This weekend I added some sweet details to my niece’s 9th birthday party. I got to be in charge of the things I love best, the sweets and the favors! I set up this little dessert table to display the treats together.
Forever inspired by Amy Atlas and my good friend Sharnel, I always start planning a party with lots of grand ideas. But somewhere along the way, a pesky little thing called a “budget” often gets in my way!
For this party, I used dishes, linens and ribbon that I already had on hand, and kept the entire cost of the sweets and favors (for 8 girls) under $40.00 (all the details at the bottom of the post).
What’s a party without cupcakes? In my mind, not much of a party at all! The center of the table included these simple strawberry cupcakes with strawberry frosting (my recipe HERE). I used an adorable FREE download for the cupcake toppers (found at Sweetly Sweet, thank you!)
I filled two pretty candy jars with sweets, one held strawberry marshmallows, the other was filled with strawberry cheesecake flavored Jelly Bellies. We served strawberry lemonade in some cute cups I found this week at Michael’s (for $1.00!).
When my niece first mentioned wanting a strawberry shortcake party, I knew I had seen some cute little (strawberry shaped) bottles of bubbles at the dollar store. I dressed them up with some custom tags I made, and a bit of pretty ribbon (the tags read “Thank you berry much for coming to my party! Love, Mary”). The little guests each got one bottle of bubbles and a little paper sack of sweets (containing a mix of strawberry candies). The bags were sealed with labels I designed and printed on adhesive backed paper.
The mommies got a little favor too, a basket of fresh strawberries (picked by my sister and myself). Even the strawberries got dressed up with ribbon!
Last year I did a Strawberry Shortcake themed party for my “baby” (now 3), and I made the cupcakes below. I made the little strawberries, leaves and flowers from fondant. These would have worked perfectly for my niece’s party too, but sometimes a 24 hour day is just not enough to get it all done!
For some reason, this photo (above) is one of the most stolen photos from my Flickr page. I’ve either discovered it myself or been notified by Flickr friends (it’s so nice to have “eyes” around the world!) of several different bakery web sites using the photo (without permission or payment), and claiming it as their own. Needless to say, please don’t do this =)
Back to the party…
One of the details I was a bit proud of was the double layered effect of the table cloths, accented with red polka-dot bows. The pink table cloth I already had, and the red check table “cloth” (actually plastic) I found at Michael’s (next to the strawberry cups) for $2.00. The ribbon I already had as well (I’ve tried to tell you I have ribbon issues!)
Now, all the shopping details…
Ingredients for cupcakes (apx.) $6.00
Cupcake toppers (free download, from Sweetly Sweet)
Strawberry marshamllows $1.00 (Winco grocery store)
Strawberry cheesecake Jelly Bellies (about 1.5 lbs) $8.00 (Winco grocery store)
Fresh Strawberries (sorry, this price will be hard for you to match) $5.00 (picked by sister and myself)
Strawberry ribbon (around baskets of strawberries) $2.00 (Michael’s)
Red paper treat bags $1.50 (they are $2.99 for a pack of 16 bags at Michael’s)
Strawberry cups $2.00 (they are sold in packs of six for $1.00 at Michael’s)
Red straws $0.08 ($1.00 for pack of 100 at Michael’s)
Red check plastic table cover $2.00 (Michael’s)
Strawberry shaped bubbles $8.00 ($1.00 each at Dollar Tree)
Strawberry lemonade $2.50 (Winco grocery store)
Total cost for sweets and favors for a party of 8 = $38.08
Update: To answer the question many of you have sent in… The center cake plates (with the ruffled edge) were a set I bought at Costco earlier this year. As far as I know they were only sold for a very short time, and I haven’t been able to find them again. Sorry!
Many months ago, as I was making plans for my daughter’s candy party I started looking into getting custom water bottle labels. I’d seen parties (on-line) that had cute custom labels on the bottles and I wanted to try to do the same. I found labels I could buy for $0.80-$1.00 each, but that was out of the budget. I continued searching for any “how-to’s” on making my own labels, and searched for good prices on the printable vinyl that most custom label sellers seemed to be using. Even the vinyl was quite expensive. I continued looking for information, and I was finally able to put together some ideas from a few different sights and make my own cute labels. The best part is, I didn’t have to buy any special materials, and the cost per label is only pennies!
