Inspiring Celebrations Since 2006

Cute Winter Holiday Craft: DIY Wine Cork Owls

DIY wine cork owls in holiday hats

How sweet are these tiny, winter-hat wearing owls?! In addition to being a fun holiday craft project, these little guys make super cute gift toppers. For example, try hot gluing them onto the lids of mason jars and other flat-topped favor containers filled with edible treats. :)

And if you feel like going all out with the details, you can also decorate their chocolate “winter hats” with small craft pom toppers, craft paint (think red and green stripes like an elf hat), or fuzzy pipe cleaner accents for a Santa-inspired look! Here’s how you make them…


DIY Winter Holiday Cork Owls


  • Wine corks
  • Craft wiggle eyes
  • Colored felt (I used the Handmade Modern felt from Target)
  • Hershey’s KISSES in the colors of your choice
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors


1. Hot glue a pair of wiggle eyes to the top of each cork. Note: oversize eyes add to the cuteness factor on these!

2. Cut small triangles from orange felt for the “beaks”.

3. Cut small leaf shapes from additional colors of felt to act as the “wings”.

4. Hot glue the beaks and wings onto the corks.

5. Hot glue a Hershey’s KISS “winter hat” to the top of each owl!


kids holiday craft cork owls

cute holiday owl gift toppers DIY

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Chocolate Santa Hat Holiday Gifts + Free Printable

DIY Santa Hat Holiday Gift Idea

I designed these cute Santa hats for a client recently and thought it would be fun to share them here too, because they’re such an easy DIY holiday gift! These would make for a cute holiday party favor idea too. Here’s how you make them… (+ download my “making spirits bright” santa printable below!)



  • Red Hershey’s KISSES
  • Cone-shaped clear treat bag – 6×12” size (I found mine at Michaels)
  • Jumbo white pipe cleaner
  • Large white craft pom
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Tape

1. Fill the cone-shaped treat bag about ¾ full with red Hershey’s KISSES. Twist the excess portion of the bag to secure the cone shape of the “hat”, leaving a little extra room for the candy to move around before taping the excess bag down.

2. Flip the bag over so the top of the cone is now pointing up. Massage the bag as necessary to ensure it sits flat, and also to move the extra room inside to the top of the bag, near the point.

3. Hot glue a craft pom onto the point of the bag. The extra weight of the glue and pom will cause it to flop over, just like a traditional Santa hat!

4. Form the jumbo white pipe cleaner into a circle that’s about the same diameter as the base of the hat or slightly smaller. Twist the ends of the pipe cleaner circle together, and slide it onto the hat. Tip: If the pipe cleaner circle isn’t tight enough to stay put on its own, use small dabs of hot glue to secure it in place.

DIY Santa Hat Party Favor Gift

Free Printable:

Download the printable Making Spirits Bright Sign in 4×6″ or 5×7″. Merry Christmas!

Santa hat treat cones

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Grinch Inspired Muddy Buddies Snack Mix

Grinch Holiday Muddy Buddy Mix

This post is sponsored by Chex Cereal.

When it comes to making spirits bright in our house, classic Christmas movies and festive treats always do the trick! If this rings true for you too, then read on… because this fun idea encompasses both. :)

My kids are at an age where The Grinch is high on their list of holiday favs, and I still love watching it with them too. With this in mind, I made a few story-inspired changes to the original Chex Muddy Buddies recipe and ended up with this colorful – and incredibly YUMMY – Grinch Inspired Muddy Buddies Mix. It’s still just as quick and easy to make, but features simple twists like white chocolate chips (instead of semi-sweet) and bright red heart shaped sprinkles. 

Red and Green Grinch Holiday Snack Mix

Perfect for sharing (so don’t be a Grinch!)

With its festive palette of red and green, this Muddy Buddies recipe works great for all sorts of holiday celebrations – from movie nights to play dates to parties. It’s the perfect combination of crunchy and sweet, with a subtle hint of salty goodness. Just be forewarned that eating it may cause loved ones to smile three sizes bigger. ;)

The full recipe is at the bottom of this post, but here’s a peek at the process too:

Green Chex

Start by melting butter, peanut butter, and white chocolate chips together to make the cereal coating. Tint the melted coating green, then pour it onto the cereal and stir. Note: I found that mixing by hand was the fastest way to get all of the cereal covered!

Spread HALF of the mix out on wax paper to dry, and garnish with red sprinkles while the coating is still wet.

Green Chex with Red Heart Sprinkles

Pour the other HALF of the coated cereal into a zip-top bag and shake it with powdered sugar.

Grinch Inspired Muddy Buddies

Spread the powdered-sugar-covered cereal out on wax paper, too.

Holiday Muddy Buddies on pan to dry

Once dry, mix both types of cereal and the popcorn together. I used microwave popcorn to keep things easy. The popcorn adds a hint of saltiness and cuts the overall sweetness down a bit, making the final result even more snackable!

Grinch themed holiday treat mix

That’s it… time to enjoy! And remember: don’t be a Grinch, because this recipe is intended for SHARING! ;)


Grinch Inspired Muddy Buddies Snack Mix

Makes 18 Servings


  • 9 cups Rice Chex™
  • 1-1/2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 6 Tbsp butter (or 3/4 of a stick)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 8 cups popped popcorn
  • green food coloring
  • red heart sprinkles (I used these and pulled the pink ones out.)


  1. In a large bowl, measure cereal and set aside.
  2. In a 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High for 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 20 seconds longer, or just until mixture can be stirred smooth.
  3. Add green food coloring.*
  4. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.
  5. Spread HALF of the coated cereal onto wax paper to cool. Garnish with red heart sprinkles.
  6. Pour the other half of the cereal into a large, resealable food-storage plastic bag. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag and shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool.
  7. Combine both cereals together and mix with popcorn.
  8. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.


  1. If the chocolate thickens up too quickly adding the food coloring, thin it out again by adding another Tbsp of butter and microwaving on high for 20 seconds.
  2. OR – Instead of using white chocolate chips, you can use green melting chocolate and skip the food coloring altogether.


Kids Holiday Snack Mix - Grinch Inspired

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Chex. As always – all thoughts, opinions, and designs are my own. Thank you so much for supporting the companies that make it possible for me to keep the creative content coming your way!

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Sweet-and-Salty Pumpkin Spice Chex Party Mix

Pumpkin Spice Chex Party Mix with Sprinkles and Pretzels

‘Tis the season for family, friends, and all things PUMPKIN. Pumpkin pies, muffins, cookies, lattes… you get the picture. Speaking of which, I’m excited to share another kind of pumpkin-y treat with you today… one that you might be familiar with, but this time there’s a fun twist!

Pumpkin Spice Chex Mix is always popular at this time of year, thanks to how fast/easy it is to make AND how tasty it is to eat. Those really are the perfect attributes for a recipe, don’t you think? We’re talking about less time in the kitchen and more time hanging out with your guests! 

You can find the regular recipe for Pumpkin Spice Chex Mix on their website, but I’ve also teamed up with Chex this holiday season to share my own spin on it!

Putting the PARTY in Party Mix

With 2 additional ingredients + one ingredient swap, my own version of Pumpkin Spice Chex Mix is still quick and easy to make, just like the original. You’ll find an extra punch of sweet/salty flavor + a big splash of color… you might even say I added a bit more “party” to this party mix. ;)  Who says fall celebrations have to be just neutrals and earth tones all the time, anyways?!

The full, modified recipe is at the bottom of this post, but here’s a quick peek at the ingredients and process:

Pumpkin Spice Chex Mix Ingredients

In the image above, the items in the script font indicate what’s new.  I swapped out (store-bought) maple glazed pecans for the regular pecans, then added chopped white chocolate pretzels & sprinkles in bright autumn colors.

Aside from using a flavored pecan, you really begin here by making the Pumpkin Spice Chex Mix as usual. The pretzels and sprinkles don’t get added until the very end, when the mixture is cooling. So, start by mixing and microwaving the ingredients, as called for in the recipe:

Mixing the Chex and Pecans

A Dash of Sweet & Salty

After the main party mix recipe is finished, spread it out on wax paper to cool. Let it sit for about 3 minutes, then sprinkle the chopped white chocolate pretzels evenly across the top. Note: It’s important to wait a few minutes before adding the pretzels, because if the mix is TOO hot, the white chocolate coating may melt off too quickly.

White Chocolate Pretzels Chopped

Bring on the Color

After the pretzels have been added, it’s time for sprinkles! The sprinkles should stick to both the (still wet) cereal mixture and the white chocolate pretzels, since the coating on the pretzels will start to warm right when they touch the mixture.

Pumpkin Spice Chex Mix with Sprinkles

Now this party mix LOOKS like a party, too!

Bright colors always speak to me, so I went with a vibrant red, orange, yellow, purple, and gold for the sprinkles. However, you can use whatever colors you personally love or have on hand. If you want to give your mix a decidedly “fall” feel, there are even sprinkle mixes available at this time of year that are shaped like leaves, pumpkins, etc.  

Let the mixture cool, then it’s ready to serve! You might want to make a double batch of this though, because it’s going to go quick. ;) You can also store it in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy!

Bowl of Pumpkin Spice Chex Party Mix


Sweet-and-Salty Pumpkin Spice Chex Party Mix

Makes 16 Servings


  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups Cinnamon Chex™ cereal
  • 2 cups Wheat Chex™ cereal
  • 2 cups Honey Nut Chex™ cereal
  • 8 oz glazed pecans
  • 8 oz chopped white chocolate (or yogurt) covered pretzels, chopped
  • 1/3 cup sprinkles

In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice; set aside. In a small microwave-safe dish, microwave butter on High about 30 seconds or until melted. Stir in vanilla. In a large microwavable bowl, mix all cereals and pecans. Pour butter mixture over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly distributed. Add sugar and spice mixture and stir until coated.

Microwave uncovered on High 5 minutes or until mixture begins to brown, stirring every minute.

Spread on wax paper or a cookie sheet. Let cool for 3 minutes. Spread chopped pretzels evenly across the mixture. Add sprinkles evenly across the mixture. Store in an airtight container.


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Chex. As always – all thoughts, opinions, and designs are my own. Thank you so much for supporting the companies that make it possible for me to keep the creative content coming your way!

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Photography Tips for Creatives: The 5 Factors that Help Me Capture Great Shots

*This post is made possible by Adorama – the go-to resource for both renting and buying cameras and electronics. Check out their extensive learning center articles for helpful photography tips and inspiration, too!*

Flamingo Donuts with Party Hats

Pictured above: DIY Flamingo Donuts for Mattel

Let’s Talk Photography

Hi, friends! Today’s post is different than my norm here at HWTM. Instead of sharing a creative party or DIY project filled with lots of pretty photos, I’m going to give you some behind-the-scenes details about the photos themselves.

I hope that sharing my own process for photographing creative work might make things a little easier (and less daunting!) for others that are looking to do the same.

So, the first thing to note is that all of the images in this post are photos of my work that I personally shot within the past year for some of my favorite client projects. If you’re new to photography or feeling frustrated with it, here’s why you might find this encouraging:

  • I don’t have any formal photography training.
  • While photography has always been a major part of HWTM, it wasn’t until just last year that I finally started shooting my own work.
  • I used to have a major mental block about learning how to handle a “fancy camera”. This is because I assumed it would take forever, and my already-overloaded-self just didn’t have that kind of time to spare.

A New Perspective

Looking at #2 and #3 on the list above actually makes me laugh now, because I have such a different perspective today. There’s incredible freedom that comes from feeling like you’re in control of your images and knowing that you can take specific steps to improve them!

Pirate Party Cake for Fisher-Price

Pictured above: DIY Pirate Party Cake for Fisher-Price

With Creatives, Makers, and Influencers In Mind…

Before we jump in, please remember that I’m simply sharing the tips and equipment that work for me when it comes to capturing creative work. 

