A Rustic Cookies and Cocoa Party with Santa

santa party

HWTM Contributor Maureen Anders of Anders Ruff here to share our recent Rustic Cookies and Cocoa Party with Santa that I styled for a session with Michelle Kujawski Photography. A neutral palette with creams and whites, mixed with pops of greenery and red berries made this a super cozy setting for a day with Santa and a home decor that will last all winter long.  The kids enjoyed a magical experience that made them feel like they were in Santa’s living room!

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

– Vintage inspired “I love the winter weather” backdrop sign over the mantle
– Rustic wooden mail organizer-turned-mailbox with letters written to Santa + candy canes for the kids
– Homemade marshmallows packaged in clear boxes with twine and tags
– Custom designed cotton sacks with “Santa’s Gourmet Hot Cocoa” labels

santas hot chocolate

rustic christmas decorations

vintage christmas post cardssantas desk (more…)

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Sparkly DIY Winter Ballerina Birthday Party

winter ballerina birthday dessert table

When Jenny Joseph’s daughter changed her birthday party theme request from Frozen to Ballerina at the very last minute, she whipped up a little “ice magic” of her own by combining the 2 requested themes into this beautiful Winter Ballerina Birthday Party!

And as impressed as I am by the the gorgeous homemade cake (WOW!) and the cute and sparkly little paper ballerina outfits that can be found everywhere from the invitations to the cupcakes, the most impressive thing of all is that she spent less than $200 on this entire party – including this dessert table set-up AND a full lunch spread for guests. The fancy cake alone could’ve easily eaten that budget up by itself… nice work, Jenny! :)

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Gorgeous ombre ruffled tier cake topped with personalized fondant ballerina slippers
  • Chocolate penguins laying on a bed of acrylic “ice” + “Melted Snowman” water bottles
  • Darling mini DIY ballerina outfits with sparkly leotards + crepe paper & tulle tutus
  • Lots of pretty paper doily accents + the popular Ung Drill Ikea frame spray painted silver

winter ballerina birthday invitation winter birthday party drinks and cupcakes diy ballerina cupcake topper with sparkles (more…)

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A Gorgeous Lemon & Lavender Baby Shower

lemon and lavender baby shower dessert table

If you haven’t gotten your springtime fix from the previous bridal shower post (we know we haven’t), then you’re in luck! As promised, here is the Lemon & Lavender Baby Shower dreamed up by Valerie Gimre of Charming Touch Parties, who simultaneously planned both showers around the same theme, but with their own unique details! In Valerie’s own words, “Both events were lovely, charming, and memorable in their own ways.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves ;).

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Lemon adorned floral arrangements & a fondant bow, lavender flowers & lemon slice decorated cake
  • Blackberry garnished champagne + berry topped mini cakes, lemon bars & cake ball baby rattles
  • Custom ‘Wishes for Mom’ book for guests to write in + pinwheel & lemon onesie garlands
  • Framed lavender baby carriage & ribbon bunting backdrop + carriage decorated cookie favors

baby shower onesie garland

blackberry baby shower cocktail

small flower covered cake

lemon and lavender bridal shower desserts


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A Lovely Lemon & Lavender Bridal Shower

fresh spring bridal shower dessert table

Even though we’re in the middle of winter right now, it’s actually the PERFECT time to start planning ahead for springtime (or summer) parties! So on that note, I’m excited to bring you a fresh burst of sunny party inspiration in one of my favorite spring palettes today. The combo of bright yellow + chic lavender creates such a sweet, feminine look that works well for all sorts of occasions.

The talented Valerie Gimre of Charming Touch Parties was so inspired by this happy color combination that she used it as the theme for this gorgeous Lemon & Lavender Bridal Shower AND for gender-neutral baby shower, which you can check out right here. So I guess this is technically TWO bursts of party inspiration for today. Thanks, Valerie! ;)

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • pretty drink stirrers adorned with “soon to be Mrs” party flags & dainty yellow bows
  • soft lavender paper cups embellished with bright yellow lemon silhouettes
  • tall glass cylinders & apothecary jars filled with bright yellow lemons
  • beautiful dessert table backdrop featuring the bride’s initial + pastel rag tie bunting

spring lemon bridal shower invitation

lemon and lavender drinks table

fresh flower topped naked cake

yellow and purple bridal shower decor ideas (more…)

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Pear & Gorgonzola Flatbread Pizza {Video} + DIY Gold & White Holiday Party Ideas

Pear and Gorgonzola Flatbread Pizza Recipe

Earlier this year, I worked on a handful of recipe videos for Krusteaz®, and this recipe is actually my personal favorite of the bunch… I hope you like it too! The combo of sauteed pears and creamy Gorgonzola is such a yummy mix of sweet & savory, and the candied walnut garnish adds a nice bit of crunch. The layered pear slices also make for a very pretty visual display, which is always a great quality when serving at a party!

