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.

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

blue sculpted camera cake with fondant strap with name on it
Celebrate with Cake~ Ideas from “For Heaven Bakes”

If you are looking for cake ideas for a birthday, wedding, graduation, baby shower, or any celebration, then I have the baker for you!! Julie McAllister is the owner of For Heaven Bakes and is such an amazing cake artist. I have always been drawn to all things art, but make it edible (and add in a celebration) and I am doubly all in!!! Julie’s cakes are jaw-dropping and inspiring! Take a look! I feel like “Matt” had to be pretty impressed with this. What do you think?

3 D golf bag cake in blue standing upright with clubs in the bag and green grass below
Cake by Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes

It is hard to believe that the golf bag is made of all cake! The pouches and zippers- and those golf clubs- not to mention that it is 3-dimensional and standing up! Julie is cake baker, artist, and apparently a bit of an engineer, too! Here is Julie with the golf bag cake and a pineapple cake that she made…along with look-alike fruit that she created.

Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes Bakery with her sculpted golf bag cake
Cakes by Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes

I was lucky enough to meet Julie when I was connected with her at The Southern Coterie (The Southern C) Summit and asked her to make my daughter’s birthday cake. It was really hard to decide what to make because Julie is so talented. My daughter decided on a camera because that was her biggest wish for her birthday- a new camera. After having Julie’s version of her camera, I bet my daughter has a new favorite camera! Here is Julie’s camera masterpiece for Camille’s 16th birthday!

blue sculpted camera cake with fondant strap with name on it
Camera Cake by For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Lydia Menzies

We had a family party to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and this cake was the perfect size. Everyone loved how it had Camille on the camera in place of the brand Canon- and how her name was also on the camera strap. Blue is Camille’s favorite color and so it was fun to add that little twist to her cake.

blue sculpted camera cake with custom name on camera strap with birthday girl in photo

Julie created the back of the cake to be as realistic as the front of the cake! The cake was a show-stopper and was such a fun addition to the day. Even better, the cake and frosting inside were really delicious! Camille requested chocolate cake and chocolate frosting and it was a really great choice! Camille likes fondant, and so she was quite happy that she could have a cake with fondant and buttercream frosting all in one! The details that Julie put onto the camera cake made it hard to believe that there was actual cake inside there!

back of sculpted camera cake in blue
blue camera cake sculpted and decorated in fondant

I am crazy for cakes and so I am excited to share more of For Heaven Bakes cakes with you below. Julie’s talent will blow your mind! I have several favorites, and I would love to hear which ones are your favorites, too!

Look at this Lilly Pulitzer inspired paddle board cake…what a great idea for a Lilly Party! How cute is the fondant beach ball and paddle? The Lilly lobster print is one of my all-time favorite prints- and look how the name resembles the writing of Lilly Pulitzer’s signature that you see on the clothing and merchandise. Allison doesn’t miss a detail!

Lilly pulitzer hand painted lobster print paddle board cake
Lilly Pulitzer Paddle Board Cake by For Heaven Bakes
Lilly Pulitzer paddle board cake with the Lilly Lobster Print pattern and a beach ball and paddle made of fondant

And, then there is this…a “Breakfast in Bed” cake- oh, my goodness! The entire thing is a cake- not just the stack of pancakes…

birthday cake shaped like breakfast on a tray with pancakes eggs fruit and juice
Breakfast Cake by For Heaven Bakes
birthday cake that looks like breakfast served on a tray with eggs fruit and pancakes
Breakfast on a Tray Cake by For Heaven Bakes

It takes a minute for it to sink in that this whole thing is a cake created by For Heaven Bakes. The tray, the eggs, the oranges, the juice glass, the flowers and the stack of pancakes- all made by hand by Allison! I just love it! I am amazed and I wish I had been at the party to see the reaction of the guest of honor!

a cake that looks like breakfast in bed with a stack of pancakes eggs and toast
Pancake Cake by For Heaven Bakes

And, then there’s this little order Allison received to make a cake for Reese Witherspoon’s birthday- I can only imagine how exciting this was to make! The cake is modeled after a handbag that was Reese’s birthday gift from her Draper James family. Allison made it spot-on to look like the actual bag! I think it is gorgeous!

coral colored handbag sculpted cake with draper James tag on it for Reese Witherspoon's birthday
Draper James Handbag Cake by For Heaven Bakes