This post isn’t really “photography tips for aspiring photographers”. It’s more “photography tips for creatives that want to beautifully capture their work and/or products without spending an eternity trying to figure out how to do it.” That felt way too long for a post title though. ;)

And even though my personal focus is on party-related details like food, drinks, and decorations, these tips will work across a wide range of creative categories.

Kids Monster Snack Cups for Fisher-Price

Pictured above: DIY Monster Snack Cups for Fisher-Price


Photography Tips: 5 Key Factors that Work for Me

1. Great Equipment (I’ll tell you specifically what I use below.)
2. Natural Light
3. The TWO Camera Settings to Adjust
4. Distance and Blurs
5. Photo Editing

I know that you can get great results with these factors, too, and will expand on each of them below.


1. Great Equipment

This one is a biggie, and not exactly rocket science I know…  but trust me when I tell you that it’s SUCH an important piece of the puzzle.

It’s also the hardest truth to swallow, because there’s a substantial investment involved. If you’re feeling hesitant about deciding which camera to buy, you might want to consider renting a camera through Adorama first. This way you can try it out before you commit! 

Here is the photo equipment that I use:

Notice that I linked to the “most current models” for the camera body and flash. This is because we’ve been using this same equipment for 7 years, and multiple newer models have come out since then. I assume the newer models will perform even better, but am still able to produce great results with what we’ve got, so I don’t feel the need to replace it yet. This is a great testament to how our investment has paid off in the long run!

How and why we decided to invest in these particular pieces:

When I started blogging 10+ years ago, I knew nothing about photography, so I traded graphic design work for studio hours with a photographer friend. This quickly proved inefficient

Next, we attempted go the DIY route and bought our first round of photography equipment, which my husband taught himself to use. It was probably middle-of-the-line equipment at best, but still felt like a WHOLE LOTTA money to us, so I hoped for amazing results. We got okay results, but definitely not what I envisioned. This proved frustrating.

Then – one fortuitous day – I met an incredibly talented photographer that was shooting a party I had styled for a mutual friend. I asked if he’d be willing to offer some advice on how to improve our own images. When he stopped by a few days later to discuss it, he took one look at our (old) camera and said, “Yep, that’s easy – you just need to spend some more money.

Ugh – this was really NOT the advice we wanted to hear. On the other hand, I appreciated how matter-of-fact and confident he was on the situation. He’s also the person that recommended the equipment I use now.

And the really great part? On day ONE of using our new camera, we realized what still rings true today: BEST. ADVICE. EVER.

DIY Floral Party Hats

Pictured above: DIY Floral Party Hats for Mattel


2. Natural Light

The lighting rules I typically follow are:

1. Take advantage of natural light.

I position most of my dessert tables and smaller projects on a simple white table next to the sliding glass door near my family room. This is because it’s the largest “window” in the house. I shoot directly at the table with the glass door to my left. Time of day is also important, and I try to shoot when the shadows are minimal. If you don’t have much flexibility with the timing of your shoots, check out this article for tips on shooting at different times of day.

2. Rely on settings first, then add flash.

When the natural light isn’t bright enough on its own, I’ll play with a couple camera settings to bring in more light. (See more on this in tip #3.) If there’s still not enough light on the subject, then I’ll incorporate the flash. I only like using flash when I really need it, because the image can also get blown out pretty easily.

Green Football Party Punch

Pictured above: Party Punch from a Football Inspired Drink Station for NFL Homegating


3. Adjust TWO Camera Settings

If you’ve got the time and energy to devote, there are so many things to learn about your camera and its settings.

However, if you just want to cut to the chase are primarily shooting still life projects like me, here’s what I do: keep my camera in Av mode (Aperture-priority), my ISO at 800, and adjust the following 2 settings until I’m happy with the results:

#1: F-stop/Aperture

The “f” in f-stop stands for “focal length”. The f-stop numbers are used to indicate the size of your camera’s aperture, which is the opening in the camera lens that light shines through. As the f-stop numbers get lower, the aperture opening gets larger. This allows more light in and makes your image brighter. Lower f-stop numbers also create more “background blur” because the “depth of field” (or amount of your photo that will be in focus) also gets smaller as the f-stop numbers get smaller.

My f-stop settings usually stay between 2.8 and 5.0. I use higher numbers in the 4-5 range for larger subjects – such as a wide shot of an entire table where I want several of the items to be in focus. Here’s an example:

Baby Sprinkle Baby Shower Theme

I use and lower f-stop settings (2.8 to 3.5) for smaller subjects and close-up shots, like an individual dessert or a craft detail. Here’s an example:

Cake Sprinkles - Blue Orange Yellow

#2: Exposure Level

On my Canon 5D Mark II camera, the exposure level indicator appears in the camera’s top screen (right next to the battery power icon). It ranges from -2 to +2 with little stop notches in between. I use the large dial in the back of the camera to adjust this exposure level, and typically stick between 0 and 1. The higher the exposure level setting, the brighter your image will be.

That’s it, folks! These are the 2 settings that I’m constantly adjusting. Spend an hour or so practicing these by simply adjusting them and noting what changes, and it will become second nature before you know it!

For me, getting the perfect shot is always a balancing act between f-stop, exposure, and distance from the subject. And speaking of distance… let’s move onto tip #4.

Kitty Cat Cake

Pictured above: DIY Kitty Cat Cake for Fisher-Price


4. Distance and Blurs

One of my first-ever goals with photography was making sure we “had those pretty background blurs”. Luckily, achieving this look is very simple! In addition to affecting the level of blur with your f-stop setting, as mentioned in tip #3, the other important factor is distance.

You can create/control distance in 2 key places:

1. between your primary subject and whatever is sitting behind it
2. between your (camera-wielding) self and your subject

My standard backdrops for DIY projects and smaller in-home shoots are 6×4-ft. artist canvases, usually left white or painted a solid color. This gives me a nice, lightweight background that I can either decorate or leave blank for a “cleaner” look. Most of the example shots in this post were shot against this type of backdrop.

However, at other times my projects are shot “in use” in a regular party setting. I sometimes even shoot my designs at live events now (primarily for portfolio purposes). In both of these cases, the “backdrop” of the subject naturally becomes whatever happens to be sitting around it.

Here’s an example of a relatively simple “in use” background:

glittery champagne bottles

And here’s an example of an “in use” shot where there was a LOT going on behind the subject:

Flamingo Party Centerpiece

Pictured above: DIY Glitter Champagne Bottle for Balloon Time and Flamingo Party Centerpiece for a friend’s birthday

I took the above shot while the party was already happening, so moving things around wasn’t an option. However, I was still able to utilize my f-stop setting and distance to the subject (which was as close as I could possibly get while still fitting it in frame) in order to blur out the background enough to keep the centerpiece itself as the “star” of the shot.

Typically, though, once I’ve figured out what kind of backdrop or background I’m working with, I’ll adjust the distance between the subject and the backdrop as necessary to get the best results. This often means scooting the subject all the way up to the front edge of a table, while the backdrop is quite a ways back. It doesn’t matter if the distance looks “correct” in real life, because you won’t be able to tell in the final shot. The camera is tricky like that!

To summarize, here are 3 simple ways to create more background blur:

  • increase the distance between your subject and its backdrop or background elements
  • get closer to or tighter in on the subject yourself 
  • decrease the f-stop number

If I want less blur and a clearer view of the background, just do the opposite things. Here are a couple examples:

Lots of background blur:

 Minimal background blur:

Pictured above: DIY Mermaid Tail Party Hats and Mermaid Birthday Party Theme for Fisher-Price

P.S. If you look to the left on the image above, you’ll also get little peek at my “studio” set-up! ;)


5. Photo Editing

I love using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to polish my captured images and really make them shine. It’s the icing on the cake! I sometimes edit images for others too, and have received quite a few requests to please “add the magic sparkle dust” to their shots. ;)

While photo editing programs aren’t actually magic, they can certainly feel like it. And just like with a camera, there’s so much that you can do these programs. However – also like with the camera – I opt to stick with just a small handful of steps that I can always rely on for good, quick results.

Here’s an outline of my actual photo editing process:

  1. Important photos into Lightroom
  2. Select favorite images, then do a quick edit (1-2 mins) in Lightroom using the following tools & sliders in the Develop panel (as highlighted in Yellow):

    Lightroom Screenshot
  3. Export the image from Lightroom to a folder on my desktop
  4. Open the image in Photoshop and run a “Magic Sharp” action on it.
  5. Adjust the image a bit more using the Photoshop Brightness/Contrast, Selective Color, and Dodge/Burn tools.

I realize this might sound like a lot of work – but I can usually finish ALL of them in around 2 to 5 minutes per image.


That concludes my tips for today – thanks so much for sticking with me. :)

I would also like to thank Adorama for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. Adorama is an extensive resource of EVERYTHING photography – from a wide range of equipment to education and inspiration. You’ll find TONS of photography & video tips on their website, with content tailored to both newcomers and pros. Possibly best of all, Adorama also offers RENTAL services! This means you can try some of your favorite equipment out before making the decision to buy.

Hope you found some helpful insights here today! I’d be happy to answer additional questions in the comments.

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Colorful Cacti and Candy Summer Soirée

Cactus Party Dessert Table


Theme: Cacti and Candy
STYLED BY: Sisters Vintage Party
Occasion: Summer Party
Location: The Grove House (Fredericksburg, Texas)
Photography: Stacy Felan


(selected & edited by HWTM | explained by Hannah of Sisters Vintage Party)

Cactus Party Kids Table

#1 – Festive Place Settings

The lollipop swirl plate was one of the strongest sources of inspiration for us! Large novelty lollipops served as creative place cards, and were hand lettered in gold by Fritztown Lettering. Since we rent vintage dishes as part of our business, we needed a (non-breakable!) workaround for kid’s parties. We chose boutique quality paper goods, which are a also a great way to add trendy style to real china or glass vintage ware. Vintage aqua rimmed plates were used as chargers, while 2 different patterned paper plates were layered on top. Gold plastic flatware was another a practical way to elevate the look of the party, while black and white cacti napkins added a modern touch.

• • • • •

DIY Candy Garlands

#2 – Kid’s Chair Candy Garlands

The candy garlands draped on the back of sweet, kid-sized pink Chiavari chairs were one of our favorite details. We had a blast stringing these candies one by one, but it definitely took some strength to get that needle through center! We used a large-gauge needle so we could grip it and strung it on the thickest fishing wire we could find. (If the fishing wire is too thin, it will stretch and sag.)

• • • • •

Paper Pinwheel Photo Arch

#3 – Candy Pinwheel Arch

One of the highlights of the party was the brilliantly colorful paper candy-pinwheel arch… what a great photo backdrop! The girls all felt like a queen when they walked through it, too. Layers of tissue pinwheels, cardstock pinwheels, and paper pinwheels made this arch into a textural dream. We even hot glued paper swirls to the middle and cellophane to the ends of some of the pinwheels to make them look like giant pieces of candy in a wrapper.

• • • • •

Cactus Party Cake

#4 – Candy-licious Cactus Cake

The cactus cake and cupcakes were created by Funny Farm Bakery, and the cacti on top are very lifelike! The bottom of the cake is rimmed with Candyfetti from my favorite candy company, Sweets Indeed. This particular mix is actually named Cactus and has various shades of green candies. Sweets Indeed also makes the Candy Kabobs that went on top of the cake. The layers of sour gummy candy are topped off with a wheel of sour belts with a cacti accent. These are so fun to eat and weigh a ton!

• • • • •

Handmade Paper Cactus Decorations

#5 – Handmade Paper Cacti

Another special feature was the array of handmade paper cacti that ran down the center of the table. Nectar Hollow (the maker) really outdid herself! These paper cacti added a bright airiness to the design, while making it possible for us to have cacti on the table that were realistic looking AND kid-friendly!

