Peppermint Dreyer’s
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My youngest daughter always feels ripped off at this time of year because her birthday comes just three days after Christmas. She gets a second dose of presents, but we’re usually too wiped out to do much in the way of parties. This year will be different. Her favorite holiday treat is the basic peppermint candy cane, and we’re going to try our hand at a themed party built around just that.

Jenna at San Diego Kids’ Party Rentals in Pacific Beach (858-272-2700; sandiegokidspartyrentals.com) told me she could provide a Candy Cane Girl. “Her costume is candy cane–themed. The dress has diagonal red and white stripes on it, and her gloves and boots are red with white fir trim. She can do a variety of things for you: face-painting — candy canes are an option, of course — games, balloon sculptures.”

Joe Struzzieri, owner of Royal Candy Castle in La Mesa (619-464-1850; royalcandycastle.com), told me, “We have these wonderful King Leo candy sticks ($.32 each) made by the Gilliam Candy Company. They’ve been around since 1927. We have a rack of 12 flavors; soon we’ll have 24. And, of course, we have the traditional peppermint, but we also stock off-the-wall flavors like rum and butter, sassafrass, root beer, cinnamon, and cotton candy. Oh, and I’ve been doing some research on the candy cane, and all the stories I’m finding seem to match up. They say a choirmaster at the cathedral in Cologne was trying to find a way to quiet the children in the church during the Living Crèche that they did every Christmas Eve. He asked a local candy-maker for some sweet sticks for the children, but because he was giving out candy at a worship service, he asked for a crook at the top of each stick, to remind the children of the shepherds visiting the infant Jesus in the manger. And he asked that they be white, to represent the sinless life of Jesus.”

Dawn at Beach Sweets in Ocean Beach (619-222-3322; oceanbeachsweets.com) said she had “giant candy canes [$1.50 each] that are about ten inches tall and an inch thick. We also have chocolate-dipped marshmallows [$4.25 each] that are mounted on a candy cane instead of a stick.”

At the other end of the size spectrum, I found mini candy canes in bulk at Four Seasons Candy Company in Grantville (619-528-8811; fourseasonscandy.com). “They come in tubs of 280 [$15.80],” said the clerk. I thought we might stick them to the walls and give the effect of candy-cane wallpaper. For color variations, I could find green, red, or blue candy canes, which cost $.99 each at Candy Depot in Hillcrest (619-683-2334).

Glory at the Sweet Factory in La Jolla (858-658-0298; sweetfactory.com) was all set to provide in the candy-cane novelty department. “I’ve got candy cane–style round lollipops with a red bow, or a candy-cane lollipop that looks like a swirly slide [$1.99 each]. I have a baby-bottle pop with powdered sugar on the bottom, and the nipple part looks like a candy cane [$1.49 each]. For added fun, I have candy cane–flavored Pop Rocks [$1.19 per package].”

For the gift bags, I thought I’d spring for something a little higher-end. Craig at Godiva Chocolatier in the Fashion Valley Mall (619-293-7492) sold “peppermint truffles covered with white chocolate and also dark chocolate bars with a peppermint crème center [$3.25 each].” Ghirardelli in the Gaslamp (619-234-2449) offers peppermint bark, which has a milk chocolate bottom and a white chocolate top that is flecked inside and out with candy-cane bits. Individually wrapped squares in 80-count bags are $25.95; 50-count bags run $19.95.

For the finish, I planned on serving Dreyer’s Limited Edition Peppermint ice cream ($3 for 1.5 quarts at Walmart) and candy cane–flavored Peeps dipped in chocolate ($2 for three at Walmart). And our hot chocolate could be topped with pink-and-white Kraft peppermint marshmallows ($2 for 10 oz. at Walmart).

Finally, I would pile the kids into the family van and take them for a cruise down Candy Cane Lane in Poway (facebook.com/pages/candy-cane-lane) for a Christmas light show. The residents have a tradition of decking out their homes in spectacular fashion.

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