Fashion accessories seem to be right up Allison’s alley – this cake is made to look like a wide-brimmed sun hat and, well, it does! It looks just like a hat! Notice the detail of each layer that resembles how a straw beach hat would look. And, topped off with a ribbon that literally ties together the look of the hat! For Heaven Bakes wows me!

cake made to look like a straw sunhat with wide brim
Hat Cake by For Heaven Bakes

While we are thinking sandy beaches, look at this Shrimp Boil cake! Allison lives in the low country of South Carolina which is all about a low country boil. This would be a fun birthday or groom’s cake for the guys!

low country boil cake sculpted to look like a pot of seafood corn and potatoes with old bay seasoning and corn on the cob
Low Country Shrimp Boil Cake by For Heaven Bakes

It looks so much like the real thing! It is all cake and fondant. It is like our eyes are playing tricks on us!

low country boil shrimp boil cake with red potatoes and corn on the cob all made of fondant and cake

All of Julie’s cakes deserve to be in glossy magazines- and I am thinking someone needs to sign her to a book deal right away! I could literally post photo after photo of Julie’s cakes. I love each one! I wanted to find out more about the lady behind the incredible talent, and so I asked Julie a few questions to help us know more about her…and at the end I share another of her many amazing cakes!!

You are such a talented baker…what led you to focus on sculpted cakes?

I have been a hobby baker for as long as I can remember, and when I was in grad school, I started to teach myself cake sculpting for fun. I continued to bake and try different types of cake decorating over the years, took catering jobs on the side and even had a part time job at a bakery in DC for a period of time—all in an effort to gain as much experience in as many different types of baking as I could. In trying those different avenues, I learned that I loved novelty cake decorating above and beyond anything else, so when I was ready to start my own business here in Charleston, I knew exactly what I wanted my focus to be.

Do you have favorites that you bake other than cakes? Cookies or cupcakes or family recipes?

Even though I only make sculpted, novelty cakes for my business, I still do traditional baking all the time for myself and my family. I think, because I spend so much time making cakes, that when I have free time I tend to make cookies, bars, pies or pastries, just to give myself some variety! 🙂 I usually try to bake my way through each issue of Bake From Scratch, and then I have some family recipe staples that I can pretty much make from muscle memory at this point, so those are my go-to’s when I just need a quick dessert.

Can you estimate how long it took to make the camera cake?  I think it is important for all of us to understand the time it takes to create! 🙂


Sculpted cakes like these almost always take about 15 hours from absolute start (baking the cakes) to finish (the last decorative detail). This camera cake clocked in at 14 hours.

Do you have a long-term goal for your cake business?


My long-term goals are always evolving for me. I think when it’s all said and done, I’ll feel like I’ve succeeded if I’m creating cake art on a large scale. I have such a passion for novelty cake decorating and genuinely view it as a form of art, and my ultimate goal would be to share this love with others. 🙂

What is the biggest challenge of running For Heaven Bakes?


I think a lot of people who create products tend to create the same product or similar products over and over, until they become an absolute expert at those particular designs. Because these cakes are so unique, I rarely make the same cake twice, so sometimes there is a figure-it-out-as-you-go element, which can make it challenging. But the problem solving element is one of the things I love the most about these cakes.

What is the biggest perk?


Aside from the joy I get from owning my own business, there is never not cake or cake scraps in our house, which to me, is the ultimate job perk!

After having Julie’s cake, I would definitely see that as a job perk! I am so happy to get to share Julie and her work at For Heaven Bakes with all of you! I am already excited to get on her schedule for another cake soon!!

Julie McAllister at For Heaven Bakes Bakery holding a tray of sculpted fruit made of cake and fondant
Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes

And, I will leave us all with this little beauty to look at as we end. A mint julep sculpted cake! I would love to plan a party around this cake!! Cheers, y’all!

Kentucky Derby Party cake mint julep sculpted cake by For Heaven Bakes Julie McAllister
Mint Julep Cake by For Heaven Bakes

Cheers and XO,

Lydia

watermelon pizza sliced in a circle and cut into triangles topped with berries and feta cheese
15 Best Watermelon Recipes and Party Ideas

Summer is always a little sweeter with watermelon! As we savor all that summer has to offer (right down to the last little bit the season), it is always a great idea to take advantage of this seasonal fruit. I am sharing some of my all-time favorite watermelon recipes and party ideas that put watermelon center-stage! You can find even more recipe ideas here!

