Designing a Gift Suite
A carefully planned gift project can take a good two months or more, so get ready to plan ahead! Soap gift packages can be planned in stages, so you can tailor your project to fit your time. From start to finish, a coordinated presentation is a rewarding project. Be sure to keep records and take photographs for reference.
When you give a gift of handmade soap, be sure to include somewhere in the packaging some information about the soap. Many people have never used handmade soap and are not aware of some of the attributes that make it special. The main thing is to let the person know that the soap shouldn't sit in water between uses. Let them know that the solid lye soaps need air and that the casting soaps need to be kept airtight. Include the expected shelf life as well.
In order to be able to have just the right soap on hand to go into your special presentations, you need to do some planning. One way to do this is to keep a calendar with holidays, birthdays, and upcoming events marked on it. If you know that your friend's wedding and Father's Day are both coming up in June, you can plan your crafting and soapmaking time in May to prepare for these projects.
If you visit a person to whom you've given your soaps and you see your creations gathering dust, reiterate that even though it is pretty, the soap needs to be used, and that you'll happily make more for them. If it turns out that they don't like it or appreciate why it is so wonderful, then perhaps they would prefer a different gift next time.
If you're making cold-process soap, you need to make it at least four weeks before the day you plan to put together your gift basket. You may also need this long to shop for supplies and order through the Internet. Hot-process soaps, including liquid and transparent, are best if they're made at least a week ahead. That gives opaque hot process time to dry out a bit and the clear soaps time to settle or become clearer.
Sure, you can make a half dozen bars of beautiful casting soap in an hour. However, you also need time to make labels, wrap and package the soaps, and assemble the basket. It is easy to underestimate the time you'll need to complete a project. This can leave you stressed out and tired, which you definitely want to avoid.
If your soaps are not neutral, have too much dye, leak excess oil, or have other characteristics of poor soaping, no amount of beautiful packaging can make up for that fact. Make sure your soaps are of high quality before you give them away. They don't have to be beautiful, just safe to use.
You can multitask and make some elements you'll need later while you make the ones for the project at hand. For example, if you're making cold-process soap for a party next month and you want to make a chunked soap for the month after that, make more than you need for the party and cut the rest into chunks to use in the next project. The same thing goes for melt-and-pour and hot-process soap. You can always get a little jump on what's coming next with just a little planning.
If you're making up a number of the same baskets, set up an assembly line. It's even more fun if you have a few friends to help on a big project. Promises of your soap will get you lots of volunteers.