I used the new Italian Herb Flatbread Mix from Krusteaz for the crust. It bakes in 10 minutes flat and keeps things fast & easy in the kitchen… which is exactly how I need them to be most of the time, myself. ;)

You can find the full Pear & Gorgonzola Flatbread recipe over on the Krusteaz website, or watch our video below for a tutorial. My favorite ways to serve this flatbread are in generous slices alongside a hearty salad or cut into small rectangles for a festive appetizer.

P.S. If you’re on the lookout for holiday party inspiration, you’ll find plenty of that below, too, from a few of my favorite DIY decor ideas to festive printables you can download for free. Happy Holidays!

gold and white holiday party ideas + free printables


I kept the look of theses painted pears and their printable paper leaves pretty simple so that the positive sentiments on the leaves would really stand out. The pears are covered in acrylic white paint, and a few of them were also color-blocked with metallic gold spray paint. The leaves are attached with small dabs of hot glue.

gold and white pears centerpiece


Next up is one of my personal staples… party flags! You can attach them to toothpicks, straws, or bamboo skewers (to create drink stirrers).

gold and white party drinks and straws (more…)

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Darling Pink & Black Poodle Skirt Birthday Party

poodle skirt birthday party

I’m thrilled to share this super creative twist on a classic party theme with you today! Jenny Raulli of Bloom Designs Online styled up one seriously dreamy celebration for her daughter with this detailed & darling Poodle Skirt Birthday Party. With tons of cleverly named sweets, girly-girl activities, and Jenny’s signature paper designs tying everything together seamlessly, these party guests were definitely treated to a swingin’ good time! ;)

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Clever “poodle skirt” paper plates customized with vinyl decals & a sharpie
  • Hair & nail treatments at the “Poodle Parlor” (so cute!)
  • Playful treats like Poodle Paw Brownie Stacks, Poodle Fluff (cotton candy), & Poodle Pop
  • “Paint-A-Poodle” activity + “Pin the Bow on the Poodle” game
  • Pink ruffled cake pops with little black bows + sour candy belt “leashes” ;)

poodle skirt party dessert table poodle skirt party photo booth poodle skirt party painting activity (more…)

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{Bright & Stylish} Octonauts Inspired Birthday Party

Octonauts Birthday Party Dessert Table

Of all the different party types that come my way, one of my FAVORITE things to see is a very well-done character party. Maybe it’s because I have kids that love these characters too, or maybe it’s because I’ve heard SO many people complain about how much they struggle with making character parties also look stylish… or maybe it’s a little bit of both. In any case, today’s feature is a wonderfully bright & shining example of how to bring a character party to life in style!

P&J by Design did an AMAZING job with this Octonauts Inspired Birthday Party… from the great mix of patterns and textures to the insanely cute Octonauts themed treats that look like mini works of art. They also managed to create an atmosphere that works well for the grown-up guests and little ones alike!

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Gorgeous tier cake with incredibly detailed fondant Octonauts characters on top
  • Different, yet coordinating tablescape designs for the kids and adults
  • White sequin dessert table cover + sugar cookies displayed in oversize sea shells
  • Adorable, handmade Kwazii Kitten table centerpiece & “Octo Juice” for the kids
  • Playful, show-inspired phrases like “To Your Stations!” and “Thanks for joining the crew!”

Octonauts cake Octonauts party drinks and cookies Octonauts party tables Octonauts party centerpiece (more…)

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{GIVEAWAY!} Give & Get Better Gifts with WishBin

WishBin Giveaway

Wish it was a little easier to find the perfect gift for your loved one? Me too!

I mean, the goal of gift giving is to make someone happy, after all… but finding the thing that’s SURE to do that is often more difficult than it sounds. And if you’re like me, you also start second guessing your gift choice even after you settle on something – or spend way too much of your time playing “detective” and trying to figure it out.

Kids are actually the hardest for me to shop for, personally… we live far away from our family unfortunately, and I usually feel unsure about what my nieces and nephews would love (or what they’re into at the moment) when a birthday or holiday rolls around. And based on all the questions I receive about my own girls in regards to gifts, I know that I’m not alone when it comes to being stumped!

Well… there’s a cool new company called WishBin that’s setting out to help with all of the above. It’s a free online service that allows users to drag and drop items from any website they like into their personal WishBin using a plugin that you install in your browser. It basically feels like a super organized gift bookmarking tool that you can save things to (or edit) whenever you like.

WishBin - How it Works

And then friends & family can visit your WishBin at any time to instantly access a list of things that you – or your kids – would truly love to receive, including your preferred size, color, etc. You can include non-tangible “things” on your list like dance lessons or travel wishes too! Pretty smart, right?!