• • • • •

More Photos from this Party:

Candy and Cactus Party Theme

Colorful Cactus Fiesta Table

Handmade Vintage Scarf Kids Dresses

Vintage Girls Dress - Fiesta

Cotton Candy Drinks

Cactus Party Drink Station

Cactus Party Dessert Table and Cactus Cupcakes

Rainbow Fiesta Popcorn

Cactus Kids Party

Candy Chair Garlands

Modern Fiesta Party Setting

Rainbow Fiesta Party Photo Booth DIY Cactus Favor Bags

Candy Gift Tags



This whimsical Cacti & Candy Summer Soiree styled shoot showcases how vibrant and friendly the local abundance of cacti is here in Fredericksburg, Texas and also allows all the colors of candy to be given their time to shine!

Party Table

Layers upon layers are what make this table such a scrumptiously delicious treat for the eyes! A lime green stripe paper table runner was used as the base, with tulle in various shades of green woven throughout. Hand cut confetti with glittered cacti silhouettes was sprinkled on top. I especially loved the vintage teal glasses with candy fruit slices on the rim!


Ruby Pearl Clothing hand dyes and makes the most unique and whimsical dresses from vintage scarves and beaded details. Every girl can feel special because her dress will be uniquely hers.


In addition to the amazing cake (described in #4, above), the dessert bar housed lots of smaller goodies. Campell’s cookies made the colorful lollipop and cacti shaped cookies. Each one was a little bit different, and the ornate pots for the cacti are such a great detail!

The other treats include Cornfetti popcorn and taffy from Just Pop-N, cacti shaped suckers, and 2 fun drinks appropriately named Cotton Candy Spritzer and Prickly Pear Lemonade. The Cotton Candy Spritzer got a heavy dollop of cotton candy and sprinkling of Candyfetti on top. The festive cacti shaped drink dispensers came from Oriental Trading Co. The bamboo forks and spoons came from The Sucre Shop, and they have the most perfect little cacti outlines on them.

Handmade details are incorporated throughout, ranging from several different paper banners, paper flowers, hand lettered signs, custom iced treats, and custom designed signs. We specialize in paper banners and other handmade details, so when brides or moms rent from us, we like to create something unique for each client! We had 2 paper banners for this party. One had candy wrappers cut out and it hung from the vanity in the treat bar set up. The other banner was in the shape of cacti, and we added flower embellishments for a 3-D effect.

Activites & Favors

The girls were able to spend time eating sweets, giggling on velvet furniture, and even played a game of pin the flower on the cactus.

Their parting gifts were favor bags filled with more treats. Each bag had a hand cut cacti and a hand lettered tag. We embellished each tag with little candy pieces, again making each one unique. Inside was a smorgasbord of lollipops, candy gumdrops, birthday cake bubble gum, lip-gloss in an ice cream cone, bubbles, and the best part is the gumdrop & rock candy shaped soap that looks so real you want to eat it!


The Grove House was such a treat to utilize for our Cacti & Candy Summer Soiree. The open airy porch is something dreams are made of, accented with the massive white columns and historic wooden architectural elements. The courtyard is a perfect gathering spot events, and the white/neutral elements create a versatile canvas for an array of decorating styles.

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A Vintage Cabana Inspired Birthday Party

Vintage Cabana Pool Party


Theme: Vintage Cabana
STYLED BY: Illumination Events Studio
Occasion: 30th birthday
Location: Bandit’s Ridge (Virginia)
Photography: Amber Kay Photography


(as selected & edited by HWTM)

Geometric Fruit Tier Cake

#1 – AH-mazing Geometric Fruit Cake

It’s good vibes all around with this gorgeous, fruit-bedecked cake! Dessert First Custom Cakes managed to wrap the feel of summer, retro-mod patterns, and tropical vacays into this 2-tiered work of (edible) art.

• • • • •

Fruit and Flower Crowns

#2 – Fruit and Flower Crowns

As described by the designers: “Our birthday girl welcomed her friends on the scene of her pool-side cocktail soiree with gorgeous fruit and flower crowns as festive favors. Borrow this idea by creating crowns for your guests in your party’s color scheme. It’s so easy, and gorgeous.

• • • • •

Summer Party Fruit Bar Station

#3 – Colorful & Creative Fruit Bar

There are so many things to love about this colorful display… starting with the name! Playfully dubbed the “Fruit Bar for the Birthday Star”, it’s filled with a gorgeous assortment of vibrant fruits that also happen to don clever names like “Banana for Bliss”, “Watermelon for Well-Being”, and “Pineapple for Prosperity”.

• • • • •

vintage cabana bathing suits and fashion

#4 – Themed Photo Opps

What girl wouldn’t love to feel like a fashion model for a day, and let’s face it… playing dress up is the PERFECT activity for a girls-only soirée. ;) I’m loving the fun looks that Sweet Sauce Blog (stylist) and Elle Style Studio (hair & makeup) put together for this theme. Plus, styled photos double as fantastic keepsakes that live on long after the party. Note: Apparel from Fab’rik Carytown

P.S. They also had a bright red Vespa! *click, click* (Check it out below.)

• • • • •

pineapple stationery

#5 – Retro-Mod Paper Details

As a graphic designer myself, I’m always a sucker for the paper details – and Riot + Revel knocked this event collection outta the park yard! ;) From the invitation to the gift tags and signage, the paper details added a perfect splash of retro-mod flair. My favorite element, though, is the pineapple shaped “Bucket list for the next thirty” place setting card… such a thoughtful way to personalize the party, not to mention a great conversation starter for the table!

• • • • •

More Photos from this Party:

retro-modern party invitation

vintage cabana outfit style

watermelon mojitos

red Vespa photo prop

red vespa and joy ride sign

vintage cabana place setting

vintage cabana party theme

microgreens salad

Rainbow Fruit Tray

Fruit Bar Food Labels

retro modern bathing suits

DIY pineapple pinata

vintage modern pool and cocktail party


MORE PARTY DETAILS from Illumination Events Studio:

The bold stripes of a vintage beach cabana sparked the inspiration for this styled 30th birthday celebration at Bandit’s Ridge, a venue located thirty minutes outside Richmond, Virginia. Using elements like bright prints, rich woven textures, and bold color, the design for this gathering was both elegant and playful. The DIY elements of the cabanas, fruit headpieces, fruit bar, and pineapple piñata perfectly complemented the work of all the amazing pros that were involved!

DIY Elements:

Cocktail Recipes:

This shoot was meant to celebrate all those women out there turning 30 years young. The invitation set the tone with its flirty, retro, and colorful composition, making sure the guests knew to arrive ready to let their hair down!

After guests were greeted with gorgeous fruit and flower crowns, they hopped on a cherry-red vespa for a joy ride, offering both entertainment and adornment. Next, they sipped yummy cocktails and played a quick game of banana-grams. Consider having games stations with quick card or dice games at your party to add a casual and relaxed atmosphere!

The rainbow of delicious and summery fruits at the fruit bar was a show-stopper, and is so simple to recreate. Following a light and bright lunch, a dress change into vintage suits, and breaking the pineapple piñata, it was finally time for the pool. What a way to mark the start of a new decade of friends, family, and future celebrations!

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A Bright & Modern Baby Gender Reveal Party

Baby Gender Reveal Party - Curious George


Theme: Curious George
STYLED BY: Ilana Ashley Events
Occasion: Baby Gender Reveal
Location: Marina Del Rey Hotel – Southern California
Photography: Brian Leahy Photography

Overview from the designers:
We set out to create a playful design that both children and adults would enjoy. We chose lively children’s patterns, like polka dots and stripes, and focused on the typical baby shower/gender reveal colors – pink and blue – but in brighter hues. As our clients could not wait to read to their new baby, we selected Curious George, Aren’t You Curious? as the theme for this gender reveal party. The space was also filled with jungle-inspired florals in yellow, white and green… and, of course, baby bananas were incorporated throughout!


(selected & edited by HWTM | explained by Ilana Ashley Events)

DIY Gender Reveal Boxes - Modern Curious George Theme

#1 – Gender Reveal Boxes

We stacked brightly painted 2’ cardboard boxes in a pyramid shape at the entrance to create a larger-than-life welcome for the guests and a unique photo backdrop. The same bright colors, playful patterns, and “Aren’t you Curious” theme were carried throughout the event space.

DIY Details: Lettering Studio West painted six 2-ft white cardboard boxes with pink, blue, and yellow diagonal stripes and party phrases (i.e. “Baby Holtzman” & “Coming 2017”). The box flaps were hot glued down to ensure they sat evenly. For the top box, we also painted the inside to ensure the pattern was visible when the flaps were open, then anchored balloons within this box. The boxes were strategically placed in front of the marina for a pretty photo backdrop!

• • • • •

Baby Shower Activity Idea - DIY Kite Wall

#2 – Kite Wall Guest Book Activity

Our interactive guest book was modeled after the book Curious George Flies a Kite. Guests had fun guessing the baby’s gender and decorating kites in pink for a girl or blue for a boy. The pink and blue creations were strung across 3 hedge panels using twine and mini yellow clothespins.

DIY Details: We rented three 4’ x 8’ hedge panels for this project. Blue wooden cloud shaped signs were calligraphed with “Let Your Curiosity Fly” and hung above the 3 rows of twine. We pre-made pink and blue kites using card stock and ribbon. Plenty of pink and blue baby-themed stickers were available to the guests for their kite decoration.

• • • • •

pink and blue baby shower dessert cart

#3 – Whimsical Dessert Cart

We created a whimsical and delicious “Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice” Dessert Cart that was framed with sheer fabric panels adorned with a cute pom pom trim. La Petite Gardenia created a grassy knoll with daisies for the top level and draped the cart with jungle garlands and baby bananas. Mimicking a garden, curious cake pops with inverted pink and blue centers “grew” out of glass vases filled with rainbow sprinkles. We also filled apothecary jars with blue and pink macaroons, cotton candy, and marshmallows – all childhood classics!

DIY Details: For this dessert station, we started with a basic white market cart. The hand-painted “Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice” sign was attached via two sawtooth picture hangers attached to the back of it, then looped the sign to the cart using zip ties. The sheer fabric panels draped along the sides were used to soften the look of the cart. To ensure the cake pops in the sprinkle vases stood up straight, we first inserted a piece of styrofoam into the center of the vases, then poured the sprinkles around to cover the styrofoam.

• • • • •

hand lettered chalkboard sign - baby shower

#4 – Chalkboard Signage

In order to translate the playful theme into signage, we used children’s chalkboards and Curious George inspired verbiage. We decorated the easels with jungle garland and baby bananas, and created cheeky phrases for each station.

Here are a just a few examples of the playful phrases:

  • Blue or Pink, What do you think? Let your guesses take flight, Choose a gender and decorate a kite.
  • Monkey Around – Kids Corner
  • One day baby Holtzman will be curious about who was here – please write a sweet note to be given on baby’s Ba? Mitzvah
  • Let’s go bananas – chocolate dipped frozen banana bites
  • Enjoy yummy cake pops in pink and blue, and try the macarons with sprinkles too

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Curious George Party Favor - Monkey Munch

#5 – Monkey Munch Party Favor

Guests went wild for our “Monkey Munch” party favor! A mix of bananas, chocolate chips, coconut, and peanuts made for a delicious sweet and salty to-go snack. We packed the custom trail mix into kraft bakery bags with custom labels. The Monkey Munch looked extra sweet next to groupings of yellow floral arrangements and framed pages from the Curious George books.

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More Photos from this Party:

Curious George baby shower cake

modern gender reveal baby shower

Books for Baby - Baby Shower Station

jungle party floral centerpieces

mimosa station sign and bar cart

chalkboard party signage

Curious George floral centerpieces

Curious George baby gender reveal

Curious George party dessert signs

pink and blue cake pops in sprinkles vase

Monkey Around Kids Corner

chalkboard signage - Curious George party favors


Check out even more photos of this event over at Ilana Ashley Events!

