spring magazine cover with table set in white pink and blue with bright pink green and white flower centerpiece
Anna Hartzog of Entertain and Celebrate Magazine

You know how you sometimes meet someone and feel immediately impressed with their professionalism and polish? That describes how I felt about Anna Hartzog from the first introduction.

spring magazine cover with table set in white pink and blue with bright pink green and white flower centerpiece

In September, Anna Hartzog sent me a message on Instagram introducing herself and her job at Hoffman Media. I was honored to hear from Anna who is the Senior Project Editor at Hoffman Media.

anna-hartzog-standing-in-front-of-hoffman-media-sign-on-building

Anna oversees the production of Entertain and Celebrate magazine (formerly Celebrate magazine). I have been a fan of this beautiful magazine for many years…and was really excited when Anna asked if I would be interested in having a party featured in the magazine.

magazine cover with celebrate on front and white cake with whipped cream and yellow marshmallow peep chicks

Fast forward a few weeks, and I had the opportunity to work with Anna and Lance on photos for a feature that she wrote about Parker Kennnedy Living’s Vintage Jewelry Wreaths. I was honored and humbled to take the photos for the magazine spread, and I developed so much admiration for Anna as I got to know her.

magazine pages with vintage jewlery wreaths in hoffman media publication

Anna was a dream to work with right from the start. Her polite and professional manner shined through her emails and direct messages. I was wowed by Anna’s kindness and patience as she answered questions and described her vision. Before Entertain and Celebrate hit news stands, Anna mailed me a copy of the magazine. Seeing the results of her hard work explained so much about Anna! The magazine was a reflection of her keen eye for visual content, her ability to organize and execute the vision, and her enthusiasm for bespoke celebrations and gifts.

entertain and celebrate magazine cover for christmas with christmas tree by fireplace on cover

Soon after, Anna reached out again about a party feature for a future edition. I was so impressed with Anna’s wonderful way of connecting. She is polite, proficient, and professional- and I really wanted to get to know her better! I asked Anna if I could interview her for my website and share her with all of you. I think we all enjoy what Anna and Hoffman Media deliver to us through their beautiful magazines, and so it only seemed fitting to get to know one of the smart minds behind the print. I happily headed to Birmingham to sit down with Anna and learn more!

lady in plaid blazer and black shirt sitting at desk working

You won’t be surprised to hear that Anna was an English minor at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi~ her major was Psychology which also makes perfect sense to me when you realize how well she relates with everyone. Early on, Anna honed her skills by teaching college and high school English and with large projects as a volunteer with the Junior League of Birmingham. Within the Jr. League, she found herself as the editor of a magazine that highlighted community programs and opportunities. It was as though all of these endeavors were leading Anna to her role as Sr. Project Editor at Hoffman Media.

work place plaque with name photo and editorial position at hoffman media anna hartzog

As Senior Project Editor, Anna has many balls to juggle from preparing magazine copy and creating custom content for companies. Anna works with the recipe developers and photo stylists at HM to create the content that we enjoy as we flip page after page. She works alongside other project editors on each project, and each day at work brings a completely new set of opportunities. Anna says there is really no typical day while they prepare each issue or edition. Entertain & Celebrate is a specialty print that comes out 8 times a year. Anna and her team work around the calendar year to produce some of the most beautiful imagery and layout. (Other Hoffman Media publications include Bake from Scratch, Southern Lady, Victoria Magazine, and many more!) As you can see, Anna and all of those that work at Hoffman Media are dedicated to bringing us ideas and inspiration in the most gorgeous ways.

table setting with coral block print table cloth flowers in white hobnail vases and herend plates
Southern Lady Magazine Tablescape Design by Hoffman Media

I asked Anna her thoughts on the addition of social media to the media landscape in our everyday lives. She told me that it has enhanced the reach to all areas in a positive way. It makes connections easier to continue and gives more access to inspiration.

When I asked Anna about her own personal preferences for entertaining and celebrating, here is what she had to say…

  1. Do you prefer being a hostess or a guest at a party?

Anna~ “I prefer to host! I love to use nice things and enjoy china patterns and silver patterns. I worked at a silver store in college and was inspired to host parties and showers for friends.”

2. What is your favorite party style?

Anna~ “Fancy! My husband cooks and we always look for a reason to have people over and entertain.”

3. Favorite Silver Pattern? Frontenac

4. Favorite China? Herend

5. Favorite Hostess Gift? Wine, because it is perfect for right then or for later.

6. Cocktail Party or Cookout? Cocktail Party

7. Favorite Southern Vacation Spot? 30A/ also Asheville and Nashville

8. Favorite Season? Summer- there is more freedom and more daylight

9. Favorite Holiday? Christmas

10. Favorite Dinner Recipe? Indian Butter Chicken in an Insta Pot

11. Favorite Dessert? Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Strawberries

One of my favorite projects that Anna told me about is a cookbook that she made for her family. She gathered 60 of her grandmother’s recipes and 40 of other family members’ recipes and compiled them into one book. It took over 2 years to put it all together! I think this is especially sweet because Anna’s grandmother is who taught Anna how to cook. What a wonderful gift to have and to give. And, that feat alone pretty much sums up Anna’s dedication, gratefulness, and kindness all in one! Not to mention, it will make entertaining and celebrating more fun for all of the generations in her family!

table set in flowering garden white chairs coral colored tablecloth
Southern Lady Magazine Tablescape by Hoffman Media

Cheers, Anna! I am so happy know you!

Happy celebrating,

Lydia xo

orange soda cocktail with stir stick on top of glass
Mother’s Day Cocktail ~ Clementine Ginny

A Mother’s Day cocktail that is quick and easy- and perfect for any occasion or celebration, actually! Enjoy this refreshing drink anytime and often! The idea for this cocktail started with the gift of acrylic stir sticks from Giddy Paperie and a quarantine limitation on available mixers. Making the best of the shelter-in-place means being creative with what we had! I liked it so much, I wanted to share…

silver tray with flowers acrylic stir sticks shot glass and pink square napkin

The acrylic stir sticks are a party all on their own, aren’t they? They are so cute and pretty. What a great way to mix your drink and to be able to tell whose drink is whose! I love the useful ways and the beautiful details they provide.

silver tray with gin orange soda lime slices and flowers

I loaded my silver serving tray with all of the ingredients and supplies and headed to my front porch to create this simple and tasty treat. All you need are a few ingredients…this recipe yields one drink made in an 8 oz. glass.

