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.

orange soda cocktail with stir stick on top of glass

Clementine Ginny Cocktail

Lydia Menzies

Ingredients
  

  • 2 oz Gin
  • 5-6 oz Izze Clementine Soda
  • Lime slices

Instructions
 

  • Fill 8 oz. glass with ice.
  • Measure 2 oz. of gin and pour over ice.
  • Top with chilled Izze Clementine Soda.
  • Add limes 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

chocolate butterscotch candy on red and white striped paper with red and white striped ribbon
Chocolate Peanut Butter Butterscotch Candy

Hello Friends,

I have been playing around with a few simple ingredients to make a butterscotch candy. This recipe uses simple ingredients that I hope you are able to find easily.

corn flakes sugar butterscotch chips chocolate chips peanut butter light corn syrup on counter
chocolate butterscotch candy on red and white striped paper with red and white striped ribbon

Chocolate Peanut Butter Butterscotch Candy

Lydia Menzies

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup Karo light corn syrup
  • 5 cups Corn Flakes cereal
  • 12 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 12 oz. butterscotch chips

Instructions
 

  • In a large saucepan, heat sugar, peanut butter, and light corn syrup over medium heat until smooth.
  • Turn off heat and add in butterscotch chips. Stir continuously to melt the butterscotch into the warm mixture.
  • Add Corn Flakes, and mix to coat the cereal evenly.
  • Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spread mixture evenly on pan.
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees (F).
  • Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly on top of mixture and bake until chocolate chips begin to melt. This takes 15 minutes in my oven. Stay close and watch carefully so that the chocolate does not scorch.
  • When chocolate chips begin to melt and sides begin to bubble, remove from oven and spread chocolate evenly across candy.
  • Let set (about an hour) and then slice into pieces. Enjoy!
chocolate butterscotch candy on red and white striped paper with red and white striped ribbon

I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does! This recipe combines the old-fashioned recipe of Corn Flake Candy with butterscotch and chocolate. I literally could make this each week and my kids and husband wouldn’t get tired of it. Lol! I love adapting older recipes and making them a little bit new. If you have a recipe that you would like to share, please do! You can always email it to me. I will also share a video of this recipe on my Instagram.

For other simple candy recipes, you can also try one of these…

My Aunt’s Chocolate Pecan Candy

Quick Cracker Candy

Puppy Chow

If you prefer to pin for future reference…

chocolate butterscotch candy pin

Cheers,

Lydia xo

blueberry cobbler with two red forks beside glass pan on shite napkin with blue stripes
My Mom’s Old-Fashioned Blueberry Cobbler

Blueberry Cobbler is a sweet treat to serve to my family throughout spring and summer. My dad has always grown blueberries (and often gives the entire bush as a gift to friends who ask him about them). We had trays full of berries each summer, and I always loved that abundance of homegrown goodness in our kitchen. 🙂 My mom would make blueberry jam that I could never get enough of- and blueberry muffins, and blueberry cobbler…

blueberry cobbler with two red forks beside glass pan on shite napkin with blue stripes

When we have blueberries that happen to be more tart than sweet, my kids will ignore them pretty harshly. I usually freeze them for smoothies, but this time I decided to bake with them. The kids had no problem with the berries after this cobbler came out of the oven. Haha! Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and this tastes like summer in a bowl. Here is the recipe for this very simple family favorite!

blueberry cobbler with two red forks beside glass pan on shite napkin with blue stripes

My Mom’s Old-Fashioned Blueberry Cobbler

Lydia Menzies

Ingredients
  

  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 to 4 cups blueberries (washed and drained)

Instructions
 

  • Place berries in a bowl and add 3/4 cup of sugar. Gently stir to coat the berries. Set aside.
  • Sift 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup flour together in a large bowl.
  • Add milk and combine.
  • Melt butter and pour into a 9 x 13 glass baking dish.
  • Pour batter mixture evenly over hot butter.
  • Pour blueberries evenly on top.
  • Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 30-40 minutes.
  • Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  • I hope you enjoy this simple treat. It is a great recipe to have on hand for a quick dessert idea when you need it!

