milk and cookies party in pink and white at Christmas
Milk and Cookies

A Milk and Cookies Party is one of the easiest and most fun ways to host a party during the holidays! This idea 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!

milk and cookies party in pink and white at Christmas
Milk and Cookies Party by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

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…

milk and cookies party milk bottles decorated for christmas

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.

Sweet Shop Sign for milk and cookie holiday party

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.

gingerbread decorated sugar cookies

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! 🙂

milk and cookies gingerbread men on banner and cookies

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!

sweet shop milk and cookies party display

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.

milk and cookies party with cupcakes

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! 🙂

milk and cookies party with sweet shop sign
milk and cookies with decorated cookies and glass bottles

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!

milk and cookies and doughnuts with wreaths

Aren’t those so pretty? I love the simplicity of the pink iced doughnut topped with the pretty green royal icing wreath…

pink doughnuts with green icing wreaths
milk and cookies with donuts and royal icing green wreaths
milk and cookies party with sweet shop sign

So, whether you prefer milk and cookies, a cookie exchange, or a full sweet shop idea for a party, you can use these ideas as a guideline for hosting the holiday party that fits best for you and your family! I look forward to sharing some recipes that I could recommend for holiday parties soon. Check back as I add more ways to celebrate the everyday with you! In the meantime, enjoy these parties here, here, and here too!

Also, here is where to find the beautiful Sweet Holiday Collection from Loralee Lewis

To order cookies from Bambella Cookies, you can find Tara here.

To order royal icing wreaths from A Party Made Perfect, you can contact Jennifer here.

thanksgiving table decorations and place settings
Thanksgiving Table Decoration Ideas

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.

thanksgiving table setting with green and white plates
thanksgiving table with turkey salt and pepper shakers
thanksgiving table decoration ideas

When our family arrived, we had light appetizers to enjoy while everyone trickled in- and I prepared a punch bowl with a Thanksgiving cocktail…

Thanksgiving appetizers and turkey napkins

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.

cranberry cocktail served in a brass bowl with ice ring

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.

antique majolica pot with cabbage plant inside

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.

thanksgiving table decorations and place settings

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…

blue and white porcelain vase with orange roses and limelight hydrangeas
green majolica plates paired with orange roses and hydrangeas on thanksgiving table
Thanksgiving table setting with green white and orange

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).

thanksgiving table centerpiece with pepper plants pumpkins corn in dough bowl

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.

thanksgiving fall table setting with turkey shakers

Here are my y suggestions for creating a look you love for your own Thanksgiving table…

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Choose glasses that coordinate or blend well. Stemmed glasses often look the prettiest.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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. 🙂

thanksgiving table set with white

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.

minimal thanksgiving table decorations
white pumpkin mug
thanksgiving-table-setting-ideas

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!

For more Thanksgiving inspo…see this for rustic Thanksgiving ideas, this one for woodsy, organic Thanksgiving ideas, this for whimsical Thanksgiving ideas. Here you can find cute Thanksgiving craft ideas. And, here are some of my older recipes that I make at Thanksgiving plus a recipe for Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies. Enjoy!

Cheers xo,

Lydia

tailgate with plaid tablecloth hydrangeas in a retro plaid cooler and cheese tray
Tailgate Food Ideas
tailgate with plaid tablecloth hydrangeas in a retro plaid cooler and cheese tray

Football Season has always been synonymous with Fall at my house. Growing up, my mom and dad took us to college football games every Saturday. My dad played football in high school and received a football scholarship to Auburn University…and so I grew up knowing and loving football! We had season tickets which basically equated to a load of my childhood memories created with my parents, sister, and family friends. SEC Football is full of excitement- from making the drive to the game and passing all of the other fans on the way…we’d shake our orange and blue shakers at them…friendly car horns would say hello…and lots of exchanges of “War Eagle” and “Go Tigers”. Now, as an adult and a mom, I am amazed that my mother packed up a tailgate spread each Fall Saturday and loaded us in the car for the hour and a half trip. I am going to share some of the tips and recipes that I’ve learned from my mom along with ideas from some of my favorite blogging friends– with hopes it helps you plan your tailgate parties that you host at home or at the games!