Clementine Ginny Cocktail

2 oz Gin (you can also substitute vodka)

5-6 oz. Izze Clementine Soda

Lime slices

Fill 8 oz. glass with ice.

Measure 2 oz. of gin and pour over ice.

Top with chilled Izze Clementine Soda

Add lime slices and stir.

Enjoy!

clementine ginny cocktail with orange soda and gin topped with limes and a stir stick

The stir sticks dress up an otherwise really simple drink. I love the orange color of the cocktail combined with the blue and white chinoiserie designs on the stir sticks. Giddy Paperie hand painted each design and then the designs were made into acrylic stir sticks. It is such a brilliant little party detail- I would love to have them in so many designs! From coffee to cocktails, a stir stick comes in handy!

orange ranunculus blooms and snapdragons in white vase with floral design

My favorite way to serve cocktails to a small group is on a decorative tray. With a few simple touches, you can have a beautiful display in no time. Start with a small vase of flowers- I used this small vintage Herend vase and loaded it with ranunculus and snapdragons. Remember to add limes, napkins, glasses, stir sticks, Izze, and gin. I used a shot glass to measure the alcohol.

tray with gin orange soda limes flowers and pink napkins

If you have festive glasses, those are always fun to use. If you don’t, your drink will still be pretty and festive with the orange color and the stir sticks and limes. I added several lime slices to mine because I like the flavor. You can decide what you think, but I love the slight tang that it adds.

tray of mother's day cocktail ingredients and cocktail with lime slices in it

Sweet and simple and easy to enjoy! I hope you love this cocktail- and I think every perfect drink deserves to have a fun name, don’t you?? 🙂 Here’s to you and the friends and moms that you celebrate!

orange soda cocktail with stir stick on top of glass

Cheers xo,

Lydia

table setting with orange and lance name place card
How to Create a Simple Table Setting

Creating a beautiful table setting is easy to learn! Here are some of my simple tips for making your tables look polished and party-ready…

table setting overhead shot with coral colored ranuncula flowers glasses with green stems and an orange in the center of plate with name Lance written on it

You can never go wrong with a crisp white tablecloth. I love the look of them~ and white makes it easy to build on creativity. Here I started with a white tablecloth and used dark, rattan, woven placemats to create a contrast. I had flowers left over from this charity event that I did, and so the flowers were my inspiration for the rest of the table. The peach and coral tones of the flowers were so pretty with white. I complemented those colors with green and brown.

coral peach orange ranunculas in two vases on table with white tablecloth

When you have cut flowers, you can arrange them in a variety of vases or containers. I like to mix and match metals and porcelain or pottery because of the different textures. In these photos, I used mini mint julep cups for the cut roses and ranunculus. I grouped several together to make a runner in the middle of the table. I wanted to add a little bit of organic greenery to the table with the cut flowers. I potted mint plants in textured white pottery and mingled the pots in with the fresh flowers…

mint planted in white pots with peach orange ranunculas in vases between the mint

If you prefer to keep the look crisp with the color popping off of the white tablecloth, you can instead use a clear vase or other clear container to put a larger bundle of cut flowers as the star of the table. The smaller julep cups spread down the table give the illusion of a grand centerpiece that tapers from middle to ends.

table with white table cloth brown placemats green stemmed glasses orange flowers and an orange with name on it

Either way, you have two beautiful options for a fantastic centerpiece. Which do you like better? The cut flowers or the flowers mixed with mint plants?

mint plants in white pots and orange flowers in vases alternating in center of table

Now that you have decided on your centerpiece, add dinner plates and salad plates to the placemats or chargers that you have set. A set of white plates is a safe and really useful investment. Here, I used a white dinner plate with a white salad plate trimmed in gold. To add in color and contrast, I used a patterned green napkin and vintage glasses with green stems. Simple flatware goes well with this table setting. I chose silver, but gold would also look great! I like to mix metals and liked how the silver flatware played off of the silver mint julep cups.

table setting with green napkin brown rattan place mat white and gold plates and orange flowers

There was also a little touch of silver on the center container of flowers. I actually used an ice bucket as a vase and filled the bucket with flowers in a really unstructured way. I love when flowers look a little bit askew. :). To me, that makes the table more inviting and comfortable rather than stuffy. (Don’t get me wrong, I also love a really formal place setting at the right time, too!)

clear ice bucket filled with orange flowers as centerpiece on table

The final step in this simple place setting is to add a name card for each place. If you saw my video of this tablescape on Instagram, then you saw that I suggested adding a Clementine orange as a nice touch to tie together the entire table. And, if you would like to take it a step further, add a name to the orange. To add the name, use a toothpick to make a small hole in the skin of the orange. Slide a piece of intentionally torn paper with a handwritten name on to a small twig of berries/buds. Place them on the toothpick and voila! Your table is set with thoughtful and beautiful touches. Enjoy!

table setting with orange and lance name place card

I hope you find these tips helpful. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments. below. Happy celebrating!