Cheers,

Lydia xo

ingredients for brocooli cheese cornbread with jiffy corn muffin mix eggs butter broccoli milk onion and cheese
Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Cornbread Recipe
ingredients for brocooli cheese cornbread with jiffy corn muffin mix eggs butter broccoli milk onion and cheese

My daughter requests this recipe for each holiday meal. I think it is cute because I felt the same way about this when I was a teenager. This recipe is hard to describe because it is unlike anything I’ve had or seen to which I can compare it. It is a perfect recipe for a brunch- and according to my daughter, every holiday meal that you make! I made it for Easter this year and thought I would share it with you. It is a shortcut recipe because it starts with a cornbread mix- and it doesn’t have many other ingredients to go along with it. I didn’t have a chance to take photos of it- except for when it was just out of the oven, but I thought you wouldn’t mind. Here’s the recipe…

Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Cornbread Recipe

Lydia Menzies

Ingredients
  

  • 1 box Jiffy Cornbread Mix
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 10 oz. box of frozen broccoli cooked and drained
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • Melt the stick of butter and pour into 9×13 casserole dish.
  • Mix all other ingredients together.
  • Pour over melted butter.
  • Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 30-35 minutes (or until golden brown)
  • Cut into squares and serve.
  • Enjoy!

Let me know when you try this recipes and how you like it! And how you would describe it! Lol! It is a crowd pleaser!

Cheers,

Lydia xo

chocolate easter cake with edible green grass and chocolate bird nest on top with easter plates gold forks pink napkins
Triple Chocolate Cake~ Recipe Shortcut

Sometimes we all need a shortcut when we need a dessert for something special. This recipe was one that my sister used to make when I was younger~ and even though I am more of a frosting girl when it comes to cake, this cake recipe won me over. It is really simple because it starts from a boxed cake mix!

triple chocolate cake with powdered sugar from the top

By baking the cake in a bundt pan, it gives the cake some decoration. I love the simplicity of the chocolate cake with the white powdered sugar, but I often dress up this cake a little more. Depending on the occasion, I decorate the cake in different ways. It is perfect for birthdays and holidays- and for when you just have a chocolate craving. It is rich, and the powdered sugar is the perfect complement to all of the chocolate.

For Easter, I had a little fun decorating the cake with a spring theme…

chocolate easter cake with edible green grass and chocolate bird nest on top with easter plates gold forks pink napkins

After the cake had cooled, I added powdered sugar. Next, I added edible green grass (I found it at Target) and a chocolate bird nest with jelly beans in the center opening of the cake.

triple chocolate bundt cake with edible green grass and chocolate bird nest with jelly bean eggs

Here is the quick and easy recipe…

triple chocolate bundt cake with edible green grass and chocolate bird nest with jelly bean eggs

Triple Chocolate Cake ~ Recipe Shortcut

Lydia Menzies

Ingredients
  

  • 1 box Devil's Food Cake Mix
  • 1 small box of Jell-O Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup sherry
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 package of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Powdered Sugar (Confectioner's Sugar) for sprinkling on top of cake

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix.
  • Next, add oil, sherry, sour cream, and eggs.
  • Mix by hand for 5 minutes.
  • After you have mixed the ingredients, add in the chocolate chips. Stir to combine.
  • Grease/Oil a Bundt pan.
  • Pour cake mixture evenly into pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 45-50 minutes.
  • To create the nest on top of the cake, use edible green grass and roll a section of the grass into a circle. Top with a chocolate bird nest (find recipe for chocolate bird nests here).
  • Enjoy!

I hope you love this easy shortcut dessert! It is one of our family favorites. Let me know if you try it and how you like it!

Cheers,

Lydia xo

triple chocolate cake with chocolate bird nest and three easter bunny plates with gold forks and pink napkins
chocolate chip pie slice being lifted out of pie
Easy Chocolate Chip Pie ~ A Family Favorite

Hands down, this recipe is one of the easiest and most-requested desserts I have ever made! My mom made this for us when we were kids, and then it became my signature dessert when I was a teenager. Lol- I would make it all the time! When I went to college, I continued to make it for my college friends- and then on and on. Here I am with teenagers myself, and I am still making it! The good news is that kids can easily learn to make it, too!

chocolate chip pie with a slice cut out of it on a pie server
chocolate chip pie slice being lifted out of pie

Easy Chocolate Chip Pie ~ A Family Favorite

Lydia Menzies

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Deep Dish Pie Shell
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 self-rising flour
  • 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped pecans

Instructions
 

  • Melt butter.
  • Add slightly beaten egg.
  • Add flour, sugar, chocolate chips, and pecans.
  • Pour into unbaked deep-dish pie shell.
  • Bake at 325 degrees (F) for 50-60 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and let set.
  • Serve as is or enjoy with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup!
chocolate chip pie slice on white plate with ice cream and chocolate sauce

A few notes…

I put a sheet pan under the pie while it cooks to catch any over spill.