Here’s a 1 minute video that explains some of the other great features too:

One of the coolest features of all (IMHO) is that adults can add children to their accounts and create unique WishBins for each of them – which I’m thinking will prove especially helpful for grandparents! (Mom – are you listening? Because this seems a tad more efficient than the zillions of back and forth text messages we usually use!)



And now for something REALLY fun… a chance to win $150 worth of your own wishes for the holidays! One lucky HWTM reader is going to win just that, so be sure to fill your WishBin with some of your favorite things in case that person is YOU! :) Giveaway ends at 11:59pm PST on Thursday, December 18th. (more…)

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A Glitzy & Glam Barbie Spa Birthday Party

barbie spa party

HWTM Contributor Maureen Anders of Anders Ruff here to share this Gorgeous Glam Barbie Spa Party by Xiomara Roman of A Styled Fete.  The birthday girl received the ultimate pampering with her friends at this celebration, complete with face masks, manis, pedis, and gorgeous sweets and treats!

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Glam vanity-inspired dessert table setup with pretty spa themed desserts
  • Pink Beauty Bar stocked with pampering essentials like nail polish, lip gloss and loufas
  • DIY pink bow “charger plates” made out of paper plates – so clever!!
  • Individual Spa Kits at each place setting with Barbie tissues, face mask, sugar scrub, lotion, a nail clipper and file for the ultimate pampering treatment.

barbie party invitation

barbie spa tablebarbie party place settingsbarbie party charger (more…)

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Cash for Christmas: Win TWO $500 Amazon Gift Cards!

Christmas Cash Giveaway! Enter via Instagram

Update: This giveaway is now closed. Thanks so much to all who entered! The name of the (randomly selected) winner is displayed in the Rafflecopter entry widget below.


Who couldn’t use a little extra cash this time of year, right?! Right. And on that note, I’ve teamed up with some wonderfully creative bloggers to bring you a very timely Instagram giveaway in the form of $500 for you AND $500 for your BFF (or whomever else you fancy)! Enter below. (more…)

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Sparkly Princesses & Unicorns Birthday Party {Pink & Gold}

pink and gold unicorn party cookies

Calling all girly-girls… I’ve got something here that you’re going to LOVE! Abby Ayeh of Pretty Posh Events combined two of her own little girly-girl’s favorite things to create this fabulous Princesses & Unicorns Birthday Party. I mean… what pint-sized princess wouldn’t love this combo, right?! From the fancy kids table to the activities and pink & gold treats, this celebration is filled with with beautiful details and SPARKLE at every turn… including in the eyes of the happy little party guests! ;)

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Gorgeous ruffled tier cake topped with a giant rose & sparkly prancing gold unicorns
  • Shimmery cake pops with bling sticks + “Royal Jello” garnished with princess wands
  • Mini chiavari chairs with gold tulle skirts (so cute!) + pink & gold balloons floating above
  • Princess manicures & tiaras + unicorn-adorned favor boxes filled with girly treats!

pink and gold unicorn party dessert table

pink and gold party balloons and royal jello

pink and gold princess party table (more…)

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Creative Nautical Baby Shower {Coral & Aqua}

nautical baby shower ideas

From cool “Message in a Bottle” invitations adorned with lighthouse stamps to tons of homemade treats, it’s clear that Jennifer Kenning of Seakettle put so much love – and lots of DIY hours! – into this creative Nautical Baby Shower for her (sea-and-sun-loving) sister-in-law. Clever details like folded “sailboat” napkins at each place setting, playful nautical themed props in the photo booth, and wonderfully simple licorice rope knots are all great reminders that you don’t have to break the bank to pull off a creative and stylish soiree!

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Licorice Rope Knots, Sea Glass Candy, Sand Dollar Cookies, & more themed treats
  • Homemade nautical tier cake with an ombre petal design + glittery anchor topper
  • Napkins folded into the shape of sailboats + Rosemary Sea Salt Party Favors
  • “Messages in a bottle” for mom from the guests + anchor charm bracelet making

nautical baby shower table with sailboat napkins

nautical baby shower dessert table

licorice rope knots - nautical party (more…)

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Classic Country Western Cowgirl Birthday Party

cowgirl birthday party outfit

Saddle up for some serious birthday fun, because in addition to being super creative and cute, this classic country western style Cowgirl Birthday Party just looks like a blast! And really, that’s exactly what a party SHOULD be, right?! Designed by Two Dandelions and beautifully captured by Marissa Carey Photography, you’ll find tons of inspiration here for your own cowgirl (or cowboy) party too. I’m especially loving the pops of bandana print carried throughout the entire party, the happy sunflower arrangements, and the wood-textured cake!