Cheers xo,

Lydia

table set with white green lavender on porch with plants and a blue door
Windy O’Connor Art and Home Table Setting

Windy O’Connor is an artist that brings happiness and joy through her bold artwork. After you meet Windy in person, you will understand why! She is as vibrant and lovely as the art that she creates! Here is where you can find Windy O’Connor’s art.

windy-oconnor-artist-standing-in-front-of-work

Windy sent two of the table runners that she made using her artwork applied to fabric. I am fascinated by the patterns that she is able to create in her home line and loved seeing the design applied to items that can be used for everyday living. There was an Italian feel to this particular design, and so I set an outdoor table on our porch that became the perfect place to gather our family for dinner.

table setting with windy oconnor art table runner lavender and green dishes and italian water bottles

I like to add a solid white or ivory colored table cloth when I set a table using a pattern like the one on Windy’s vivid art work. She uses bold patterns and colors, and so I temper that with a calm solid. This also lets the artistic table runner be the star of the show.

table set with windy oconnor art table runner with white plates green lettuce salad plates with mug and gold flatware

You can see that I used Italian mugs from Vietri and then added a solid linen napkin (with a touch of French) to the table. The chargers are solid white and the green plates (from PKL Celler) have a lettuce leaf pattern on them. The stripes are the only other real pattern that I included on the table- and that was done sparingly so not to overwhelm the tablescape. It adds depth and interest without conflicting with the vibrant table runner.

table set with windy oconnor table runner linen napkin with fleur de lis striped mug and solid mug

Having a table linen as your jumping off point to styling a table is a great way to begin to visualize the entire experience that you want to create for your family and/or friends. Sometimes I surprise myself at where my mind goes when I start picturing the gathering that I am creating. It’s a little bit like traveling to me- you add in as many ways to evoke the feeling of a place and a time. Each gathering that you host has its own story and adventure- and no matter how many times you visit the same table, you have a different experience to enjoy each time.

table set with hand painted table runner in green brown lavender white with white green and lavender plates

I love the casual feel of outdoor table settings, don’t you? They feel casual but also really special. I think that is what makes them also give the feeling of a warm welcome~ because they are approachable while being out-of-the-ordinary.

table set with white green lavender on porch with plants and a blue door

Think of how you want your guests to feel like they can pull up a chair and pour themselves a glass of water or wine. They don’t have to wait to be asked or allowed- they just know they are welcome to relax and enjoy a slow pace for a minute. They can linger at the table and enjoy the people and the conversation while they enjoy a meal. Since we all have to eat, why not make it memorable?

brown italian chair with cane backing and seating with artistic table runner on the seat

One trick that I like to do if I am having a small crowd (1-3 people) and want the table to feel cozier is to fill the table space at one end. It is almost as though you create a little room at the end of the table and then create a beautiful “wall” around it. We are all so programmed to create a centerpiece (which is one of my favorite parts of a table), but also try moving the centerpiece down closer to the end of a longer table. This creates a homey, cozy feel and allows you to use taller pieces because no one needs to see over it.

tall white flowers in the middle of the table setting on the porch

You could serve food family style and have room at the other end of the table to place your serving dishes. I like the coziness of a larger table made smaller by using plants or items around your home that fit perfectly into a table scape.

table set with artistic painted runner white plates green leaf salad plate lavender mug and gold flatware

Being able to use your outside spaces or a space by a window is always an added bonus. Bringing nature into your home feels us with a happiness that spills over to our guests. Bring the outdoor colors inside with your table linens even if the weather is not perfect for outdoor dining.

table set with brown cane chair lavender green and white dishes and italian water bottles in wine carrier

But, if the weather allows, I say jump to it and enjoy those moments. There is no telling what stories are waiting for you to create with your family and friends.

close up photo of hand painted table runner with lavender mug on green and white plate

Cheers xo,

Lydia

stack of plates with pear in top bowl with boxwood clippings
Simple Easter Table Setting for Two

Setting a smaller table for Easter can be beautiful. Look around your home and find items that add color and joy to the table and start with those. Even when we don’t have an elaborate flower centerpiece, we can make our tables so pretty and special!

table set with pastel pottery dishes with ruffled edges and a pear and azaleas

For this easy table setting, I used my pastel pottery dishes from MacKenzie-Childs. They are painted with flowers and have ruffled edges- which give them a happy, playful touch. I also put a white tablecloth on the table first, and then added a table topper. The topper has embroidered flowers at each corner. Because flowers are in short supply in my area right now, I loved adding in florals through embroidery. On top of the tablecloths, I added blue and white floral placemats from Oconee Printing/Eldridge Stationers.

overhead view of table setting with ruffled pottery plates and azalea blooms

The placemats are the perfect complement to the blues in the pottery and the table linens. I wanted to napkins to mostly blend in and so they are a simple blue and white stripe with a close pattern repeat- they almost look like a solid color.

table setting with napkin in brown napkin ring gold flatware ruffled plte edges blue floral placemats

The stack of dinner plate/ salad plate/ small bowl makes a pretty visual as the patterns are mixed and matched. I added boxwood clippings from our yard and then a pear to add some details to the table. I tied a really simple sheer ribbon around the stem of the pear to give it a little oomph. :). You could also attach a name card to the pear stem if you wanted to feel a little fancier.

stack of ruffle edged pottery plates from mackenzie childs with pear in bowl
stack of plates with pear in top bowl with boxwood clippings

As a centerpiece, I used an antique Majolica vase that had flowers painted on it in pastel colors. The colorful vase makes up for the fact that I am not able to create a bigger centerpiece. It creates a nice focal point and looks bright and cheerful on the table with boxwood clippings and azalea blooms.

easter table setting with majolica pitcher and flowers with dessert dishes on the side

Crystal glasses look so pretty on this table full of soft colors. I like how the cut glass offers a little bit of a pattern but then blends right in to the table. It shows off the colors of the table well to have clear glasses.

table setting with crystal glasses and colorful plates

For an additional pop of fun and flowers, I added the whimsical butter dish to the table. The oversized design, the braided handle, and the happy colors painted on the dish make it a conversational piece for any table setting. No one has ever enjoyed butter more than in this fun little (big) dish!

table setting with large colorful butter dish and gold flatware

Another way to add in pretty colors is through an Easter dessert. I love making edible bird nests each spring- and my family loves eating them almost faster than I can make them! I make mini versions in mini muffin tins to use as toppers for Easter desserts. I added them to the dessert ramekins for this table…they are perfect toppers for ice cream, mini cakes. cupcakes, a slice of pie or cake. I was able to find edible Easter grass at Target at the end of February. I saved it for decorating food for Easter and have tried to use it in a variety of ways. This is one of the easiest and most fun ways to add it in to your Easter brunch or lunch.

