How-To: Dress Up Party Food with Shrink Plastic Photo Picks

Photography & Video

CRAFT: Feast and Frolic

By Diane Gilleland
Got cupcakes? Turn them into party favors and place cards with these cute photo picks. They take just a few minutes to make up, and after the party’s over, you can stick them in your pencil cup or a potted plant!


Package of shrink plastic for inkjet printers, I like the Shrinky Dinks brand
Inkjet printer
Photos in JPEG form
Oven (or toaster oven)
Lollipop sticks (or bamboo skewers)
Mini hot glue gun with low-temp sticks
1/4″ ribbon
Tacky glue


Photopick 01
Step 1: Prepare your photos using your favorite photo editing program. You’ll need to lighten them significantly in order to print them to shrink plastic, because the shrinking process will darken them up. (See how much lighter the image on the right is? Compare that to the finished pick on the left.)
I cropped my photos to circles, but you could use any shape you like. Use the instructions on your package of shrink plastic to size your images. I’m using Shrinky Dink brand here, which shrinks to 1/3 of its original size. I started with 5 1/4″ diameter circles, and they shrunk to just 1 3/4″.
Photopick 02
Step 2: Print the images (two per pick) onto the shrink plastic and carefully cut them out. Place the pieces on a cookie sheet with lots of room around them. Bake them according to the package directions.
Photopick 03
Step 3: If your plastic doesn’t flatten completely as it shrinks, press with the bottom of a large Pyrex measuring cup (or sauce pan) as it comes out of the oven. You’ll need these pieces to be completely flat.
Allow the plastic to cool completely before moving on to the next step.
Photopick Note
Note: Shrink plastic can vary from brand to brand in terms of how much it shrinks, how much it darkens, and whether it distorts in shape. The two circles above were cut from two different brands of plastic at the same size, and as you can see, after shrinking they’re quite different. To ensure that your pieces are all the same size and shape, be sure to cut them from the same package of plastic sheets. Each pick will require two pieces that are exactly the same size and shape.
Photopick 04
Step 4: Now it’s time to assemble the pick. You’ll need to work quickly, so have all your materials ready. In addition to the two plastic circles, you’ll need one stick, plus one shorter piece of stick. As you can see above, the shorter stick should be just long enough to fit across the plastic, but not extend outside it.
You’ll also need a mini glue gun with low-temp sticks. (High-temp glue will re-melt the shrink plastic and distort it.) I like hot glue for this project because it sets up quickly, but if you’d prefer not to use it, a strong glue like Amazing Goop or E6000 would work, too. (You’d just need a lot more drying time.)
Photopick 05
Step 5: Set one of your plastic pieces face down, making sure it’s oriented the way you want. Apply a generous amount of glue to the back, and quickly press the top end of the stick into the glue.
Photopick 06
Step 6: Next, apply more glue across the plastic and press the shorter piece of stick into the glue. (Why do you do this? I’ll show you in a moment.)
Photopick 07
Step 7: Apply a little more glue over the sticks and then press the other plastic piece over them.
Photopick 7A
The reason you glued that shorter stick in there is that it keeps the two plastic pieces an equal distance apart. Pretty cool, huh?
Photopick 08-1
Step 8: Now we’ll glue some ribbon to the edge of the pick. Apply a little tacky glue to the edges of both plastic discs. I like to start at the stick and glue about 25% of the pick at a time.
Photopick 09
Step 9: Press some ribbon into the glue, lining its edges up with the edges of the pick. Continue gluing and adding ribbon until you reach the other side of the stick. (You might want to have a damp paper towel handy to wipe your gluey fingers on.)
I like to leave the ribbon attached to the spool and then trim it to fit once I’m done gluing.
Photopick 09A-2
If you have a little glue oozing out between the ribbon and plastic, don’t worry too much – it will dry clear and become invisible. Wipe away any larger amounts of glue that ooze out.
Photopick 10
Step 10: Prop your finished picks up in a coffee mug or glass and let them dry completely. Then, pop them into some fun party food!
Photopick Main
About the Author:
Diane Gilleland produces, a blog that geeks out on crafting and also helps crafters use the web more effectively to promote their businesses.

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