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Clever “Grab a hat and saddle up!” styled photo station with hats & bandanas
  • Incredibly detailed horse stable cake with fondant cowgirl, horses, flower pots & more
  • Bandana-print table skirts that perfectly matched the birthday girls skirt :)
  • TONS of fun activities, from pony & tractor rides to cornhole and a horse shaped pinata!

country western cowgirl birthday party ideas

horse stable birthday cake

cowgirl birthday photo booth props (more…)

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Gorgeous Boho Chic Birthday Party {Pastels & Feathers}

boho chic tee-pee party tent

Pastel animals, pretty feathers, the most darling little bohemian owl illustration you ever did see, and so much more… this Boho Chic Birthday Party is nothing short of downright DREAMY! And speaking of dreamy, how awesome are the big dream catchers adorned with ice-cream hued yarn tassels?! Swoon. Lovingly crafted by Helena Chaviara of RockPaperScissors in celebration of her daugher Daphne’s 3rd birthday, there is seriously so much loveliness to soak in here for “flower children” of all ages. ;)

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • pastel party tee-pee trimmed with playful yarn poms & filled with colorful pillows
  • simple-chic buttercream birthday cake topped with a mini ceramic owl & berry clusters
  • feathers, feathers, everywhere… from the sweets to the spoons to the drinkware!
  • stunning, bohemian-style “3” fashioned from fresh flowers, greenery, & succulents

boho chic birthday party decorations

diy animal topped favor jars - pastel colors

bohemian floral decoration

boho chic owl birthday party (more…)

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Farm 1st Birthday Party – Part 2 {The Dessert Table}

farm birthday party dessert table ideas

In continuation of yesterday’s Farm 1st Birthday Party – Part 1 for Fisher-Price, here we go with Part 2: The Farm-Inspired Dessert Table!

When designing this table, I started with a concept for the backdrop. We made a barn silhouette shape out of foam core & felt (see the tutorial here), then added a pair of DIY Painted Barn Doors to the front. Felt/burlap garlands on either side of the barn added a celebratory feel, and artificial grass was used in lieu of a linen.


We made a few of the farm-themed treats at home (in other words, the easier ones!), which included the pig pie pops, hay bale cakes, chocolate-covered strawberry “carrots”, and “animal feed” trail mix.

For the more difficult treats, I turned to a couple of incredibly talented local vendors. The insanely cute cake pops were crafted by The Mad Cake Pop Shop, and the tier cake, which had such a fabulous, modern-meets-adorable vibe, is the work of Stevi from Hey there, Cupcake!. I love how she wrapped both tiers in patterns from the farm party paper collection too. :)

modern farm birthday party cake

I really loved how these homemade pig pie pops turned out! Aren’t they fun? ;) We followed the general idea from this post, but modified the design slightly to make it easier. My friend Jacque also tied teensy little bandanas onto the sticks for the finishing touch!

homemade pig pie pops

I was totally smitten with these chicken cake pops! We displayed them in wood berry baskets filled with floral foam, and used toasted coconut “hay” to cover the foam.

farm chicken cake pops (more…)

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Farm 1st Birthday Party – Part 1 {Kids Lunch Table, Drink Station & Smash Cake}

Little People inspired Farm First Birthday


Earlier this year, Fisher-Price asked me to design a Farm First Birthday Party inspired by their much-beloved Little People® Farm toys, and I’m so excited to finally be able to share it with you today. :)  This is Part 1… stay tuned for the dessert table details in Part 2, which will be posted soon.

The Design Challenge
Farm themed birthday parties usually lean very rustic, but the Little People Farm toys feature bright colors and more of a clean & modern style that’s geared towards very young children. So for this project, my goal was to come up with a look that remained true to the style of the toys, while also incorporating a touch of that typical farm style that we all know and love. I was very inspired by the Little People Fun Sounds Farm toy in particular… which is why farm animal sounds played a key role in this design. ;)

From a homemade Hay Bale Smash Cake and DIY Canvas Barn Doors to the graphic designs, I really had fun with this one and hope you enjoy it too! Scroll down for a peek at the styled kids table, “barn” lunch boxes, drink station, and smash cake, and look for full details & matching DIY tutorials right here on Fisher-Price.com.

farm birthday hay bale smash cake

(Is our little guest of honor the CUTEST, or what? Thanks again to Sabrina for bringing him over!)

I loved the idea of turning red gable boxes into “barns”. You can download this LUNCH printable over on the FP site:

farm party - barn lunch gable boxes

Blue & red bandanas were a super easy & effective way to deck out the folding chairs.

Apple juice boxes also felt like a natural fit for this party… I designed a printable juice box wrapper inspired by the look of one of the trees in the farm toy collection:

farm party kids table ideas

It’s always hard to get a good centerpiece design to fit on a standard 6-ft banquet table because they’re surprisingly narrow, but I love how this one turned out! It’s made from embellished tin cans topped with moss and farm toy figurines, and is “skinny” enough to not get in the way of the little diners, but still made a big impact on the table.

farm party printables and drinks (more…)

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Crafty & Chic Little Man First Birthday Party

little man birthday party banner and outfit

I have such a soft spot for crafty party details, and this fantastic Little Man First Birthday Party party is chock full of them!

