During the first week of Advent, our church hosts Advent by Candlelight for the women of our parish. The event is beautiful, filled with a candlelit procession, speaker, music and fellowship. Many women host tables of 8. This was my 5th year hosting a table for our MOMS group. I completely enjoy creating a beautiful candlelit tablescape that will be perfect for the Advent season. This year, I went with a elegant and natural woodland setting.
On pale green table linens, I cut sprigs of pine from my yard and elevated white votive candles on paper birch logs. A few shiny silver ball ornaments were scattered on top to add reflection when candlelit. Two cylinder vases were filled with fresh greens and a small statue of the Blessed Mother and Child. Since we represent the Ministry of Mothers Sharing group, we have always tied Mary into our table.
Every table is unique and beautiful and the gathering space at our church is the perfect setting.
Especially at night when candlelit.
Another beautiful event to prepare for Christmas! Once the event is complete, I transfer the centerpiece to my dining table at home. It is now ready for a candlelight Christmas Eve dinner with my family.
Have to admit that I am a little “cookied out” after Christmas. For New Years, I thought I try a guilt free dessert that would be fun and festive. Dark Chocolate Dipped Fruit – chocolate covered blackberry pops, fresh mandarin oranges dipped in chocolate and chocolate berry cups. They will transport easy to a party using Sweet Stackers!
Using a double boiler, add half a bag of chocolate chips and one teaspoon of shortening (to make the chocolate smooth and silky). Stir until melted. Place blackberries on a pop stick and dip into the melted chocolate. Add festive sprinkles immediately and stand to let cool. Dip the mandarin oranges and place on a sheet of parchment or wax paper, then top with sprinkles. For the berry cups, I added a teaspoon of chocolate into mini paper cupcake liners and place three raspberries and blueberries on top. The berries will set into the chocolate.
Refrigerate. Sweet Stackers will divide your chocolate confections without them smudging, sticking or melting together.
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Ready to transport to a New Years Eve Party! Once you arrive to the party, the chocolate covered fruit pops will display pretty in a few champagne flutes.
Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Years from my PartyKitchen!
When I was a little girl, my Mom had a couple of these ornaments made out of Christmas cards that her grandfather made. They were pretty old and the paper was more delicate and even yellowing. She would hang them from the top of the doorways leading to each room of the house at Christmastime. I remember standing under each one analyzing the pictures.
About 10 years ago, I decided to figure out the secret to making them and they are actually very easy. I make it a tradition to make one every year from the Christmas cards that I receive. The picture are just beautiful and why not have a special way to repurpose them instead of throwing them out. I have signed and dated each one. On three, I even wrote if there was a special occasion like my baby’s 1st Christmas.
They don my banister and hang from my evergreen roping. Each one is truly special and every year I enjoy pulling them out to hang.
Instructions: I trace a circle around the main scene on each of my Christmas cards. If I can fit another circle around another image or pattern. The size of the circles drastically changes the size of the ornaments. Now, I use the bottom of a champagne flute to trace my circles. It is perfect because they are clear and you can see the image that you want to capture. You will need 20 circles to form one ornament.
Fold each circle to form a perfect triangle. Glue the flaps of the triangle together. Five circles form the domed top of the ornament – each having the point of the triangle at the top of the image.
There will be 10 circles to form the middle portion of the ornament. This time 5 images with have the point of the triangle at the bottom, to keep the images straight. Glue the circle to the top dome (triangle pointing towards the bottom), then glue a circle next to it (with the triangle point at the top). Keep alternating all the way around
For the bottom, glue 5 circles all with the triangle pointing to the bottom. This will close the ball of the ornament.
Adhere a ribbon to the top to hang. Don’t forget to date them so you can treasure each one for years to come!
Last night there was an event at my church for the women of my parish to celebrate “Advent By Candlelight”. It is truly a beautiful event filled with music, a speaker, meditation, refreshments and fellowship – all by candlelight – all in the preparation of Christmas. I decorated and hosted a table and baked a dessert to share.