Easter edible bird nest in colorful dish with edible green grass

I will link you to the recipe for easy chocolate bird nests so that you can make some, too! They are so perfect for Easter!

table setting for easter with chocolate bird nests

I also added in some warm gold touches with flatware and drink coasters. Setting a table for one or two can be a fun creative experiment with what we have around our homes. Don’t be afraid to try something new or to use an object around your house that you may not have thought of before. And, even when we have few flowers, we can still find a way to add springtime to our tables through prints, florals, colors and a little bit of imagination. I hope you all enjoy Easter around your table, no matter how big or small!

table set for two with ruffled plates and pink flowers

Much love,

Lydia xo

table-setting-large-silver-urn-with branches-surrounded by flowers
Table Setting for La Table Fundraiser

It was an honor to be asked to participate in a fundraising event in our town called La Table. The idea behind the event is that each table has a host or hostess that chooses his or her own theme. The host/hostess invites friends to join him or her at the table!

table setting decorations with rose medallion and lindroth designs

I was thrilled to design a table for this year’s event. This is the 9th year that La Table has been hosted by Family Promise of Athens. Family Promise is a group that includes volunteers from churches in the area who provide temporary housing for displaced families. It’s an incredibly valuable organization and one that I am so happy to help.

table linens in green blue and coral with mint plants and poppy flowers

The theme that I chose for my table was “Mint to Serve”- and I alluded to mint throughout the table decorations. My inspiration for the theme came from a gathering at The Southern C where B. Claire Events provided each person a chance to create their own floral arrangement in a mini mint julep cup. I fell in love with the mini julep cups and wanted to do something fun and pretty with them. In contrast to the mini julep cups, I borrowed an enormous silver urn to mimic the cup. The large urn was loaned to me from European Floral Design.

lady in ivory dress standing next to table top decoration

The blooming branches in the center urn and all of the cut flowers were also from European Floral Design. I described the color scheme and my ideas to Brett at EFD and she ordered the gorgeous flowers for me.

table setting with rose medallion china on gold plate with green napkin

I was able to borrow large and medium sized mint julep cups from European Floral Design to mix in and around the table. I filled the cups with all of the beautiful ranunculus, tulips, roses, and berries. I wanted there to be an explosion of colorful flowers surrounded by mint plants. I added name cards on rough-edged paper with hand-written names.

mini mint julep cup on rose medallion plate with flowers

I bought mint plants from Lowe’s and potted them in white planters from European Floral Design. Initially, I wanted about twice as many plants on the table, but I scaled it back to give us all room to have food! 🙂

mini mint julep cup on rose medallion plate with flowers

At each place setting, I used my woven rattan chargers and topped them with gold and white dinner plates. On top of the dinner plates, I used antique Rose Medallion plates (bought from Appointments at Five). I added a mini mint julep cup filled with flowers and mint leaves on top of each Rose Medallion plate.

mint julep napkin with mini julep cup and mint plant

I was also lucky enough to have Lemondaisy Designs offer to send cocktail napkins to be a part of the table top. I thought the julep cup art on each cocktail napkin was perfect! The mint leaf garnish was the perfect touch to go with the green polka dots, too!

table-setting-mint-to-be-rose-medallion-julep-cup

For table linens, I chose tablecloths and napkins from Lindroth Designs. I ordered the same pattern in 3 different colors so that I could play with the colors but keep it cohesive. I placed the green tablecloth over the round table and draped the other two tablecloths around the centerpiece.

table setting with mint plants and textiles

The flowers were the same colors as the linens…

close up of poppies roses and ranunculas in cup
roses and ranunculus in orange and peach on. blue and green tablecloth
red pink yellow poppies in vase on table

Because this was a fund-raiser, the tables were meant to be a bit over-the-top rather than traditional. The oversized centerpiece was to make a statement rather than to enjoy conversation over. That is part of the fun of this event- the tables are more extravagant than everyday life!

table-setting-large-silver-urn-with branches-surrounded by flowers

This was such a joy to put together. It was also so nice to enjoy with a table full of friends and a room full of giving hearts. Wishing you all a beautiful day and hopefully some inspiration to create colorful table settings for your friends and family!

Cheers xo,

Lydia

decorated cookies with golden retriever puppies and blue balloons on them
Hey, Kat Bakes! A Cookie Designer Makes Everything Sweet!

You may have noticed that decorated cookies are one of my favorite details to add to a party. I share them so often that I am often mistaken for a cookie artist. I recently took a class in Birmingham, AL offered by Kat of Hey Kat Bakes~ and I can affirm that I am definitely not a cookie artist! Lol! But, Kat is most definitely an artist…

decorated cookies in aqua blue and white with monograms and storks

Kat’s steady hand and a huge amount of patience are keys to her gorgeous cookies, along with an eye and talent for color and design. Her ability to precisely outline her cookies with the finest piping tip lost me right off the bat. Ha! She’s really good, and I need lots of practice! Take a look at some of Kat’s cookies…

decorated cookies in pale blue with golf bags trophies shirts and carts

The golf cookies above are so perfect. I love the golf cart design and the clubs. The trophy and golf shirt are simple elegance and so pretty on a cookie! And, Kat shows us her playful side below in these super cute and creative pizza slice cookies. The clean lines of Kat’s designs always draw me to her work.

scalloped cookies with a slice of pepperoni pizza illustrated on it with name

With graduation not too far away, how perfect would these cookies be to celebrate a graduate? I especially love the green graduation gown as that is the color of my kids’ school. These work for everyone because Kat will work with you on your color requests and make each one customized to you.

graduation gown cookies and graduates monogram

The golden doodle or retriever cookies shown below definitely warm my heart. These are the sweetest puppy cookies. What a cute and fun set for a third birthday party. The perfect lettering on the name and the number wows me. How about you?