Within about a weeks time I made custom labels for my daughter’s party (photo above), the “She’s about to Pop” showerI helped a friend host (below), and also some pretty labels for a 55th anniversary celebration (second photo below).
All three of the labels above took me quite a bit of time designing them on Photoshop. But even if you don’t have the time or knowledge to design your own, you can still make some, using pretty scrapbooking paper (see photo below).
Ready to make your own?
A strip of paper (custom designed, or just printed scrapbooking paper) 1 3/4″ tall and 8 1/2″ wide.
Paper cutter (for neatly cutting your paper)
Packing tape (clear, heavy tape 2″ wide)
Water bottles(I use Target’s store brand, Archer Farms, because they are smooth, sleek looking bottles).
Now you’re ready to go!
Lay your label out on the table, and pull out a piece of packing tape just slightly longer (on each side of the label) than your paper. You should also have just a tiny bit of tape above and below your paper (since the paper is 1 3/4″ tall and the tape is 2″ tall). Press the tape smoothly onto the paper.
Pick up your label (the paper and tape are now one) and line it up as straight as you can along the side of the bottle. Press tape end onto the bottle.
Guide the label around the bottle (as straight as possible).
If you were able to keep the label level all the way around the bottle, your ends should meet up pretty nicely.
custom water bottle labels!
Has water ever looked cuter?
One final note…
I wouldn’t call these labels 100% waterproof. They do resist condensation pretty well, but I’m not sure how they would hold up if you just throw them in a bucket of ice. Each time I’ve used them I keep them in the fridge and then pull them out and line them up on the counter just before the party.
See this pretty thing… it’s really as delicious as it looks! And the best part? It’s super easy!
All you need is five ingredients. Here they are…
Chocolate Pudding (2 large boxes)
Cool Whip (large container)
Heath Candy Bars (4 regular sized bars)
1. Prepare brownies according to directions on box. Any box or recipe will work, I usually bake mine in a 11″x 17″ jelly roll pan so that they bake nice and thin and get even a little crispy. For this recipe you want them fully cooked, or even slightly over-baked. Once you layer all the other ingredients it will get mushy fast if your brownies are already soft and gooey.
2. Once the brownies are baked and cooled, cut up into small, bite-sized pieces.
3. Prepare (instant) chocolate pudding according to directions. There should be two (large) boxes of pudding in the photo. If you want to fill a trifle dish you’ll need two (large) boxes.
4. Crush the Heath candy bars into small, bite-sized pieces.
5. Now you’re ready to layer…
Spoon about a third of your pudding into a trifle dish.
Add a layer of brownie pieces.
Sprinkle around some of the crushed Heath.
Drizzle on some caramel sauce.
Top with about half of the cool whip.
For the top layer, I usually put the pudding, a small layer of cool whip and then add a few brownies, Heath pieces and caramel sauce to decorate the top nicely.
I don’t think there is really any wrong way to layer the ingredients. It’s just one layer of delicious on top of another.
Keep in the refrigerator until just ready to serve. This should not be assembled more than about an hour or two before it will be served, or the brownies and candy will get too soft, and it will just be one big bowl of mush (still yummy, but not quite as nice to eat). I often bake and cut up the brownies and prepare the pudding the night before I’m going to assemble the triffle. Then the day I’ll be serving, it only takes a short amount to time to assemble. This is perfect for pot-lucks and BBQ’s. I always get rave reviews!
I mean, how could you not love this…
If you’d like to dress it up a bit for a dinner party, simply layer the ingredients in individual dishes. It looks fancy and no one has to know how easy it really is!
Shopping notes- The trffle dish is from Wal-Mart (I got this one with a blue stem several years ago, but I know they still sell the same style, but all clear)
The individual dessert dish is from Crate and Barrel ($2.50 each)
Additional notes- I didn’t create this recipe, but I’ve been making it for several years and I don’t remember where I first saw it. There are lots of similar recipes available in books and on the web.
Today I made some graduation cupcakes for a friend’s son. Sorry if this post is a bit too late for many of you with graduates in the house. I know some of the graduations in our area are today, and some are over the next two weeks.