Star Hansen of Sterling Engagements designed this chic first birthday soiree for her own little “Mister Mister”, which is one of his nicknames and the inspiration for the theme of his party. She achieved such a great mix of style and approachability here, balancing fancier elements like wooden Chiavari chairs with casual details like paper buntings, tin buckets, and tissue-topped DIY party hats. I’m also loving the playful food & drink names, from “Manmosas” and “Manwiches” to “Little Boy Blueberry Cupcakes”. ;)

P.S. This party would translate beautifully to a Little Man baby shower too!

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Gorgeous invitations decked out with little child-sized bow-ties handmade by Star
  • Ties used as hanging decor in the trees + cupcakes with mini paper tie toppers
  • Mustache-adorned sugar cookies, “Baby Cakes” & “Mr. Mr. Macaroons”
  • Simple-chic tin bucket centerpieces with floating purple daisies
  • Insanely cute “Little Man” birthday outfit complete with suspenders & a straw fedora

little man birthday party invitations

little man birthday party decorations - ties, balloons, table

mustache party straws with mason jars (more…)

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#TOMSforTarget + 2-Headed Holiday Sweater + {Free Printable} Happiness & Giving Quote

TOMS for Target Holiday 2014

A few weeks ago, I received a package with a huge red gift box inside…

There was a TOMS logo on the shipping box, and I already knew I’d be receiving some sort of holiday sweater in conjunction with a #TOMSforTarget holiday campaign they were doing, so I just took a super quick peek inside since I was in major deadline mode on another project at the moment. I saw the print of the sweater, but didn’t pull it out of the box… I mean, it was folded up so nicely and all. ;)

Later that night, my husband asked what the deal was with the giant gift box sitting on the table. I said, “I think I’m supposed to wear it in a picture or do some sort of “ugly sweater party” story with it, but it looks HUGE!” I opened the gift box all the way this time, noticed a card inside, and proceeded to read it out loud and try to figure this out… “Well Hello There! You’re probably wondering why you’ve received a large, festive, multi-headed sweater…

Wait – WHAT?!! Did I just say “multi-headed“???

I yanked that perfectly folded sweater out of the box this time… then proceeded to immediately collapse on the floor laughing. This gigantic holiday sweater did indeed have TWO head holes… THAT was definitely not something I was expecting at all!

TOMS 2-Headed Together Sweater - Holiday 2014

The two things that instantly popped in my head upon seeing this sweater:

1) Well played, marketing geniuses. ;)

2) I am seriously going to have the BEST white elephant gift ever at the Christmas party our friends host every year… this baby is definitely going to make for some hilarious pics!


The best thing about all this playfulness is that it’s attached to a really great cause! Many of you are probably already familiar with TOMS and all of the good that they do – every purchase you make from them helps a person in need.

Well, they’ve teamed up with Target this holiday season to offer a signature collection that makes it super easy for holiday shoppers give to people in need across the country. Every TOMS for Target item purchased is matched one-for-one with a donation of blankets, shoes, or meals!

TOMS for Target

Here’s a tiny peek at the collection, including a t-shirt that I will admit I bought for myself… at least I know that the purchase helped someone else too!

TOMS for Target Gift Ideas

FREE PRINTABLE: Quote on Happiness + Giving

So in the spirit of giving, I felt compelled to design a little inspirational freebie to give away today too… hopefully it can serve as a helpful reminder of what this season is REALLY about. You know – for those moments when the hecticness and stress of it all start to get to you. (Trust me, I have lots of those moments too, and this quote really does ring true… if you want to make yourself feel happier, the best thing to do is start spreading happiness elsewhere.)

Free Printable Quote on Happiness and Giving

Click here to download a high res PDF of the printable. (The quote fits in an 8×10 frame.) (more…)

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Incredibly Detailed World of Frozen Birthday Party

frozen coronation ball statue head topped cake

As the temperatures drop and hints of snow and ice are beginning to grace the party world, the Frozen duo are back in full force! We obviously see our fair share of Frozen parties, as I’m sure you all do as well, but every once in a while we see one that really knocks our socks off!

