Christmas Creativity Abounds In Paris, Texas by Bonnie and Bill Neely

Paris, Texas, Downtown Association chose Candyland Express for the theme of the 2012 store decorations for the holiday season, but the owners of Spangler’s, an upscale gift shop, did not think the seemingly kid or cartoonish approach to the decor would was a good fit for their store and merchandise. But Gail Chiles, the store manager, came brilliantly to the rescue with her amazing creative mind and talents. She began working with the help of her 16 year old granddaughter, Jessie, in June to make by hand the glorious Candyland Express which can be seen at Spangler’s through the month of December.
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Using mainly boxes and cardboard, which would have been throw-aways, they created these amazing decorations! But the slick outer sides of most of the boxes would not take paint, so they tirelessly cut poster board to fit each side and top of the many boxes. They have achieved an overall elegant look by interspersing traditional bright red and green Christmas colors with muted pastels for the lovely store interior, so they frosted most of the decorations with a snowy craft spray. The Candyland Express Train features some real M&M®,
candies, marshmallows and candy sprinkles!
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Many of the candies which decorate the Candyland Village and tree ornaments are real, but of course, these could attract unwanted little varmints, so the artists cleverly protected each item as they finished it with Mod Podge®,
, a crafting product which dries clear and seals the product.
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Gail and Jessie ingeniously figured out how to make a wonderful candy garland for the Christmas trees. Gail found at a dollar store some noodle floats for swimmers. She carefully sliced half inch pieces of these, which made perfect Life Saver®
-like candy garlands in many colors. For the Candyland King’s special ornamentation Gail used real gum balls, which she painstakingly and daringly cut in halves, so they would have a flat surface to glue in place. But how she used a sharp knife to do this without cutting off the end of her finger also is a big question!
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The Peppermint Forest is full of beautiful goodies, especially big lollipops made by winding yarn around and around to fill the large cardboard circles. Large Gingerbread people are cardboard cleverly adorned with bows, buttons, and outlined in rickrack. These and other ornaments are bedecked with assorted shapes of craft foam from a craft store. Real candy canes and peppermint hard candies, which each had to be unwrapped, are applied for many of the tempting decorating elements.
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Hundreds of stars, wreaths, lollipops, gingerbread people, village houses, and much more make this the most unique Candyland Express ever seen by most of the admirers, who are also treated to some yummy (edible) goodies throughout the month when they shop at Spangler’s.

The store has a long history in Paris as the perfect gift shop to find many unusual, useful, and beautiful items for any wish list. Since 1994 John and Stella Nance have owned Spangler’s and are the fifth set of owners since 1943. Mark Rohleder is one of the smiling faces who greets shoppers each day.
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When I asked if the store will reuse these lovely decorations for years to come Gail said the theme will be different next year, but they will be donated to Prairieland High School, for their 2013 Candyland Prom because fortunately the school theme had already been chosen! Then the lucky Kindergarten at Higgins School will make a permanent home for these handmade treasures.
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