My aunt and uncle had a huge pecan tree in their yard- which was always nice for those of us who love pecans! Even better, my aunt would take those pecans and make a really simple but delicious pecan candy for us.
My kids and their cousins always loved climbing the tree, picking the pecans, and using the fancy rolling pecan picker that completely fascinated them. We all loved it that the kids would enjoy playing outside and picking what felt like a million pecans! The payment for their work was often chocolate pecan candy.
This recipe is easy and makes a perfect candy for gifting or for serving. I hope you enjoy this simple treat that my aunt always made for us!
Chocolate Pecan Candy Recipe
1 lb. (16 oz.) coarsely chopped pecans
2 cups of Ghirardelli chocolate chips (I use half semi-sweet and half milk chocolate chips)
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
2 teaspoons vegetable oil (optional)
Coarse Sea Salt
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Spread pecan pieces evenly across baking sheet.
Slice butter and add pats of butter scattered around the pecans.
Heat oven to 250 degrees (F).
Place pecans and butter in oven and toast for 5 minutes.
Using a spatula, turn pecans and the melted butter, being sure to coat the pecans.
Bake for 5 minutes and then carefully stir pecans, turning them so that they are evenly toasted.
Repeat this step until pecans are toasted- this takes about 20 minutes total. Watch pecans carefully, as ovens vary, and remember to turn the pecans every 5 minutes.
After pecans are toasted, remove from oven and let cool.
After pecans have cooled enough to handle, melt chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. I typically melt chocolate chips for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until chocolate is melted and smooth.
(Optional step) If you prefer, add 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil to the melted chocolate and stir until well mixed. The oil helps the chocolate have a smoother finish, but I usually leave out this step.
Stir toasted pecans and melted chocolate together in bowl and mix until pecans are well-coated.
Using a tablespoon, spoon out individual servings of the pecan mixture onto waxed paper.
Sprinkle salt onto the candy. I usually leave some unsalted for those who prefer no salt (such as my children).
Transfer to a serving dish or box/bag for gifting.
Starting fresh in a new year always feels exciting and worth celebrating, right? There is something special about the end of one moment in time and the immediate beginning of something all new. Although I love a big party, I also love quick and easy ideas to mark a special occasion! Here are some of my favorite quick and easy New Year’s Eve party ideas that I enjoy putting together for my family…
Set the scene with disco ball ornaments. This is an easy New Year’s Eve party idea that can also be used for other parties (such as dance party ideas and pop-star party ideas) or re-used from year to year. The ornaments shown differ in size and have mirrored glass around them-but sequined versions are lighter and may be easier to find. Either way, they are festive and fun!
Group them together for impact and hang them from a chandelier with your choice of ribbon. Simply tie each individual ornament with a measured amount of ribbon so that the disco balls hang where you would like for them to hang (being sure not to go too low and risk being bumped constantly). The color of ribbon can coordinate with your party colors or you can opt for a monochromatic look and hang with silver or white ribbon.
New Year’s Eve Party Food Ideas
It is always fun to add a little sparkle everywhere on New Year’s Eve, and the drink and food ideas for your party are no exception! 🙂 When you are ready to pour the bubbly for your guests, treat them to a star-shaped cookie decorating the glass…
To keep this New Year’s Eve party idea easy, only decorate the points of the star cookies. This also keeps it from being too sweet with the champagne. I used a sugar cookie recipe from Jenny Cookies, a dot of frosting on each tip, and a pink pearl sprinkle. The small star cookie cutter has been in my collection for awhile and so I don’t remember where I found it. If the sugar cookie is too large for the champagne flute, lay the cookie flat on top of the glass instead. Your guests will still love the thought!
If you are like I am and often have kids (or teens) around on New Year’s Eve, remember to have some kid-friendly items to serve as you celebrate the new year. This party idea is a hit throughout the year and works well for birthday parties and celebrations, too! It is so easy but so fun! Buy your favorite mini doughnuts and stack them on a cake stand. Add party hat picks to the doughnuts in random places and you are all ready to serve!