decorated cookies with golden retriever puppies and blue balloons on them

And, if you would like a more adult theme, look at the cocktail cookies below. The illustrations are simply beautiful and the texture on the herbs is so perfect to me. I would be so proud of myself if I could decorate cookies like this! Kat amazes me.

cookies with cocktail illustrations on each

Now you can see why taking a cookie decorating class from Kat would be so fun. I always have high hopes for myself when I am trying to decorate cookies. Sometimes I am proud of what I end up, with and other times I know I need more practice! One thing for sure is that I always have more respect for the art of cookie decorating each time I give it a try. I met up with Kat in Birmingham to take her class and was so impressed with her skill and organization. She was ready for each of us!

piping bags full of frosting to decorate cookies

Cantley and Company hosted the class in their gorgeous custom kitchen showroom (if you need a kitchen designer along with amazing cabinetry, call Cantley and Co.!). This was a perfect match as it gave everyone room to work around the kitchen showroom islands.

two stacks of business cards with cantley and company and hey kat bakes

Kat had us get right to work and she had a decorating kit ready for each of us. She gave us lessons on how to outline and then flood the cookies- and then she let us get creative.

hey kat bakes cookie decorating class

There were so many varying levels of skill- some were trying cookies for the first time and some were there to perfect their already-impressive cookie skills. It was fun to watch and to learn from each other while Kat worked with each of us!

cookie artist using piping bag to decorate valentine cookies

It was also fun to see the different personalities emerge around the table as we decorated. I use “we” loosely as I was having more fun seeing what everyone was doing rather than decorating my own cookies. Fortunately for me, Kat used a couple of my cookies as the sample cookies and she decorated them for me while I chatted.

students in cookie decorating class around kitchen island

We also had sprinkles ready for us to use in any way we wanted. Kat thought of all of the details- from the consistency of each type of frosting to the tiny container of sprinkles for each person.

champagne glass cookie and heart cookie on white paper with clear fork

As you can see, it was a really productive class. As we finished, Kat had a bakery box ready for us to safely transport our little creations home. I loved taking mine back with me and enjoying every bite!

x shaped cookie frosted in lavender icing with a bite out of left side top

Look at all of the great designs…

valentine cookies on a tray being decorated in a cookie class

Hopefully, Kat will continue to offer cookie decorating classes in Birmingham- and maybe beyond? It was so fun to be able to join in the fun and get to meet Kat in person. I typically only get to see her on Instagram, and so it was fun to be together in real life.

two ladies in black pants with sweaters

I also want to show you some of the cookie collections that Kat has been commissioned to create. These are designs for parties in Birmingham, and they are beautiful! You can see how Kat can coordinate cookies to match your party colors and/or theme.

ballet party invitation cookie flower and shoes
Ballet Party by Party Pick Up/ Cookie by Hey Kat Bakes / Invitation Gina Langford / Photos by Mary Margaret Smith
silver tray with ballerina cookies and teacup cookies with names

The cookies below were made for a desert-themed occasion and Kat was asked to do longhorn cattle and cactus plants…

cookies with longhorn cattle skull and cactus plants
Photography Catherine Taylor/ Cookies by Hey Kat Bakes

You can find more of Kat’s cookies on Instagram at Hey Kat Bakes. She’s fun to watch! Thanks for letting me come decorate cookies with you, Kat! It was a treat for me!!

To see more of my visit to Birmingham, go here and meet another talented young creative lady~ Ivy Odom!

Cheers,

Lydia xo

champagne brunch on bar cart with tea service
Designing a Champagne Brunch Drink Station

A champagne brunch is such a simple and beautiful way to celebrate or entertain. I am going to show you the basics of setting up an area for serving champagne (and a non-alcoholic version, too). I will also share one of my favorite champagne cocktails in case you prefer to take it up a notch.

champagne brunch drink station set with berries and flutes

For starters, use a silver or gold/brass ice bucket as a focal point for the champagne drink station. Here, I used a vintage brass loving cup / trophy cup ice bucket. I think it is always interesting to use a unique serving piece in the center. You can also use a garden planter or cache pot to hold several bottles of champagne at a time. Another striking alternative is to group several (at least 3) coordinating single ice buckets as the focal point and elevate them so that they are different heights.

Champagne brunch drink station

Secondly, use a serving tray that gives the occasion an extra-special feel. Here I used one of my favorite silver trays and loaded it with simple champagne flutes. The metallic and glass complement each other nicely and play off of each other with a little bit of shimmer. To create a fun, celebratory vibe, add in a playful sign or saying such as the “Press for Champagne” button below…

loving cup trophy with tulips and press for champagne button

You could incorporate the playful message through printed napkins, or a garland/banner that fits nicely on the drink area.

champagne brunch large brass trophy cup ice bucket

On the tray, use a loving cup to serve raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries. Remember to add a spoon so that the guests can add the berries to their champagne glasses. Above, I also added simple pink candy melts in a silver loving cup to add an unexpected treat that also was a pretty shade of pink! 🙂

champagne brunch drink station roses and tulips in loving cups

I surrounded the champagne and tray of glasses with flowers. Parker Kennedy Living and I put together several loving cup container ideas, and I used those to dress up the champagne bar. I kept it simple by setting up the champagne on the sideboard in our dining room- it has an easy flow of traffic and is large enough to serve more than one person at a time. The loving cups full of flowers give it a beautiful feel- and is a perfect way to brighten up a winter day.

loving cups used for decorating your home and valentines day

Continuing with the loving cup theme, I set up a hot tea service (see my favorite tea here) on my bar cart beside the champagne bar. It is always a thoughtful gesture to serve non-alcoholic options, even at a champagne brunch! The silver urn serving piece holds the hot water and makes a great centerpiece.

champagne brunch on bar cart with tea service

Around the urn, I added all of the essentials for hot tea- the tea itself, honey sticks, sugar…

champagne brunch with tea also served in loving cup

Remember to offer several teacups and saucers for the guests to serve themselves- along with a spoon for stirring. Colorful macarons add another bright spot to a wintry day and pair nicely with tea.

