Bright and Cheery Dessert Party Inspiration from Dena Designs

This is a guest post from our featured artist Dena Designs. Shop her stationery and paper product collection including address labels, notepads and invitations on dena1

Summer is all about outdoor entertaining and what better way to do it than with color! Even something as simple as lemonade paired with delicious desserts can make for a great fete. Just add flowers, some colorful accessories, and paper decor to really make your party pop!

Table decorations are so important for a stand-out summer party. To make your décor unique, use vintage tins as vases. Tip: Put the flowers in a juice glass filled with water and then hide the juice glass in the tin. This prevents any leakage or rust.
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Place cards are also a simple way to make your guests feel special. Take a look around your home to see what you might be able to repurpose for a party. For example, bamboo skewers (also great for summer barbecues!) can be made into cupcake picks with just a little creativity. Those pictured here are made from office tags and leftover craft ribbons Just place the skewer into the center of a cupcake and voila! This is a fun way to make goodies stand out on a table. Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 4.27.57 PM

Overhead party decorations bring partygoers’ eyes up and make the space really festive. For this party, bowls were hung and filled with fresh flowers.
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Bring the comfort of the indoors outside and make your guests cozy with some throw pillows. You can mix and match shapes, sizes, and textures to add even more color to your party.

Serving trays are also a nice touch and so useful for an outdoor party. This vintage tray was transformed into something new by adding a piece of custom cut glass. You could even decorate a tray with patterned fabric or paper to customize it to fit your own style. On this tray there is even a little stitched applique for a final sweet touch.
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Now on to food! These hand-painted sugar cookies are so easy to create and delicious. To make your own cookie “paints,” follow this simple recipe:

Put 1 tsp corn syrup and 1/4 tsp water into a small cup. Tint with food coloring and stir well. Paint the unbaked cookies before baking using a small paintbrush. Bake according to the cookie recipe. Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 4.27.41 PM
Now you’ll want a bright drink to match your colorful cookies and pink lemonade is the perfect beverage for a dessert party. It’s so refreshing on a hot summer day. Mix up some of your favorite lemonade or put your own twist on this recipe:
Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 4.27.53 PM Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice, plus 4 lemons, thinly sliced crosswise, for garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
  • 2 cups cranberry juice
Directions: Bring granulated sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a pan over high heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. Add lemon juice, superfine sugar, cranberry juice, and 1 1/2 quarts water to a serving container. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 1 day. To serve, add ice cubes to fill and garnish with lemon slices or edible flowers.

Invite your friends or family over to enjoy, there are so many ways to make a summer soiree bright for everyone!

4th of July Party Decorations


Growing up, I lived in a neighborhood that was made up of 2 acre lots. We were about eight minutes away from a large city, and our town was what you’d call “rural.” We didn’t have a post office, and our fire fighters were volunteers. I loved growing up in that neighborhood for so many reasons, but some of the best memories I have growing up “in the country” (we called it) were the July Fourth parties we had.

Since we were away from the city a bit, we could have fireworks in our back yard. The big stuff, not just roman candles, although they were my fave. We lived pretty close to a lake, and there were two fireworks stands near us that we would excitedly look forward to shopping each year for the coolest new firework.

Of course, we also gathered sparklers, Black Cats and those weird snakes that were really just ashes. We ate hot dogs off the grill, helped turn the handle on the ice cream maker and stayed up past our bedtime to shoot and watch fireworks.

The Fourth of July is magical for me, partly because it falls right before my birthday (on the 6th, just in case you’d like to send me a gift!) and partly because I have such fond memories from my childhood. I look forward to this holiday every year, from planning the party to covering almost everything I own with red, white and blue.

I don’t know about you, but Pinterest is one of my favorite places to find inspiration for a party, and I’ve found countless ideas for a Fourth of July celebration. From outfits to games to crafts and party food, there are plenty of totally doable red, white and blue ideas to create the perfect birthday party for America.

Add a few bursts of color to your household and party décor with easy-to-make crafts! Try a flag pick wreath on your front door.

4th of July Party

Or pick up a handful of red, white and blue bandanas and whip up a color-block tablecloth or simply layer them across the center of your table for a no-sew table runner.