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Graduation Party DIY: Set Sail on a Bright Future!

set sail graduation party theme

If you have a graduate in your life that deserves some celebrating, I invite you to SET SAIL with me on this fun DIY! This is my latest project for Balloon Time, and it’s guaranteed to earn you some high marks in the creativity department. ;)

A Nautical Graduation Party Project

Balloons are definitely the focus of this design! Bright yellow and white balloons give a nod to sunny skies ahead and best wishes for a bright future, while a foil crescent moon balloon turned sideways creates the foundation of your DIY sailboat decoration.

Scroll down for a little sneak peek of how it’s done, then head over to the Balloon Time website to check out the full Graduation Party Sailboat Tutorial and to download the free printable sails.

graduation party decoration ideas

Pictured above: a few glimpses of the sails coming together. Since the sails are oversize, I set them both up on one 18×24″ PDF and printed them as a Color Engineering Print, which is a very inexpensive way to get larger prints done – only $2.99 per print at this size! You’ll also need a weighted base to keep your sails standing upright. (The foil moon balloon is just placed in front and secured to the base with glue dots.)

And then of course we need some helium for our bright & sunshine-y skies!

Balloon Time helium tank

Mixing It Up

This project would be great as a graduation party decoration or dessert table backdrop, or just as a fun surprise at home for your favorite grad. You can also switch up the designs of the sails to work for other nautical party themes… a variation on this design  would be really cute for a baby shower, first birthday party, or “bon voyage” celebration too! As they say… the (sunny) sky’s the limit! ;)

Click here or on the image below to visit the full tutorial. Happy celebrating!

graduation party sailboat decorations

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Choosing a Bar Style and Design for Your Event

marquee light bar sign

Because the bar is such an important aspect of any event, it’s important to integrate the design of your bar into the overall event décor to help amplify the mood. So with that in mind, I’m excited to welcome Samantha Sackler of designer8* Event Furniture Rental to the blog today – to talk about many of the different options available when it comes to bar design. I bet there are way more than you think!


Like all aspects of an event, the bar is an opportunity to make an impression on guests. It’s more than just a place to grab drinks! The bar is also a focal point of social interaction and a buzzing area at any event.

The design, setup and style of your bar can impact the overall experience of your guests and should reflect the desired tone and mood of your event.

Here are some unique bar styles to help you create some of the trendiest event designs:

1. Mirrored Bars for a Modern & Elegant Look

Whether indoors or outdoors, mirrored bars are unique fixtures at any event! They are modern and elegant at the same time, and can work for just about any occasion.

diamond mirror rental bar

Unique styles of mirrored bars – such as the diamond mirror pattern shown here – can add a one-of-a-kind touch to event décor. Mirrored bars are also very visually captivating because they reflect light and their surroundings.

diamond mirror bar rental

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2. Classic White Bars for a Sleek and Sophisticated Look

Opt for a classic white bar if your event calls for a contemporary look, sleek lines and sophistication. From corporate events to intimate gatherings, the sleek look of a white lacquer bar adds chic style to any gathering. For a stand-out, modern look, pair this style of bar with colored stemware or stemless glassware.

classic modern white bar rental

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3. Wood Paneled Bars for a Warm and Rustic Look

Wood paneled bars add warmth and invite guests to relax and have a good time. They’re also perfect for the rustic-chic wedding look that’s popular with brides. Combine them with elements like wildflowers, neutral-colored linens, mason jar drinkware, lanterns, and candlelight.

wood panel bar rental

wood panel bar rental

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4. Corrugated Metal Bars for an Industrial-Chic Look

Corrugated metal and wood create the perfect combination that says “industrial yet sophisticated”. These bars are ideal for venues with exposed brick walls, warehouses, and lofts, but they also work well in garden party settings with lots of greenery. Consider pairing them with other industrial style design elements like metal chairs, wooden communal tables and unique lighting fixtures.

corrugated metal bar rental

• • • • •

5. Leather and Suede Bars for a Luxurious Look

A movie premiere or evening event calls for something extravagant to add glam and luxury! Leather and suede bars create a sleek and sophisticated look that’s perfect for high-end events. Whether it’s done in bright white or striking black, leather and suede bars add texture and a unique touch to any event space.

leather and suede bar rental

• • • • •

6. Light Up Bars for a Fun and Custom Look

Light up bars add a whole new dimension to your event décor. Powered by LED lights, light up bars can be customized to match the color scheme of any event and create a true focal point for your guests. These are especially great for evening events, and they work well with modern venues. Typically available in modular format or curved shapes, light up bars add personalization and a touch of excitement to any celebration.

light up bar rental

• • • • •

Bar Designs and Configurations

Most bars are available in a variety of sizes and configurations in order to give event planners and venues ample flexibility to design the perfect look. Whether you pair multiple bars together for a grander look or create a unique configuration with modular bars, you’re only limited by your imagination. The right arrangement and location of your bar will make it easy for guests navigate your event.

beer tap bar rental - wood panels

• • • • •

Choosing the Right Style for Your Event

Pairing the right style, color and configuration for your bar can be a challenge sometimes. Before choosing a bar style, consider a few key elements of your design:

  • Venue – The venue will highly impact the type of décor you choose and should be used as the canvas for the entire event décor.
  • Theme – Premieres, launch parties and weddings are heavily influenced by themes that will dictate the type of style your entire décor should reflect.
  • Menu – Your menu too, can help determine the best bar style for your particular event. Touching base with your caterer can help determine the overall presentation of food, which can be just as important as the food itself.


Samantha SacklerAbout the Author:
Samantha Sackler is the CEO of both Samantha Sackler Productions and designer8* Event Furniture Rental, as well as Partner in Infinity Marketing. She has a vast knowledge within the event industry boasting more than 20 years of experience. Samantha designs and produces high-end social events, movie premieres and many corporate conferences/events.

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Playful “Party Like a Panda” Birthday Party

modern panda birthday party ideas


Theme: Party Like a Panda
STYLED BY: Jenny Raulli of Bloom Designs
Occasion: 10th Birthday
Location: La Cañada Flintridge, California
Photography: Andrew Kitchen


(selected & edited by HWTM | explained by Jenny)

panda party supplies

#1 – Custom Panda Party Supplies

Starting with a black, white and blush color scheme, I designed a sweet little panda face that I carried throughout the decor and paper products. We had custom plates, cups, napkins and balloons made using our panda design to fit our party perfectly. I think these small extra personalized touches really define a party!

The plates and cups are available in my Zazzle shop, and the napkins and balloons can be ordered through my Etsy shop.

• • • • •

panda party drinks

#2 – DIY Panda Party Straws

I hot-glued mini panda erasers to straws for our milk bottles. The straw flags are part of my Panda Party Printable Kit.

• • • • •

panda macarons

#3 – Panda Macaron Cookies

The adorable panda macaroons were from Sweet and Saucy, but you could also make these using an edible marker and fondant ears. 

• • • • •

pin the nose on the panda party game

#4 – “Pin the Nose on the Panda” Game

Who doesn’t love a fun twist on a classic game?! This printable 24×36″ poster is available in my Etsy shop.

• • • • •

panda party favors - plush pandas

#5 – Adopt-a-Panda Party Favors

For party favors, the girls took home an “adopted” plush panda, complete with a tiny DIY party hat!

• • • • •

More Photos from this Party:

modern panda birthday party for girls

panda birthday girl shirt and outfit

panda party dessert table

panda party balloons

panda party printables

plus panda party favor



It was pandamonium. When my daughter turned ten, she wanted to “party like a panda”, her favorite animal.

Charlotte’s dessert table was filled with yummy panda treats. A five tiered chocolate and vanilla cake with Oreo filling topped with happy birthday was the center of the table. Around it sugar cookies, powdered donuts, cake pops, panda macarons and white chocolate mousse in panda cups that I made with vinyl decals and my Silhouette machine.

To make a simple backdrop, I had our patterned panda paper made into a banner and hung pom pom across it. I also used the same paper to make a runner for the dinner table.

During the party, party guests ate panda pasta and panda dogs – the birthday girl’s favorite – on a dinner table set with our custom panda plates and party like a panda cups.

The girls entertained themselves at the panda polish station and went on a panda hunt.

Once it got dark, everyone settled into our little movie lounge area and watched Kung Foo Panda, where they ate panda popcorn and panda puffs. To make the movie aspect a bit more unique, I wrapped the candy boxes in custom wrappers and decorated the space with panda posters and honeycomb balls.

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Shabby Chic Pony Party (3rd Birthday)

Shabby Chic Pony Party Dessert Table


Theme: Shabby Chic Pony Party
SUBMITTED BY: Erin Walker of Undercover Hostess
Occasion: 3rd Birthday
Location: private residence in Tennessee


(selected & edited by HWTM)

#1 – Fabric Horseshoe Door Wreaths

What a fun way to greet your pony party guests! These darling horseshoe wreaths are made from square pieces of pink gingham fabric that were cut with pinking shears for added texture. You can rent these exact wreaths from Undercover Hostess as part of their Shabby Chic Pony Pary Kit or go the DIY route and make a similar item yourself. Use a horseshoe shaped cut out of wood, cardboard, or styrofoam as your base.

• • • • •

shabby chic rag tie bunting

#2 – Shabby Chic Rag Tie Bunting

Using the same mix of shabby chic fabrics throughout the party really helped pull everything together! Rag tie buntings are made by ripping strips of fabric (instead of cutting them). There are lots of helpful rag tie bunting tutorials available online. You can also rent this exact bunting from Undercover Hostess. The coordinating pony party invitations and printables are available for purchase there as well.

• • • • •

pony party kids table with hay bales

#3 – Hay Bale Table Seating

Hay bale seating is SUCH a fun way to theme up your pony party atmosphere. Little ones will go crazy over it too! Just drape squares of fabric or small blankets over the bales to make them more comfortable (and a little less messy!).

• • • • •

#4 – Shabby Chic Cake Jar Parfaits

Cake jar parfaits look even prettier all dressed up with a fabric top! For added interest, use a few different fabrics that coordinate well with each other, and add pretty texture to the edges with pinking shears. Secure the fabric tops with baker’s twine. Erin also shared a recipe tutorial for these lemon blueberry parfaits on her website.

• • • • •

#5 – Lasso Rope Name Sign

This giant lasso rope name sign is definitely a showstopper and a great way to highlight the birthday girl. Erin added the rope to the plywood sign using a staple gun, but I’ve also seen it done using hot glue. You can find DIY tutorials for this type of sign online (I really like this tutorial in particular), or you can order them custom made for you at places like Rope and Style on Etsy.

• • • • •

More Photos from this Party:

shabby chic pony party invitations

cowgirl pony party sign and decorations

pink and mint shabby chic party

shabby chic party drinks

shabby chic pony party banner and printables

pony party birthday girl on hay bale saddle



A few months ago, I put together an incredibly adorable party for my daughter, Emmie. What else would a 3-year-old want besides pony rides? So that’s what it was.

Instead of opting for the more traditional cowgirl themed party, I styled it with a delicate shabby chic touch, using lovely floral patterns accented with a pink and teal color palette. 

I added the rope to the plywood sign using a staple gun, threw some bales of hay around the wooden table for seating, and handed out cowboy hats for all the guests. Everyone had a great time with the ponies and the party turned out just perfect! Together, I think we pulled off one girly pony party! 

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Magical Mermaid Birthday Party (Shimmery & Glam)


Theme: Magical Mermaid Party
STYLED BY: Krista O’Byrne of Hoopla Events + Jennifer Carver of Banner Events
Occasion: 5th birthday
Location: Discover Aquatics – Olympia, Washington
Photography: Lauren Oliver Photography


(selected & edited by HWTM | explained by Krista)

mermaid party printable invitation

#1 – Mermaid Party Invitation

This gorgeous invitation by Err Designs inspired the overall look and feel of our mermaid party. We loved the ethereal quality of the mermaid and the beautiful color palette.