Karen Ayars is always so on point with her attention to detail (just check out her previously featured parties here and here, along with this timely kids’ Thanksgiving party), so it comes as no surprise that when her daughter asked for a Frozen themed birthday, Karen went above and beyond creating this incredibly detailed World of Frozen Birthday Party! Starting the party off with something I’ve never seen before, the invitations were hand-delivered inside a giant block of ice to be thawed by guests. If that doesn’t give you a little hint about how awesome this party was, I don’t know what will! ;)

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Elsa, Anna & Kristoff costumes for guests + 4 different beautiful outfits for the birthday girl
  • Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post & Sauna with winter clothes + framed movie screenshots
  • Fake snow & a snowman building station (turned snowball fight) + a stuffed Olaf on a sandy beach
  • Bronze statue head topped cake identical to the cake from the movie’s Ball + gold place settings
  • Banner strung gates & towering suits of armor + rock shaped Troll pillows

frozen coronation birthday party

frozen birthday party tablescape and decoration ideas

anna and elsa dress costumes for kids

DIY frozen ice block inviation


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Cozy-Chic Holiday Entertaining Tips {+ Free Chalkboard Style Printables}

holiday wine party centerpiece

Well, with Thanksgiving next week, the holiday season is officially upon us… and on that note, I have SO many good things to share with you today!

We’re going to start with some stylish, yet surprisingly simple holiday entertaining ideas, then you’re going to find links to download the chalkboard-style holiday printables that I designed for this post (they’re free!), and then I’m going to tell you about a chance to win a $5,000 Living Room Makeover. I know that last part especially caught your attention, right? ;)

First things first though, let’s talk parties…


Holiday entertaining comes in all shapes and forms, and while the fancy celebrations can be a fun change of pace, there’s so much more to seasonal entertaining than those “all-out” evenings. In fact, the first images that pop in my mind when I hear “holiday entertaining” are not of intricately styled dessert tables or gold glittered everything…

Instead, I see smaller gatherings with close friends & family, in a comfortable, yet festive environment (even if that just means lots of string lights), and with plenty of 2 key things flowing: great conversation and great wine! This kind of gathering is still manageable amidst crazy holiday schedules, and can even come together in the form of an impromptu moment sometimes. That’s why I’m really excited to share this project with you today…

free printable holiday poster

14 Hands Winery, a fantastic brand that you may recognize from some of my Kentucky Derby party related styling for them over the past few years – asked me to come up with some holiday entertaining inspiration to share this season, and specifically requested that it NOT be over the top. Hmmmm… I think they might be on to the fact that we don’t always have a slew of extra hours available to devote to prepping for a get-together. ;)

Of course, I still want anything that I share with you guys to be helpful and creative, because that IS why you’re here in the first place, right?

So, I decided to host a little holiday themed get together with the goal of sticking to a good balance of entertaining style and ease, and of showcasing approachable, yet effective ideas.


I also invited a few friends over and turned this into an actual party, because – A) who was going to help me eat all this food – and B) why not?! And truth be told, everyone was more than happy to have a good excuse for a girls night. ;) (more…)

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Stopping Time – Forever Thirty-Nine Steampunk Birthday Party

steampunk birthday party dessert table

Gears, glitter & cool vintage oddities — this party has something for everyone! Michelle Stewart of Michelle’s Party Plan-It DIYed her tail off for this Stopping Time – Forever Thirty-Nine Steampunk Birthday Party. Just about everything you see was “steampunked” by Michelle or one of her awesome vendors. I love the clever idea of stopping time before the big 4-0.. I’ll be experiencing those same thoughts soon! Hey Michelle — save this decor for me, would ya? ;)

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Metallic painted Nerf gun & hot air balloon ‘zephyr’ + gold balloon topped glitter candy apples
  • Gear topped cakes pops, gear, clock & chain decorated cookies + metallic gold glitter pretzels & rice krispies
  • Vintage style photo booth props + a custom, laser-cut glittered backdrop
  • DIY pipe lamp with pressuremeter + DIY embellished favor tags & embossed popcorn favor boxes

steampunk birthday party cookies

steampunk adult birthday party ideas

DIY steampunk costume


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Holiday Fiesta Party Ideas {Eat, Drink, and Be Cran-Brrr-Rita!}

Bud Light Cran-Brrr-Rita Holiday Fiesta

If you haven’t hosted or attended a fiesta-inspired holiday get-together before, now is the perfect time to change all that… because this theme makes for such a fun party! I threw a “glitzy holiday fiesta” myself last year, and while it definitely made for a super fun night, I will admit that it was also a LOT of work to put together since there were so many details involved (even the piñatas got a coat of gold spray paint!).

So this year, I thought it would be nice to come up with a more casual (and stress-free) spin on the holiday fiesta concept, focusing on just 3 key creative elements – drink, appetizer, centerpiece:

casual holiday fiesta party ideas

diy fiesta lime snowmen

I had fun dreaming this up and hope you’re able to have some fun with it too! To make that a little easier, I’m also giving away the printables featured here as a free download below. Enjoy! :)


1. SIGNATURE DRINK: Bud Light Lime Cran-Brrr-Rita®

For cocktails, it doesn’t get much easier than pour-and-serve, right?! The limited edition Bud Light Lime Cran-Brrr-Rita®  just became available earlier this month, and it’s the perfect flavor – and color! – for a holiday fiesta. It’s also super tasty, which is very important, of course. ;) Just pour over lots of ice, garnish with a lime, and you’re good to go.