  1. GRAZING BOARDS
large cheese board with fruit and crackers

My mom always had crackers and cheese to stave off any overly-hungry kids (or adults). The typical crackers and cheese dish from my childhood has definitely grown with more options available in our grocery stores. Cheese boards and grazing boards (also known as charcuterie boards) have become all the rage for good reason. You can stack a platter full of delicious options and feed a crowd for what feels like days. After you decide on a variety of cheese and crackers, add in fruits, vegetables, and even deli meats. Group larger, like foods together to start and then add smaller items to fill in where needed. This makes for a pretty presentation and an easy way to see what you may want to replenish (if you have extra).

My mom also always had dips for us eat- you can add them to the cheese board or let them stand out on their own. Below, I am showing you one of my favorite recipes from my friend at Bird’s Party

2. FOOTBALL CHEESE DIP (click for recipe)

football shaped cheese dip on wooden board with crackers pretzels and vegetables

For game days, my mom kept it simple by adding in our favorite chips or salty snacks. Sometimes she would combine them to make a party mix, which is always a hit. Snack mixes or party mixes make great tailgate food ideas because you end up with a big batch to feed a crowd- and there is something for everyone in the mixes! Below, I am adding one of my favorite tailgate snack mixes from my blogging friend at An Affair from the Heart...I think I like this one a little extra because it has my childhood favorite~ Bugles! Did anyone else love Bugles?

3. TOUCHDOWN SNACK MIX (click for recipe)

snack mix for parties with bugles goldfish chex cereal

And, this next recipe reminds me so much of my childhood. I just bought a bag of these crackers to make this and it made me reminisce a little. I used to love it when my mom made these- and they are very simple!

4. RANCH AND DILL OYSTER CRACKERS (click for recipe)

oyster crackers with dried ranch dressing and dill

Another part of my mom’s tailgate formula for success was to have sandwiches cut in half and placed on a platter. She often rotated between pimento cheese sandwiches and cream cheese and pineapple sandwiches. That second combo was such an odd one to me when I was a kid (it still seems a little different to me as an adult), but I loved it. I have always wondered if that was more common than I realize! Now, sliders are a popular choice and they are simple to make, too! Below, I am sharing my friend Courtney’s (Pizzazzerie) recipe for chicken sliders…

5. CHICKEN SLIDERS . (click for recipe)

tailgate-food-ideas-sliders-pizzazzerie

If you like to offer traditional tailgate fare with a twist, check out this brat recipe from Cheese Curd in Paradise, another food blogging friend…

6. WISCONSIN BEER BRATS (click for recipe)

wisconsin beer brats

For those of you who like to add a veggie sandwich option to your menu should try out this Po’ Boy from my friend, Molly, at Easy Cooking with Molly.

7. VEGGIE PO’ BOY (click for recipe)

veggie po boy sandwich

Side salads were also always on the menu for a tailgate when I was growing up. It differed depending on my mom’s choice of the week, but I mostly remember red potato salad being a go-to . My favorite side salad to make for my family is Chick Pea Salad. Everyone seems to like it, and it is healthy and fresh. I make this recipe for lots of occasions -it’s a great one for summer get-togethers, too.

8. CHICKPEA SALAD WITH MOZZARELLA BALLS (recipe below)

overhead view of individual servings of chick pea salad with tomatoes cucumbers black olives and cheese

Chickpea Salad Recipe

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cans of chickpeas (15 oz.) rinsed and drained

2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped

1 can of small black olives, rinsed and drained

1 package of grape tomatoes, sliced into halves

1 small package of mini mozzarella balls, gently separated

1/4 cup of chopped, fresh parsley

1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese for topping/garnish

Fresh ground pepper for garnish

Instructions~

Whisk together oil, vinegar, and salt in large bowl.

Combine chickpeas and next five ingredients in the large bowl.

Toss ingredients with oil mixture in the bowl.

When ready to serve, garnish with freshly ground pepper and shredded Parmesan cheese.

You can serve in one large bowl or serve individually in small cups or bowls.

