easter party

Since hearing about Maddycakes Muse Spring/Easter Tablescape Contest, I thought I'd better post (and then enter) my oldest daughter's second birthday party. I also thought this post would be timely if any of you were looking for Easter party details.

My daughter's birthday is April 6th and that year her birthday fell on Easter weekend. So needless to say, a theme was pretty easy to choose that year. Living on the east coast has lots of advantages, but the weather in early April is not one of them. It is still pretty cold, so a fresh, spring table was well received.

Lets start with the invitations. Pretty simple, but just so cute for a little girl's birthday. Can't you just hear those chicks saying "chirp, chirp"!?

As you all saw on previous posts, I stamp plates with edible images for a lot of my parties. For the written how-to click here. I promise to post a photo tutorial soon. This particular party I used the "Happy Birthday To You" stamp again. (I remember I was on the hunt for a large bunny stamp, but came up empty handed, so back to the old birthday party stand by.)

Notice I wrapped the table in astroturf (available at Home Depot or Lowe's). This really set the tone for the whole table. It gave a good back drop to all the other colors. I have used this turf on so many of my other parties too - Super Bowl, a golf party, a friend borrowed if for her son's bug party. The possibilities are endless. It is a really low cost item to have in your decor arsenal.

My favorite detail of this party was the silverware. I bought green utensils and orange napkins and with a little twist of some green pipe-cleaners, I had cute little carrots. The irony is (funny little fact about me) I despise carrots. But I liked these carrots.

But wait, I LOVED these carrots even more. For the favors, I filled cake piping bags (being the "cake lady" I have hundreds of these laying around) with orange jelly beans and tied them off with some metallic green curly ribbon. Since this party, I have seen these all over the place around Easter time. Wish they would have been available back then and I wouldn't have had to make them.

I have posted this cake before, but I had to include it again to show the overall table. Many guests at the party didn't know this was cake. They kept putting their fingers into the frosting! I think it was just an excuse to have some frosting before cake cutting time. Of course I had to make it a carrot cake, right!? What do you know - another "carrot" I like.

Here are some more overall photos of the whole table. The food... more CARROTS (ugh!) and deviled eggs. An Easter party wouldn't be complete without these staples! I found those cabbage plates the deviled eggs are sitting on at Tuesday Morning for a great price. (R.I.P. Amity, CT's Tuesday Morning. You will be sorely missed by the bargain hunter!) I also made bird's nest cookies. See recipe here. Since I always want your parties to be even better than mine, I had noted on the recipe that it only made about 2 dozen cookies (instead of 3 like the recipe said) when I used my cookie scoop. I guess I could just be a "big" cookie maker, but I didn't think they were that big?

To bring some of the spring decor out into the living room, I made this Easter tree. Employing my now infamous white ice bucket, I put Styrofoam in the bottom to feed the Pussy Willow branches into. Then I decorated with ribbon and Easter ornaments. In years past, I have also used a large tree branch, spray painted it white and then decorated. Very springy!

Happy Easter!

holiday dessert table

Ok, I know this is sooooo last month, but I still wanted to share.

I was asked to put a dessert table together for a holiday party for 300 guests. I made a little over 1,000 bite-sized "yummies" in 5 days! My kitchen/oven was doing overtime that week. The table itself was 16' long and full of treats. Getting any decent pictures (more on this later) was very difficult since we put the table together while the party was going on. The client wanted to make the set-up an event in and of itself. The "parade of the desserts" started at 10:30. The dessert table was only a small element of the over all party.

There were several showcase events during the party. There was a Rat Pack group that performed. They did a great job! It was Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. As you can see from the picture, they really did look like them. They stayed in character all night even when mingling during their breaks and it was hilarious.

The food at this party, oh the food... let's just say it could have been my last meal and I would have been content. Amazing!!!! There were several food stations all over the house. The outdoor kitchen was in production mode all night long. The head chef cooked for demonstration in the main kitchen. The dining room table had a whole roasted pig (you know, like Hawaii luau kind) among other delicious things. There were also 2 pizza chefs in the pizza kitchen - yes, a pizza kitchen. The client installed a real Italian brick oven in his house for this exact reason. And just a side note, the pizza kitchen is about the size of my only kitchen!!! These weren't your everyday pizzas either. Any and every topping was available. If you wanted say, a brie and shrimp pizza... coming right up! There was a raw bar in the sunroom that literally was from floor to ceiling. You can see in the pictures that the final floral arrangement we put on the table hit the ceiling. The seafood salad in the champagne glasses that you can see in the pictures were to die for! The star fruit garnish on the rim was so appropriate for the celebratory new year.