champagne brunch with loving cups with tea and macarons

As you can see, I also placed a pretty bottle of water on the serving cart and glasses are housed below. Simply add cocktail napkins and flowers, and you are all set!

champagne brunchloving cup silver tea server urn

Setting up a bar cart / drink station for a champagne brunch doesn’t have to be difficult or elaborate. If you elevate the simple necessities and use items from around your home, you can design a beautiful setting for drinks in no time. One last little tip… remember to add a tea towel or bar towel to your drink station. It will help with accidental spills (which always happen) and will make your guests feel more comfortable to have a towel close by if needed when dealing with drinks. That way, no one has to embarrass themselves over a spill that needs a lot of attention. See below for my suggestions for champagne cocktails and favorite teas…

loving cup with orchid on tea service cart

Champagne Brunch Cocktail

This is a simple way to add a little something special to your already special champagne!

Chilled Champagne

Angostura Bitters

Sugar Cubes

Lemon Peel

To make, first soak the sugar cubes in the bitters. I put them on a plate or small dish and let the sugar absorb the juices and flavors.

Peel a small strip of lemon. Remove any pulp. Twist the lemon peel and hold for a few seconds until the peel holds the twist shape.

Place sugar cube in bottom of champagne flute.

Top with chilled champagne.

Garnish with lemon twist.

Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Cheers xo,

Lydia

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loving cup champagne holder in brass on bar cart
Using Loving Cups to Decorate Your Home

Not too long ago, Parker Kennedy Living hosted a live video on Instagram to share how to make floral arrangements using flowers, greenery, and citrus. I videoed the lesson and took photos while Lance and David worked on creating the arrangements. So many people fell in love with the loving cup that he used on his cocktail table shown below…

loving cup trophy cup with flowers

After receiving so many comments and messages asking to know more about the “trophy cup” and how to find one, I suggested to PKL that we host another video sharing more about vintage and antique loving cups. They have a wonderful history, and they can be used for gorgeous displays in your home.

loving cups filled with flowers top view

While Lance and David headed to Saudi Arabia to work on a design project, I headed to antique shops and scoured for loving cups. I found so many beautiful options, and really enjoyed the hunt. I also developed a new appreciation for those who find antique treasures for a living- it is fun but also tiring! Lol! I was surprised at how exhausted I felt after searching in several large antique shops- but, at the end of the day, you realize how you just spent your entire day walking!

loving cups on mantle with tulips

I was pretty excited about my haul after a week of hunting, and I couldn’t wait to show Lance. We had decided we would share how lovely they look grouped together and on their own. We had a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and ages of loving cups- and it was so much fun to put all of this together to share with all of you!

loving cup champagne holder in brass on bar cart

Originally, I was focused on finding loving cups that were the size of the one that Lance and David have on their cocktail table. I quickly realized that it was going to be harder to find that exact look. I am glad that I shifted my focus, because finding the smaller versions proved to be really fun. I loved reading the engraving on each one! My absolute favorite said, “Girl of the Year 1967”.

loving cups grouped with orchids and roses

I also really loved finding a silver ice bucket with two handles that offered the same look and feel of a loving cup. It looks beautiful paired with a bronzed loving cup filled with roses…

loving cup ice bucket with champagne

Loving cups have a long history of being used for special occasions, and they symbolize unity. With two handles typically placed on each side of the cup, the loving cups represent a union of marriage. The couple would each drink from the cup to signify the union of marriage. Throughout history, loving cups were held in high esteem as they were passed down from generation to generation in families.

loving cups used for decorating your home and valentines day

Because of the special meaning of loving cups, the shape also became a universally used shape for trophies. Finding antique trophies and awards was a treat- I could imagine the life each one had touched along the way and appreciated how special it was to the recipient at one time. It made me want to keep them all and give them a place of honor in my home. 🙂 The trophy cup below on the right became one of my favorites…

loving cups trophy cup filled with flowers

As you can see, Lance and I used cut tulips (I found the tulips at Trader Joe’s) for the loving cups- but we also potted mini plants inside of the loving cups. Lance brought moss to use to cover the soil and to give the floral arrangement a polished, finished look.

loving cups planted with orchids

In the live video that we did, we shared how to style a champagne bar cart. We added fruit, appetizers, and cookies to go along with the champagne. We discussed cheeses that pair well with champagne- along with smoked salmon.

loving cup with roses on bar cart

Below, you can see the small trophy that we used for the tulips- I think that would make such a unique bud vase for a desk, powder room, or other small space. It adds character and is a conversation starter, for sure!

loving cup trophy with tulips and press for champagne button

Lance added the tea towel to the cart, and I love how it finishes off the bar cart display. Such a simple detail can add so much- just like adding a bow to the top of a package.

loving cup styled on champagne bar cart

Originally, I had not intended to keep the large brass loving cup champagne bucket- but after using it, I couldn’t give it up! I have loved it ever since and I have used it over and over. I often add plants to it when I need it for something other than an ice bucket.

loving cup large champagne bucket brass

Below, you can see a closer view of the inscription from the champagne company. It is a beautiful piece, as they all are. I love having the large and small versions of loving cups placed around our home. I hope you have also found some interesting ways to use them in your home, too.

loving cups grouped on bar cart with raspberries and mint

For more photos and ideas on setting up a champagne brunch and tea serving cart, see the sister post to this one. I kept going with ideas after Lance and I finished this set-up. I would love to know what you think of loving cups/trophy cups!