Serves 6-8

If you would like to serve a Chickpea Salad with more fall flavors and colors, try this one by my blogging friend, Gloria, at Homemade and Yummy…

9. CHICKPEA SALAD WITH APPLES AND PUMPKIN SEEDS (click for recipe)

chickpea salad with apples and pumpkin seeds

Now that we have ideas for the bulk of the tailgate food, we can talk about dessert and drink ideas…

Sweets such as brownies, or other easy to slice desserts, are always a great choice. They may seem over-used, but you can dress up brownies in cute ways if you want…see these football shaped brownies by Bird’s Party…

10. FOOTBALL BROWNIES (click for recipe)

brownies shaped like footballs with white icing for the seams

Or, you can do like I did here and bake chocolate chip brownies or muffins from a mix (I use Ghirardelli) and add a cupcake topper…

11. CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS OR BROWNIES

chocolate chip brownie muffins with powdered sugar on top and a football cupcake topper

For drinks, I like to make a signature cocktail for those that enjoy a specialty drink. Making a drink to go along with the team colors adds to the spirit of the day. Here I made a red and black cocktail for Bulldawg Illustrated and The Southern Coterie…

12. TEAM SPIRIT COCKTAIL

signature cocktail for the university of georgia

If you prefer to stick with beer, Bird makes a mean FRUITY Beer Cocktail for something different…

13. FRUITY BEER COCKTAIL (click for recipe)

fruity beer cocktail with football coaster diy

For non-alcoholic drinks, I like to have a stock of water- flat water, sparkling water, and also a selection of BODYARMOR. My daughter got us hooked on BODYARMOR for flavored water – and we had a chance to sample several flavors when BODYARMOR asked if they could send us a variety of their drinks. I am especially happy with the natural ingredients of the products- along with the electrolytes when needed. Some of those college football games in the south get really hot and active- even for the spectators! Lol Load up a cooler or display the drinks in a spirited way and keep everyone properly hydrated!

14. BODYARMOR (click for flavor choices)

football player holding helmet full of bodyarmor sports drinks

Luckily, we live within walking distance of some of the best match-ups of SEC games. We get to enjoy the excitement of game days and the tailgate food that is part of the tradition. Some people love football simply for the tailgate, and so it is fun to provide a pre-game meal that feeds a hungry crowd. I hope you use these recipes at your tailgate parties and beyond. And, if you would like more football party inspiration, click here, here, and here.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your game days and parties!

Cheers xo,

Lydia

Disclaimer: I received BodyArmor drinks to review but the opinions and words are all my own. I actually agreed to try more flavors of BODYARMOR because it was already a staple in our home, and I knew we liked it! For us, it is our favorite choice of hydrating drinks.

bar cart decorated for halloween with cupcakes drinks popcorn candles
Classic Halloween Supper Club for Teens

Halloween party ideas are always some of my favorites to create! As my children have gotten older, it is fun to adapt to their age group and find ways to make parties interesting and age-appropriate for teens. The best lesson I have gained from having a house full of teens is that they just mostly enjoy being together- kind of just like I remember feeling as a teen! Although some things change from being the teen to being the mom of teens, some things really don’t change…like being with people that make you laugh and enjoying a good meal together. I enjoy decorating for the get-togethers, and I love seeing them all together at our Supper Clubs each time we host. For this Supper Club, I kept the decorations classic and traditional, the meal easy by ordering the food, and the desserts simple but fun.

bar cart decorated for halloween with cupcakes drinks popcorn candles

When the girls arrived, we served popcorn in the popcorn boxes you see on the bar cart. It gives them something to munch on while they wait for dinner and helps those who came hungry. And, it is easy for the hostess to serve- especially because the girls are great at helping pop the popcorn and fill the boxes. They always willingly jump in when they arrive and help in the kitchen or where ever they are needed.

glass bottles with Halloween straws and straw flags and monster eye rings on the rim

My friend Loralee Lewis sent me the beautiful Halloween paper collection as a gift, and I was so happy to put it to good use at our Supper Club. All of the details of the paper products dress up the party in the perfect way to me- youthful with a sophisticated twist. The fancy fonts on the straw flags combined with the fun little monster eye rings gave me the chance to combine those two looks to get the feel I was going for. The girls loved the rings and several of them had fun wearing them.

green pitcher with glass bottles decorated with monster eyes and halloween straws

Funny little Halloween signs and sayings were also a perfect touch to add to this get-together…aren’t Loralee Lewis’s designs so pretty?

halloween sign that reads one bite won't kill you in orange and black

I absolutely love the sign that Loralee designed just for the Supper Club- what a great way to add a special touch. It is one that I will save and use again!