4th of July decorations

Easy DIY paper pinwheels and pom pons (that look like fireworks!) pack a big visual Fourth of July punch for pennies. Add them to the potted plants in and around your home or display them centerpiece-style in vases filled with sand.

4th of July pinwheels

You can’t celebrate the Fourth of July without some yummy cookout classics! Hot dogs, burgers, corn on the cob and potato salad are timeless favorites, but it’s easy to add a splash of red, white and blue in your party snacks too.

Dip strawberries in white chocolate, then sugar tinted with blue food coloring or layer on colored icing for a festive treat!

4th of July strawberries

Or add sliced strawberries, bananas and blueberries to skewers to make a patriotic flag fruit platter.

Party treats

No patriotic party is complete without homemade ice cream! We have made this in-the-bag version for a couple years now and it’s PERFECT every time. Jazz it up with colorful blue and red sprinkles.

Ziploc ice cream

Now that you’ve got your food and decorations down, shop for some pieces to coordinate your personal look with the party theme. With nautical styles trending for summer, now is the perfect time to find pieces in red, white and blue for your ensemble.

Navy and white stripes

Nautical stripes

Pair with some red accessories…

Red accessories

Or a custom painted mani can make your Fourth of July look sparkle.

Striped nails

Don’t forget to plan for some fun for after the sun sets. Find yourself a great seat for a local fireworks display or make your own lightshow with DIY glow in the dark fun.

Fireworks in jars

Share your favorite Fourth of July projects, decoration, or food ideas in the comments!

Our Safari Animal Baby Shower

Corina's safari animal baby shower

Corina's safari animal baby shower

If you haven’t noticed from our other parties, we girls love celebrating! We recently threw a baby shower for our own Corina Murray, and we wanted to share the fun with you.

Corina is expecting a baby girl this month, but she’s not a big fan of pink. Instead of sticking with the traditional pastel pink color palette, we thought it would be fun to spice things up with bright, bold colors. You can’t get much brighter than the animal suite:

Animal baby shower

Animal suite

The four designs are available as invitations, plates and more – plus printables we created for Corina’s shower. (Okay, so we snuck in a little pink here and there, but just as an accent color!)

For our safari animal baby shower, we made sure to include Corina’s favorite animal – giraffes – along with some other cute characters. Giraffe, elephant and crocodile cutouts were designed especially for her, along with a bold “Congrats” banner, and we’re sharing them with you as free printables!

Baby safari animal cutouts

Baby safari animal cutouts & "Congrats" banner

For the banner, just print out the PDF on card stock, then punch holes and tie the triangles together with ribbon.

To make the safari animals, grab some card stock or craft foam in the colors of your choice, print out the PDFs on everyday paper, cut them out and use them as stencils to trace the designs onto your card stock or foam.

Next, cut and glue on embellishments. (Hint: all the animals’ eyes, and the elephant’s toenails, can be created by using a hole punch, so don’t worry about trimming a perfect circle by hand!)

Finally, glue craft sticks onto the back and use your baby safari animals around the refreshment table, or tape them up to the wall.

We couldn’t resist throwing in these two “pregnant” animals we found at a local craft store:

"Pregnant" lion & elephant

"Pregnant" lion & elephant

Once we had enough animals, we tied the colorful shower theme together with tablecloths, place settings and ribbon. You might have noticed how we used green as the base color for the dessert table, then highlighted the animals with contrasting banners made by trimming vinyl tablecloths into strips.

We also found some zebra print ribbon at the craft store and tied it around the napkin holders and cake pop box. How simple and affordable is that?

Finally, we added to the safari theme by creating wild tissue-paper flowers. The blog craft team had a blast with these –

Elegant tissue paper flowers

Elegant tissue paper flowers

For your own party, you can use a single color of tissue paper for a natural look, or go wild by pairing several colors in one flower for a bright, bold safari theme like ours. You can find step-by-step instructions for these elegant flowers on Martha Stewart’s website.

