I’ve been doing this program for a while now – this is actually my “fifth annual” fest, & although the teens look forward to it every year, I’ve having a bit of a struggle with the realization that this means I’ve been at this five years already! That aside, I’m definitely looking forward to the fest this year!
The idea to do a Love STINKS Chocolate Fest actually comes from… actually, I can’t find it! I do remember that I was a brand new teen librarian flipping through the existing professional collection when I came across it – but I now I can’t figure out which one it was in. Ah well – if anyone knows where it originally came from, do let me know! What I DO know, though, is that it’s an unbelievably GENIUS idea. Say you’re hosting a Valentine’s Chocolate Craft, & you’ll have few in attendance. Since I started this five years ago, I’ve never been disappointed at attendance, & they ALWAYS look forward to it. I put out the first sign in December, & everyone was already squealing about attending. Girls & guys all across the teen spectrum come in droves, & it’s always fun to torture the rest of the library with the delicious aroma of chocolate.
I will say, what with the chocolate & all, that this usually ends up being the most expensive program I put on each year – but I really think it’s worth it! If you have a local chocolate shop, you could possibly get some of it donated, which would cut down the cost of the program considerably. The program itself is about an hour, hour & a half, & the teens have fun the entire time. The only tip I can really offer you is to start melting the chocolate about 45 minutes prior to the start of the program if you’re using a crockpot. There’s nothing worse than a program starting & you’re stuck behind a table stirring (yes, this happened one year).
Here’s what goes on at our annual chocolate fests:
» Lots of chocolate, obviously. In the past we’ve drizzled chocolate (melted in a crockpot, no less!) on peanuts, pretzels, potato chips, popcorn… I try to do something new every year. Initially, I had thought they would make chocolate pops & candy for later, but it quickly became evident that they just wanted to sit & eat the chocolate right away, so I’ve since adapted! This year we’re going use a chocolate fountain, & I’m going with strawberries, bananas, marshmallows, & pretzels. Last year, I also added hot chocolate to the celebration.
» Chocolate tasting! Living in a high poverty area, I’m keenly aware that for a lot of these teens, the only kind of chocolate they’ve experience is Hershey’s. Nothing wrong with that, but I take it upon myself to broaden their horizons & let them try anything I can. We’ve done cheap to fancy, white to 99% cacao, various flavors (hot pepper, orange, raspberry, sea salt, etc), as well as various candies (truffles, Toblerone, etc). I usually pick up two-three bars of each kind at Target (they’re often on sale right around V-Day), break them up into little pieces, & pass it around. Most everyone is brave enough to try everything.
» Crafts! Each year we make what I call “Anti-Valentines” with black construction paper hearts, white ink pens, & white lacy doilies, & I make it very clear that they should be for friends, not enemies – going more for a “Valentine’s Day sucks, but I’m glad we’re friends” vibe. So far I’ve not had any problems! This year we’re also going to be making mini voodoo dolls – no spells included. Should be fun!
» This year we’re doing something new: a Black heart pinata! I’ll be purchasing a heart-shaped balloon & crafting a pinata from that. Ought to be fairly simple, but we’ll see how it goes.
» Prizes! Usually I just give away giant bars of chocolate.
» Trivia! There are plenty of cultural things about chocolate (books, music, movies), & I usually quiz them about these. The first to answer gets chocolate or a pencil (my teens can never get enough of these). I also quiz them about recent celebrity break-ups, & have the classic Name That Candy! out for them to do.
» Break-up songs! In the past I’ve done trivia using lyrics, but this year I actually created a slideshow of break-up song videos. Sadly, I can’t include that ultimate break-up song (Song for the Dumped by Ben Folds), but I do hope they discover it on their own. I tried to use mostly newer stuff they’ll know, but I did include some classics.
Break-up Song Playlist
You Give Love a Bad Name – Bon Jovi
Rolling in the Deep– Adele
Single Ladies – Beyonce
Invincible – Ok Go
Love Drunk – Boys Like Girls
Since U Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson
Newport – Cute is What We Aim For
Goodbye Earl – Dixie Chicks
Going Under – Evanesensce
Thnks fr th Memories – Fall Out Boy
One Eyed Girl – Florence + the Machine
I’m Not Cryin’ – Flight of the Conchords
Gives You Hell – All-American Rejects
Take Another Little Piece of My Heart – Janis Joplin
Cry Me A River – Justin Timberlake
Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
Believe – Cher
That’s What You Get – Paramore
Hate (I Really Don’t Like You) – Plain White T’s
Your Love is a Lie – Simple Plan
Self Esteem – The Offspring
Alice – Avril Lavigne
That’s about it! If you’ve put on your own, how has it been different? Any words of wisdom to share?