We had plates to match and more funny signs to add to the party. “Please check broomsticks, bats, and toads at the door” makes me laugh- Loralee has a great sense of humor that always shines through on her clever sayings. She also added touches of encouragement on each plate which is a bonus to me when hoping to encourage girls to feel confident- and it is subtle and sweet.

I ordered these pottery ghost candles and really loved the look of them- I like grouping them together or spreading them down the center of a table or on a mantle. I use them with battery operated candles but they look so pretty with real candles, too. I just feel a little better knowing the flames aren’t real when having a house full of friends. I added the ribbon on two of the ghost candles but, even without the bows, the ghosts have lots of personality and expression.

halloween-ghost-candles-mollie-jenkins-pottery

Halloween candy boxes shaped like a piece of candy were so pretty and cute, too! I assembled the boxes, added the small candy (Hershey’s Kisses and Starburts), tied the ribbon at both ends and added the sticker to keep the boxes closed at the seam. I put them at the place setting of each girl.

halloween candy box party favors shaped like candy

October in Georgia is usually a beautiful month and mostly mild- we were lucky to have a great night to set up the tables outside. Our garage is black and white, and so my husband and I set up the tables on the driveway in front of the garage. I really wanted to decorate the garage doors with balloons, but I just didn’t have time.

halloween party place setting in orange and black
terra cotta jack o lantern on table
halloween party table setting with boo bucket with green plant inside

I always like to have the food fit the theme in some way–for this Halloween dinner, we decided on crepes from a local food truck called Holy Crepe. They were totally game to go along with my Halloween food fun with my little buffet sign from Loralee…

holy crepe food truck owner cooking at private party

It was really fun to have Holy Crepe set up his on-site crepe cooker (I don’t know what to call it- griddle, maybe?) on our back porch and make the crepes on the spot. He set up his menu sign and the girls could place their orders and watch it being made. They also enjoyed chatting with the owner who is from France- there were lots of questions about France and his experiences there.

menu for holy crepes food truck athens ga
teen girls around the dinner table at a halloween party

We set up 3 tables, but they always end up squeezing everyone around 2 tables- which I love to see. To keep their drinks filled, I rolled the bar cart outside during dinner and set up a serve-yourself drink station. I served iced tea (eyes-tea), L(eye)made, and water on the bar cart.

girls at halloween party sitting around dinner table

For dessert, these ice cream sandwiches were a huge hit! The girls loved the rename and play on words- and dessert doesn’t get any easier than this! 🙂 We also served Brownie Tr(eye)fles as you can see a little further down…

halloween ice cream sandwiches with san witch stickers on them

I put my daughter and a friend in charge of making the Brownie Trifles for the party, and they did such a great job with them! They layered brownies, chocolate pudding, and Cool Whip– and then topped with candy eyes. I put a spoon in each one just before we served them, and they were ready to go! I like having options for dessert, but it usually ends up that they all like them all of it and devour everything pretty quickly. Haha!

Individual servings of brownie trifles with candy eyes and gold spoons

This was definitely one of my favorite Halloween parties- and each Supper Club becomes really fun memories. If you ever have questions about how I host these, please let me know. I hope you are inspired by what you see and read- I would love to see if you do something similar! Comments on my blog were turned off because bots make it almost impossible to keep comments turned on – but feel free to message me if you have questions! Thanks for reading, and have a Happy Halloween! You can find more of my Halloween ideas and favorite parties here, here, and here!

girls at halloween party on front steps of home

Cheers and xo,

Lydia

football helmet in grass with 2 bodyarmor bottles on each side
Teaming Up with BODYARMOR Sports Drink

It’s funny how things happen sometimes…I created tailgate party ideas for Bulldawg Illustrated and was soon contacted by BODYARMOR asking if they could send drinks my way to try out for tailgate parties. Little did they know, my refrigerator was already stocked with BODYARMOR because my daughter loves it (and, I don’t know about you, but I am so happy to see a sports drink on the market that makes me feel so much better about my kids drinking it). And so, I said yes to BODYARMOR’s offer to send us a box of their drinks. My daughter’s favorite is Peach Mango and so we received lots of that flavor with many others to try, too!