Cake pops & gifts

Cake pops & gifts

Here are a few tips we learned along the way:

  • Pick 3 or 4 colors for your baby shower theme. Repeating several colors instead of just one makes the shower more fun and less frilly.
  • Not all your baby safari animals have to match. Throw in a set of these printables, then mix and match with ones you find at the store – like the adorable baby book Suzanne found (above).
  • Letting everyone in on the theme will help them select gifts that match too! Corina was thrilled that we followed her suggestion to have a giraffe and non-pink theme, since that’s how the nursery is being decorated. Now she has lots of safari themed décor – even a giraffe print diaper bag – which she’ll enjoy for months to come.
Gifts, cookies and the guest of honor

Gifts, cookies and the guest of honor - the stamp on the gift tag is available at

Free safari animal shower printables

And now, for the best part – free printables for you! The “Congrats” banner, adorable baby animal cutouts, water bottle labels, place cards and hors d’oeuvre flags are yours to print and use at your own special occasion.

Pair them with the matching animal suite from or mix and match with your own unique style – then don’t forget to share your creativity by posting a link in the comments!

Toddler Birthday Party Ideas

Toddler birthday parties

Toddler birthday parties

There’s something magical about birthdays when you’re young. The decorations, the friends, the cake and the presents are details that so many kids look forward to all year long. I know my little man asks me when his birthday is at least once a week! Creating a special event for your toddler takes planning, but with a little effort can be easy, affordable and fun!

Location, location, location

If there’s a local pizza and game center or kids’ amusement park, they can host the whole party and plan food, activities and decorations for you. But remember, you don’t have to spend a fortune on kids’ birthday parties.

If your toddler has a summer birthday, take everyone to the park where the kids can run and play – maybe even feed some ducks – and your house will avoid being destroyed in the process. The park might be just as special to them as a formal event, and unless you plan to rent a shelter, it’s free!

Toddler party themes

Once you know where you’re having your party, deciding on a theme is the next step. Consider the details of the party through your toddler’s eyes. Keeping their favorite things in mind will help you tap into creativity and create a special event all the kids will enjoy.

  • What are his or her favorite foods?
  • What games or activities does your child enjoy most?
  • What are your child’s most treasured toys?
  • What are the books he or she reads over and over (and over)?
  • What TV shows or movies does your child love to watch?

If you’re planning a first birthday party and your child hasn’t developed an affinity for anything in particular, some continually popular kids party themes include princesses, fairies, trains, robots and cars. Mustache themed parties for boys and owl themed parties for girls have also grown over the last year.

Mustache party theme

Once you decide on a theme, set the tone for the birthday party with matching invitations. My youngest son turned one last year, and we threw him a Mini Man Mustache Bash with these adorable invitations:

Toddler mustache party

Handlebar Invitations from

Birthday party food

Deciding on what foods to serve is the next easy step. The time of the party will determine the type of food you should serve. If the party is held during a meal time, plan on serving more substantial foods like build-your-own sandwiches or personal pizzas. If it’s before or after meal hours, simple snacks like fruit, veggies or Goldfish are more appropriate. (Try to take naptime and bedtime into consideration before you choose the time for the party!)

Of course, the feature food of the day will be the birthday cake! Coordinating the party theme into the design of the cake will make it even more special for the birthday boy or girl. Simple store-bought cupcakes with rings are popular and easy – or you can try your hand at a more elaborate cake.

Train birthday cake

Toby the Train Cake from The Girl in the Red Sweater

You can get really creative with toddler birthday cakes – they’re so young they’ll love whatever you try, even if it’s not perfect. As long as there’s cake under there somewhere, you really can’t go wrong.

Since my son’s favorite food is bananas, we served banana flavored cupcakes decorated with mustaches and speech bubble picks. Not only did they appeal to the kids, they made for a terrific centerpiece. We also had a smaller mustache-shaped cake made just for the birthday boy. It was so funny to watch him try out his first licks of chocolate icing and handfuls of chocolate cake!

Banana cupcakes

Banana cupcakes at the mustache bash

Toddler birthday party decorations

Decorating your party space doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The toddlers will be happier with simple balloons they can play with than fancy decorations they’re not allowed to touch. Work with materials you have on hand, or hit up the party aisle at your local superstore or dollar store.