Another of my favorite party ideas for easy kids’ party food is dipped pretzel rods. We name these “Sparklers” at New Year’s Eve parties- in honor of the only fireworks my parents would let us use as kids! 🙂
See below for a quick video of how I make them…
I hope these simple, quick New Year’s Eve party ideas are helpful for making your celebrations a little more fun! If you are looking for a few more ideas to add to your list, see this disco party for more!
Are you guys ever wowed by all of the creativity that is out there for us to enjoy? I am in awe every single day at the talent and creativity that is apparent when I scroll through social media, flip through a magazine, or visit a website. My friend, Lance, is one of those talents that has an eye for creating beauty that will make you want to stop and stare.
He and his partner David Ecton are the talented men behind Parker Kennedy Living- together they create and install incredible interior designs. And, as often happens when you ooze creativity, Lance stumbled upon a way to pour his talents into a custom product that resonates with his fans. A fondness for the design, shape, color, and overall beauty of vintage jewelry led Lance to create custom wreaths that are chock-full of his vintage jewelry finds.
This phenomenal wreath is inspired by Tiffany. I am amazed by the loads of baubles, jewelry, and other objects that are meticulously placed throughout.
As you can imagine, Lance stays extremely busy around the holidays as he customizes each wreath for each order. When asked how he does it during such a busy time, Lance says, …”I love making them because they are all so different- and I love to add tons of details. It is almost therapeutic for me to make them.”
As word spreads about these magnificent wreaths, demand for the wreaths keeps growing. Parker Kennedy Living is currently setting up a permanent workshop/studio at their office to accommodate the needs. Soon, they will be able to offer them year-round.
You never know how each one will look when Lance starts- which is what makes them so unique and special. Some of the wreaths are youthful and sweet and some are sophisticated and sassy. They have personality, style and beauty that draws you in for a closer look each time.
Since I first saw the wreaths, I have told Lance that I would love to do an “art installation” of them in my house- ha! That’s how much I love them. I find them so interesting, and I have seen how much thought and time is spent on each. Recently, Hoffman Media reached out to Lance to ask about doing a feature on his exquisite wreaths. I was excited when Lance asked me to photograph them for the magazine- that mini installation vision was actually going to happen. The image below is the look that Anna Hartzog, at Hoffman Media, wanted to achieve. The wreath over the bar cart is a “Gucci” themed wreath that Lance made and gifted me several years ago…
And this was another option that we played around with while styling the wreaths. I really love all of the colors that combine in this photo…
Hoffman Media requested traditional Christmas colors, and so Lance went to work to create the most beautiful collection of wreaths in red, green, gold, and silver.
We had fun adding the wreaths around our house although we placed the wreath over the stove only for the photo shoot. We definitely don’t suggest putting the wreaths where there is heat or a flame. 🙂
The monochromatic colors are gorgeous in these wreaths and show-off Lance’s ability to create a variety of looks.
There is a touch of new to keep the wreaths current ~and lots of vintage placed with care to tell a story within each one. The wreaths make your mind wander to the history that each holds while enjoying the present-day beauty of it in your own home.
I typically lean toward more gold than silver at Christmas, but this silver wreath has a magic to it. I couldn’t stop photographing it because it was so layered with details. My favorite piece on this wreath is the oversized vintage hair barrette.
I also find the mix of gold and silver on this one to be really striking. It feels so icy and wintry…and gorgeous!
Lance created a green wreath that is traditionally festive, but he took it a step further with the PKL signature twist. The wreath overflows with baubles and personality. The personality that each wreath takes on is a reflection of Lance’s own personality and his enjoyment of nostalgia, whimsy, and sophistication.
Can you believe all of the objects that are put into the wreaths? These photos of the green wreath show a small portion of the wreath, but you can see how much time and effort goes into each one. The combination of textures and colors is amazing (and I especially love that Lance put a spool of green thread on this one- it balances all of the shimmer and is completely unexpected!).