I made my favorite chocolate cupcakes (recipe HERE), with delicious chocolate cream cheese frosting (recipe HERE). I made some cupcake toppers in the school colors. I simply printed out the message “Class of 2010″ onto white card stock, then backed them with a square of scrapbooking paper and glued them to a bamboo pick (you can also use wooden coffee stir sticks, or lollipop sticks).
I also made some little diplomas by rolling a piece of parchment paper and tying with a small ribbon (wired ribbon works best to keep the paper from unrolling).
A third style topper I made was a graduation hat (using my Cricut paper cutting machine). For those of you with a Cricut, I used the Locker Talk cartridge.
Below are a couple more versions of DIY (do-it-yourself) toppers I made for family and friends last year. For the yellow set with flowers (below) I downloaded the image of the school mascott and printed it out on white cardstock.
Congratulations 2010 graduates!
This week my sister gave me a flat of fresh strawberries (that she had picked in her own garden/farm/orchard). Those pretty berries were all I needed to start thinking about delicious fruit desserts. Now normally I’m an all chocolate girl, but in the summer, there is just something so beautiful about desserts that incorporate the bounty of the season. And here in California we are blessed with an almost unlimited supply of gorgeous fruit.
I realized it had been quite a while since I’d made my husbands favorite dessert, cheesecake (it’s really cream cheese pie, but in our house we call it cheesecake… more on that in a minute). I thought the strawberries would complement the cheesecake perfectly, so my plan was set.
I used to make this cheesecake for my husband when we were dating (as teenagers), and most years I try to make it for his birthday. It’s really a pretty simple dessert to make, the step that takes the most time is chilling it for 2-3 hours.
Although in our house this has always been called cheesecake, the correct title is Cream Cheese Pie. True cheesecake is a dense, baked dessert usually containing 3 or more packages of cream cheese, along with eggs, sugar and a few other ingredients. Cheesecake is usually baked in a straight sided springform pan. In contrast, this recipe (Cream Cheese Pie) produces a very sweet, smooth dessert that is not baked, but is chilled (and must be kept chilled) to be firm enough to cut.
The recipe is from my Grandmother (although I’m not claiming she created it). My Grandmother was a Home Economics teacher in the 1950′s-60′s and this is one of the recipes from her recipe file.
Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/2 cups (about 20 squares) graham crackers, finely crushed
1/3 cup butter, melted
3 Tablespoons sugar
Heat oven to 350*F
Mix together crumbs, butter and sugar (I usually just do this right in the pie plate).
Once combined, press the mixture firmly against the bottom and side of a 9 x 1 1/4 inches pie plate.
Bake 10 minutes, or until light brown. Remove from oven and cool.
Cream Cheese Pie
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 (15oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice (fresh if possible)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Slowly add the condensed milk, beat until fully incorporated. Add lemon juice and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
Pour mixture into a cooled, Graham Cracker Crust.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours.
Before serving, top with fresh fruit, fresh strawberry sauce (recipe below), or toppings of your choice. Also delicious plain.
Fresh Strawberry Sauce
1 basket/pint strawberries
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons corn starch
3 Tablespoons water
Chop/blend about half of the strawberries (5-7 strawberries) and the water in a food processor or blender. Pour the blended strawberries (and their juice) into a mesh strainer, sitting over a bowl. Use a large spoon or spatula to press the mixture through the strainer.
In a small saucepan, mix the sugar and cornstarch. Slowly add the strained strawberry juice, whisking to combine. Heat mixture to a boil and boil about 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool.
Chop remaining strawberries into pea sized pieces and add to the cooled strawberry/sugar mixture. Chill until ready to use.
Top a slice of the Cream Cheese Pie with the Fresh Strawberry Sauce, and voila…
Or, you can skip the Strawberry Sauce and simply top with fresh fruit.
Or… if you think it’s not really dessert unless there is chocolate involved, then by all means…
Drizzle with chocolate sauce, caramel and chocolate chips.
Now, the only problem is chosing a piece…
For my husband, the choice is easy…
All he wants with his cheesecake is a fork! Exciting, no… but still delicious!
Now, which slice do you want?