Cheers xo,

Lydia

supper club soup containers by loralee lewis
Winter Supper Club ~ Our Very First One

The idea for our very first Supper Club came to us soon after we moved into our new house. We moved in to our home on Dec. 23 and still had so much to do to get it like we wanted it. We let our wish to be in by Christmas override the fact that not everything was “complete”. But, all of the essentials were in place…and so we moved in with about 2 months of work left to do. Because we still had so much to finish, we only moved in our necessary furniture and waited to bring in the rest. That meant our house was a little bit empty! 🙂 Empty rooms made me think that it would be a great time to have a party! And so, our Supper Club was born…

supper club winter theme for teens decorated cookies

By this time, it was the beginning of January. My daughter and I decided a winter theme would be appropriate and pretty easy to pull together. We also knew we wanted to serve something warm and that we would not be able to make the food ourselves because our range had not even arrived. 🙂 I tell you that so that you know that I fully believe in not stressing about everything being absolutely perfect before you host parties.

supper club soup containers by loralee lewis

We put a temporary stove in our kitchen until ours came in, and so I ordered 2 types of soup from Zoe’s and platters of sandwiches from Chicken Salad Chick. The soups we chose were Chicken and Orzo and Tomato Basil. For the sandwiches, we chose 3 varieties. I kept the soup warm on the stove, and then we transferred it to the customized containers from Loralee Lewis. We had around 20 girls for Supper Club, and so having paper plates and soup containers worked well for it. Loralee designed dinner plates and dessert plates to coordinate with the soup containers that I requested.

supper club soup containers from loralee lewis

If you look really closely, you can see Loralee’s special touch…notice how she put the words to the song “What a Wonderful World” in a circle on the inside portion of the plate. She thinks of everything. Just for fun, Loralee also included labels for the cups that read, “Just Sippin’ Pretty with my Girls”.

supper club drink cup labels sippin pretty

Next, we decided on how to decorate to make the party feel wintry but welcoming. Because we had not moved our dining room table in yet, I set up folding tables in our vacant dining room. I rented gold Chavari chairs for seating and used my white tablecloths to cover the tables.

supper club table with white balloon garland centerpiece

For table centerpieces, we made white balloon garlands and then added fairy lights through the garland.

supper club tablesetting in white with gold chavari chairs

I loved having the balloon garlands with lights- it gave off just enough pretty light and had a perfect glow to it. You could also add different colored lights for a different effect.

supper club table setting with white balloon garland and lights

We also added balloon garlands around the fireplace and doors. The best part about the decorations was that the girls came over early to help! Some came over the day before Supper Club and some came a couple of hours before- it was the biggest help and made it all even more fun!

supper club girls helping decorate the fireplace

I had this vision of lighting clear balls with battery lights and hanging them inside of the fireplace to mimic the feel of a fire. The girls went right to work on it and made it look so cute and pretty. We added a furry rug in front of the fireplace so that they could sit if they wanted (remember we had not moved in all of our furniture). It was a great spot for them to take photos and to just hang out.

supper club fireplace with clear ornaments with lights and balloon garland
supper-club-fireplace with lights and ornaments

For dessert, we served winter-themed cookies. Macarons from Mac Lab were so cute! I custom-ordered snowmen faces on them, and we loved how they turned out! We also had hot chocolate to go with the cookies.

supper club winter snowman macarons

I also ordered cookies from Bambella Cookies that coordinated with the paper designs by Loralee. The cookies were so pretty and perfect that it made it hard to eat them.

supper club decorated cookies with mittens

I asked one of the girls to help me display the macarons on a plate of sprinkles, and this is how she did it- isn’t that so pretty and creative? I love the unique way that she placed them on the platter!

supper club snowman macarons in triangle
supper club snowman macarons on plates

The timeframe for each Supper Club is an hour and a half. I like to schedule them for 6:30-8:00. Occasionally we adjust that time, but it has proven to be a convenient time for most everyone. We host them as often as possible, and we typically host about 6 times during the school year.

supper club girls at dinner table

We have tried different ways of arranging the seating- sometimes the girls draw numbers and sit at the table that matches that number. One time we had place cards at each seat…that was everyone’s least favorite seating arrangement. 🙂

supper club girls at dinner table together

The photo below makes me laugh that we had a ladder in the background! We definitely didn’t let a little construction stop us from getting everyone together and having fun!

supper club girls at table 3

I like to have an activity for the girls or something unique at each Supper Club. For this first one, we had a white mug for everyone and made Sharpie mugs. The idea was to make their own hot chocolate mug to be able to keep and enjoy at home. I found most of the white mugs at Target…

supper club shelves with white mugs

I had a large supply of Sharpie Paint Pens and the girls could create their own designs. After they finished, I saved them to put in the oven and let set. I did the oven part of the activity the next day and my daughter delivered them when they were ready. I followed these directions for Sharpie Paint Pen Mugs. These girls have some impressive artistic skills…

supper club sharpie paint pen mugs

We had such a wonderful time at our first Supper Club that it became a tradition to get this group together as often as possible. I have shared more Supper Club parties that we have hosted throughout my blog. Check out the different themes and ideas- and I hope you find one that inspires you to get a group together for a meal and lots of fun!

supper club cookie decorated with a winter mitten

Cheers xo,

Lydia

supper club fondue night fun do sign
Supper Club ~ Hosting a Fondue Night

Hosting a Supper Club is always a fun way to gather friends and enjoy a meal together. My daughter and I began hosting a Supper Club together for her friends, and it has become one of our favorite activities. We have lots of ideas and themes for Supper Clubs here at The Party Wagon. This Supper Club night was especially fun with fondue as the theme!