  1. Watermelon Pizza – this is one of my very favorites that I love to make for my family. It is also great to serve at a barbecue, cookout, or any type of group gathering. There are lots of versions, but here is the one that I make most often…
watermelon pizza sliced in a circle and cut into triangles topped with berries and feta cheese

Directions for making it are easy! Simply buy a round watermelon and slice it so that you have a circle shape. Cut the circle in fourths and then cut each fourth in half to make eight pieces. Add blueberries, chopped strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and cherries. Sprinkle crumbled Feta cheese over the top, if desired. You can also use a dollop of whipped cream if you would like- this will also hold the toppings in place better. Kids usually like whipped cream and adults usually like the cheese. You can also add your favorite herbs- such as basil or mint to give the recipe an extra dash of flavor!

Watermelon pizza with one slice being picked up

2. Fresh Watermelon Cake by Sprinklebakes

fresh watermelon cake with white frosting and watermelon balls and herbs on top

Oh, my goodness! This is such an interesting way to make a cake! I love that you can also frost it with whipped cream if you prefer- and I love that it definitely has a surprise inside than your typical cake. You can find the instructions over at Sprinklebakes.

slice of fresh watermelon cake with fork stuck in the watermelon

3. Mini Watermelon Cake from Pizzazzerie

watermelon cake in mini mason jars with pink icing and chocolate chips for seeds tied with raffia ribbon

If you would rather have cake that looks like watermelon instead of watermelon that looks like cake, you should try this mini watermelon cake in a jar from Pizzazzerie! The single-sized serving makes this recipe a great one for a party- and you can make it ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator!

mini watermelon cake in mason jar with layers of green cake and pink frosting with chocolate chips for seeds

4. Watermelon Sherbet Pie from Make and Takes

slice of watermelon sherbet pie with chocolate chips for seeds

This pie is cute and refreshing! It looks best when sliced and served because you can see the watermelon details even better. This is simple to make with easy instructions at Make and Takes.

5. Watermelon Cake from Cake Central

This cake from Lovemyhusband on Cake Central looks like the real thing until you slice into it and see the fluffy cake with chocolate seeds. This is fun inspiration if you are feeling creative! You can add watermelon flavoring it you want to be as close to the real thing as possible!

6. Cute Watermelon Party and Cookies from Sweet Peach Paperie found at The Party Wagon

red green dress cookie with black dots for watermelon seeds

These cookies remind me of a Lilly Pulitzer shift- they are so cute for a kids’ party or even for a summer picnic with all ages. This entire party photoshoot has so many pretty ideas and special touches!

7. Watermelon Ginger Mojitos from Southern Living

This adult-only cocktail is so delicious on a hot summer day! I especially love the extra flavor of ginger! Southern Living totally gets what we need during the dog days of summer. What a perfect party drink!

two glasses of watermelon ginger mojitos with ice and mint garnish
Photographer Antonis Achilleos, Prop Stylist :Kay Clarke, Food Stylist :Torie Cox

8. Watermelon with Potted Plant by Creative Orchard at The Party Wagon

Simply hollow out a watermelon and remove as much pulp as possible (use it to make one of the other recipes on this list) and then drop in a potted plant.

watermelon hollowed out and used as a vase for plant with red flowers

9. DIY Watermelon Balloons- also by The Creative Orchard featured at The Party Wagon

green balloons and red balloons with black seeds drawn on them to look like a bouquet of watermelon balloons

This is one of my favorite ways to add personality to balloons at a picnic or cookout- the seeds are drawn with a Sharpie Marker- so easy! This entire Watermelon Picnic is adorable!!

10. Watermelon Feta Guacamole from Two Peas and Their Pod

guacamole made with watermelon with tortilla chip

I’m a sucker for interesting combinations, and this guacamole lured me right in! It is definitely a twist on the traditional, but I really love the flavors. It is a fun dish to serve friends and family so that everyone can try something new! It has been a hit at our house! I hope you like it, too!!

11. Watermelon Feta Appetizers from Pizzazzerie

watermelon feta and basil on a wooden skewer

If you prefer a similar taste but individual servings, go with this recipe from Courtney at Pizzazzerie. Stack watermelon, feta, and basil and secure with a wooden skewer for serving- and then you are all set with a fabulous appetizer (and it is healthy)!

12. Fabulous Balloon Garland from Happy Wish Company

How stunning is this watermelon colored balloon garland? Such a beautiful decoration with so much wow-factor!

red pink green clear balloons with confetti drape to make a balloon garland

13. Watermelon Jolly Rancher Birthday Cake from Frosted Cakery

watermelon birthday cake with green white and pink and black seeds

If you need a fancy cake for a watermelon theme, this one is especially perfect for the candy lover in your life! With Jolly Rancher candy watermelon slices on top, it is definitely two favorites in one. I love the frosting stacks on top!

