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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chocolate pecan candy three heart platter
Chocolate Pecan Candy- My Aunt’s Recipe

My aunt and uncle had a huge pecan tree in their yard- which was always nice for those of us who love pecans! Even better, my aunt would take those pecans and make a really simple but delicious pecan candy for us.

chocolate pecan candy my aunts recipe
chocolate pecan candy on heart platter

My kids and their cousins always loved climbing the tree, picking the pecans, and using the fancy rolling pecan picker that completely fascinated them. We all loved it that the kids would enjoy playing outside and picking what felt like a million pecans! The payment for their work was often chocolate pecan candy.

chocolate pecan candy three heart platter

This recipe is easy and makes a perfect candy for gifting or for serving. I hope you enjoy this simple treat that my aunt always made for us!

Chocolate Pecan Candy Recipe

1 lb. (16 oz.) coarsely chopped pecans

2 cups of Ghirardelli chocolate chips (I use half semi-sweet and half milk chocolate chips)

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter

2 teaspoons vegetable oil (optional)

Coarse Sea Salt

Instructions:

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Spread pecan pieces evenly across baking sheet.

Slice butter and add pats of butter scattered around the pecans.

Heat oven to 250 degrees (F).

Place pecans and butter in oven and toast for 5 minutes.

Using a spatula, turn pecans and the melted butter, being sure to coat the pecans.

Bake for 5 minutes and then carefully stir pecans, turning them so that they are evenly toasted.

Repeat this step until pecans are toasted- this takes about 20 minutes total. Watch pecans carefully, as ovens vary, and remember to turn the pecans every 5 minutes.

After pecans are toasted, remove from oven and let cool.

After pecans have cooled enough to handle, melt chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. I typically melt chocolate chips for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until chocolate is melted and smooth.

(Optional step) If you prefer, add 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil to the melted chocolate and stir until well mixed. The oil helps the chocolate have a smoother finish, but I usually leave out this step.

Stir toasted pecans and melted chocolate together in bowl and mix until pecans are well-coated.

Using a tablespoon, spoon out individual servings of the pecan mixture onto waxed paper.

Sprinkle salt onto the candy. I usually leave some unsalted for those who prefer no salt (such as my children).

Let set.

Transfer to a serving dish or box/bag for gifting.

So simple and so tasty!

I hope you enoy!

chocolate pecan candy being picked up from plate

ENJOY!

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

banana pudding recipe with meringue
My Favorite Banana Pudding Recipe
banana pudding recipe with meringue

Banana Pudding has always been a staple at southern gatherings, and so I grew up seeing it served on holiday dessert tables. I have to admit, as a child, I was never a big banana pudding fan. And then, I discovered the old-fashioned way of making pudding from scratch, thanks to Southern Living magazine. I have been using this recipe from the Southern Living Annual Recipes Cookbook for the year 2000 (page 334) for 20 years now. I tried to find it online to link to it, but this Southern Living Banana Pudding recipe is as close as I could find. I only make the one written below.

This recipe is basically homemade vanilla pudding with layers of bananas and Nilla wafer cookies- and then topped with a fluffy meringue. It is a recipe with simple ingredients that combine to create a rich and flavorful dessert that keeps everyone going back for seconds (and asking for the recipe!).

Banana Pudding has become a tradition for our family on New Year’s Day. It is a perfect ending to a southern -style meal that we look forward to each January 1st. Luckily, this dessert works for any time of the year, and so keep it handy by Pinning it! It’s a delicious indulgence, and I hope you enjoy every bite!

To make this homemade, homestyle, old-fashioned, made-from-scratch banana pudding recipe, you will only need 9 ingredients. Follow along below for step by step instructions…

Banana Pudding

6 large ripe bananas

1 (12 oz.) box of Nilla Wafers

2/3 cup of sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

1 (14-oz.) can of sweetened condensed milk

2 1/2 cups of milk

4 eggs, separated

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For Meringue Topping

This is when you will use the egg whites

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

How to Make Banana Pudding:

Mix flour, 2/3 cup of sugar, and pinch of salt in a bowl.