Anyway, I digressed. Back to the dessert table - My department. Since this was actually a post holiday party (Jan. 2), I chose a chocolate and gold color scheme to stay away from anything red, green, new year's, etc. And chocolate - Hello! I didn't hear anyone complaining anyway. The client had asked me to incorporate fire or sparklers to give a show. All I could think of was burning down the house and all he could think of was more "show". I just love him! Anyway, we carried all the desserts through the 300 people. Not an easy job. We arranged them as best we could around the guests who were about to stampede at any moment. The client gave a speech, lit the croquembouche and then it was time to eat. Move out of the way!!!!

So, back to the lack of pictures. Getting through the crowd was challenging enough to set-up, let alone taking pictures of the final table. I had been elbowed one too many times so I headed out of the mob. So only in an effort to share (by no means for good photography), I have included some pictures of the desserts themselves when they were down in the prep kitchen before the party. Nothing glamorous, but you get the idea. Since I didn't get very good pics or even a picture of everything I made, I just thought I'd list everything...
-Croquembouche (2 feet tall)
-a berry medley in champagne glasses
-5 different kinds of truffles (250 in total - my hands were tired of rolling)
-Ferrero Roche cupcakes (a saw this here on TomKat Studio)
-Hazelnut Mousse Spoons
-champagne glass decorated sugar cookies
-chocolate covered strawberries and pretzels
-pecan tassies
-chocolate champagne mousse with edible gold dust (cool, huh!?)
-peanut butter cheesecake pops -these were a HUGE hit. The inspiration for the tags from the always amazing Amy Atlas here. One side said "Happy New Year" as you can see in the photos and the other side said "2010"
-2 different kinds of fudge.

I think that was all???

Oh and did you see the pretzel towers up there in picture #3? My hubby made those for me. I thought they were really cute. I had seen something similar online, but for the life of me I can't find it again! I wanted to share it with you guys. Oh well, yet another lesson for me to document, document, document!

My hubby also had the idea to pour chocolate into the plates holding the mousse spoons. It really helped break up all the white. He's so smart like that! I poured melted milk chocolate in first and spread it all around. Next, I spooned in white chocolate and used a toothpick to swirl it in all over. You have to take care not to over swirl or it will just turn to the milk chocolate color.

milk and cookies party

For my daughter Aubrey's first birthday, we had a milk and cookies themed party. Who doesn't love milk and cookies right!?
I'm totally behind the eight ball as most of you have already seen it featured on several other blogs. I'm FINALLY getting it posted here on my blog. I entered this party in the "Most Adorable Kids Party 2009" over at Creative Hostess on a whim. I thought "why not". So I sent her a few pictures and the rest is history. The response has been overwhelming!
This party was a lot of fun to put together. I should also say this party was a lot of fun to put on, as in "put on" a few pounds. I not only made the cake, but all the cookies too - about 30 dozen to be exact. I HAD to sample everything I made - both in dough form and finished product. Quality control is a tough job; I wouldn't want anyone else to have to do it. Well, I didn't make the Oreo's, but still had to insure they were ok to eat!

The party details:
-invitations: I used a package of plain brown cards and put my own decorations on. The "cookies" I made by drawing chocolate chips with a brown marker and then tracing them with a sharper outline with a Sharpie on natural color cardstock. Then I crinkled the paper over and over again. Really mash it up! Then open and glue. The milk glass was a piece of tracing paper, a little piece of ribbon for the straw and finally a piece of acetate cut larger than the tissue. I rounded the edges for the look of a glass and added a few lines with a black Sharpie to try and show reflection. I was really pleased with how they turned out. The actual invite (inside) was laid out on the computer, printed, trimmed and taped inside.

-signage: the sign at the front door as well as the one on the highchair were a special find. It was a kit (by Bride's) that I found in the clearance bin at Michael's. I only spent $2.50 and look at the impact. The original purpose of the kit was name tags for chairs, i.e. the bride, the groom. Don't always take the instructions literally. I changed it up and it worked beautifully. The kit came with instructions on how to print on your own printer at home. For a couple bucks, I loved it!

-pom poms: You see these pom poms everywhere now. Martha Stewart sells a kit at Michael's that is very easy to use. Unfortunately, they didn't come in colors I needed so I just made my own with brown, white and cream tissue paper I found at various stores. I used the same ribbon to hang the pom-poms as I used to wrap the cookie jars. Its details like that which make an event very cohesive.