Grab plates, napkins and plasticware in the colors of your party for a simple, affordable way to give your party a cohesive look and feel. Banners are a terrific way to decorate your party space and add a special message about your birthday honoree!

For our party banner, I used photos of my son from birth through his first birthday, added a mustache to his little face with an online photo editing program and printed them at my local 1-hour photo processing center. Then I simply punched holes at the top and threaded them onto a length of tulle.

Toddler birthday banners

Voilà - a custom birthday banner!

Party favors are another element that add to your event’s theme and send your guests home with a piece of the fun! Dollar stores and party retailers offer a wide selections of favors. We sent the kids home with a DIY ‘stache-on-a-stick, candies and a Wooly Willy game. Bubbles and fruit snacks are inexpensive favors that are sure to be a huge hit with the kids.

Toddler birthday party activities

If you plan your event at a location that hosts the party, the activities will be taken care of for you. Let those kiddos run wild and play! If you are hosting the party in your home, there are a few things to consider.

  • Are you inviting mostly big kids, little babies or a combination of ages?
  • Do you have enough space for the activity?
  • Will you holding the party indoors or outdoors?
  • Will you conduct the activity or game, or will it be self-directed?

Thinking through each of these details will allow you to properly plan appropriate activities for the party. Because we invited a range of ages to our party, we offered limited structured activities allowing the kids to play with toys outside or inside as they chose. The one party game we did play was a revised version of Pin The Tail On The Donkey. We switched it up a bit to fit our Mustache Bash theme and played Stick the ‘Stache on the Birthday Boy!

Toddler party activities

Toddler party activities

Planning your next kid-friendly party can be a piece of cake! Share your ideas (and blogs) for kids’ birthday parties in the comments below.

Spring Tea Party Ideas

Spring Tea Party Ideas

Tea Party Ideas - photos by Corina Murray, Online Media Specialist for

It’s never too early to start looking toward the sweet days of spring. While the weather outside might still seem frightful, the ideas for this Spring Sweet Tea Party will have you feeling quite delightful.

Your gal pals from Texas have stirred up some fun for this atypical tea party. No raised pinkies or scones for this event! We’re serving up a variety of Texan favorites: sweet tea and Texas-sized cookies!

Set the tone for spring with these Sweet Tweet Invitations featuring blooming flowers, fluttering butterflies and birds in song.

Spring Sweet Tea Party

Spring Sweet Tea Party

Use personalized flat cards in a new way! Fold them in half to create a standing sign to label your food items and showcase the theme of your party.

Tea Party Decor

Tea Party Décor

We served lemon cake cookies, Very Berry Tea flavored with fresh raspberries and blackberries and Lemon Mint Tea garnished with bright yellow lemon slices and sprigs of fragrant mint. Mason jars replaced tea cups for our Tea Party and mini tart tins were the perfect serving dishes for chocolate candies in colors coordinating with the fresh flower centerpiece. The centerpiece vases were made using baby food jars wrapped in sheets of memo pad paper and secured with twine.

After you have checked everything off your To Do List, use a few pages from a Blushing Bird Memo Pad to create a one-of-a-kind decoration for your party. Simply adhere die-cut letters (or cut them yourself from scrapbook paper) to the center of each sheet of memo paper, punch holes at the top of the design and thread onto a length of ribbon for a custom banner highlighting the theme of your Sweet Tea Party!

Spring Party Banner

Spring Party Banner

Allow your guests to take home a piece of the fun with personalized recipe cards featuring the Spring Sweet Tea Party theme. Hand-write the recipe for one of the teas you’re serving and send your guests home with a favor they can use over and over again!

Sweet Party Favors

Sweet Party Favors

Finally, after the cookies have been eaten and the pitchers have been washed and put away, keep that sweet spring sentiment brewing with a note of thanks on a card that coordinates with your event’s invitations and sealed with a coordinating label.

Tea party notes

Tea party notes

Hosting and decorating for a tea party can be affordable and adorable! Simple materials used in new and unique ways create a memorable event for your guests. The spring season is just around the corner… who doesn’t need a fun excuse to be together with friends?