Inspiring Celebrations Since 2006

Margarita Cupcakes

margarita cupcake recipe

After an exhaustive (in a good way) search for margarita cupcakes on flickr, I noticed that tons of people were crediting “VCTOTW” as their recipe source, which was a bit perplexing at first. Google came through as always though and quickly helped me decipher the strange code – which turned out to be shorthand for the title “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World“.

I’m not a vegan myself, but I did notice that this book happens to have a shiny 5-star rating from over 200 reviewers on Amazon (in addition to great reviews on this particular recipe), and I’m definitely intrigued…

All 4 of the margarita cupcake images pictured here credit VCTOTW as their recipe source (get the recipe below) – but a couple of the bakers that aren’t vegan substituted real butter & milk for the shortening & soymilk. Bottom line – make the recipe work for you – and ENJOY!!

margarita cupcake recipe

Pictured at top: Margarita Cupcakes by LaundryGirlPhotog. Pictured above, clockwise from left: Mucho Margarita Cupcakes by Seitti; Margarita Cupcakes by Crumbs&Pixels; Margarita Cupcake by t.sullivan photography.

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DIY: Adorable Flower Cookie Pops

hostess

I’m so excited to share today’s guest post with you! The ultra-crafty & talented Meaghan Mountford – author of The Decorated Cookie and Cookie Sensations: Creative Designs for Every Occasion – is here with a fun DIY cookie project.

Since Mother’s Day is right around the corner, Megan has personalized the downloadable envelope template in this project for Mom, but these cookies would also be great party favor ideas for bridal showers, baby showers & birthday parties! Get all the “how to” info below, as told by Meaghan…

hostess

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Bridal Registry Event with Brides.com – Thursday, May 7 in San Francisco

bridal registry event

I’m really excited to be part of a cool bridal event happening this Thursday, May 7th at Bloomingdales in San Francisco – especially alongside the company of Michelle Preli, Editor-in-Chief of Brides.com, and Christy Weber – CoFounder/Executive Editor of the fabulous Junebug Weddings!

If you’re in the area, please join us from 6-8pm for cocktails, sweet & savory tastings, and bridal registry tips & discussion. There will also be a laptop bar where you can learn the ins-and-outs of the exciting new online Set Your Table tool from Brides.com (see example below). Soon you’ll be mixing and matching place settings the same way you do outfits! (more…)

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Smocks…Entertaining in Style

Smocks aprons

Watch out boring, boxy aprons…there’s a new girl in town! Say hello to Smocks – and to flirty, smart designs for entertaining in style!

Smocks is a brand new company created by mother-daughter duo Christopher Ireland – a West coast techie & marketing/brand consultant – and Kelley Culp – a fashion editor & designer living in New York. After noticing a growing trend in the markets of cooking & entertaining, especially with more and more people entertaining at home these days, Kelley and Christopher decided to launch a line of stylish, affordable aprons that actually compliment your outfit rather than just cover it up. How’s that for a concept! (more…)

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Margarita Madness: 10 Unique Flavors & Recipe Ideas

pomegranate margaritas

Most of us have enjoyed a classic or strawberry flavored margarita at one time or another, but how about a Smoky Grilled Grapefruit or Honeydew Rita?

There are so many variations of this popular drink – and seeing how tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo – it seems like the perfect time to explore some of these unique flavors…especially if you feel like shaking things up this week! Here are TEN creative ideas from ’round the web:

Pictured at top: Pomegranate Margarita {via Skinny Chef} and Margarita Jello {via Use Real Butter}

smoked grapefruit margaritas

Above: Smoky Grilled Grapefruit Margarita {via Well Fed}
Below: Prickly Pear Margarita {via My Sweet and Saucy}

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Simply Stated: Mint Julep Recipe

mint julep recipe

We’ve covered Mint Julep Cupcakes this week… but the cocktail itself is important too! Get the Mint Julep cocktail recipe today over at Simply Stated. Have fun tomorrow!

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Letterpress… with a Sense of Humor

funny letterpress gretting cards

Letterpress with a sense of humor… now THAT’S a good combo!

These fun letterpress cards & coasters from Zeichen Press don clever messages like “SURPRISE… I totally forgot your birthday” and “Hello? Is this the police department? I’m calling to report my missing youth“.

funny letterpress gretting cards

More favorites from Birthday and Baby pictured below… (more…)

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SURPRISE GIVEAWAY: See’s Candies

see's candies giveaway

Winner Update: Wow – you guys really love your See’s! This giveaway is now closed, but thanks so much to all 586 of you that entered! I wish we had gift certificates for all of you, but as always we’ve gotta narrow it down, and the randomly drawn winners for this giveaway are…. #418 – Dana, #161 – Anne, #186 – Lynn, and #31 – Elizabeth. Congrats, ladies! We’ll be in touch via email to coordinate your prize!