Below is a wreath that has a little bit of a different feel in that it has lots of vintage toys placed throughout the ornaments and jewelry. One of my favorite places to hang this wreath in our home is over the bed in our guest room. The bed is a four-post canopy, and so I used a wreath hanger on the top bar- you could also use a sturdy ribbon.
Lance also has a penchant for creating very playful wreaths out of the most unexpected item- Barbie dolls! His Barbie-themed wreaths have become such a huge hit. The novelty and beauty of them is too hard to resist, and they sell out quickly. You will see why below…they are a stunning conversation-starter!
Notice, below, how Lance found a brunette Barbie and incorporated it into a Barbie wreath made especially for Patricia Altschul. I think the Barbie theme might be Lance’s favorite wreath that he makes. I seem to think everyone he makes becomes my new favorite. Lance says that no matter the theme, his favorite part of making them is the hunt for all of the vintage and antique pieces that he uses. Farther in this post, you will see some of his newest themes- and you will see why it becomes so hard to choose!
If you follow Parker Kennedy Living on Instagram, you will notice that people often remark that they would keep the wreath up year-round. It is understandable how you would want to enjoy them all year- each one is an instant mood-booster like a dose of sunshine!
How funny is that Lance found and incorporated Barbie and Ken together in the wreath below? Do you also notice that he often includes monogrammed jewelry or ornaments? I love how he adds those in when he knows the recipient’s initial.
And, if you prefer traditional red for Christmas, Lance can even make a Barbie wreath in red! Look at those fancy sleeves!
Another hugely popular wreath that Lance has created is his Chanel-inspired wreath. This art piece would be beautiful in a home year round. I can imagine this in a dressing room, vanity, bedroom, or office. High couture that never goes out of fashion, for sure!
Another one of Lance’s newer designs is this “Under the Sea” theme- I can imagine how beautiful and unique this would be in a seaside home. From Palm Beach to Newport to LA, this beauty adds Christmas magic like no other decoration. It is one of my many favorites!
Whimsy, whit, sophistication, glam, glitter, and a whole lot of thought and design talent go into each one of Lance’s creations. Lance says that he loves searching and hunting for all of the vintage and antique pieces that he uses in each. “I am literally on the hunt year-round- always looking for the perfect pieces that I know will work”, says Lance.
A Milk and Cookies Party is one of the easiest and most fun ways to host a party during the holidays! These ideas can be adapted to be a cookie exchange or a “Sweet Shoppe” party- and it is suitable for a range of ages. I am sharing ideas below to help you celebrate the season and to be able to keep it as simple as milk and cookies…or you can always make it as elaborate as you want to make it!
You could keep this get-together very low-key and simply and literally serve milk and cookies. Let the kids enjoy a game of Holiday Bingo, watch a holiday show or movie, or decorate sugar cookies. If you really want it to be a causal affair, invite your guests to wear their favorite holiday pajamas. I would suggest offering a few savory snack ideas to balance the sweet flavors that you have with the cookies. Serve milk in old-fashioned milk bottles with beautiful labels and paper straws for the prettiest presentation…
If you prefer to take the party up a notch, I would suggest preparing for a cookie exchange, setting up a cookie decorating station, and/or maybe even inviting Santa and Mrs. Claus to the party for photos. Encourage your guests to wear festive holiday attire and give everyone a chance to dress up in their Christmas best. Be prepared with aprons for the little ones if they are handling colored icing and candies. Teenage helpers dressed as elves could also add some fun to the get-together!
Whether you decide to go casual or fancy for your party, set the tone for your guests by having a small display of sweets ready when they arrive.
I especially like the Sweet Holiday paper collection by Loralee Lewis for dressing up the cookie table. The welcome sign has the cutest gingerbread kids depicted along with the gorgeous graphic design and shape. I placed the sign on a plate stand in the center of the table and then displayed beautiful cookies around the sign.