Fondue Supper Club for winter with icicle lights and silver fondue pots
supper club fondue night fun do sign

This Supper Club was hosted in January and so we went with a wintry theme. The warmth of fondue felt like a perfect meal to enjoy on a really cold night. We hung icicle lights along the walls in the dining room and snowflake lights on the tables. The lights on the tables are battery-operated so that they can be used without needing an electrical outlet.

supper club tablesetting with fondue pots as centerpiece chaffing dishes in line

As you can see in the photos, I used paper plates on top of a charger. I knew the girls might need to be able to move their plates closer as they were dipping their fondue sticks into the cheese, and so I decided to make it easier to manage with paper plates. It added a casual feel to the dinner, which is also one of my goals when we host these get-togethers. I like for each dinner to feel special without feeling overly-formal or stuffy. Relaxed fun is what I’m going for, with a few out-of-the ordinary details thrown in to make it special.

supper club table and room decor with lights and fondue

For the color scheme, we wanted to use shades of blue to go with the wintry theme. Fondue is a Swiss creation, and so I wanted to create a snowy feel with white tablecloths. I bunched sheer fabric around the tables to mimic snow drifts. Fireside is usually where Swiss families would enjoy fondue during the winter, and so I aimed to give that effect of warmth from the glow of lights.

supper club chafing dishes as fondue pots in center of table

To add a youthful feel to the party, I used a polka dot center runner of fabric. I went with dots because I kept thinking of Swiss dot fabric, but I wanted a more visual pattern. I also think it would be so fun to use Swiss folk art designs for this theme. I couldn’t find what I needed that would arrive in time for the party, and so I stuck with what was available locally. Nordic/alpine sweaters often have blues, pinks, and greens in them, and so we added those colors in small doses with the details.

fondue dipping sticks wooden skewers with straw flags and ribbon

I asked Loralee Lewis if she would design straw flags to be used on fondue sticks. I wanted each guest to have her own set of fondue sticks, and so I added the names to the skewers with straw flags. I then bundled a set of 3 wooden skewers with a ribbon and had them ready for the girls to use with their fondue. They turned out perfectly!

supper club fondue skewers with names and ribbon

I actually loved how pretty they all looked stacked on a plate, and so I placed them on the serving table just like this. The girls enjoyed finding their bundle of skewers in place of typical utensils.

supper club stack of wooden skewers with names for fondue

It was a little hard to take photos in the dim light, but I love the glow!

supper club cheese fondue and friends

The fondue was an activity all in itself, but we added in one special activity for the girls to do before they went home for the night. Each guest was asked to randomly choose an envelope. Inside each envelope was a name of one of the girls with a message explaining to “spread kindness like confetti” by doing random acts of kindness for your secret person through the month. When we met back at Supper Club again the next month, each girl revealed their secret person with a small gift. We made a game out of it by having each girl try to guess who they thought their secret person was before the gifts were given. It was a fun way to help remind them to think of others and to remember to be kind to each other.

supper club activity throw kindness like confetti
supper club fondue night with friends
supper club fondue night with friends big

I actually didn’t get a photo of our dessert, but it was a huge hit (which is why I didn’t get photos!). They loved it! At our kitchen table and kitchen island, I plugged in electric fondue pots and melted chocolate. We served a platter full of fruits, pretzels, chips, and marshmallows. Hint: It would be such a fun idea for a Valentine’s Day party!

Supper Club Tips and Notes for Fondue

  1. Because I could not plug in as many fondue pots as needed for hosting close to 20 seated guests, I served fondue from chafing dishes. This was convenient and pretty- but please note that you must be extra careful with the flame coming into contact with anything on the table. The girls are old enough to handle the chafing dish set-up, but I still worried about it. For this reason, I recommend traditional fondue pots. I definitely would not recommend fondue for young kids without constant supervision. These girls handled it like pros, but I just want to be very transparent at the risks of using chafing dishes with table linens, crowded tables, etc. Also, if you use chafing dishes be sure to know how to extinguish Sterno flames properly (save the top of the Sterno can or use a flat, wide metal spatula to extinguish). Extinguish the flame before you pick up the dish for cleaning.
  2. When making fondue, use quality cheeses. I bought all of mine at Trader Joe’s.
  3. When melting the cheeses to serve, be sure to grate the cheese rather than chop the cheese. Grating keeps the cheese smooth. Which leads to the next tip…
  4. Toss the cheese with cornstarch to keep it from clumping together.
  5. Slowly, slowly melt the cheeses together. Add a little cheese at a time and melt it. If you pour in large amounts at a time, the cheese will stick together and be very difficult to manage.
  6. Stir the cheeses constantly when making the fondue.
  7. You can use substitute chicken broth or beer for the dry white wine that is used in the recipe.

Supper Club Fondue Recipe

1/3 cup Gruyere Cheese

1/3 cup Emmental Cheese

1/3 cup Monterey Jack Cheese (if you prefer more authentic Swiss flavor, use 1/2 cup Gruyere and 1/2 cup Emmental and omit the Jack cheese)

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup dry white wine

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce (optional)

Directions…

Grate the cheeses into a bowl and add the cornstarch. Toss to evenly coat.

In a saucepan, over low heat, simmer the wine and lemon juice.

Slowly add the cheeses (one small handful at a time) and stir constantly.

As you very slowly melt and stir the cheeses, continue to stir so that the cheese mixture will be smooth. Be patient on this step so that your cheese does not become a ball.

When cheese mixture is melted and smooth, stir in the mustard and the splash of Worcestershire Sauce.

Transfer fondue to a fondue pot and keep warm.

Prepare a platter of choices for dipping before cooking the fondue. When the cheeses are melted and ready for the fondue pot, you will be ready to eat! We served…

carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, grape tomatoes, red peppers, orange peppers, yellow peppers, black olives, snow peas, red-skin potatoes

chicken bites

Granny Smith apples

bread, pretzels

I hope you enjoy a fondue party as much as we did! I can’t wait to do it again soon!

Cheers xo,

Lydia

easy disco ball decorations for new years eve chandelier decoration
Quick & Easy New Year’s Eve Party Ideas
new year's eve party ideas disco ball decorations hanging from chandelier with ribbon

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…

easy disco ball decorations for new years eve chandelier decoration

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!

easy new years eve party ideas with disco ball chandelier

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 years eve party ideas disco ball chandelier with 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…

easy new years eve party ideas star cookie on champagne 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!

new years eve party ideas star cookies on champagne glasses

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!

easy new years eve party ideas doughnuts with party hats and disco balls

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! 🙂

easy new years eve party ideas pretzel sparklers

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!

new year's eve disco ball drinks with blue straws

And, I wish you the best in the coming year!

Cheers xo,

Lydia