Bud Light Cran-Brrr-Rita (more…)

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“There’s No Place Like Home” Wizard of Oz Welcome Home Party

wizard of oz themed dessert table

When her sister was coming home from a long trip away, Britni Vigil of Play. Party. Pin. wanted to welcome her back in true Kansas-style with this “There’s No Place Like Home” Wizard of Oz Welcome Home Party! To get everything just right, Britni did some serious recon on the classic film, watching it numerous times so as not to leave out any of the details. The dessert table was cleverly set up in order of the story’s events, so guests could follow along the Yellow Brick Road with Dorothy on her way through Munchkin Land, the poppy fields & Emerald City. With family as thoughtful as this, there really is no place like home!

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

– DIY character themed party hats, Glenda wands + welcome home care package with ruby red slip-ons
– Cowardly Lion frosted Oreos & ‘Liquid Courage’ + Tin Man oil chocolate pudding with gummy hearts
– Hot air balloon topped cupcakes & Emerald City green glittered mason jars
– Ruby Red Slippers cake topper & cake pops + red glittered utensils with blue gingham napkins
– Character themed garland, yellow brick road table runner & a rainbow streamer backdrop

ruby red slippers topped cake

yellow brick road wizard of oz party ideas

cowardly lion and scare crow themed desserts


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Royal Princess 1st Birthday Party Dessert Table {Pink & Gold}

pink and gold princess birthday party dessert table

Roll out the red pink carpet, we’ve got royalty in the house! Adding some glitter & glam to this special event was Heidi Avolio of My Sweet Celebration who dreamt up everything in this Royal Princess 1st Birthday Party Dessert Table! Pink, gold & glitter has been a popular trend for quite a while now, and can’t you see why?! The combination creates such a sweet & special vibe — perfect for celebrating that ever important first birthday! I’m sure Princess Sienna felt very special AND loved that day! :)

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Crown topped princess cake pops, golden cannoli + gold dusted, pink frosted profiteroles
  • Bouquets of baby’s breath & pink roses + gold flower topped goblets of pink strawberry mousse
  • Golden ‘rope’ & ‘sequin’ decorated birthday cake with glitter acrylic topper + a royal carriage backdrop
  • Crystal decanters & golden cake stands + iridescent pink & gold rock candy

pink and gold fairytale princess birthday party invitation

royal princess party dessert table ideas

pink and gold sequined princess birthday cake


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Colorful & Hip Woodland Birthday Party Brunch

woodland 3rd birthday party tablescape decor

Welcome to this magical woodland wonderland! Ashley Summers of Ashley Nicole Events is back with this Colorful & Hip Woodland Birthday Party Brunch for her daughter’s 3rd birthday (check out her ‘favorite things’ 2nd birthday party here). From bright flowers & silver stumps to hanging feathers & evergreen trees, this party is the perfect mix of childhood fun and on-trend details that adults can admire too. (In other words, I wouldn’t mind something like this for my own birthday!) Plus, that donut bar is genius for a birthday brunch – you could even skip the cake! Although, these cakes are a little too cute to skip out on. ;)

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Hand-lettered wood grain invitation, silver painted tree stumps, & a geometric wall panel backdrop
  • Faux fur table cover, hipster animal plates & feather topped tee pee + painted horn & animal toy centerpieces
  • Donut bar with fun flavors like banana cream, bubble gum & maple bacon + mini donut topped milk glasses
  • DIY woodland wonderland photo booth with hanging feathers, fluffy ‘clouds’ & a hand-drawn animal backdrop
  • DIY pipe cleaner crowns & stacks of children’s books + plaid wrapped knapsack party favors

wood grain and hand-lettered birthday party invitation

DIY pipe cleaner party crowns and flower letters

woodland birthday party dessert table and cakes

pink flower topped naked cake


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Sparkling Under the Sea First Birthday Party

fish scale backdrop for an under the sea birthday party dessert table

I think I might have gone belly up and landed in heaven! Isa Camara of Royal Cherry Creations styled this
Under the Sea First Birthday Party with purples and blues, sparkling fishies & the cutest little Queen of the sea! I am loving all of the glamorous details, like that super well-done glittering fish scale backdrop, as well as the thoughtful touches, like those hand-painted signs. If you’re looking for more under the sea inspiration, check out these other fabulous parties here (you might also find some great ideas in these mermaid parties here)!

