Category Archives: Decorations

Advent Tablescape

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.

Advent By Candlelight Tablescape

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.

Advent By Candlelight Tablescape2

Every table is unique and beautiful and the gathering space at our church is the perfect setting.

Advent By Candlelight Tablescape3

Especially at night when candlelit.

Advent By Candlelight Tablescape4

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.

Happy Thanksgiving & a Giveaway!

Hoping that you have a thankful day filled with family, friends & feast!

thanksgiving

It’s time to start your holiday baking & Sweet Stackers is hosting a Facebook giveaway.

Sweet Stackers convert your containers to multi-level, layer your baked goods neatly and make it easier to store and transport to a party!

Stop by https://www.facebook.com/SweetStackers – winner will be picked at 10pm CST on Friday, 11/18/14.

Plus find out about current promotions for the big shopping weekend!

Sweet Stackers 7.75x11

Happy Halloween!

I can feel the holiday season ahead…it’s time to start baking up a storm. But before the season kicks in…I thought I would share our Halloween Pumpkin!

Here’s our Haunted Fairy House Pumpkin! Hope everyone has a Happy & Safe Halloween!

Haunted Fairy House Pumpkin

New Years Chocolate Dipped Fruit

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!

New Years Chocolate Dipped Fruit on a Stick  Guilt Free New Years Dessert Chocolate Dipped Fruit

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.

Don’t forget, there are two days left to get Free Shipping on Etsy Orders Over $20! Enter coupon code FREESHIP20.  Visit my shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/SweetStackers

Sweet Stackers Guilt Free New Years Dessert

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.

Sweet Stackers Chocolate Dipped Berries New Years Party

Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Years from my PartyKitchen!

Origami Ornaments – Repurpose Christmas Cards

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.

Origami Ornaments from Christmas Cards

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.

Origami Christmas Card Ornaments circles

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.

Folding Origami Christmas Card Ornaments

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

Folding Origami Ornaments from Christmas Cards

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!

Advent By Candlelight

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.

Advent by Candlelight3

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!

A Fairy Tea Party

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!

Fairy Tea Setting

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.

Fairy Tea Party Wear

Her guests were welcomed into the yard by a “Welcome to the Enchanted Fairy Garden” sign and a fairy house.

Enchanted Fairy Garden

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:

Tea Sandwiches

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

Desserts

Chocolate Dipped Fairy Berries

Rainbow Petits Fours

Magical Dragonfly Cupcakes

Beverages

Peach Herbal Tea

Pink Lemonade

Fairy Tea Party Menu & Placemat

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.

Fairy Tea Sandwiches

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.

Dragonfly Cupcakes

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.

Fairy Tea Dessert Table

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!

Fairy Tea Party Game

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.

Build Fairy Houses Party Activity

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.

Fairy Party Goodie Bag

A Ballerina Birthday

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.

Ballerina Birthday Theme Party

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.

Strawberry Filling

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.

Pink Rosette Swirls Cake Icing

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.

Birthday Cake and Ballerina Figurine

The cake turned out so pretty and delicate – just like a ballerina!

Ballerina Cake

Happy Birthday to my little ballerina!!

Ballerina Cupcakes

My little ballerina turned 4 years old and we had a ballerina themed birthday party for her.  This party theme was so pretty in pink, with a pink rosette ballerina birthday cake and matching cupcakes.  I made these darling cupcake picks that looked like a leotard and tutu.  The leotard was made out of two pieces (front and back) of white cardstock taped to a cake pop stick.  The tutu part of the dress was made from ruffle lace trim, glued to the card stock leotard and embellished with a satin ribbon bow.  So simple and beautiful.  Once they were complete, I realized that these would make a beautiful centerpiece for a princess party or bridal shower.  I displayed the cupcakes on a glass cake stand and elevated the birthday girl’s cupcake on an inverted champagne glass.  The cupcake fit perfectly on the base of the stemware.

The cupcakes were filled with a surprise in the middle.  Cupcake can be filled with many different things, but since the cake was filled with a strawberry pastry or cake filling, I thought I would change-up the cupcakes.  The cupcakes had a whole strawberry inserted into the cupcake.  Oh and were they a big hit with both the kids and adults!

The happy baker was so excited to use a new tool in my kitchen – a cupcake corer.  This made the whole process so easy to scoop out a perfect chunk of cupcake to insert a whole strawberry.  The cupcakes were then frosted with pink cream cheese icing using a large star-shaped decorator tip in a swirl rosette pattern.

Filling cupcakes with Strawberries

Who wouldn’t want to sink their teeth into one of these?

Strawberry filled Cupcakes

Gingerbread Houses for Kids

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 houses

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

mini M&Ms

Life Cereal

Cheerios Cereal

marshmallows

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.

House using milk carton

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.

Gingerbread - Cereal Roof Tiles

The kids had a lot of fun decorating the houses with cereal, candy and pretzels.

Gingerbread - Oat Cereal Roofing

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.

Slanted Roof Gingerbread House

The houses were the perfect size to sit on my kitchen window sill.  A perfect place to display them and decorate our kitchen!

Gingerbread House - windowsill

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.

Gingerbread House - windowsill decor

Hope you had a great holiday and enjoyed with your kids!