I once tried using 2 regular pie shells instead of one deep-dish pie shell. The pie was thin and not as good as when you use a deep-dish.

I check the pie at 50 mins. and then decide if it needs more minutes added to it. Because our ovens all cook differently, be sure to check it at 50 mins. to decide.

chocolate chip pie slice being lifted out of pie

I hope you love it! Pin it for later to save it…

chocolate chip pie recipe cover

Cheers xo,

Lydia

white bowl of soup with sausage tortellini and spinach
Five of Our Easy Family-Favorite Soups

I love a big bowl of soup and often joke that I could live off of soup and dessert. I am sharing five of my favorites with you today- especially because it has been perfect weather for a big bowl of soup lately.

This first soup is one that my friend Nancy served for lunch one day when our kids were toddlers. The kids loved it and so it became a go-to for me. A funny little side note…my niece always thought my sister was saying “Santa Face Soup” and so now my sister makes this each Christmas Eve. 🙂

1. SANTA FE SOUP

Santa Fe Soup

Lydia Menzies

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pkg. Dry ranch style dressing mix (original)
  • 1 pkg. Taco seasoning mix
  • 1 can black beans, undrained
  • 1 cann kidney beans, undrained
  • 1 can pinto beans, undrained
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes with lime juice, undrained
  • 1 can white shoepeg corn
  • 1 cup water

Instructions
 

  • Brown ground beef and onion in large pot; drain, add remaining ingredients and simmer for 2-3 hours.  Better if prepared the day before serving. 
  • Garnish with dollop of sour cream or sprinkle with shredded Mexican blend cheese.  Serve with Mexican corn bread or tortilla chips.
  • Makes about 4-5 quarts.  Freezes very well.

MEXICAN CORN BREAD

Mexican Corn Bread

Lydia Menzies

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pkg. corn bread mix (such as Jiffy)
  • 1 8 oz. can cream style corn
  • 1 3 oz. can chopped green chilies Most chopped green chili cans are 4 ounce; so I measure about half way between ¼ cup and ½ cup in a liquid measuring cup. 
  • ½ cup shredded cheese (Monterrey Jack, Cheddar, or Mexican Blend)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Combine ingredients in medium mixing bowl.  Stir only until ingredients are moist.
  • Pour into greased (use Pam) 8 inch baking pan. (I use mini-muffin pan)  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.  (Mini-muffins take about 15 min.) 
  • My husband likes soup, but I can tell that he often wants bread to go with it. I switch it up on which bread I put with it, but this Mexican Corn Bread and the frozen Pepperidge Farm 3-Cheese baguette are our typical choices.

2. SAUSAGE AND SPINACH TORTELLINI SOUP

Another friend, Heather, made this soup for me one day (they know I love trying new soups!). I think I sent this recipe out in my newsletter, but I thought it would be nice to have it all in one place. This is one of those recipes that I would have skipped right over because of the sausage. I’m so glad Heather didn’t! It is really good- and my kids love the sausage and tortellini in it. I am linking you to the recipe here >> SAUSAGE AND SPINACH TORTELLINI SOUP Again, I typically serve Pepperidge Farm’s 3-Cheese Bread (from the freezer section) with this soup.

white bowl of soup with sausage tortellini and spinach

3. THE ULTIMATE CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

If your family prefers something a little less daring and a lot more familiar, I recommend this Chicken Noodle Soup recipe from Taste of Home. I made it recently and it was a really big hit with my kids. Empty bowls all around the table!

BUTTERY BISQUICK MUFFINS

I used to make these in college for my friends and they were always a hit. Now, I’m not saying these are healthy, but they surely are always gone quickly. They are so simple!