14. Watermelon and Arugula Salad from Barefoot Contessa

There is nothing better than the taste combination of arugula and watermelon, topped with shaved parmesan cheese and a fantastic dressing from Ina Garten!

arugula watermelon parmesan cheese salad

15. Watermelon Paper Cups with Gold Foil from Amazon

These pink cups with gold foil “seeds” and a two-toned green rind are my favorite watermelon cups for a party. Don’t you think they are too cute?

pink watermelon cups with gold foil seeds

This watermelon roundup is a fabulous way to find a range of party ideas and recipes to enjoy the oh-so-seasonal treat of a watermelon. If you find yourself wanting more ideas on where to find party goods to complete your look for a watermelon party, see my personal picks below. I included my Amazon affiliate links here to help you shop more quickly and easily!

WATERMELON DRINK UMBRELLAS

WATERMELON PAPER STRAWS

WATERMELON BALLOON SET

WATERMELON BALLOON GARLAND KIT

WATERMELON SLICE PINATA

WATERMELON POOL FLOAT

WATERMELON SPRINKLER BALL

ONE IN A MELON BALLOON SET

Cheers and XO,

Lydia

A Summer Shell-a-bration

One of the best ways to welcome summer, or to simply celebrate its wonderful existence, is with a Summer Shellabration themed party! Saying Shell-o to Summer has never been more fun! I had a great time creating and styling with this theme and using a different mix of colors…I wanted to use coral and blue and add in pastel pink. I think it turned out fresh and fun!

I hosted a Supper Club for my daughter and friends using this theme at the end of school and adapted it to “Shell-o Summer” as we were celebrating the end of the school year and the beginning of summer! My friend, Susan, at the shop “When I Was Your Age” (on Etsy) designed party paper products for us, and they were the perfect way to tie it all together. I love the combination of the blue placemats with a coral design and the coral-colored nautical rope design on the plates. The shell in the middle with the writing was just what it needed to play off the party theme. The plates are clear with the design in the center and so it also showed off the placemats even more. I really loved this all together on top of the pink and white striped cabana tablecloths.

“When I Was Your Age” also designed cups and stir sticks to use for the party. The stir sticks double as cupcake decorations, too- you can simply ask for a shorter stick! See farther below in this post for how I used them in the wine carafes. They are versatile and always add a little extra touch of design to a party!

I really wanted to mostly use shells for the table decorations and let the ocean treasures speak for themselves…I purchased shells and poured them into white bowls with ruffled edges. I like the shape of the edges of the bowls and how they add to the texture and movement of the table since I was using shells instead of lots of flowers. I love to use big groupings of small items so that they don’t look lost on the table.

For a small touch of greenery or florals, I used air plants inside pink sea urchin shells. I really loved how pretty these turned out and how they added just a small amount of green to the mix- kind of like seaweed in the ocean but in a good way! The urchin shells with air plants also doubled as party favors for the girls to take home with them. Caring for the plants is simple (just water every once in a while) and it was a unique way to add a little summer to their homes.

I purposely ordered shells in shades of pink, coral, and white so that they would blend and complement the stronger shades of blue and darker coral. You can choose the darker tans and browns if you want to add an earthier tone to your party. I truly love the crisp, white tones and the serene feel that the softer colors give when paired with the strong ocean blues.

For this Supper Club and beginning of summer party, my daughter and I hosted the girls and their moms. I enjoy having a chance to connect with the moms before we all head our separate ways for summer. I wanted to have a shell-themed party favor/gift for the moms, too. When I saw Pippa Goetz’s oyster shell art, I felt like the shells- in combination with her incredible artistic skills- would be the perfect fit for our party! I asked Pippa to make a shell for each mom with the first initial. We chose blue and white for the letters and gold for the outside of the shell. A coral ribbon literally tied it all together to make it match the party.

I could have used these beautiful painted oyster shells a million different ways and had a hard time deciding which way I liked them best. Tied to the mini wine carafes was so beautiful, and then I also loved them tied to the napkins. Which way do you like better? Tied to the mini carafes or used as napkins rings?

And, can we talk about this amazing cake that the sisters at Emmie June Cakes made to coordinate with this theme?? When Emmie June and I talked about what the cake should look like, all I told them was a beach theme with an emphasis on shells- and I asked that we incorporate the sea urchin shells with air plants. Emmie June Cakes went to work and created this masterpiece of a cake! I was wowed when I picked it up! And even more wowed when I tasted the cupcakes they sent along!!! Their buttercream frosting and cake are incredibly good!