• • • • •

mermaid party cake pops

#2 – Mermaid Cake Pops

Bella’s Bakery and Bowtique designed the most exquisite mermaid cake pops. Just look at the detailing! I don’t think we’ve seen more beautiful cake pops. We displayed them on a bed of brown sugar sand.

• • • • •

mermaid party favors - gold treasure chests

#3 – Gold Treasure Chest Favor Boxes

We painted paper mache treasure chests gold and filled them with imitation seashell bracelets and a fun variety of treasure from Oriental Trading (gold coins, pearl beaded necklaces, mermaid characters, taffy and lollipops).

• • • • •

#4 – Giant Oyster Shell Photo Prop

Kamryn had so much fun posing with friends in front of an oversized oyster shell prop from Shindigz! It was filled with pink gossamer and a white 36″ balloon “pearl”. The girls also loved wearing their mermaid tutus and waving their starfish wands – which were an easy DIY project using pre-made ribbon wands from Oriental Trading Company. (We just glued the starfish on top.)

• • • • •

#5 – Gorgeous Mermaid Sugar Cookies

The Sugar Canvas Boutique Bakery prepared these beautiful custom sugar cookies! Colleen made several gorgeous cookie designs for our event. Featured on the dessert table are the 3-D oyster shell cookies with edible candy pearl and the under-the-sea cookie vignette including seashell, sand dollar, mermaid tail, mermaid and seahorse cookies.

• • • • •

More Photos from this Party:



Turning 5 is a magical milestone! We threw my daughter a magical mermaid birthday party full of girly and glam details to celebrate her 5th birthday. Jen Carver of Banner Events and I had a lot of fun teaming up on this party, especially with all of its sparkly decorations, gorgeous sea-inspired desserts, beautiful costumes, and thoughtful party favors!

Mermaid Costume

A mermaid party definitely needs some mermaids!  Thanks to Chasing Fireflies, our guest of honor felt like a princess wearing The Ultimate Collection Disney Princess Ariel Costume for Girls.

Mermaid Dessert Table

We wanted the dessert table to mimic the gorgeous iridescent scaled look of a mermaid’s tail. First, we hung iridescent floral sheeting from Shindigz to serve as a sparkly backdrop.

Next, Lauren from Ten23 Designs created a custom gold glittered wood name sign to help highlight our guest of honor. The sign was beautiful and easily hung on our backdrop with clear fishing line.

Finaly, we used a variety of latex balloons to create a “bubble” balloon garland around the backdrop. These garlands are surprisingly easy to create! First, blow up your balloon mix, being sure to inflate some more and some less. Next, attach the balloons in random color and size order to fishing line by tying them directly to the line. Finally, use strong clear packing tape to hang the garland from your backdrop.

The table was draped in a white petal taffeta tablecloth and aqua colored “mermaid scales” fabric runner. Jen also strung lengths of white pearls onto faux coral and scattered gold starfish around the table.

Christina of 4 Kids Cakes designed the beautiful mermaid inspired cake, which came complete with an ombre-ruffled bottom tier! She also crafted a 6″ mermaid tail for the cake topper. It was a definite show stopper!

Mermaid Tablescape

Beautiful tablecloths were sewn from sequined, turquoise “mermaid scales” fabric and topped with a lilac satin table runner. Blue Mason jars filled with pink roses and gold paper mache 5s served as the centerpieces. Finally, the center of the table was sprinkled with pearl beads, faux coral, gold flecked mercury votive holders, sand dollars and gold.

Mermaid Place Settings

The place settings were our absolutely favorite element of this party! Lovely shell plates were layered atop fancy gold chargers and a pink satin napkin. Plastic square bottles from our shop were embellished with “Magical Sea Water” labels. We also filled gold treasure boxes with strands of pearl beads and a delicious seashell cookie. 

• • • • •

Shopping Resources (Non-custom items):

Oriental Trading Company: Starfish, Genuine Sand Dollars with Basket, White Spool of Pearls, Gold Flecked Mercury Votive Holders, White Battery-Operated Votive Candles, Mint Green Ribbon Wands, Seashell Punch Bowl, Pink and Purple Salt Water Taffy, Hot Pink Mini Twist Lollipops, Shiny Gold Coins, Pearl Beaded Necklaces, Mermaid Characters, Larger Shimmer White Gumballs, Paper Mache Treasure Chests, Balloons

Shindigz: Iridescent Floral sheeting, Oyster Shell Prop, Imitation Seashell Bracelets, White Paper Dinner Plates, Candy Pink Beverage Napkins, Gold Plastic Cutlery, Giant Shells, Pink Gossamer, White 36″ balloon

Hoopla Events Etsy Shop: Square plastic bottles, turquoise paper straws

Bella Cupcake Couture: cupcake wrappers

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The New Direction of Featured Parties at HWTM

circus party tiger centerpiece

I’m excited to share a new direction with you guys today! And on that’s been LONG time coming. I’m finally bringing featured parties back to HWTM – but in a new way, with a different layout, and – most importantly – with INTENTION.

I know this post is a little long, but felt like it was important to explain the background behind this change… especially for my longtime readers and those of you in the creative space that I’ve known (at least virtually!) for several years. You are more important to me than you probably realize.

The topic of featuring parties has been a legit and consistent internal struggle for me over the past few years. I never lost my love for sharing beautiful parties and clever creative ideas, but I definitely lost the feeling of satisfaction and relevancy/purpose behind it. I wrote a very honest and open post about this feeling a while back, when I first decided to stop featuring parties towards the end of 2014.

When Something Felt Off…

At that time, I realized that something felt “off” when it came to featuring parties (and had felt that way for quite a while), so I thought the solution, although difficult, was to let go of this element of my business completely and focus my efforts on other things… things where the time I was spending actually felt impactful in ways that I could see.

And despite being quieter online for the past few years – especially compared to when we used to post 3-4 new parties a day on HWTM – I have remained busy in the world of party design… with things like content creation for brands, graphic design, and corporate/charity event design.

The problem, though, is that I often felt my thoughts drifting back to featured parties during this time – and to how obviously I missed them… or at least missed that incredible time when sharing them ALSO felt infused with a distinct sense of purpose and relevancy.

The truth is that I loved sharing ideas and beautiful celebrations with other people on a daily basis. And I still love seeing peoples’ faces light up (or hearing the excitement in the tone of their comments) when they see something we’ve shared online that strikes a cord with them. I love the feeling that the content on HWTM is actually helping someone when that person finds the idea/product/tutorial/vendor that makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE in their party planning experience.

But every time my thoughts wandered down that path of what I was missing, they also drifted to the reasons I left featured parties behind – and I could never quite shake that feeling of irrelevancy that had motivated me to let them go. I REALLY disliked that feeling. So I continued throwing myself into other things.

Cut to today, and something has changed. I’ve realized that busying myself with other things isn’t working. This topic is obviously something that won’t let me go – even when I tried to “set it free” myself. Sometimes change can be inspired by simply realizing that you’ve spent quite enough time avoiding a certain thing, and that it’s time to look into alternative solutions instead.

A New Direction for Featured Parties

As a graphic designer and an event designer, my job is to constantly find solutions. This is really at the heart of the work. For example, if all of the centerpieces for an event I was styling got ruined in a freak accident the day before the party, we wouldn’t cancel the entire event… we’d find another way to still have (beautiful!) centerpieces at that event, period. It would probably definitely entail frantic phone calls, zero sleep, calling in some favors, and lots of racing around like a crazy person – but we would FIND A WAY. That’s just what you do.

So, I decided to finally apply that same sense of thinking to THIS situation. If the main problem has been that a sense of helpfulness (and, in turn, relevancy) in the features was missing, how could I remedy this?

There are ALWAYS wonderful ideas and incredible products/vendors within each submission that we share – so I KNOW they can be helpful resources to others – but the beauty of the individual ideas has been getting swallowed up by the sheer volume of content in each post.

I’m a details girl and always hated leaving any little thing out when it came to our featured parties, but I’ve realized that showing everything at once was also (unfortunately) resulting in nothing standing out. Sometimes even my own eyes would glaze over after endless scrolling through all the beautiful pictures. :0

I also needed to find a way to make these posts manageable. For one thing, we were putting significant time and effort into writing thoughtful post intros… which hardly anyone was actually reading. (People like to jump right through to images – it’s just the reality of the situation.) This led to more frustrated feelings of overwhelm and wasted efforts, and is something that needed to be addressed in the solution as well.

Finding a Solution:

After barely moving from my computer for a total of 28 hours in 2 days, I finally have something that feels right and manageable. Of course things grow and change, and this may too – but there’s gotta be a starting point. One of the main reasons this feels right for now is that I actually feel EXCITED and inspired to feature parties again! And when something that’s felt cloudy and bogged down in your soul for a long time suddenly feels light and new again… well, that’s something that speaks volumes.

So… my solution is to share creative events with you in a DIFFERENT way:

1) First, we’ll open with just the facts.
This means the who, what, where, and why of the submission, bullet-point style. I think it’s helpful for people to have an idea of what area an event is held in, in case they want to hire local vendors. It’s also helpful to know if the event is a Real Party or a Styled Shoot.

2) Next, we’ll highlight 5 of the best and most helpful ideas (and/or products) from the event – in a simple, easy-to-digest format.
This section is the new “king” of the post and is intended to make sure that anyone who visits the post is greeted with at least 5 very specific ideas from it, even just by quickly scanning it. Links to relevant vendors, tutorials and shopping resources will be included with each idea, right next to the image.

3) Following that, we’ll share additional images from the party (just a handful), along with a brief event description (from the submitter) and vendor credits.

The simplified structure looks like this:

  • Submission Facts – who, what, why, where
  • Our 5 Favorite Creative Details from This Party
  • More Photos from This Party (a limited #)
  • Additional Party Details
  • Vendor Credits

How to Submit a Party:

Ready to have your event featured in a fresh new way? Great! You can submit your party here.

As a side note – the navigation bar link to our Submissions Form has been “hidden” for several months. I didn’t realize until today – when I went to reactivate it – that some people were still finding the submission page URL directly somehow. Apologies to those of you that sent submissions in during the time it was closed! The good news is that we’re still able to see them now. :)

P.S. If you’ve made it this far in the post – THANK YOU for letting me spill my heart to you today! I hope you can feel that I want this new direction to be something that’s beneficial – and RELEVANT ;) – all around. ❤️


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A Modern Rainbow Art Party (Kids Birthday)

modern rainbow birthday party ideas

We’ve featured lots of rainbow parties here on HWTM over the years, but this is the first one that I designed myself. I wanted it to feel fresh, modern, vibrant, and HAPPY!

Colorful balloons, streamers, and paper were my key design elements. I also infused a bit of “art party” in here, with coloring placemats, art-inspired party activities, and a party favor/treat station that literally looks like a paint palette! As usual, printable paper designs played a big role in this party – from signs and labels to the DIY birthday hats. Click here to download the printables for FREE! :)

Some of my favorite details to look out for:

  • “Double Rainbow” birthday cake decorated with chopped Rainbow Twizzlers + sprinkles
  • Guest of honor chair surrounded by colorful balloons and rainbow paper garlands
  • “Rainbow Skies” party punch with vanilla ice cream “clouds” and rainbow fruit
  • DIY “Birthday Cake” table centerpiece with balloon “candles” and tissue fringe “frosting”
  • Paint palette inspired favor table with mini paint bucket favor tins

printable kids birthday party placemats

Coloring Placemats

Coloring is always a great way to keep little ones entertained! These cloud-shaped placemats come in 2 designs and are included in the free printables. Note: The placemats are formatted on 11×17 paper. I printed them as black & white engineering prints at Staples. You can fit 2-up on their 18×24″ paper, which makes them less than $1 each.

