took my advice and double stacked nuts, you can take a tiny bit of foil to the base of the candle and slide them into the nuts.
Voila! Have a Happy Awesome 80s Hanukkah and don’t forget the gluten-free sufganiyot, which I will be making at our holiday cookie making party on Saturday night (okay, they’re donuts not cookies but who cares)!