This is actually the 4th year that I have hosted and each year it is so much fun to design a beautiful tablescape; changing the color scheme and finding décor that will glisten and illuminate by candlelight. This years table was classic white with shiny silver, gold and crystal accents and a little pop of red from the glittery angels. On the glass mirrors, cylinder shaped vases were filled with small glass balls and surrounded by white votive candles.
Unfortunately, I did not get a photo at night when it was candlelit. But this was just one of the many tables at the event – it was a special night!
This had to be one of my favorite parties! My daughter turned 6 and she invited a few girls for a quaint fairy tea party. The weather really worked out because we held it out in our yard under the pergola (though the backup plan was to have it indoors) and the garden was just starting to bloom. The fairies must have stopped by to open the flowers just in time for this magical afternoon. Don’t forget to make a place setting for the fairies!
The preparations started the night before. My daughter was just ending her Kindergarten school year and has been very excited about writing. She left a note for the fairies by one of the many fairy houses in our backyard to “leave a sign that they were here to visit” and invited them to her party tomorrow. The fairies really did come to visit because when she checked the fairy house first thing in the morning, fairy dust was sprinkled at each fairy house in our yard with a few “gems” or polished glass stones. She sure anticipated her party after school!
I made the headbands for each girl that attended the party using small silk flowers, ribbon and a butterfly and I found the package of headbands at the dollar store.
Her guests were welcomed into the yard by a “Welcome to the Enchanted Fairy Garden” sign and a fairy house.
I made placemats for the girls out of white card stock with their name, butterfly stickers and a fairy quote “Like fairy dust gleams on butterfly wings, little girl dreams are made of magical things”. At the end of the party I put the placemat and menu in their goodie bag so they could bring them home.
The menu for the fairy tea party was as follows:
Flower Power Grilled Cheese
Butterfly Egg Salad Sandwich
Ham & Cheese Snail Pinwheels
Raisin Bread with Cream Cheese and Sliced Apple
Sliced Banana and Nutella Spread on Crackers
Fresh Fruit Fairy Wands
Chocolate Dipped Fairy Berries
Rainbow Petits Fours
Magical Dragonfly Cupcakes
Peach Herbal Tea
I served proper English style tea for the girls using a herbal peach tea. All of the girls were willing to at least try it. I think it is important to try new things and it was ok if they didn’t care for it, we then served pink lemonade.
I thought this menu catered to most kid’s and I avoided peanut butter in case of food allergies. The biggest hit was the butterfly shaped grilled cheese sandwiches. I had the bread cut, buttered and the sandwiches prepared ahead of time. As I prepared the three tiered server, I put them on a hot griddle, flipped them and they were ready to serve.
The fresh fruit fairy wands were made using wooden skewers.
The dragonfly cupcakes really turned out beautiful. I dipped pretzels in melted blue chocolate wafers and pieced them together on wax paper. They perfectly stayed together to adorn the top of the cupcake. The devils food cupcakes were iced with pink cream cheese frosting.
Desserts are served! The petit fours were easily made using frozen pound cake cut into squares and dipped in different melting chocolates. These could be made a couple days in advance and kept in the fridge.
We played two games at the fairy tea party.
The first was an egg hunt in our yard and throughout the garden. The plastic eggs were filled with small items that the girls will use to build fairy houses to take home. Some items included, glass stones, buttons, pinecones, sea shells, etc. The winner had found the most eggs.
The second game was played in between courses. I filled a tray with “tea party” items and covered it with a table cloth. Once I removed the cover, I explained the items to the girls and they had one minute to look things over. I then covered the tray and gave them paper to list out as many items as they could remember. For young writers, they did a great job!