The back of the cake was a beautiful watercolor effect and was so pretty to see from all sides!

It was such a show-stopping cake, I couldn’t stop taking its picture! I was like a cake paparazzi and wanted to capture it a million times over! Lol! I even put it on my bar cart to just let it have its moment of glory all by itself! 🙂

Emmie June Cakes also sent cupcakes with ocean blue frosting and pearl sprinkles. I made candy shells using pink and melts and a candy mold that I bought at Hobby Lobby. The candies were so easy to make! I put them in the refrigerator so that they would hold up better in the warmer temps of summer before I put them on top of the cupcakes…

I love serving the cupcakes nestled in the big bowls of shells. Of course, they look (and taste) fabulous all together on a tray or platter too! I just really like the way they look with the shells and the contrast of the blue frosting…and, again, I couldn’t stop taking pictures! 🙂

The cake and cupcakes look so pretty together. I can’t say enough about how fabulous it was to work with Emmie June Cakes. I really am looking forward to the next reason to order a cake from them (or maybe I just won’t need a reason and should order one for no reason at all.) Anybody else ever do that? 🙂

I also added a balloon garland in pink, blue, green, yellow, and white to tie together the color scheme and play off the colors of the the table setting. The best part about these particular balloons is that they are from illoom balloons and they have lights inside of them. When the sun goes down, the balloons glow. It is such a surprise for the guests and adds a playful and pretty vibe to your party!

I think the cupcakes would also look so cute served in smaller, individual bowls of shells at each place setting. I love the options you have when setting a table, and I am all for making each place setting extra special for each guest! Maybe I will try that next time!

What’s a summer party without something frozen to cool you down in the heat? To go with the cake- or for those who prefer a lighter dessert- I also served Mango Passion Fruit Sherbet. Individual clear containers let the pretty colors of the sherbet shine through and then I topped it with blue pearl sprinkles and more of the pink candy shells…

Add a miniature gold spoon (found in the party aisles at craft stores) to each cup of sherbet and your guests will appreciate how easy it is to pick up and enjoy! Just have a few extras on hand in case one or two break as they dig in to the sherbet!

It’s a perfect way to say hello to summer and all of the fun that goes with it!

I have shown you all of the pretty details and you may be wondering what we actually served for dinner. I wanted to continue with the shell theme and so we decided on serving paella for dinner. It was a good fit to meet different tastes for our guests…I ordered seafood and chicken paella so that it would accommodate different likes. We also ordered gazpacho which suited our friends who don’t eat meat- and was a huge hit among the moms! I contacted The Spanish Paella in Suwanee, Georgia and arranged for him to cater the meal for us. With the giant pan, it was fun to watch dinner being prepared and to be excited to line up to try it when it was ready. I highly recommend him if you are in the area. He catered a party for one of my friends and so it was the second time I had a chance to enjoy it. It was a nice way to have a hot, delicious dinner and to be able to enjoy chatting with our guests rather than having to worry about cooking and serving! Here he is…

I do wish I had taken a group photo of all of the moms and daughters together. I snapped a couple of shots but then put my phone down and enjoyed everyone’s company. I am making a note for next time to remember to get a group shot- I know we will treasure those as our girls get older!

I did have a little glitch when I was preparing for the party and that was that I ordered 2 tablecloths in the wrong color. I decided not to let that be a problem at all and just put two coral-colored cloths outside for the girls (they loved that color) and the pink striped cloths inside for the moms. It worked out well and I ended up liking it. I would prefer that they all were the same, but sometimes you press “checkout” too quickly and end up with something you didn’t mean to order! 🙂

I enjoyed hosting this party and celebrating the season of summer and this season of life! I hope you find ideas to use for your own summer celebrations! Cheers to more flexible schedules, a slower summer pace, and the company of friends- there are so many reasons to shell-a-brate!

Here are the sources for the items I used for this party…the Amazon links are through my Amazon Associate program. I receive a small compensation (at no extra cost to you) for purchases made through this link. I only link the items that I buy myself and want to share with you!

