Fiesta® Is Over…So What Do I Do with All These Medals?

I moved to San Antonio in 2003. After 16 years, I still only sort of get the Fiesta frenzy that overtakes the city every year. But even with my rather apathetic approach to this city-wide celebration, I’ve managed to collect quite a few of those ubiquitous Fiesta® medals. When my parents moved to town and started volunteering with NIOSA, my collection exploded. It’s now hit critical mass and I had to do SOMETHING with all those medals. I pulled out my trusty hot glue gun, did some Pinterest hunting, and reached out to friends. If you’re like me and have so many medals you don’t know what to do with them, check out these five ideas for how to display your Fiesta medals after Fiesta:

1. Create a Fiesta Wreath. These are already everywhere, on doors in homes and offices. I spent less than $50 at a local craft store to get a grapevine wreath, some silk flowers, and lots of ribbon. Then I hit up Fiesta On Main for theme accessories. My handy dandy glue gun worked to attach everything to the wreath, and then I pinned my medals to the ribbons. I’ll be able to add this year’s medals at the end of Fiesta, and once all the ribbons are filled up, it will be easy to just attach additional ribbons to hold more medals. This won’t go on the front door of my house because I’m not one to tempt thieves and I’m not sure that it would hold up well to weather, but it looks great hanging on my office door and adds a bit of Fiesta fun to our office. Keep an eye out around town to get inspired. I borrowed some inspiration from one of the staff doors at the courthouse, and No. 9 Floral has a really cool display up.

2. Fashion a Fiesta hair bow. Ponytail bows or barrette bows can be a great way to display an old favorite Fiesta medal. Pin the medal to the fabric, or for a more permanent option, glue it down.

3. Craft up some jewelry. A friend of mine upcycles old jewelry into great new pieces as her side hustle. I sent her some of my old medals and told her to go crazy. She strung them up with brightly colored beads, and these will be fun for my daughter to wear as costume jewelry, for me to wear next year during Fiesta, or to brighten up my standard black suit during the year. If you’ve got some creative spark, grab some beads to match your favorite medal and string them into a necklace for yourself. Kids could easily do this too, using their own medals and pony beads.

4. Get creative with resin. You know how sometimes a project surprises you when it works? Resin, y’all. It’s so much easier than I thought it would be! I bought a kit from a local craft store for less than $20 and a round silicone mold for $4. I’ve already made two paperweights and a small “diamond” from a silicone mold I got off of Amazon, and the resin bottles are only about half empty. Here are some things I learned while doing this project:

  • Stir SLOW. When you combine the two liquids you want to stir very, very slowly to reduce bubbles. You’re still probably going to get some bubbles. There are lots of products and tricks out there to get rid of them entirely, but I’m still learning how to work with this stuff.
  • You have a lot more time than you think before the resin sets. So pour in your resin and wait a couple of hours before you drop your medal in. I didn’t do this, so my medal floated off to the side, and it’s all the way at the bottom.
  • Follow the directions exactly. Creating hardened resin is a chemical reaction and you want to make sure your measurements are right. If you don’t use a silicone mold made specifically for resin, get some release agent and spray down your mold or you’ll never get the finished piece out.  This probably isn’t something the kiddos should be doing, but they can absolutely help pick out the “stuff” to put in your mold.  I did a super simple project just to see if it could be done, but we are already talking about the next ones. The kids want to make presents for their teachers.  My son wants to preserve Legos. My daughter is working on a drawing we can put in and keeps asking me to make more “diamonds.”

5. Brainstorm other projects. While I was wandering the craft store, I saw several other projects that you could use with your Fiesta medals. Concrete stepping stone kits include mosaic glass tiles, but you could use your medals instead. Resin in large volumes can be poured over a table top, sealing in a large collection and making a great outdoor picnic table for the yard. Shadowboxes are a great idea for “theme” displays, such as a collection of Fiesta medals from a certain year or multiple years at the same event (ACMB medals would work great for this!). You could also hot glue magnetic circles to the backs of medals to hold up notes and pictures on your refrigerator.

The bottom line is, there is no reason you have to hide away those pretty medals at the end of the year. Pull out the box you’ve got hidden under your bed and sort through it. You can start small, but I’m confident you’ll quickly find ways to keep enjoying Fiesta all year long.

Shanti is the product of recovering hippie parents. She’s a lifelong Texan, born in El Paso, with stops in Lubbock and Austin for college, before settling in San Antonio. She met her husband when she was 18. They both married and divorced other people before they realized it was meant to be. She now owns a firm with her partner in crime and together they practice family law in San Antonio and the surrounding area. Her husband works for a multi-national company making sure the cold stuff stays cold at your local HEB. They are raising twin tornadoes affectionately known as the Aliens, along with a rotating menagerie of dogs and cats. In her free time, she is involved in local nonprofits, runs, and serves proudly on the Broad Board.