-bottles: My original inspiration for this party came when I was rummaging through my grandparents garage, attic and basement. They have saved everything! They had a plethora of old milk bottles, many of which were their actual bottles they had milk delivered in. How cool is that!? Some bottles I used as vases for flowers next to the cake. I hadn't planned on flowers, but when I saw a package of brown and white flowers at BJ's, I knew it was meant to be. What a happy accident! That my friends is sweet serendipity! Other milk bottles I used as, well, milk bottles! Where I was deficient, I bought flip-top bottles from Ikea. Since I want you all to learn from my mistakes and have an even better party, make sure you laminate the tags that go on the milk bottles - and the ice, water and tea in my case. At first everything was fine, but as soon as the condensation started, the labels started to bleed. Midway through the party, they were looking pretty rough. The favor bottles were re-purposed Frappacino bottles. I washed them and removed the labels. The lids were kind of tricky to get completely clean - some elbow grease needed for sure. I printed new labels for both the side and lid. I used 1% milk for 1st birthday - get it!? I also used the bigger side label to thank the guests for coming. Attached to the bottles were little bags of cookies and a brown and white pattern straw. The straws were again one of those happy accidents. I found them in the clearance bin - four for $1 at Joann Fabrics.

-cup tags: Since so many children (and forgetful adults - including myself!) were going to be at the party, I wanted to enable everyone to keep track of their drinks. I printed a sepia-toned photo of the birthday girl on natural color cardstock. I attached the pictures with bakers twine. Its function as well as another cute, affordable detail.

-birthday hat: I really wanted Aubrey to have a cute little hat to match her outfit. I started with a leftover hat from a friend's birthday party. Again, in an effort to keep the party cohesive, I used leftover paper and ribbon from the cookies jars. The "ruffled" ribbon on the bottom of the hat was just loops hot glued close together. I hand lettered the words on with marker and then outlined in Sharpie.

-white everything: Whenever possible, I try to buy any entertaining pieces in white. Not only does food look best on white, but white pieces can easily be incorporated into any decor. I just add color, in this case ribbon, which makes it look like I bought it just for that event. Case in point, I have a matching set from Pottery Barn (on sale way back when) of a white ice bucket and white utensil holder. I couldn't tell you how many times I have thrown coordinating ribbon on those two things to add another small detail to the overall look. You can see both of these items with brown and white ribbon in the photos.

-stamped plates: I have gotten so many compliments on plate stamping I've done in the past. Important note before you start... you want this to be food safe so make sure to follow the directions. You wouldn't want anyone making you eat regular ink without knowing right?! First you will need a couple of supplies. An un-inked stamp pad and gel food color and any rubber stamp that hasn't touched regular ink - Again, food safe! Start by soaking the pad with the food color. You don't need to use all the food color, but just make sure you are completely soaking the pad. I usually use a table knife to spread the color all around. You're now ready to go. Ok, here comes the tricky part. Put on your patient pants because this can be trying at times. When stamping make sure to stamp STRAIGHT down and back up again. Since plates are much slicker than paper, it has a tendency to smudge. When this happens I just wipe off the plate with a damp paper towel, dry it and try again. And in some cases, again and again. Stick with it because once you're all done you'll really get a great party detail. I always get compliments on this project. Once I did an old pram stroller stamp for a baby shower I was hosting and one of the guests asked me "where in the world did you find baby stroller plates?" She had no idea they were temporary images. Once food, especially wet food, touches the image it will begin to smear. I am planning on doing a tutorial on this process soon. Stay tuned!

Just like I use the wonderful web for constant inspiration, I want to provide you all the links of what I looked at for ideas while putting this party together. They are all adorable and great parties. And if you ever do a milk and cookies party, please share it with me. I would LOVE to see your photos.
Inspiration from here and here and here.

want to see a great picture?

I just have to feature one of my friend's photography business. If you're in Oklahoma, you're lucky. You have the talent of Tiffany Gardner in your midst. I wish I could have her take our family pictures every year, but now living on the east coast makes that unlikely. We did have that pleasure this past summer when we were home visiting family. Check these out. Aren't they great?!

Did you notice any beads of sweat? Wet hair? Soaked clothes? I have some explaining to do. Of course, we happened to schedule our session on the hottest day of the year! It was 106 degrees at 6 o'clock in the evening. And see that rock we were sitting on - I'm sure we could have fried an egg on it. So hot!

Check out more of her great work here. Also, notice my profile picture - another one of her shots. She always catches the kids at a "real" moment. I just love the pictures she took of my girls!
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