Decorated cookies are always nice to have as a special treat for your guests or for individual party favors. For this party idea, I decided to order sugar cookies decorated as gingerbread men to match the cute gingerbread kids in the paper designs. It would be fun to have gingerbread cookies ready to decorate at the party. This would be the perfect activity for your guests. You could use sugar cookies or gingerbread cookies- whichever you prefer to make (or order). Use cupcake liners, candy cups, or muffin tins to help organize the cookie decorating materials. Roll out a strip of wrapping paper or craft paper to help protect the table and to make clean up easy. Add frosting to piping bags ahead of time- or use zip bags with a small hole snipped at one corner. Your guests will have fun trying their hand at decorating like the pros- and (if they are anything like I am) will have an even bigger appreciation for all cookie decorators! 🙂
If you are hosting a cookie exchange party, I think it is a great idea to have some special, decorated cookies for the kids to eat while they trade cookies with each other. For a cookie exchange, invite each guest to bake and bring a few dozen cookies to share. On a large table or kitchen island, set out each set of cookies with the recipe beside the cookies. Be sure to have a bakery box, gable box, or cookie tin available for each guest to fill with a variety of cookies to take home. A cookie exchange is great because it serves as an activity and a party favor, all in one! 🙂 If the party is not too large, you can also offer the recipe for each cookie that was made with the name of the guest who contributed the recipe. This is a fun way to share your favorite family recipes! I always love leaving a party with a new favorite recipe to try (and, as a side note, Loralee’s Sweet Shoppe Collection includes a set of recipe cards that can be used just for this reason). Another little tip…consider having photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus and let the little ones chat with them during the party. A fireside chat and photo opportunity can make for really cute memories! In the past, I have also asked my children’s music teachers if they will play the piano and lead a sing-a-long at parties. This is so much fun for everyone and is a great way to end a party on a literal high note!
If you prefer to host a party that includes more than cookies, a Holiday Sweet Shoppe theme is really cute and fun! You can still incorporate many of the ideas above, but add in a variety of treats that you will serve. Just remember that you may want to also serve light sandwiches or finger foods and water for the children to enjoy along with the sweets.
A Sweet Shoppe theme opens up the dessert table to a host of ideas. Cupcakes are always a hit and look extra cute with adorable gingerbread boys and girls. I love serving cupcakes with toppers because they are easy to make or buy and look so pretty with a cupcake wrapper and rosette topper. Minimal effort with maximum effect! And, then cookies ordered from Bambella Cookies always fall into that category for me, too! 🙂
Another easy way to add a sweet treat to your Sweet Shoppe party without a lot of fuss, is to order doughnuts and embellish them. I ordered these doughnuts from Dunkin Doughnuts and added wreath icing toppers made by A Party Made Perfect. Place them on a festive plate, add a colorful napkin, and let them shine! Your guests will love these!
Aren’t those so pretty? I love the simplicity of the pink iced doughnut topped with the pretty green royal icing wreath…
Thanksgiving table decoration ideas that are easy to create are my favorites. I had a chance to set our Thanksgiving table for the first time this past year as my husband and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house. In the past, Thanksgiving lunch has been at my parents’ house or my aunt and uncle’s house. The Saturday after Thanksgiving, we would celebrate with my mom-in-law at her house. This time, we invited everyone to our house for a big ole’ feast. All of the moms in our families are great cooks, and so they offered to bring their favorite Thanksgiving side dishes so that all of the family and the family-favorites would be together under one roof! We were in charge of cooking the turkey and a few sides- which left plenty of time for me to set the tables and get the house ready.
When our family arrived, we had light appetizers to enjoy while everyone trickled in- and I prepared a punch bowl with a Thanksgiving cocktail…
For the cranberry cocktail, I served it in a brass punch bowl so that everyone could serve themselves. I had the bar cart ready to serve when they arrived and added the ice ring to the bowl last so that it looked its best.