Buttery Bisquick Muffins

Lydia Menzies

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • ½ cup butter (melted)
  • 1 cup sour cream

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
  • Mix together all ingredients. Pour into un-greased muffin tins.
  • Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 15-20 minutes.

4. WHITE BEAN CHICKEN CHILI

White Bean Chicken Chili

Lydia Menzies

Ingredients
  

  • 2-3 cans Great Northern Beans drained
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic (optional)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 5 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 12 oz. Mexican Blend shredded cheese
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Sauté onion in hot oil in large soup pot over medium-high heat until clear and tender.
  • Add garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook for 2 mins., stirring constantly.
  • Add broth and bring to a boil. Let simmer for about 10 mins.
  • Add in chopped chicken, beans, 1 cup of cheese, salt and pepper.
  • Stir well, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat.
  • Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
  • Before serving, stir in cilantro.
  • Ladle into bowls and top each serving with remaining cheese. Garnish with cilantro.

5. FETA SHRIMP SOUP

If you would like to serve something with more of a tomato base, this is one of my very favorite soups. Feta Shrimp Soup from Southern Living

I would love to know what you want to try first- and which ones you like best! I am a crazy for soups and so I like a variety of kinds. If you ever have a favorite you would like to share, please send me an email or leave a comment in the comment section.

Stay warm and well-fed!

Cheers,

Lydia xo

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 being picked up from plate

Chocolate Pecan Candy Recipe

Lydia Menzies

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb. coarsely chopped pecans (or 16 oz.)
  • 2 cups Ghirardelli chocolate chips (I use half semi-sweet and half milk chocolate chips)
  • 1 stick butter (½ cup)
  • 2 tsp 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

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 recipe with meringue

My Favorite Banana Pudding Recipe

Ingredients
  

  • 6 large ripe bananas
  • 1 12 oz. box of Nilla Wafers
  • cup sugar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Meringue Topping

  • This is when you will use the egg whites
  • cup sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
 

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

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

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

Chickpea Salad Recipe

Lydia Menzies

Ingredients
  

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 15. oz cans of chickpeas rinsed and drained
  • 2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 can small black olives, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pkg. grape tomatoes, sliced into halves
  • 1 small package of mini mozzarella balls, gently separated
  • ¼ cup chopped, fresh parsley
  • ½ cup 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.

ice cream sandwiches dressed up for halloween with candy eyes and witch hats
8 of My Favorite Halloween Food Ideas

Fun or spooky? Cute or creepy? Which is your favorite way to celebrate Halloween? These Halloween food ideas fit more in the fun and cute camp and they were so much fun to create! One of my favorite ways to decorate food for Halloween is by using candy eyes…the eyes make everything more fun. Take a look at the following treats that I made for my own kids and let me know what you think! I have more eye-deas than I can put on one page, but let’s just say that candy eyes bring out all the fun ways to play on words!

  1. Halloween Ice Cream Sand-witches (and Mummies and Monsters)
ice cream sandwiches dressed up for halloween with candy eyes and witch hats
Halloween Ice Cream Sandwiches by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

These are about as easy as it gets to make! To make the “Mummy” simply tear a piece of the wrapper from around the ice cream sandwich to allow a place to add the candy eyes. Use a drop of frosting or peanut butter to attach the eyes to the ice cream sandwich. To make the “Frankenstein” monster, break a mint-flavored ice cream sandwich in half and add the candy eyes with frosting or peanut butter. And, for the witch…simply add candy eyes in the middle of the ice cream sandwich and then add a witch hat by inserting a toothpick in the top of the ice cream and then adding the hat. You can find witch hats (at my affiliate link) on Amazon here.

Halloween ice cream sandwiches decorated to look like mummy witch and frankenstein
Halloween Ice Cream Sandwiches by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

2. EYE SCream Sandwich Ghosts

Ice Cream Sandwiches with candy eyes in the ice cream to look like ghosts
Halloween Ghost Ice Cream Sandwiches by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

For these Ice Cream Sandwich Ghosts, I used Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches because there is more ice cream in the middle than the average ice cream sandwich. This makes it easier to make the eyes peep out from the ice cream. To make the eyes stick, add them to the slightly softened ice cream and then put them back in the freezer immediately.

ice cream sandwich ghosts with candy eyes peeping out from the ice cream
Ice Cream Sandwich Ghosts with Candy Eyes by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