Guest of Honor Chair + Photo Backdrop

Rainbow balloons, circle garlands, and honeycomb balls make for a happy-go-lucky photo backdrop and gift-opening spot!

rainbow party balloons - guest of honor chair

For the circle garlands, I used craft circle punches to cut circles from colored card stock, then sewed them together with my extremely limited sewing machine skills. You can also use hot glue to make the garlands, as demonstrated in this other rainbow chair design. I used 1.5” circle punches for the smaller garlands shown here. A combination of 2” and 3” circle punches were used for the big ones.

Rainbow Cake

You don’t have to be a pro baker to whip up a fun birthday cake! This playful cake topper features paper balloon designs hot-glued to bamboo skewers:

rainbow party cake + printable cake topper

To decorate the cake, I used kitchen shears to chop up Rainbow Twizzlers into giant “sprinkles”. These provided a nice size contrast to the regular rainbow sprinkles.

For the inside of the cake, I used a rainbow cake boxed mix which produced beautiful, vibrant colors but didn’t rise much at all. So… I used another box of cake mix (in white) to bake an additional layer to go between the rainbow layers. This gave the cake some much needed height plus a happy silver lining: a “double rainbow” inside the cake! ;)

rainbow party printables

A Colorful Kids Table

The place settings on the kids table featured the coloring placemats that I mentioned earlier, crayon packs, birthday hats, and kazoos. What’s a kids party without lots of NOISE, right? ;)

rainbow party kids table and coloring placemats

I also hung garlands on the chair backs and designed an artsy “faux birthday cake” centerpiece, which I’ll post a tutorial on later. In a nutshell though, the centerpiece is made from floral foam bricks, crepe paper, and tissue fringe + balloon and wood dowel “candles”. 

Rainbow Confetti Popcorn

Kids will go crazy for this sweet and colorful treat! To make it, add approximately 1/2 cup of white melting chocolate per 8 cups of popped kettle corn or regular popcorn. Pour the melted chocolate on top of the popcorn and toss gently to coat. Spread the popcorn out evenly on a baking sheet, then sprinkle generously with rainbow sprinkles. Let dry for 2-3 hours.

rainbow confetti popcorn

Rainbow Party Drinks

The signature drink was a “Rainbow Skies” Party Punch with blue fruit punch, vanilla ice cream “clouds”, and colorful chopped fruit.

rainbow ice cream punch

The punch was served in clear cups that I embellished with skinny balloons (the twisty kind you use to make balloon animals).

rainbow party drinks

Colorful sparkly craft poms were the perfect ingredient for fun party straws!

rainbow party straws

Rainbow Rock Painting Activity

For this craft, you’ll need to collect or buy a bunch of large, smooth stones for your party guests to paint. You can also purchase rocks that are pre-painted with a matte black coating (or add one yourself), which will make the bright paint colors really POP! For the craft supplies, you’ll need kid-friendly paint in a rainbow of colors, small paint brushes, and any extras you want to include, like rhinestones or googly eyes. 

rainbow party rock painting activity

Helpful Tips: Paper cups filled with water are helpful for rinsing brushes. Paper plates are great for drying time and for saving your table cloth from paint splatters!

Rainbow Sand Art Activity

Kids will love making their own sand art creations to take home and display! You’ll need colored sand, clear containers with tops, big spoons, and FUNNELS. Choose from plastic or glass containers, depending on the ages of your guests. I used inexpensive glass bud vases (purchased at Ikea) plus cork bottle tops.

rainbow party sand art activity

To fill the bottles, insert the funnel into the bottle top and pour the sand in slowly. Alternate colors often to create the pretty layered look. Older kids should be able to pour the sand themselves. For younger kids, it’s best to have them pick out the sand colors and help by holding the funnel in place while an adult pours the sand. You can also let younger kids spoon the sand into the funnel while you hold it.


Paint Palette Favor Station

Since I partnered with Hershey’s on this party (in celebration of their shiny new Hershey’s KISS colors) – I wanted to design a candy station that really made the individual colors stand out. The result was this fun “paint palette” inspired favor station!

rainbow party favor table

I’ll post a separate tutorial on this later with more details. All of the printables that you need to recreate it are already included in the download link though. :)

rainbow party favors - mini paint buckets

rainbow party chocolate mix


Hope you found some inspiration here for your own rainbow art party! If you have questions, please feel free to ask away in the comments section below.

P.S. For more inspiration like this, check out our Rainbow Party archives.

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Winnie the Pooh Baby Shower Printables & Quotes – Pink & Yellow

Winnie the Pooh Printable Quote - Grand Adventure

A little over a year ago, I shared one of my very favorite work projects with you guys – a Winnie the Pooh Baby Shower theme created for Disney Baby that featured the classic red and yellow palette. Since then, I’ve received a ton of requests for a PINK version of the free printables. Well… they are finally done! :)

A Soft & Girlie Color Palette

I swapped out the red in my original collection for a soft baby pink. Click here to download this new version, which includes 8×10 signs, party banners, “HUNNY” labels, and much more. Scroll down for a full preview of what’s included. For best results, I recommend printing these designs on a high quality matte cardstock. I always use this paper when I print at home.

P.S. The red and yellow Winnie the Pooh printables are still available in the original post, along with lots of ideas for how to utilize these designs at your baby shower. Most of these designs (in both colorways) would work well for a Winnie the Pooh kids birthday party too. Happy celebrating!

Winnie the Pooh Baby Shower Banner - 1

Winnie the Pooh Baby Shower Banner - 2

Winnie the Pooh Baby Shower Banner - 3

Here are the 8×10 signs (+ a 3rd design that’s featured in the opening image of this post):

DIY Plate Liners: (Visit the original post for 2 different methods of utilizing these.)

Winnie the Pooh DIY Plate Liner - 1

Winnie the Pooh DIY Plate Liner - 2

Decorative Bee Silhouettes & HUNNY Dessert Labels:

Winnie the Pooh Baby Shower Free Printables - 3

Scroll Banner accents (used on centerpieces, near the party favors, and on the dessert table):

Winnie the Pooh Scroll Banners

winnie the pooh printable banners

Larger HUNNY labels for bigger jars and accents:

Blank Tent Cards (for food labels or place cards) and Pooh & Friends inspired “Character Trait” accent flags:

Winnie the Pooh - Printable Tent Cards

Mini Chair Banner for the guest of honor (a.k.a. the QUEEN BEE!):

Favor Tags that can be used in square or circular format. (I used a 2″ craft punch to cut them into circles for the tops of round jar lids.)

Umbrella Topper Silhouettes: (Attach these to wooden dowels to create themed “umbrella” accents for a diaper cake or table centerpiece, etc.)

winnie the pooh baby shower umbrella 1

winnie the pooh baby shower umbrella 1

Last but not least – can’t forget everyone’s favorite Tigger! 4×6 signs:

winnie the pooh printables - fun fun fun


Here’s a peek at the dessert table from the original baby shower… just swap out all the red elements with pink to work with this new collection. :)

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Royal Princess Birthday Party (Pink & Blue)

Disney Princess Castle Cake

In this Royal Princess Birthday Party by Undercover Hostess, Erin focused on soft pastel colors, sparkly accents, and a chic styling approach to bring one very dreamy birthday celebration to life! You might even call it a little girl’s “dream come true”. ;)

From rose-shaped Beauty and the Beast cake pops to dress-up gowns for Ariel, Merida, Snow White, and more, LOTS of different Disney Princesses made a cameo at this pretty party. I’m especially loving the vintage style Cinderella and Prince Charming silhouettes, though, which served as a simple & elegant greeting for guests when they arrived!

Party Highlights to look out for:

  • Dessert table linens styled to look like Cinderella’s dress – complete with bows!
  • INSANELY AWESOME Princess Castle Cake by The Chocolate Box
  • Chic Cinderella and Prince Charming silhouettes on the front door and mantle
  • Ruffled curtains flanking the dessert table (repurposed from the birthday girls bedroom)
  • Frozen Donut Balls + colorful Disney Princess Dress Cookies

Cinderella and Prince Charming Silhouettes

Cinderella birthday party ideas

Disney Princess Dessert Table

Disney Princess Dress Cookies

Cinderella Party Table Ideas

Princess Party Chandelier

Disney Princess Party Decorations

Beauty and the Beast Rose Cake Pops

Disney Princess Dress Up Station

Princess Party Dresses

Disney Princess Favor Bags


Party Details, as told by Erin…

Like many four year old girls who just absolutely love anything princess, my daughter seems to attend a Royal Ball several times a day. I was thrilled when she asked for a Princess Birthday Party and couldn’t wait style it in a unique way. The challenge was to make it fun and appealing for both boys and girls.

For the theme, I decided to focus on princess silhouettes for a sophisticated feel. Pink and blue were used as the main colors, which was a great way to include both the little princes and princesses.

Our royal guests were welcomed at the front door, which displayed hanging Cinderella and Prince Charming cut outs. I love having the theme right there immediately when your guests walk up to your door!

The Dessert Table

The linens on the main dessert table were styled to mimic the look of Cinderella’s dress. The table was draped with a soft pale pink and accented with blue bows. The Chocolate Box created a beautiful castle cake, which served as the focal point of the dessert table. The cake was centered on the table and framed by soft white ruffle drapes (repurposed from my daughter’s bedroom).

The three piece silhouette backdrop over the table is one of my favorite decorations! Accented with a candelabra, pink roses, vintage books, and delicious desserts, it definitely created the luxe royal look I was going for!

I extended the princess theme into the other desserts as well. Various princess cookies, “Frozen” themed donut balls, and Belle’s red cake pop roses were served. The Beauty and the Beast themed cake pops ended up being one of the most talked about desserts. They looked incredible and tasted amazing!

The Royal Table

The idea was to have all the guests dine at a royal table, so one long table was created to achieve the look. Crisp white linens were used as the base, styled with silver candles and pink roses as a centerpiece. A pink chandelier hung from the ceiling tied it all together.

One of my favorite pieces on the table were actually the custom princess silhouette paper plates, they helped bring the entire theme together.

Princess Party Activities

Our princess-inspired games and activites included:

  • a large inflatable princess carriage for a bounce house
  • a “Seven Dwarfs” mining station where the kids shifted sand to find gemstones
  • a dress up area with princess clothes for the girls and swords & crowns for the boys
  • face painting
  • a “Brave” station where the children threw water balloons at a target

I am lucky enough to have a handy husband and he constructed the mining trough. The dress up station was brought down from her room (nothing like cheap décor!)

The party turned out beautiful and the kids had a blast playing games and eating delicious desserts. When my daughter walked outside and saw the tables set up for her party, her facial expression made all the planning worth it for just that!

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World of Toys Birthday Party (FAO Schwarz Inspired)

Giant Toy Blocks - FAO Schwarz Toy Party

There’s really no shortage to the party magic that Laila Plant of One Inspired Party can whip up, and today’s toy-inspired celebration is the perfect example! 

Inspired by the famous FAO Schwarz – an NYC-based toy store founded in 1862 – this “World of Toys” First Birthday Party captures the same larger-than-life, childlike wonder that made the store so iconic. From giant building block signage to a dessert display backdrop fashioned after the infamous FAO Schwarz clock, the details in this party will have you feeling like a kid in a TOY store in no time! ;)

Party Highlights to look out for:

  • clusters of toys used as centerpieces & displayed on colorful crates
  • Ikea side tables customized with vinyl decals to read F A O
  • an incredible array of desserts displayed on a giant “toy train”!
  • giant toy soldier “greeters” + toy soldier inspired cake pops
  • decorative signage made from giant alphabet blocks
  • Mr. Potato Head party favors arranged to look like an in-store display

P.S. Click here to see more parties from Laila that we’ve featured on HWTM.