Party Paper Designs (plates, cups, stir sticks, placemats) – When I Was Your Age

Pink Cabana Stripe Tablecloths – Amazon

Coral Cabana Stripe Tablecloths- Amazon

Cake and Cupcakes- Emmie June Cakes

Painted Oyster Shells- Pippa Goetz

Gingham Napkins- Amazon

Shells and Air Plants- Etsy Shop

Balloons- Illooms

XO,

Lydia

bar cart for cinco de mayo fiesta
Shake up Your Fiesta! Mexican Themed Party Drinks

Cheers to having new ideas for fun drinks to add to your celebration rotation! A signature drink for a get-together always makes for a nice greeting for your guests as they arrive- and today I am sharing 2 recipes that will shake up your classic margarita recipe just a bit! I love this homemade version and I think you will, too! Also, I am going to share a non-alcoholic drink that you can whip up easily for your younger or non-drinking friends! So, join me for this fiesta full of ideas to help you host your next party! And, I have to brag on the girls from Party Hat Paper Company who sent me a box FULL of fiesta party supplies! The streamers and party fans are so easy to put together and have such a wow factor!

bar-cart-fiesta-balloon

I really love the FIESTA balloons that are so easy to assemble and really put the perfect touch on the decorations over the bar cart. All you have to do is unfold the letter balloons and use a straw to inflate them. The balloons seal automatically- no tying or twisting. They are just simple to do. I strung them on fishing wire using the holes in the table that are made into the tops of each balloon letter.

fiesta-letter-balloons

To set up this bar cart, I really wanted the top part to be the usable part and the bottom part to be decorative. I put all of the ingredients needed for the drinks on the top, plus glasses, a shaker, ice, cocktail napkins, flowers, and some pretty cookies just in case someone would rather have a cookie than a drink! Something for everyone, right? The bottom shelf of the bar cart was so easy to pull together. I used luminaries from Party Hat Paper Company’s fiesta party kit. I added glasses that my friend tells me look like a cactus, some water for good measure, and a bowl of extra lemons and limes just in case. The party box also came with the garlands that you see on the front of the cart- I loved how easy it was to drape them on the cart and how perfectly they dressed it up and added interest and color!

titos-tequila-patron

For the recipes, I stopped by Five Points Bottle Shop in Athens and bought the ingredients I needed- and they are always so helpful, by the way. For the margarita, I am sharing my favorite marg from an Athens favorite- Taqueria del Sol (there are locations in Atlanta and Nashville if you are close to those cities). It is named “Westside Rita” (aka “the Westside”) and is my favorite Friday night toddy. It gets its name from the location in Atlanta of the first Taqueria del Sol. Here is what you need to make this citrusy margarita…

The Best Homemade Margarita

Salt

2 Fresh Lime Wedges or Slices

2 ounces Herradurra Reposado Tequila

1 ounce Patron Citronge Orange Liqueur

3 ounces Fresh Sweet-and Sour Mix (see below)

To make the Sweet-and-Sour Mix, you will need

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup lime juice

1/2 cup lemon juice

To make the Sweet and Sour Mix…combine 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup sugar in a saucepan and heat on high. Let boil and stir until the sugar dissolves.

Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Add 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1/2 cup lime juice and stir. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week.

  1. Pour salt into a small plate
  2. Use the lime wedge to wet the rim of a 12 oz. glass
  3. Dip the rim of glass in the salt.
  4. Pour tequila, liqueur, and Sweet-and-Sour Mix into a shaker with ice.
  5. Shake it up! Pour into glass. Garnish with other lime wedge.
  6. Sip and enjoy!
fiesta-recipe
Recipe from Turnip Greens and Tortillas by Eddie Hernandez of Taqueria del Sol
best-mexican-recipes


Basil Limonada

For this next recipe, this is fresh basil limeade which is perfect as it is but also makes a great base for a cocktail or a fizzy drink. If you want to make it a cocktail, add in a splash of Tito’s Tequila. If you prefer to make it into a soda, just replace the regular water with sparkling water. So perfect for a hot day! Here’s how to make it…

1/2 cup sugar

4 cups water

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil

2 or 3 limes, quartered

Ice

  1. Place the sugar and water in a large pitcher and stir until the sugar dissolves. Measure out 1 cup.

2. Put the limes and basil in a blender, add the 1 cup sugar water and puree the mixture

3. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer back into the pitcher with the remaining sugar water. Use a whisk or wooden spoon to press any pulp. Taste and add more sugar if needed. Serve over ice and garnish with a basil leaf and/or lime slice.

bar-cart-fiesta

Click on the video to see the fun you should definitely have when making these drinks and meet my friend Ellen! She’s a party all on her own! Giant sombrero optional!

Cheers XO,

Lydia