After the girls finished up their dessert, I cleared the table to work on building a take-home fairy house. I found these little odd shaped boxes that I thought would be perfect to decorate. Prior to the party, my daughter and I filled a box with some natural items, clippings from the boxwood bushes, dried pressed flowers, sticks, pinecones and small stones. I purchased a small bag of moss, seashells and glass stones from the dollar store. Just a few paper plates with glue and the girls were ready to decorate their fairy houses. The houses are perfect to be kept in a dry place outside like a covered porch.
It appeared that the girls enjoyed their afternoon together and we were thankful for them coming to our fairy tea party. The goodie bags included a book on Fairy Houses and a fairy book mark – perfectly matching the Fairy Tea Party theme.
This perfectly pink birthday is fit for a little prima ballerina! Complete with a beautiful pink swirl rosette cake adorned with a gorgeous ballerina figurine. My daughter was so excited to keep the ballerina figurine on a shelf in her bedroom, a nice keepsake that she will always remember this birthday by. This ballerina cake complements the theme, in addition to, matching pink ballerina partyware, ballerina tutu picks and cupcakes and a beautiful centerpiece of fresh pink tulips in a vase laced up with a pink satin bow.
Since I filled my ballerina cupcakes with a whole strawberry, I wanted to have the cake filling compliment the flavor. The following recipe was used for filling in between the two cake layers.
1 – 16 oz. bag of frozen strawberries (thaw in bowl with 1/4 C sugar to make syrup)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Mash strawberries and drain reserving the juice. Add water to the strawberry syrup to make 1 1/4 cups. In a saucepan, combine the strawberry liquid, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Stir until the liquid boils and thickens. Cool completely, then mix in the strawberry pieces. Refrigerate.
Cream cheese icing, devil’s food cake and strawberry filling is a delicious combination that everyone enjoyed!
The rosette pattern encompassed the entire cake. Using a large star tip, start in the middle of the cake and create little circular swirls. This technique is actually very easy! The ballerina figurine was approximately 5 inches tall and made the perfect cake topper.
The cake turned out so pretty and delicate – just like a ballerina!
Happy Birthday to my little ballerina!!
Kids love to get involved in the kitchen and definitely like to help decorate for Christmas. I was planning on making a real gingerbread house, but ran out of time. This project turned out to be real hit with my kids: ages 5, 3 & 1. Each kid had made their own house. The two older kids could do most of the work with little assistance from me and we tried two different construction techniques. For my 1-year-old, I made the structure and she helped decorate the house and ate a few M&Ms along the way. The best part is that I had all of the ingredients in my pantry. Think about what you have and get creative!
Graham Cracker Gingerbread House Ingredients
royal icing (combine 1 egg white, 1/2 tsp. lemon juice, 1/2 box confectioner’s sugar until the consistency of peanut butter)
zip lock bags to pipe the icing
1 box graham crackers
mini pretzel sticks
Cut the graham crackers to the size and shape house that you want to construct. My 5-year-old was patient enough to be able pipe icing along the edges of the graham crackers to hold the walls to the floor and then the roof to the walls.
To construct my 3 year old’s house, we used a small milk carton and cut the top off. This way she could easily spread some icing on the carton to make the graham cracker walls to stick. To fill in the gaps at the corners, we applied mini pretzel sticks.
The kids had a lot of fun decorating the houses with cereal, candy and pretzels.
Even my 1-year-old enjoyed squeezing a bag of icing and placing mini M&Ms on the roof. She got a kick out of Santa and Mrs. Clause standing at the door. I flipped through the holiday ads that came in my Sunday newspaper to find the perfect size Santa, Snowman and Gingerbread Man. I glued the image to a piece of the cardboard milk carton and the kids were easily able to use icing to adhere the image to the doorway of their houses.
The houses were the perfect size to sit on my kitchen window sill. A perfect place to display them and decorate our kitchen!
We even constructed a chimney and placed some pieces of marshmallow for smoke. I helped by piping some icing along the roof of the house to make icicles.
Hope you had a great holiday and enjoyed with your kids!