I wanted to add foliage or flowers around the house, and so I put cabbage in my Majolica pots and set them out. This was such an easy way to add greenery – and I could plant the cabbage later. 🙂 . I like to decorate with food items for Thanksgiving to go along with the idea of a bounty of a harvest.
For that same reason, I chose pepper plants to use as the centerpiece for the dining table. I put them in my dough bowl and added pumpkins and ornamental corn. I loved the flowing, nonchalant grouping of the pepper plants and pumpkins paired with the more formal look of the roses and hydrangeas.
I have never been a big fan of orange roses until recently. My friend, Lance (who is so talented with flower arranging), won me over with his beautiful use of them. After seeing how pretty they look arranged, I decided to try them to add in the traditional orange for Thanksgiving. I paired them with lime green hydrangeas, and I loved how they turned out…
I have always enjoyed the history of why we celebrate Thanksgiving- the positive sides of the celebration…surviving the harsh conditions, growing and thriving in spite of all of the setbacks, coming together in unity and friendship, the teaching and learning that was an integral part of the journey. For this table, I wanted to have small touches of history and harvest and that is how the idea of the antique dough bowl with plants, corn, and pumpkins came to be. A little bit of a rustic look coupled with more formal touches represented the history and the present day. I went with the same idea for the dishes- using antique plates (made in England) paired with present-day white plates (designed in New England).
Name cards are also a nice touch to add to a table so that everyone knows which place is just for them. It eliminates the sometimes awkward moments of trying to seat everyone at the same time- it takes the guess work out of “where should I sit” for your guests and makes the table feel a little more special. I also like to add more than one set of salt and pepper shakers to the table for convenience for guests. Below you can see the two small turkeys…they are perfect for adding a whimsical touch that also makes the table feel warm and welcoming rather than formal and stuffy. You can also see that I tied a plaid, silk ribbon around each napkin to add the colors that I wanted to add. This is always a pretty and simple way to tie in the colors of any table setting or party.
Here are my y suggestions for creating a look you love for your own Thanksgiving table…
Start with a tablecloth and build from there. I knew I wanted a tablecloth with a white background with green because I wanted the overall look to be light and colorful. Decide if you want light and bright or darker and moody.
Choose a charger that coordinates and gives you a different texture or color. I chose brown rattan because I like how they grounded the table and kept it from feeling overly formal. The brown also coordinated well with the dough bowl in the center of the table and the chairs all around the table.
Choose the plates that you want to use and layer them to add interest to the table. I decided to only go with a salad and dinner plate because I liked the design of the green plate and wanted it to be what we noticed first in the place settings.
Coordinate the napkins. Again, I liked the lighter shade of brown for the napkins and I really loved the green border. I wanted to have the napkins monogrammed, but opted for tying a ribbon around them instead. The ribbon added color and interest.
Decide on the centerpieces and be creative when choosing plants or blooms. Remember to add fruits, veggies, herbs for different colors and textures. Or, if you are doing a more formal centerpiece, add something such as berries or small branches in seasonal colors to counterbalance the formality.
Choose glasses that coordinate or blend well. Stemmed glasses often look the prettiest.
Add silverware/utensils- if you have different types, choose the best color or material that suits your table. Some of the types that look great on a table are silver, gold, bamboo, Mother of Pearl.
Make place cards or be creative with name cards. You can put them in fruit with a skewer or add them to a napkin ring. Simple or a little extra- either way shows your thoughtfulness.
Add personality to the table with mismatched or miniature salt and pepper shakers. Or, add an interesting salt bowl or butter dish. It is okay, and often more fun, to have a few conversation starters at the Thanksgiving table.
Make sure everyone has enough space at their place setting and can sit and chat comfortably.
Now that you have the adult table set, remember to make a special table for the kids, too! All of the “kids” at the kids’ table at our house ranged in age from 13-25 and so I set more of a “young adult table”. I wanted it to be casual, comfortable, and pretty. I also thought a more minimal approach would be a good idea. 🙂
I kept the centerpiece simply with a pretty orchid and bowls of acorns. The tabletop is mirrored and I added a gold confetti charger and then the white plates with green cabbage leaf plates. I topped the plates with pumpkin mugs or pumpkin bowls to use with the seafood soup we served.
I hope you have found inspiration in some of these ideas! I enjoy mixing and matching and finding a pretty balance in all of the choices. Most importantly, I love how Thanksgiving brings us together to catch up, reminisce, enjoy a meal, and celebrate togetherness. It is one of my favorite holidays! Happy Thanksgiving!
Sweet Sixteen and Halloween aren’t the typical party ideas that come together for one theme! Ha! But…I went for it for our Supper Club because we had to skip September’s Supper Club. Our dog had surgery and needed constant care, and so we postponed the Sweet 16 theme and rolled it into the next month. That is how Sweet Sixteen Halloween came to be! It was actually really fun to plan. I had so many ideas of what I wanted to do, and I feel like this theme could be expanded in so many ways.
I wanted to do a grouping of 16 somewhere at the party. I thought about doing 16 candles down the center of a really long table, but I always get a little worried about flames and lots of teens around one table. Even though they are old enough to drive, I still feel like too many candles could be a problem. 🙂 Maybe I just still think of them as 6 instead of 16? I don’t know, but I picture long hair inadvertently ending up too close to a flame.
Instead of candles, I decided to go with 16 cakes. I wanted the colors to reflect the “sweet” and then I wanted to add in Halloween decorations to the cakes. Originally, I wanted to have only 4-inch cakes but then changed to a mixture of 6-inch and 4-inch. I liked the variety of sizes, but I really loved the size of the 4-inch. The girls liked the smaller cakes, too. They were really cute and miniature.
I ordered the cakes from Emilee Hain, of Keelime Culinary. Emilee used to own a restaurant in town and now she is a personal chef and baker. I was so happy when she agreed to give this idea a try- I knew I needed help to pull off 16 cakes all at one time. Emilee baked and frosted the cakes- I sent her photos of the colors that I wanted to use. I also wanted to use separate tables for the cakes. I used 3 round tables and set them all out before I decorated them.
And, then I just started decorating based on height and colors. It was fun trying to make each one a little different.
I added a balloon garland to the wall before I set up the cakes. The colors were a unique twist for Halloween, but I like how the black touches bring out the holiday vibe.
I have mentioned on Instagram that watching your daughter learn to drive (and being in the car while that learning takes place), can be a little nerve-racking. For me, it has been the hardest milestone yet. It is tough not to be the one driving her and to trust that she is ready for so much responsibility. Because of that, I jokingly nicknamed this party, “Driving me Batty”. I had a little drawing at the party to commemorate this phase of parenting. 🙂
For the “supper” part of Supper Club, I set the tables with 9 girls at each table. I used Halloween napkins, cups, and straws and put fresh flowers in the center.
I also added Sweet Sixteen headbands and candy sticks to the table.
My daughter chose the menu and asked for Chicken Enchiladas. My husband made the enchiladas, and then I added a veggie tray, a bowl of fruit, chips, salsa, and avacados.
I set up the front porch with pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns for a warm welcome. The jack-o-lanterns are made of clay and are from a shop in northeast Georgia called Craven Pottery. They doubled as party favors for the girls to take home at the end of the night…
One of the most fun parts of the night was that Supper Club happen to hit on the date of one of the girls’ actual 16th birthday! It was so fun to be able to celebrate it with her! It was a fun time and I enjoy hosting with my daughter each time! Feel free to ask me any questions about our Supper Clubs- or anything else that you see that you would like to know! Click to see last year’s Halloween Supper Club. You can also find our Spring Supper Club ideas or browse the entire category of Supper Club Ideas. Thanks for being here!