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Just in time for Mother’s Day, See’s Candies is offering up $25 gift certificates to FOUR lucky HWTM readers! Whether you’re shopping for Mother’s Day Gifts like this pretty Pink Keepsake Box (filled with assorted Milk, Dark, and White-coated chocolates; $17.95)  or your own favorite treat (by way of truffles, caramels, new Black Cherry Lollipops & more) – doesn’t the concept of “free” make it sound even sweeter?!

HOW TO ENTER: (more…)

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Kentucky Derby Party: Infield Punch

Kentucky Derby party - cocktail

While the Mint Julep is definitely the obvious drink of choice when it comes to Kentucky Derby parties, revelers who aren’t fans of bourbon can sip on vodka-based “Infield Punch” instead. This simple cocktail recipe from Budget Living’s Party Central is basically just fruit punch & vodka garnished with lemon, but it’s so much more fun with a cool name that matches the theme!

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Infield Punch
(serves 10)

2.5 Gallons Red Fruit Punch
1 750 ml bottle vodka, gin, rum, or pure grain alcohol
1 lemon, sliced

Mix punch and liquor in a pitcher. Chill. Just before serving, mix in ice and garnish with lemon slices. Enjoy!

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Kentucky Derby Party: Infield Theme

Kentucky Derby party ideas

Looking for a reason to party this weekend, but “Hats ‘n’ Heels” isn’t really your thing? Not to worry! One of the best things about the Kentucky Derby is the wide variety of personalities – and methods of celebration – that it attracts.

We’re talking both ends of the spectrum here… from the “lifestyles of the rich & famous” Millionaire’s Row to the wild & rowdy crew making up the infamous Infield, which has been described as “comparing only to Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras”. (A quick YouTube or Google search will help explain why!)

Kentucky Derby party ideas

So how do you bring the Infield home to your own crew if you’re nowhere near Churchill Downs? Easy! For starters, head to your local party supply store and pick up a bunch of plastic beads and crazy hats & sunglasses. Emphasis on the “crazy” part.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? PHOTO OPP! The opportunity to capture your friends & family on film in hilarious get-ups doesn’t come about every day, right? And after a Mint Julep or 2, even mom & dad might be striking poses!

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Simply Stated: Loving RED

mother's day gift ideas

In continuing with the color themed gifts today (see earlier post below) – check out today’s post over at Simply Stated: Loving Red… Stylish Gift Ideas for Mom (or your best friend…or your sister…or yourself!).

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Loving Yellow: Sunshiny Gift Ideas

yellow stationery & gift ideas

Let the sun shine in… Here are a few fun ways to brighten up your desk – or someone else’s! Hint: maybe mom deserves a little “sunshine” for Mother’s Day?

1. Golden Cherry Blossom Notes – Box of 12 ($18);   2. Yellow Bird Correction Tape ($11); 3. Yellow Peony Personalized Paperweight ($35); 4. Thomas Paul Marigold Desk Tray – with 200 notes ($12); 5. Pom Pom noteBLOCK – with 700 self-adhesive notes ($16);  6. Golden Cherry Blossom Gift Wrap – 2 Sheets ($7).

yellow stationery & gift ideas

{all items available at RedStamp.com}

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Kentucky Derby Party: Run for the Roses Centerpiece Ideas

kentucky derby party centerpiece ideas

Red roses play a huge part in the Kentucky Derby, which has been aptly dubbed as the “Run for the Roses” due to the gorgeous garland of more than 400 red roses and bouquet of 60 long-stemmed red roses presented to the winning horse/jockey duo.

So… it goes without saying that roses are a great place to start when it comes to decorating for Kentucky Derby parties too! Here are a few quick, easy, & budget-friendly centerpiece ideas to get you started. (The felt 1, 2, & 3 numbers are representative of “win, place, & show”, but they also make it easy to differentiate below!)

To keep things even more affordable, purchase roses in bulk at discount shops like flower supply stores or even Costco. Scroll down for the detailed “how to” info on all 3 designs…

kentucky derby party centerpiece ideas

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Mint Julep Cupcakes Recipe

Mint Julep Cupcakes

Mint Juleps are a “must serve” at any Kentucky Derby party, right? Well, now there’s another fun way to serve this traditional Derby favorite: sweeten up the party with tasty Mint Julep Cupcakes – cleverly garnished with short straws and fresh mint leaves, of course!

We made these cupcakes for a local news segment today… and they were a hit! The recipe is adapted from Cooking & Booking and was first discovered via YumSugar. Even though the recipe calls for a full cup of alcohol, (1/2 c each Creme de Menthe and bourbon or whisky), the flavor of the cupcakes isn’t strong on the alcohol at all. Instead, it’s more of a sweet, buttery vibe with a subtle minty kick. Bake them in silver foil cupcake liners for that “silver julep cup” vibe. (Full recipe below. Enjoy!)