Amazing Toy Themed Birthday Cake

World of Toys Birthday Party Ideas

Toy Birthday Party Centerpieces with Teddy Bears

Kids Toy Party Activity Table

Toy Birthday Party Backdrop and Kids Tables

Toy Party Centerpieces and Party Favors

Toy Themed Birthday Party Circus Tent

Jack in the Box Toy Party Centerpiece

Toy Party Dessert Table

Toy Party Train Dessert Table + Toy Soldier Cake Pops

FAO Schwarz Toy Birthday Party Ideas - Pinata and Tables


Party Details, as told by Laila…

Welcome to Our World of Toys! At our first meeting, when Mariaco told me she wanted to throw an FAO Scharwz inspired party for her son’s first birthday, I immediately fell in love with the theme! There’s so much tradition and nostalgia tied into the store that I wanted to make sure I did it justice.

Every single detail in this party was completely thought out. From the giant building blocks at the entrance to the toy soldiers, every single store staple made it to our party.

With an insane amount of creative details, Guillermo Andres’ party was filled with happy colors. Our primary colors color palette harmoniously tied all the elements together.

The amount of detail in each prop, including the toy soldier seat cover for the faceprinting area, the insane sweets for the table, and the oversized train for the dessert table were everything and I could not have been happier with the end result.

Happy birthday Guillermo Andres! Can’t wait to celebrate you next year.

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BIG Valentine Cookies + Cute “Baked with Love” Cookie Sleeves

free printable valentine's day cookie gifts

It’s hard to believe that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner already, right?!

Since there’s never a shortage of candy hearts and wrapped chocolates to go around on this holiday, I wanted to share a different sort of sweet gift idea with you today that’s easy, unique, and COOKIE based!

BIG Valentine Cookies

In a nutshell, these are simply good ol’ chocolate chunk and snickerdoodle cookies with colorful Valentine sprinkles mixed in… but there’s a fun baking trick used here too. I baked the cookies in a whoopie pie pan to make them BIG, uniform, and perfectly round. In other words, you’ll look like a real pro baker when you hand these babies out. ;)

big valentine's day cookies

I also used 2 of my favorite Krusteaz cookie mixes (Triple Chocolate Chunk and Snickerdoodle) to make this project extra easy, then designed some playful “window” cookie labels to package them up in style. The “windows” are positioned to look like the “mouth” on the bunny and the “belly” on the penguin and bear.

Side note: I included traditional Valentine’s Day messages on the labels, but am thinking that  fun alternative captions for these would be “Get in mah belly!” and “Open wide!”. If anyone would like these versions instead, you can download them right here.

valentine cookie sleeves


Whoopie Pie Pan Cookies

Here’s a closer look at the process of making the cookies:

my favorite Krusteaz cookie mixes

1. Preheat your oven to 350º.
Note: The instructions on the box say to preheat to 375º for regular cookies, but I tested these “whoopie pie pan cookies” at both temperatures, and 350º worked better in this instance since the unique style of pan affects the way they bake up.

2. Mix sprinkles into the cookie dough.
I used XOXO sprinkles for theTriple Chocolate Chunk cookies and tiny hearts for the Snickerdoodles.

chocolate chip valentine's day cookies

3. Scoop the cookie dough onto the whoopie pie pan.
I used a 1 oz cookie scoop and was able to scoop 12 big, yummy cookies from one batch of mix.

4. Press the dough into the pan cavities.

5. Add another pinch of sprinkles on top.
This guarantees a big pop of color on the top of the cookies, where you really want it to show!

Note: The Snickerdoodle cookies require one additional step: rolling the dough balls in a sugar/cinnamon mix before pressing them into the pan, as shown below. A packet of this cinnamon/sugar mix is included in the Krusteaz Snickerdoodle cookie mix.

snickerdoodle valentine's day cookies in a Whoopie pie pan

6. Bake for 9-11 minutes.
They should bake up nice and even, like this:

big cookies baked in a whoopie pie pan

7. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes.
Once they’ve cooled enough to handle, pop them out of the pan. Now it’s time to package them up!


Valentine’s Day “Baked with Love” Cookie Sleeves

You’ll need:

valentine cookie sleeve materials

1. Punch out the “window”.
Turn the craft punch upside down so that you can see/control the placement of the punch.

DIY cookie window sleeves

2. Hot glue the label to the bag.
Align the bottom of the label with the bottom of the bag. 

That’s it! Your finished cookie sleeve packaging should look like this:

printable cookie sleeve gifts

Time to add the cookies! Just slip one into each bag, then fold the excess bag over and tape the bag closed.

You can also add a printable to/from gift tag to the back if you’d like:

valentine's day cookie gift idea

These make cute Valentine’s day gifts for friends, family, teammates, and more – not to mention a fun surprise for a lunchbox, co-worker’s desk, or neighbor’s doorstep. Hope you can use them to SPREAD SOME LOVE! ;)



This project is brought to you in collaboration with Krusteaz®. As always, all thoughts, designs, and opinions are my own. THANK YOU so much for supporting the companies that make it possible for me to keep the creative inspiration & ideas coming your way!

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A Pancakes and Pajamas Party in 5 Easy Steps (+ Funfetti Pancakes!)

Pancakes and Pajamas Party Sign - Free Printable

Today’s post combines 3 of my favorite things that all happen to start with a “P”… pancakes, pajamas, and PARTIES! I mean, what’s not to love about the idea of attending a party in the comfort of your favorite PJs, right? And since I’ve been working with my favorite pancake mix brand – Krusteaz – on various party ideas for quite a while now, it seemed like high time to create an actual PANCAKE PARTY. ;)

Simple, Festive, and Fun

Instead of focusing on PJs and slippers for this Pancakes and Pajamas party, I decided to try something different and give it a night time inspired spin with clouds, stars, and a giant moon balloon.

I also wanted to create something that felt simple enough to inspire a special family celebration at home, yet festive enough to work into a full-blown birthday party too. This meant quick decor, easy pancakes, and my favorite go to “secret ingredient” – party printables! You can find download links for the free printables after the images below, along with my 5 step breakdown of how to recreate this look

Giant Moon Balloon - Blue

The party table features playful cloud-shaped printable “placemats”, honeycomb balls, and pancake toppings with custom labels. Hanging above the table: a giant crescent moon + more honeycomb decorations.

Pancakes and Pajamas Party Table

Sometimes it just makes sense to state the obvious… ;)

Rainbow Funfetti Pancakes

Colorful cups, napkins, and straws are an easy way to add fun patterns to the table. I purchased all of this partyware at Target and embellished the straws with printable stars.

Printable Pancake Party Placemats

Pancake toppings + new labels = a cute & functional centerpiece!

Cute Whipped Cream and Syrup Labels

I love adding words to placemats… this printable set comes with 5 colors and alternates between “PASS the SYRUP” and “MORE PANCAKES please”.

Pancakes and Pajamas Party Ideas

Here’s a closer look at the funfetti pancakes. Note: If you want to get even fancier, you can also add simple patterns and colors to your pancakes using the method I demonstrated here.

Funfetti Pancakes Tutorial

The image above is proof that even a simple addition can make pancakes SUPER FUN! My own kids were so excited about these. It’s amazing how much joy “fun food” can stir up!


5 Steps to a Playful Pancakes and Pajamas Party

Add colorful sprinkles (like the shimmery star sprinkles used here) to your Krusteaz Buttermilk Pancakes to make them stand out! This simple step makes a big impact without adding much work in the kitchen at all. I stirred some sprinkles into bowl of batter first, then also added a pinch of sprinkles to the pan before pouring on about 1/3 cup batter on for each pancake. This way you’re guaranteed to have lots of color at the top. :)

Set the tone for a fun party with big pops of color at each place setting. Add cloud-silhouette placemats + colorful napkins and straws. Hot glue paper stars to the straws. 

Easy, high-impact decor is the BEST… and this giant crescent moon balloon is exactly that. Just fill it with air and using fishing wire to hang it above your party table. Instant statement-maker in a just a few minutes!

These inexpensive tissue decorations are another favorite ingredient for fast and high-impact. Just open up small honeycomb balls and toss them around the center of the table. Hang a few next to the moon balloon for added color above the table, and hot glue little stars to them to play up the night sky theme.

In addition to the Cloud Placemats, download the following elements to dress up your theme:

And of course this tip kind of goes with out saying… but make sure everyone comes in their PJs! To customize this design for a birthday party, I’d recommend adding chipboard or metallic balloon numbers (for the birthday age) and letters (for the guest of honor’s name) to the decorations.


Krusteaz Funfetti Pancakes


This project is brought to you in collaboration with Krusteaz®. As always, all thoughts, designs, and opinions are my own. THANK YOU so much for supporting the companies that make it possible for me to keep the creative inspiration & ideas coming your way!

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Playful & Modern Pirate Birthday Party Ideas

Pirate Party Homemade Cake

If you’re on a *treasure* hunt for pirate party ideas… x marks THIS spot! ;) I’m excited to share the new Pirate Birthday Party theme that I recently designed for Fisher-Price, which is filled with lots of ideas and free printables for YOU!

Scroll down for a close-up view at the individual ideas – from fill-in pirate party invitations to Caribbean Punch, Pirate Bananas, “X Marks the Spot” Loot Bags, and more! Then, head on over to the “How to Throw a Pirate Party” article on the FP website for the detailed instructions and downloads. 

Free Printable Pirate Party Invitations

Pirate Letters

These paper mache letters are a great way to personalize the party too. In addition to pirate phrases, try decorating the name or initials of the guest of honor! Instructions here.

Pirate Party Decorations - Paper Mache Letters

“Caribbean Sea” Pirate Party Punch

I always love dressing up drink dispensers, and pirate party punch in particular looks great decked out with ripped bandanas, chains, and rope! Get the recipe & free printable drink label here.

Pirate Party Punch

Jolly Roger Jello Ships

Cute toppers are for more than just cupcakes! Little ones will love these fun & colorful jello pirate ship snacks. Instructions & sail printables here.

Jolly Roger Jello Ships - Pirate Party Food

Pirate Bananas

Proof that even “healthy” party treats can bring smiles. Details here. 
P.S. This a cute “anytime” surprise for lunch boxes too!

Pirate Bananas - Pirate Party Food

Pirate Party Sandwiches

Cookie Cutters make sandwiches (or “sandys”) fun too! I added some crushed potato chips to the PB & Honey for a bit of that awesome salty/sweet combo AND so we could label them our “crunchy skulls”. ;)

Pirate Party Food - Skull and Shark Sandwiches

Homemade Pirate Party Cake

I’m definitely no pro when it comes to cake decorating, but have enjoyed challenging myself with all of the Fisher-Price parties to find easy/doable ways to make homemade cakes (by other non-pros like me) still look awesome. Gotta say I love how this one turned out! See the first image for a full view of the cake, and then the image below for a close-up of the top.

Colorful store-bought candies (grape Starbust jelly beans, red licorice, rock candy, and a gold-wrapped chocolate) plus a printable topper did the trick for this “x marks the spot” inspired design. And the topper IS customizable by age – the printable “pirate sail” with the number on it is available in 1-9. :) Full details and free printables here.

Pirate Party Cake Decorations

Pirate Dress Up Station

What little pirates wouldn’t love to dress like a MATEY?! Use our free printable sign to invite them to plunder some goodies to dress up with…

Pirate Party Dress Up Station

And of course you can never have too much gold at a pirate party… ;)

Pirate Party Gold Chains

X Marks the Spot Favor Bags

Send your guests off with a little “loot” before they sail away. These cute DIY favor bags are super easy to make! Get the instructions here.

Pirate Party Favor Bags - X Marks the Spot


Hope you’re able to have some fun with these ideas! If you need more inspiration, check out our Pirate Party Archives here on HWTM.

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“10 Things I Love About You” Valentine’s Day Balloons

Valentine's Day Gift Idea - Printable Sign

Looking for a cute way to surprise your favorite person for Valentine’s Day? This balloon gift idea is easy, thoughtful and definitely a statement-maker! Well… TEN statements to be exact. ;) It’s also a playful nod to the similarly titled romantic comedy from 1999… for those of you that love old school chick flicks like me. 