3. Halloween Brownie Tr(EYE)-fle

Halloween brownie trifle with whipped cream and eyeball gumballs
Brownie Tr(EYE)-fle by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

For this brownie trifle, I put ping pong balls with eyes in the very bottom of the trifle dish and added battery-operated lights to make it all glow. Next, I placed a few layers of plastic wrap over the balls and lights and then started adding the brownies. I layered chocolate pudding, Cool Whip, and crushed Oreos and then repeated the brownies, pudding, Cool Whip and Oreos. For the top layer, I added gum balls that were eyeballs (typically available at Halloween) and I even sprinkled in a few small, candy eyes. I can’t even tell you how fast this disappeared!

Brownie Trifle with gumball eyeballs on the top
Brownie Trifle by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

4. Individual Brownie Tr(EYE)-fles

Individual servings of brownie trifles with candy eyes and gold spoons
Mini Brownie Trifles Tr(EYE)fles by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

Same eye-dea, just served individually in small jars or cups. For this brownie trifle, I used jumbo candy eyes for the topper and simply layered brownies, chocolate pudding, and Cool Whip inside the jars. You can definitely add a spoonful of crushed Oreos if you like! These are a huge hit in a small package!

5. L(EYE)ME- ADE

Limeade in glass bottles with straws and eyeball ping pong balls
Limeade served with EYES by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon. Straws and Straw Flags by Loralee Lewis

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but here I served Simply Limeade in glass bottles and added a straw and straw flag from Loralee Lewis. I topped the bottles with eyeball ping pong balls that I found at Michael’s. The ball rested perfectly against the straw and didn’t roll off or fall down into the bottle- it made a very fun presentation!

L(EYE)me-ade by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

And then here is another version of how I have served Limeade to be L(EYE)m-ade…I actually really love this one because the kids like wearing the eyeball rings…

Halloween drinks served in glass bottles with spooky eye rings and halloween straws
Limeade aka L(EYE)me-ade by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

6. EYES-cubes ~ (Ice Cubes) for Eyes Tea

Ice cubes made with eyeball ping pong balls
Eyes-cubes made by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

For this fun idea, I used silicone cupcake molds to make ice cubes and added an eyeball ping pong ball on top. The balls did not freeze into the ice, but made a divot in the ice so that the ball could stay on top of it. I floated these ice cubes in a punch bowl of sweet tea to serve EYES TEA (iced tea).

Iced Tea in a punch bowl with floating eyeball ice cubes
Iced Tea Punch/ EYES TEA with EYES CUBES by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

7. WITCH WARTS

small glass jars filled with green candies and candy eyes topped with a witch hat and mini broom
Witch Warts Party Favors by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

Candy eyes give this “Witch Warts” party favor extra personality! To make this gift for your party guests or friends, use a small, clear plastic jar and fill with your favorite green candy. I used green sprinkles. Slide candy eyes into the jar so that they are facing out. Put the jar top on and add a mini witch hat- secure the hat with glue dots or double-sided tape. I wrapped a green ribbon around the outside of the jar top and tied a bow. Add a mini broom stick to finish off the look of the witch! This gift is sure to get a smile!

Witch wart party favor green candy in clear jar with mini witch hat and mini broom
Witch Warts Party Favors by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

8. EYE-SCREAM BATH BOMBS

Display of halloween bath bombs with candy eyes inside of ice cream cones
EYE-Scream Bath Bombs by Sun Basil Soaps- styled by Lydia at The Party Wagon

Although this is not edible, I couldn’t help but share it with you guys! These bath bombs are bomb, as you can see. Here is another party favor idea for you for a fun Halloween take away! My friend, Lauren, at Sun Basil Soap made these for us, and I displayed them in ice cream cones and candy cups to make them look like ice cream to go along with the eye-scream theme. They were so cute and unique. Candy eyes really do make everything a little more fun!

Display of monster mash candy eye bath bombs displayed in ice cream cones
Eye-Scream Bath Bombs by Sun Basil Soaps and styled by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

I hope these eye-deas jumpstart your creative juices for Halloween! The eyes definitely have it when it comes to a fun and not-so spooky Halloween. Here’s to making, baking, and celebrating!! Enjoy!

Cheers xo,

Lydia