Mint Julep Cupcakes

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Simply Stated: Spring Green…Gorgeous Cocktails & Garnishes

spring green cocktails

Today over at Simply Stated – check out a few pretty cocktails & creative drink garnish ideas in fresh, lovely shades of spring green!

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Brownie Peanut Butter Cups

brownie peanut butter cups recipe

Get the “how to” here, including this yummy review: “…The edges are nicely chewy and the inside soft and gooey. Wish I could find adequate words to express how good these really are….”

I think she found them! Enjoy!

brownie peanut butter cups recipe

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Kentucky Derby Party Ideas (+ Bring the Derby Home Sweepstakes)

hostess

The Kentucky Derby is coming up soon – Saturday, May 2nd – and even if you can’t make it to Churchill Downs yourself, this is SUCH a fun excuse to get together and throw a party at home!

You can go all out with a specific theme like Hats n’ Heels, Racing/Silks, Infield, etc – or keep it casual with simple cocktails, appetizers, and a good view of the flat screen! KentuckyDerbyParty.com has tons of great ideas for celebrating at home – from Derby-appropriate recipes by chef Bobby Flay to themed party ideas to Derby party invitations. (A few favorites from the invitation designs are pictured below.) (more…)

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DIY: Crafty Spring Bouquet

craft button bouquet

I came across this adorable Spring Bouquet craft idea on the American Crafts blog recently and thought it would be such a cute homemade gift idea for Mother’s Day – or an adorable addition to girlie birthday parties, baby showers, or bridal showers! Get the full tutorial here.

P.S. The “flowers” would make super cute toppers/embellishments for party favors too!

craft button bouquet

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Eco-friendly Entertaining Finds at Branch

eco-friendly entertaining products

Loving these stylish & earth-friendly entertaining products from Branch:

16″ Serving Trays in Colors by Bambu – 100% organically-grown bamboo, non-toxic water-based adhesive, natural lacquer (derived from the cashew nut tree), food-safe polyurethane. ($24 ea)

Vessel: Ivy by Perch! – created with low-fire ceramic & non-toxic glaze / great home accessory that can be re-purposed as a pretty centerpiece vase for all sorts of occasions. ($64)

Tiny Basket Bowl by Perch! – created with low-fire ceramic & non-toxic glaze. ($26 ea)

Curvy Servers by Bambu – made from 100% organically-grown bamboo, natural food-safe wood oil, natural lacquer, food-safe polyurethane. ($14 ea)

eco-friendly entertaining products

“Outside-In” Bowls (Set of 4) – made from 100% organically-grown bamboo, non-toxic water-based adhesive, natural lacquer, food-safe polyurethane ($56 / set)

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Smudge Ink: Modern Eco-Chic Shoppers

modern eco-friendly totes

These multi-purpose shopping totes from Smudge Ink are bold, colorful, and eco-chic! Made of 30% recycled material, reusable, and fully recyclable with other household plastics. Several designs available. ($9.95 each or $29.95/pack of 3 different designs)

modern eco-friendly totes

(Great Mother’s Day gift idea too!)

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SURPRISE GIVEAWAY: Magnet Street Weddings (Invitations & More)

magnetic wedding invitations

Winner Update 4/28: This giveaway is now closed. Thanks so much to everyone that entered! And the (randomly chosen) winner is… Commenter #144 – Janet, who said, “I heart the photo booth magnet – Made for each other.ty 4 the entry:) my daughter gets married in sept and this would be a great win!”. Congrats, Janet!

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Today’s Surprise Giveaway should be especially appealing to all the brides-to-be out there – or friends & family looking to help them out! Magnet Street Weddings is offering up a $175 Shopping Spree towards anything on their website – and there is a LOT to choose from!

You’ll find everything from save the date cards and magnets to gorgeous wedding invitations in a variety of styles – from pocket folds and layered to flat and magnetized!

Magnet Street Weddings also offers personalized mailing labels, favor notepads, holiday cards, and more. A few favorites are pictured below… (Find details on how to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post.)

magnetic wedding invitations

Pictured above: The gorgeous Autumn Stamp pocket wedding invitation.

Pictured below: a few favorites from the Save the Date magnetsPhoto Booth Magnets, Greetings in Green (with the flower) and Count Down.