In a medium sized pot, whisk egg yolks and both types of milks

Add the flour mixture to the milk mixture and whisk constantly over low-medium heat. Whisk mixture for about 15 minutes until the pudding is smooth and thickened.

Remove from heat and stir in 2 teaspoons of vanilla.

How to Assemble Banana Pudding:

Place 1/3 of Nilla wafers in the bottom of a 3-quart baking dish. Slice 2 bananas over the wafers and then add a layer of pudding. Repeat layering 2 sliced bananas and pudding two times. I also add Nilla wafers around sides and edges as the banana pudding gets taller in the dish. Simply push the wafers down into the mixture along the edges.

Next, prepare the meringue…

Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until they are foamy.

Using a tablespoon at a time, add the 1/3 cup of sugar to the egg whites and continue beating until stiff peaks appear and the sugar dissolves.

Mix in vanilla extract and then spread meringue mixture over top of pudding. Seal to the edges of the dish.

Bake at 325 degrees (F) until top is golden brown (about 20-25 mins.)

Let pudding set and cool. Place in refrigerator until ready to serve.

This banana pudding recipe yields 8-10 servings.

Here is a quick video I made on IGTV

I am grateful for my southern roots and for having Southern Living as a guide to so many delicious recipes. If you prefer a boxed pudding version, you can substitute boxed vanilla pudding for the homemade vanilla pudding- but I really think the homemade pudding is what makes this recipe shine!

For more banana-inspired posts, visit these fun ideas from The Party Wagon…

Gigantic Banana Split

Curious George at the Drive-In Party

Thanks for being here!

Cheers,

Lydia xo

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

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

  1. GRAZING BOARDS
large cheese board with fruit and crackers

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

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

2. FOOTBALL CHEESE DIP (click for recipe)

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

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

3. TOUCHDOWN SNACK MIX (click for recipe)

snack mix for parties with bugles goldfish chex cereal

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

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

oyster crackers with dried ranch dressing and dill

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

5. CHICKEN SLIDERS . (click for recipe)

tailgate-food-ideas-sliders-pizzazzerie

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

6. WISCONSIN BEER BRATS (click for recipe)

wisconsin beer brats

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

7. VEGGIE PO’ BOY (click for recipe)

veggie po boy sandwich

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

8. CHICKPEA SALAD WITH MOZZARELLA BALLS (recipe below)

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

Chickpea Salad Recipe

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

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

2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped

1 can of small black olives, rinsed and drained

1 package of grape tomatoes, sliced into halves

1 small package of mini mozzarella balls, gently separated

1/4 cup of chopped, fresh parsley

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

Fresh ground pepper for garnish

Instructions~

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

Combine chickpeas and next five ingredients in the large bowl.

Toss ingredients with oil mixture in the bowl.

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

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

Serves 6-8

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

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

chickpea salad with apples and pumpkin seeds

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

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

10. FOOTBALL BROWNIES (click for recipe)

brownies shaped like footballs with white icing for the seams

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

11. CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS OR BROWNIES

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

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

12. TEAM SPIRIT COCKTAIL

signature cocktail for the university of georgia

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

13. FRUITY BEER COCKTAIL (click for recipe)

fruity beer cocktail with football coaster diy

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

14. BODYARMOR (click for flavor choices)

football player holding helmet full of bodyarmor sports drinks

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

Thanks for reading and enjoy your game days and parties!

Cheers xo,

Lydia

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julie says…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Hand-Paint Skull Cookies

Day of the Dead Sugar Cookies Two Ways

Design 1: Hand-painted

Things You’ll Need

Skull-shaped sugar cookies, baked and cooled

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


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

–Corn syrup

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

–1-2 tbsp vodka


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Decorate Skull Cookies Using Fondant

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


Design 2: Fondant Details Using a Royal Icing Base

Things You’ll Need

–Skull-shaped sugar cookies, baked and cooled

–Royal icing

 –Homemade or pre-made fondant

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

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

–Small heart cookie cutter

–Small rectangle cookie cutter

–Assortment of flower fondant stamps

–X-acto knife 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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