Love Notes + Stickers + Balloons

Adhesive number stickers make this project super-quick, and I’ve designed a set of printable Valentine notecards and a matching sign to make everything easy-peasy! Head over to the Balloon Time website for more details and to download the free “love note” printables.

P.S. This idea would work well for both significant others OR (reading age) kids!

DIY Valentine's Day Balloon Surprise

10 Things I Love About You Balloons

Free Printable Valentine Love Notes


Download the free printables for this project HERE.

For more free Valentine’s Day printables, check out my Cake and Ice Cream Valentine’s Day collection. It’s got watercolor-style banners, party flags, cake toppers, and more… a sweet addition to any love-day celebration!

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A Football Baby Shower (Sip and See) with NFL Homegating

NFL football themed baby shower ideas

This football themed Sip and See might be my favorite idea for a new baby celebration to date!

NFL Homegating is like tailgating in the comfort of your own home – which is fun on its own – but even more so with a brand new baby to show off! ;)


Sip and See …and Cheer

In case you’re not familiar with the term, a “Sip and See” is an open-house style gathering where several people come over to meet a new baby within a specified window of time. They can stay for a while or just pop in for a few minutes. It’s a fun excuse to get together, AND it saves new parents from having to accommodate the various schedules of a zillion different people that are all anxious to meet their little one.

One big thing to consider though: not everyone can hold the baby at once, which means it’s a good idea to have something else to keep your guests entertained too. So… HELLO, WORLD + HELLO, FOOTBALL!

DIY football baby bottles - baby shower decorations

Timing a Sip and See to align with an NFL game provides the perfect extra entertainment for your guests: it’s fun, it’s social, and, most importantly, it’s low-maintenance. They’ve got something to focus on while you’re busy chatting with others, and you’ve got a great theme to work with… your favorite NFL team! Or the favorite team of the guests of honor, if you’re hosting this party for a friend.

So with this in mind, I’m excited to team up with NFL Homegating to bring you some inspiration for hosting your own NFL Inspired Sip and See! NFL Homegating is all about celebrating your team at home. I stuck with my own favorite team here (of course!), but you can easily swap out the Raiders glasses and serveware with versions that feature your own favorite team.


I also designed the football printables featured here in black and white so that they can work with any team color palette! *Download them for free at the bottom of the post.*

P.S. Even though this NFL season is coming to an end soon, all of these ideas would work great at a regular football-inspired baby shower too, which can happen year-round. Plus, the next NFL season will be here before we know it!


footballl baby shower printables

The Drinks

Since this is a SIP and See, drinks are key of course! Set up a station that makes it easy for guests to help themselves. Make sure to have a variety of options available for people of different ages and tastes. I always like to offer one party punch with a fun name that matches the theme + the standard basics (water, iced tea, wine, beer, soda).

This “Touchdown” Punch is simple yet tasty. It’s just store-bought green fruit punch (kiwi strawberry flavor) + lemon-lime soda. For an extra point though, throw in some lime sherbet and/or champagne!

Football Party Touchdown Punch

Speaking of fun names, I couldn’t resist calling the iced tea “Safe-TEA” as a play on the football position/play.

football party drinks

Space for cold drinks can often be an issue, and it’s fine to use your refrigerator as a solution for this! Just make sure to set out a note that lets guests know that more beverages are available for them in the fridge. You’ll probably also need to clean out your fridge... ;)

I’m a big fan of wine myself… and this is a CELEBRATION, after all! These team-branded stemless wine glasses feel a little more sporty and “Homegating friendly” to me:

sip and see baby shower wine glasses

Since this drink station is also the focal point of the party (similar to how styled dessert tables are often treated), I have a few decorative tips from it to share with you too… :)

1. “Football Family” Centerpiece

First up is this decorative drinkware display, which is a nod to both parts of the theme (sipping and NFL), as well as to the family that’s being celebrated. There’s a wine glass for mom, a beer mug for dad – (both from NFL Homegating) – and a DIY painted bottle for baby (a.k.a. the MVP!). 

football baby shower centerpiece idea

If you’re hosting for someone else, the glassware can also double as a thoughtful gift for mom and dad after the party. The mini Quarterback, MVP, and Coach flags can be downloaded below.

2. Football Onesie Banner

Since there’s not a whole lot of obviously “baby” stuff happening on top of the table, I thought a onesie banner was in order to help highlight the occasion more obviously. ;) These are available to download below as well. Note: the dates on the free printables have been changed to be more versatile. There are separate banner files for babies born in 2017 and 2018.

printable football baby shower banner

3. Felt Football Field Table Cover

For this table cover, I used green felt, white duct tape (large lines), and white masking tape (small lines). Having an attractive table cover or linen makes ALL the difference in the world as far as the look of a party station!

DIY football field table cover


Football Whoopie Pies

The Food

Snacks at a Sip and See can be simple and fuss-free! In similar fashion to the drinks, I like to have one “star”of the food table surrounded by a few crowd-pleasing basics like cheese/cracker and veggie trays.

I chose a 5-Ingredient Chili as the main dish, since it’s quick to make and easy to keep warm all party long in a (Raiders!) Crockpot:

football party chili station

Popular garnishes for the chili (cheddar cheese, avocado slices, onions, and sour cream) were served in cute galvanized pails. 

football party chili and wine

Cheese and crackers were carefully arranged on this ceramic plate so that they didn’t cover up the best part…

football party snacks

Veggies add such a fantastic pop of color to any food station! I pretty much always include them at parties…. even though I’ll admit that I usually reach for a cheese stick first myself. ;) 

DIY football baby bottle decoration

Hope you found some useful tips here for your next football soirée! Remember to visit NFL Homegating for official NFL team party supplies, drinkware, serving trays and more. 

P.S. The football baby bottles pictured above were made by pouring craft paint into the bottles and letting it slowly drip down the sides, similar to what I did in this tutorial post. I cut pieces of duct tape for the “laces”.

Football Baby Shower Printables

Click the links below to download the high resolution PDFs.


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by NFL Homegating. As always, all thoughts and designs are my own. Thank you so much for supporting the companies that make it possible for me to keep the creative content coming your way!


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Paint-Dipped Cactus Party Favors (Tutorial)

DIY Cactus Party Favors - Paint Dipped

Have you seen the new colorful chocolate KISSES from Hershey? I had so much fun dreaming up a few ways to *party* with them. This Paint Dipped Cactus Favor might be my absolute favorite, though…

I mean, it has color blocking and sparkly craft poms… and CHOCOLATE! ;)

There are 2 different styles of cacti here – a taller, skinnier version and a shorter, rounder version. Both are easy to make – check out the instructions below.

P.S. Download the matching 8×10 “Fiesta Forever” Favor Sign too!

Free Printable Fiesta Party Sign




  • Hershey’s KISSES in Green Foil
  • 3×5” Clear Treat Bags (for tall cactus)
  • 4×9” Clear Treat Bags (for round cactus)
  • Mini Craft Pom Poms
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Tape
  • Brown tissue paper
  • Scissors
  • Printable YAY! Flags
  • Bamboo Skewers

For “Paint Dipped” Pots:

  • 1/8” Painter’s Tape
  • 1/2” Painter’s Tape (or Washi Tape)
  • 2.5” Terra Cotta Pots
  • Craft Paint
  • Paint Brushes



1. Prep the terra cotta pots. For a paint-dipped look like I did here, use painter’s tape to block off the bottom portion of the pot that you want to paint. Apply 2-3 coats of craft paint to each pot and let dry completely, then peel off the tape.


2. To form the tall cactus plants, fill 3×5” clear bags with 20 green Hershey’s KISSES. For the round cactus plants, fill 4×9.25” clear bags with 20 green Hershey’s KISSES.

NOTE: Turn both sizes of bags INSIDE OUT before filling them to help conceal the corners and create a more rounded look.

3. Once the bags are filled and shaped to your liking, twist the excess cellophane to secure the shape and tape them closed. You can also trim the excess cellophane off of the round plants.

4. Flip the candy-filled bags over so that the taped side is down, and place them in the terra cotta pots. The round cactus bags should sit nicely towards the top of the pots. For the taller & skinnier plant, insert a ½ sheet of brown tissue paper into the bottom of the terra cotta pot first, packing it down firmly to create a hidden riser for the cactus.

5. Hot glue mini pom poms onto the cactus plants to make colorful flowers and prickles!

6. For the finishing touch, accent the plants with Printable YAY! Flags hot glued onto bamboo skewers.

Printable Fiesta Party Flags

Make Your Own Cactus Favors

Fiesta Party Favor - Cactus


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Grown Up Party Favors: Good Morning, Sunshine! Prep Kits

Hangover Prevention Party Favors for Grown Ups

We spend lots of time dreaming up party favor ideas for little ones, so how about something just for the GROWN UPS?! ;) And let’s make it something useful while we’re at it…

Since the vast majority of adults have LOTS of responsibilities to manage every day – work, kids, home maintenance, etc – I can’t think of a more THOUGHTFUL “party send off” gift than something that can help your guests feel good in the morning. You know… so that they can actually “adult” like they need to, even after a fun night out of cocktails and celebration.

(Make it a ) Good Morning, Sunshine!

So on that note, I recently teamed up with a new company called ClearVia that I’m really excited about, which is of course always a requirement for the brands I work with). They make a probiotic supplement that helps you metabolize alcohol. It’s available on Amazon and you can also learn more about it here. 

I noticed a difference in how I felt the next day when I tried it myself, which was after a night of moderate drinking.

Anyways, the individual packets of ClearVia are tiny, so I thought it would be cute to pair them with a bottle of water and a sleep mask and call them “Good Morning, Sunshine Prep Kits”! Wouldn’t these be cute lined up by the door for guests to grab on their way out?

If you need to make a bunch of these favors, you can find inexpensive sleep masks at discount stores and online – or you could go the opposite route and gift beautiful, fancy sleep masks to a few close friends for something like a wedding rehearsal dinner or bachelorette party.

Good Morning Sunshine Favor Tags - Free Printable

Printable Favor Tags

Click here to download the favor tags. Print them on nice cardstock (I like the matte photo supreme paper from Staples). You’ll need a 2″ circle craft punch to make them round, or you can always leave them as squares too.

Hope you have some fun with these. ENJOY! :)


Disclosure: This content is a sponsored post. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and designs are my own. Thank you so much for supporting the companies that make it possible for me to keep the creative content coming your way!

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(Simple & Sweet) Unicorn Birthday Party Ideas

DIY Unicorn Birthday Party Ideas

I’m excited to share this Unicorn Birthday Party Theme that I recently designed for Fisher-Price! You can find the instructions for each idea + download all the free printables right here on their website.

And even though some of the printables are geared towards a first birthday in particular, there are lots of ideas that would translate well to unicorn parties for ALL AGES… like magical unicorn punch, DIY unicorn headbands (made from sugar cones), and a homemade cake decorated with Lucky Charms.

That’s right… sometimes the perfect cake decoration is just a CEREAL BOX away! ;)

Scroll down for a close-up look at everything, then visit the full article for more info.

Homemade Unicorn Birthday Cake

Rainbow Unicorn Cake

Even though I love them, I rarely buy custom cakes for the parties we host… partly because I’m always last minute, and partly because I hate missing out on a chance to sneak some cake batter. ;) I really love how this homemade cake turned out though – and the best part is that there’s even more magic inside! (Instructions here.)

Rainbow Pasta

My own kids went particularly crazy for the rainbow pasta and it’s easy to see why… have you ever seen a prettier batch of buttered noodles?! Lots of uses for this fun idea… (Recipe here.)

Rainbow Pasta with Star Shaped Puffs

Unicorn Horn Treats

These sprinkle-covered goodies were a big hit too! (Recipe here.)