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Fortune Teller Mugs + More Cool Cups

fortune teller coffee mugs

Cool drinkware finds from Greener Grass Design…Pictured above: Fortune Teller Coffee Mugs – Coffee cups with predictions embossed at the bottom. See.. the future looks bright! (on sale for $10 / regularly $14)

Pictured below: Number Mugs – start every morning off with your lucky number! Or give a set of 2 as a thoughtful gift that features a wedding anniversary or birth date…($15 each)

number cups

Pictured below: Stamp Mugs – coffee rings never looked so chic! ($56/set or 2)

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REAL PARTIES: Bling, Bling Tabletop… Bargain Style!

dinner party ideas

HWTM reader Linda Roos sent over a nice message recently that said, “I was inspired by your post the other day with the 5 tips for hosting. I made a post on my blog about my own biggest tip for any host/hostess… I just wanted to share with you.” Well, both Linda’s tips – and the table she designed for this intimate dinner party – are fantastic… and definitely worth passing along! (Wouldn’t this look be great for an elegant bridal shower or rehearsal dinner?!) Here are all the details, in Linda’s own words:

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“My #1 tip for any host or hostess is to “hoard”… and to stock up on decorative and functional party items when they are on sale. So to demonstrate that it is indeed possible to make a beautiful set up with inexpensive items I decided to go with a bargain style theme.

dinner party ideas

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Close Encounters of the Frozen Kind

space invaders ice cubes by Fred

These Ice Invaders silicone ice cube trays are way too fun! The perfect addition for any 80’s party or alien/outerspace birthday theme, they also make a great novelty gift idea for gamers or children of the Awesome 80’s! Tray measures 8.5″ x 5″.

($7.49 at perpetualkid.com)

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Simply Stated: White Pedestal Servers

white cake stands

When it comes to serving dishes, I’m personally partial to pedestal (or “footed”) designs, but according to the emails, tweets, and comments I’ve received from readers, a lot of you are too! So that’s the focus of today’s post over at Real Simple… 8 Great White Pedestal Servers.

P.S. Pedestal servers make wonderful gift ideas for Mom’s Day too… or for anyone that loves to entertain. Styles 2 & 3 in the post are brand NEW from Rosanna (and particularly fabulous!).

white cake stands

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Adorable Owl & Bird Cupcakes

owl and bird cupcakes

I’ve finally found the perfect dessert inspiration for this Owl Baby Shower theme: these adorable red owl cupcakes from baking guru hello naomi! And the red robin design would be perfect for a “Love Birds” bridal shower or Birdie-themed baby shower. Swoon.

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Kitchen Gadgets: Love Therapy (Both Ways)

love kitchen gadgets

Whether you’re nurturing a relationship or nursing a breakup, these quirky kitchen gadgets from Perpetual Kid are offering up some serious relationship therapy!

Pictured above: Heart Egg Molder ($5.99) Nothing says lovin’ like breakfast-in-bed featuring heart-shaped eggs, right?; The Ex Voodoo Knife Block Set – a safer way to get those jabs in…($69.99 / available in 6 colors); Heart Knife Block Set ($119.99) – I actually really love the look of this set! It reminds me of a pop art sculpture…), and Heart Silicone Spatula engraved with the phrase “Made with Love” on the handle. ($8.99).

Pictured below: The Hotman Trivet… a nod to that great guy that saves the day – or to the not-so-great one that deserves to feel the heat? You decide! ($17.99)

love kitchen gadgets

Pictured below: Silicone Love Cake Pan ($19.99) (more…)

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Appetizer Chic: Creative Presentation

creative appetizer presentation

When it comes to serving appetizers & finger foods at parties, it’s amazing how much you can elevate the visual appeal of your spread by putting a little thought into the presentation of each dish. Regardless of how fancy/casual the party is or exactly what types of items you’ll be serving, this is definitely an area where even just a little effort can pay off BIG time. (Even for apps that came straight from the freezer!)

The pretty images pictured here are from an article in Brides magazine about hosting a “thank you cocktail party” for bridesmaids, but these ideas can really be applied to any type of cocktail party or celebration where small bites are served.

creative appetizer presentation

One of the best things about focusing on presentation is that you don’t have to be a gourmet chef to create an impressive spread! Whether you’ve made something from scratch or just pulled it from the freezer, the same general rules apply. Here are 5 presentation guidelines that I’ve come to rely on over the years (please feel free to add your own in the comments!): (more…)

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Drink of the Week: Raspberry Margarita

chambord raspberry margarita recipe

Is it Friday yet? This Raspberry Margarita recipe is going to be included of the Summer Cocktail Guide we’re working on, but I just received the super-delicious image for it this morning and couldn’t resist sharing it little early!

We served these margaritas at a few of the Hip Hostess last year, so I can verify that they TASTE as good as they look! (Full recipe after the jump.) (more…)

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Simply Stated: Chocolate Chips 10 Ways

chocolate chip recipes

Attention, fellow Chocoholics: Today over at Simply Stated, check out From Pancakes to Martinis: Chocolate Chips 10 Ways… and prepare to make a run for your pantry – or your local grocery store! (Did I mention there’s even a recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie S’mores?!)

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