football player holding helmet full of bodyarmor sports drinks

My daughter is one of the photographers and trainers for her school’s football team which means she attends every practice and game -which made it a perfect chance to share the BODYARMOR drinks with some of the teammates. These guys were excited about the drinks and the photos which made it all the more fun! One of her friends in the photos is also in her media class- he loves cameras and video…I love how this opportunity was also an opportunity for them to put their media skills to use on the other side of the camera, too!

football player holding a BODYARMOR sports drink in his open palms and smiling
football player tossing bodyarmor sports drink in the air and catching it
football helmet in grass with 2 bodyarmor bottles on each side
football player flexing muscle and drinking bodyarmor sports drink

I had to get the back of that jersey- I love it…

two football players drinking bodyarmor sports drink

football player holding helmet by facemask with body armor sports drink inside helmet
2 football players holding body armor sports drink vertically between their fists

These three are in media class together- based on this photo that just came together on the spot, I can only imagine how much laughing they do when they are all together (just in case you missed it, both of the girls in the photo are the team photographers/videographers and are included as official members of the football team).

3 teenagers like staristeps with bodyarmor sports drinks on their heads

They’re just all naturals…

4 teens posing with bodyarmor sports drink on each others heads
football player holding 2 bottles of bodyarmor sports drink close to his chest
two football players holding body armor sports drinks
football player with big smile drinking bodyarmor sports drink

Maybe you are like I was initially, and you are wondering what all of the hype is about BODYARMOR. Well…the ingredients are more natural such as coconut water and natural food colors. There are 3 different versions and so many different flavors. You can choose Sports Drink, LYTE Sports Drink, and SportWater. For replenishing lost electrolytes when exercising and quenching thirst, I am a BODYARMOR convert. It is a great drink option to put in the cooler for kids’ birthday parties and for tailgates, too. Where do you find BODYARMOR? Locally, I get it at Publix. You can find a store locator on the BODYARMOR website here and you can order directly from Amazon here.

football players and trainers posing with helmet full of bodyarmor sports drinks
football player holding helmet full of BODYARMOR sports drinks

Disclosure: I said yes to receiving free product from BODYARMOR as it is always in our refrigerator- and then we had fun sharing the drinks and taking photos to post as a thank you to BODYARMOR. The product was free and the post and opinions are my own. This post contains an Amazon affiliate link which earns this blog a commission at no extra cost to you.

skull cookies with bright colors and flowers painted on them for day of the dead
Day of the Dead Cake and Cookies by “For Heaven Bakes”

Today, I am bringing back one of my favorite cake and cookie designers to help teach us all a little more about creating show-stopping desserts! I asked my friend, Julie, of For Heaven Bakes, to share tips that we regular folks could use to up our decorating game.

Skull cookie being painted with paint brush with bright colors and flowers
Cookie and Tutorial by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy Photos

Julie created a jaw dropping (LOL) dessert and she is going to tell you all about it! Read on to hear from Julie…and to see how she created the cookies to complement this cake (insert that jaw drop here)…

Lady in purple holding Day of the Dead Skull cake
Cake by Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

Julie says…

For Halloween this year, I wanted to do a cake that was fun and colorful, and not just limiting the colors to the traditional orange and black. A Day of the Dead-themed party cake and cookies were perfect for this!

Day of the Dead Skull Cake with flowers
Cake by Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

The skull was sculpted from 5 cake layers (yes, he’s entirely edible!) and vanilla buttercream, then covered in fondant and topped with gum paste flowers. The skull design was entirely hand-painted, which took more than 3 hours to paint the whole head.

side view of day of dead skull cake handpainted with bright colors
Cake by Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

To make the party dessert setup complete, I wanted to add some fun cookies—these mini Day of the Dead skulls were the perfect complement to the cake!

hand painted skull cookies for day of the dead
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

My goal was to show a couple of different ways to decorate Day of the Dead cookies that a baker of any skill level could use as inspiration. Both designs use a combination of royal icing and fondant, and the general steps are outlined below. 

skull cookies with bright colors and flowers painted on them for day of the dead
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

How to Hand-Paint Skull Cookies

Day of the Dead Sugar Cookies Two Ways

Design 1: Hand-painted

Things You’ll Need

Skull-shaped sugar cookies, baked and cooled

–Skull-shaped cookie cutter (same that you used for the cookies)


–Small liner and wide paint brushes (I like Wilton’s cake brush sets)