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Pearl-filled clamshell cookies, chocolate seashells & seahorse pops + ombre macarons
  • Hanging beaded blow-up fish & Chinese lantern jellyfish with ribbon ‘tentacles’
  • Blue & purple paper scales backdrop + glittered fish & floral ‘coral reef’ centerpieces
  • Under the sea animal decorated birthday crown + a starfish topped sea pebble & fish scales cake
  • Fishing net & seashell decorated ‘Gaby’ letters + glittered sea animal adorned favor bags

girl's under the sea first birthday party

clamshell pearl cookies and seahorses

DIY hanging under the sea birthday party decor


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A Glam & Girlie Gymnastics Birthday Party

gymnastics birthday party ideas

Come tumble and twirl with the birthday girl! Guest Contributor Maureen Anders of Anders Ruff here to share Adria’s daughter’s Glam & Girlie Gymnastics Birthday Party. Bright and bold decorations + simple DIY decor and desserts make this party a 10.0!

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Clever chocolate covered Oreo cookie medals in 1st, 2nd and 3rd place
  • Easy-to-make Parallel Bar treats and ribbon wands using pretzels and melting chocolates
  • Vase of edible roses (chocolate covered marshmallows) with printable leaves
  • DIY Favor Tote Bag decorated with glittered duct tape polka dots

tumbling party invitation

gymnastics party desserts

gymnastics party banner

chocolate ribbon wands

gymnastics party outfits


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Rustic Christmas Wedding in the Mountains

rustic woodland and fairy lights wedding ceremony

With the start of November, my mind is already on the holidays ahead of us, so I was especially merry when this Rustic Christmas Wedding in the Mountains popped up! Kristi Cswaykus helped plan this gorgeously warm celebration last December, filled with twinkling fairy lights, rustic mountain details like moss & pinecones, and festive nods to Christmas (without becoming too Santa Claus-y). It may seem too soon to start thinking about Christmas, but for those with winter weddings coming up (or those who just love the holidays as much as I do), this dose of inspiration is right on time!

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Cranberry studded red bouquet & a beautiful bridal lace dress with a beaded belt + red bridesmaid’s gowns
  • Simple white swirl & flower decorated cake, an ice cream cart & holly berry garnished red mason jar drinks
  • Pinecone place card holders, romantic candlelit lanterns + white & green floral bride & groom chair decor
  • A glowing Christmas tree backdrop, bell adorned ceremony programs & sparkler tunnel

simple white swirl and flowers wedding cake

green and white floral decorated bride and groom chairs

moss and pinecone place or name cards for a rustic wedding


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GIVEAWAY: Custom Family Pajamas by GreatStitch

Custom Pajamas by GreatStitch

Update: This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to our winner – Olivia D. – and thank you so much to everyone that entered! P.S. If you’re still interested in ordering custom PJs from GreatStitch, you can get free shipping with the promo code HOSTESS. :)


I’m so excited to bring you this fun PJ giveaway today! It’s hosted by GreatStitch, a fantastic personalized apparel company that actually pops up quite a bit here in our featured parties on HWTM. (See this Lil’ Pumpkin Baby Shower and Monogram Birthday Party for 2 very recent examples.)

GreatStitch specializes in everything from custom birthday apparel and sportswear to monogrammed totes, but since it’s that time of year again already, they thought it would be fun to give away a Custom Family Pajama Set for 4 people valued at $200!

Family PJs are perfect for cozy Christmas mornings and playful holiday card photos, but you can always pick a non-holiday-related design too. Enter to win via the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of this post. And if you win the prize and don’t have exactly 4 people in your family, don’t worry… we can always work something out at a similar value.

P.S. If you’re curious about what quality to expect from GreatStitch, take a peek at their 900+ glowing seller reviews on Etsy! :)

Giveaway - custom pajamas by GreatStitch (more…)

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Secret Garden Bumblebee First Birthday Party

bumblebee birthday party dessert table and letter candy dishes

For her daughter Maya’s first birthday, Laila Plant of One Inspired Party was inspired by a show she used to watch titled, “la abejita Maya” which translates to ‘bumblebee Maya.” As a twist on traditional bumblebee themes, Laila expertly incorporated garden details, like that gorgeous hedge wall backdrop & mossy woodland decor, to create this Secret Garden Bumblebee First Birthday Party! I just love all of the sweet floral accents & happy bumblebees — makes for a very happy birthday celebration! :)

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Cupcake flower bouquets with bumblebee cake pops + woodland honeycomb cake with floral accents
  • Secret garden key topped chocolate pretzels & clever one-bite appetizers + pink & yellow place settings
  • Hanging pink & yellow parasols + potted succulents, baby’s breath + pink & yellow rose centerpieces
  • Dragonflies & honeycomb shaped banners on a garden hedge backdrop + bumblebee backpack favors

bumblebee and flower dessert ideas

woodland honeycomb bumblebee birthday cake

woodland garden dessert ideas (more…)

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