–Corn syrup

–Assortment of gel food coloring (I used sky blue, mint green, rose pink, orange and black)

–1-2 tbsp vodka


Step 1. Roll out your homemade or pre-made fondant until it’s about 1/8″ thick.

baker pressing skull cookie cutter into white fondant
Photo by Abby Murphy

2. Using your skull-shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many skulls as you have cookies. (Optional: If your cutter is also a cookie stamp, stamp the design into the fondant after it’s cutout.)

day-of-the-dead-skull-cookie-fondant-corn-syrup
Photo by Abby Murphy

3. Using your wide paint brush, lightly brush a small amount of corn syrup onto the cookie, then place the cutout fondant skull onto the cookie. Using your fingers, smooth out any bumps.

baker smoothing white fondant on top of skull cookie
Photo by Abby Murphy

4. Place 1-2 drops of each gel food coloring you’re using into separate small ramekins (or a ceramic egg holder works great for this!), then add 1 drop of vodka to each color. Wait a few seconds, then mix together with a paint brush. Do this for every color (the vodka allows the food coloring to dry quickly). 

cookie artist painting day of the dead skull cookies with brush
Cookie by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

5. Time to start decorating! I find it’s easiest to paint your “anchors” first, which are the eyes, nose and mouth. The great thing about Day of the Dead designs are that they are very unique and personal, and there are no wrong options! Using your different colors, try painting different swirls, flowers and dots all around the face until you’re happy with your design. 

Cookie by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

6. Set cookies on a cooling rack to dry. Enjoy! 🙂

How to Decorate Skull Cookies Using Fondant

day-of-the-dead-skull-cookies-fondant-only
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy


Design 2: Fondant Details Using a Royal Icing Base

Things You’ll Need

–Skull-shaped sugar cookies, baked and cooled

–Royal icing

 –Homemade or pre-made fondant

–Assortment of gel food coloring (I used sky blue, mint green, rose pink, orange and black)
–1-2 tbsp vodka
–Small liner paint brushes (I like Wilton’s cake brush sets)

–Any standard piping tip (you’ll be using the wide base and not the tip itself)

–Small heart cookie cutter

–Small rectangle cookie cutter

–Assortment of flower fondant stamps

–X-acto knife 


Step 1. Outline your skull cookies with royal icing and allow to dry. Once set, flood your royal icing and fill each outline. Allow at least 5 hours to fully dry, but I find it works best to let dry overnight. 

2. Using your various food coloring, color a small amount of fondant for each different color. 

3. Roll out your homemade or pre-made fondant until it’s about 1/8″ thick.

4. As with the first design, I find it’s easiest to start with your “anchors” first, which are the eyes, nose and mouth. And as I mentioned above, the great thing about Day of the Dead designs are that they are very unique and personal, and there are no wrong options!

For the eyes, use the base of your piping tip to cutout two circles (I used black for this).

day-of-the-dead-skull-cookies-with royal icing being decorated
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

Using a different color, cutout two flowers, using one of your flower stamps. Using your paint brush, add a small dab of royal icing to the back of each flower and then adhere to the cutout circles. Set aside to dry and firm up. Do two of these for every skull cookie you have.

5. Using your small heart cookie cutter, cutout a “nose” for each cookie. Set aside to dry and firm up.

cookie decorator adding nost to skull cookie for day of the dead
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

6. Using the rest of your colored fondant and flower stamps, continue to cutout various flowers in different sizes and colors. Set aside to dry and firm up.

7. Once all of your fondant toppers are firm, adhere to each cookie by placing a small dab of royal icing on your paint brush and then placing onto each cookie. 

cake stand with day of dead skull cookies in two different styles
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

8. Set cookies aside on a cooling rack so royal icing can fully dry. Enjoy! 🙂

Julie! Thank you for teaching us your techniques for decorating skull cookies for Day of the Dead. These are incredible! Okay, Friends, it is time for us to have a go. Which ones would you try to make first? I think I would go with the fondant covered cookies while I learn how to make and flood royal icing. I am guessing all of it would be a huge hit. And, I am still amazed by that cake!! Julie- you have so much talent!! You can see more of Julie’s talent here (you really should go see what she makes!).

3 photos combined to show baker holding day of dead skull cake
Julie McAllister/For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy