Ice Cream Float Bar

Set up an ice cream float bar for your next party. *Tillamook sent me coupons to purchase the ice cream for my son’s party. How cool is that?!

For the last few years we have kept our kid’s parties small. Gone are the days of my over the top kid’s parties. But I still like to make them special and memorable. That often means trying to do things a little bit differently. Most parties serve ice cream and soda. So this time I decided to set out an ice cream float bar. It was a total hit.

Set up an ice cream float bar for your next party. I’m mess averse so I didn’t want to set this out for the kid’s to do themselves. The kids range in ages from way too little to scoop their own ice cream to old enough to know that if they scoop their ice cream themselves they can get crazy. I brought out all the ingredients in the kitchen and recruited my sister-in-law to help me make them for the kids. I went to Bev Mo to buy all kinds of flavored sodas and picked up one 2 liter bottle of root beer. Because root beer floats. I picked up some standard flavors for the Tillamook ice cream including vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. And picked up one odd ball flavor – mint chocolate chip, in case anyone wanted to get crazy. We brought in the kids two at a time and they got to pick their flavors. There was lots of mixing.  Let me tell you, that blue cream soda was a hit. I had one taker for the banana soda and everyone skipped the pineapple.

Set up an Ice Cream Float bar for your next kid's party.I had forgotten to purchase the straws with spoons on the ends but the kids still really loved them. We had monster faces to add-on their straws and they were all set. They loved comparing the colors of their floats.

Set up an ice cream float bar for your next party. You can easily set up a float bar for an adult party too. Along with the flavored sodas you can also set out some Irish Cream, or other flavored liqueur.

Set up an ice cream float bar for your next party. Don’t be dumb. You don’t need me to give you the steps to make a soda float.

Set up an ice cream float bar for your next party. This chocolate ice cream + strawberry soda number was delicious.

Set up an ice cream float bar for your next party. Thanks to all the artificial colors the soda gets super foamy and bright. Yeah chemicals!

Ice Cream FloatI bet you want to go make yourself a float now, don’t you.

Thank you, Tillamook, for providing me the ice cream for my son’s birthday party. And thank YOU for supporting the companies that give me free ice cream and allow me to share cool things with you.

 

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Best Champagne Punch Recipe

Best Champagne Punch Recipe.This is the best champagne punch recipe. The only one you’ll ever need. It is my family’s go-to celebratory recipe and we’ve been serving it for years. But if you get the chance you really should serve it to your friends out in the middle of the desert. All images via Tammy Mendoza.

Photo shoot out in Palm Springs.Since we were headed out to Palm Springs to shoot some new head shots, we thought it would be fun if we shot a recipe post while we were out there. This is the type of stuff that is so fun for a creative person. So often I have these big ideas in my head but the logistics to pull them off are a little bit too much for one person, or on account of family time constraints. I was SO excited to be able to sneak away with Tammy and Lauren and get to do something totally different.

Champagne and the desert. Two of my favorite things. We found this gorgeous little spot to set up in and got the bottles popping.

Best Champagne Punch RecipeAnd then started assembling the ingredients. This punch is pretty citrus-y so its refreshing and flavorful.

Add the champagne.What I love about champagne punch is that it works well for a crowd and because of all the other ingredients, you don’t need to splurge on the good bubbly. A super cheap bottle is perfect. And since this is SO yummy, you will need to make several batches. Know that going in and have several batches prepped ahead of time.

Slice citrus fruits for an easy garnish for your punch.Usually the garnish is some citrus slices. If you want to get crazy, you can add fresh raspberries. The pop of pink is a really fun touch. And edible flowers would be even more lovely.

Champagne in Palm Springs.Although this is a punch and your natural instinct might be to run towards your standard punch bowl, you should change things up a bit. I like to serve this Here I decided to use a vase to serve the punch in.

Make champagne punch and serve it in something other than a punch bowl to keep things interesting. I love to use things for something other than their intended purpose.

Delicious citrus champagne punch.But if that’s not your jam, simply make several batches and serve them in mismatched glass jars. Empty wine bottles are perfect for this. And this is a great way to make sure that all your guests can get their beverage quickly without having to wait for the ladle.

Best champagne punch recipe..How gorgeous is this?! It really makes me want to throw a whole desert party.

Fur coats and champagne punch in Palm Springs.

Best Champagne Punch Recipe
 
Best champagne punch recipe. Citrusy and refreshing, this punch is perfect for all your festive gatherings.
Serves: 3 quarts
Ingredients
  • 1 can (46 oz.) Pineapple Juice (cold)
  • 1 bottle (28 oz.0 Club Soda (cold)
  • 1 can (6 oz.) Frozen OJ Concentrate (thawed)
  • 1 bottle Champagne or Sparkling Wine (chilled)
  • 1 lemon or lime, finely sliced for garnish
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients, stir and serve.
  2. Garnish with a slice of fresh lemon or lime.
  3. Can be made the night before but wait to add the club soda and champagne until ready to serve.
  4. Should at least plan to double or triple the recipe. It is a crowd pleaser.

All images by Tammy Mendoza of Dez and Tam Photography 

*I did not create this recipe. Years ago, before blogs and Pinterest, when you found a recipe you liked, you wrote it down and emailed it to all your friends and family. The source for this recipe is long gone. If you know the source, please share! I like to credit when credit is due! 

 

Tiny Prints for Custom Entertaining

We made custom Tiny Prints napkins with our event hashtag on them. So fun! #LorimarSleepover #sponThis post is sponsored by Tiny Prints. Because they are an awesome company that likes to work with bloggers and that, in turn, allows me to put on some really fun events for bloggers.

You guys! How fun are these napkins!? So I just got back from a trip I got to plan with 7 other bloggers. It included wine tasting and a sleepover. Fun, right?! More on the trip in the next week or so but I wanted to hurry and share these fantastic custom items with you before the holidays are completely over. If you aren’t hosting parties full of friends that love their social media the way bloggers do, then maybe you don’t need custom napkins with your event hashtag on them. But we did. And they were awesome! Tiny Prints has tons of colors and designs to choose from, you can write just about anything and they arrived pretty fast! They certainly won’t make it by Thanksgiving (although you may be able to rush the order for more money) but there is still a chance for your Christmas entertaining. They also have themed napkins which are great for other things like baby showers and events that take place during other times of the year.

You HAVE to do custom recipe napkins for your next party! These by Tiny Prints are awesome! #LorimarSleepover #sponMy favorite napkins, though, were the custom recipe napkins (there are two styles of glasses available for the design)! Aren’t those fun! These would be perfect for sharing the recipe for your signature cocktail at your party. Our tasting was put together in conjunction with Lorimar Winery so I worked with them to share one of their fun wine cocktails with the girls for our special dinner. (image above via @afabulousfete).

Loving these custom recipe napkins from Tiny Prints that we used for our #LorimarSleepover blogger event! #sponHaving custom napkins was a total treat and made for a very fun event.  Since we didn’t have a lot to do in the way of decorating for this event, these napkins were a fun, little touch.  Anything custom makes it feel that much more special.

Gift bag items for the gals at our #LorimarSleepover event. Dying over the custom acrylic block we did using @laurenv 's writing through Tiny Prints! #sponTiny Prints also went above and beyond with items for the girl’s gift bags! (photo styled by Lauren). That darling little notebook in the bottom left of the photo would make a fantastic gift idea. Since we didn’t know who each person would be on the trip at the time of ordering, we had Lauren write their names, but through the website, you can fully customize these notebooks for the recipient. And of course we had to find a way to work in more of Lauren’s amazing writing. We uploaded this image she created to the Tiny Prints website and made these awesome acrylic blocks for the girls. While these would look cute on a bar cart, or styled in the kitchen, you could also customize these with party details, like a menu or social media info if you are hosting an event that requires that. Of course, they are intended to be used with photographs, but that is the beauty of Tiny Prints! You can customize almost everything to suit your needs!

Thank you, Tiny Prints, for being part of our fun blogger event!

And a big thank you to The Flair Exchange and Melissa Creates for providing additional items for the gals!

David Stark on Entertaining with Intention

David Stark's new book, The Art of the Party. Are you a David Stark fan? I absolutely am. He’s a New York based Celebrity Event Designer but that title doesn’t convey how remarkable his events are. There are plenty of event designers out there who can put on a lovely event. But what sets David Stark apart from the rest is his creative vision and approach to the design of the event as a whole. His events have something extra. Something special.  It is the intention with which he puts on his events, that give them life.  I’m dying to check out his new book, David Stark: The Art of the Party It has 25 of his events (including private parties and charitable galas) and shares how he developed the overall theme for each party, as well as the coordinated details and expertly crafted decor he created for each party.

I’ve always been drawn to his work. His creativity reaches far past the realm of entertaining and is next level. He is an inspiration to me so when I got an email from “his people” I was so excited to a get the chance to ask him a few quick questions.

What unexpected places do you draw inspiration from when brainstorming for a new event?

Hardware store event inspo. Hanging ladders spell out "make" -  event by David Stark.

Inspiration can come from anywhere. David Stark shares some of his biggest inspiration triggers.

Think differently, what is the meaning behind the event, draw it out through the decor.

David Stark shares where he draws his inspiration from.“I am really open to the world of options and influences when coming up with ideas.  Of course, the flower market and farmers markets often provide natural inspirations, but I look to a bevy of other options both live and digital (Pinterest and Instagram are a never ending pathway for ideas!) to bring us to unique, new concepts for our projects.  Here are just a handful of places we hunt low and high for materials, ideas and concepts:

Hardware stores, the fashion runway, films, theater, music, antique fairs and stores, museums, art galleries, supermarkets, books, art supply stores, travel, magazines, history, architecture.”

What event, that you created, really let your creative juices flow?

“As we are right in the midst of planning and designing the upcoming Whitney Museum Gala (the last event that will be held in the Marcel Breuer building before the institution moves into its new home downtown), I can’t help but think a lot about last year’s event – we’re REALLY proud of that evening which was not just a party, but an art happening

Interactive displays added to the Whitney Gala designed by David Stark.The centerpiece of the event was a life drawing “class” replete with nude models posing on stacks of vintage Louis Vuitton trunks (the ever chic retailer was the evening’s sponsor).  Throughout the evening, hundreds of guests at easels surrounded the model platform, making scores of drawings of the varying poses.  This was living décor — so interactive, but it also brought attention to the beginning of the Whitney Museum and it’s archives of life drawings which we projected throughout the space in an ever changing landscape of drawn décor.

David Stark creatively approaches each event by finding the meaning of the organization behind it.

David Stark on inspiration and planning large scale events.Above the long, rectangular dining tables dressed in artists’ canvas, an optical illusion of painting stretchers floated overhead while an array of paint cans and brushes marched down the dining tables as if an artist was on break from his or her painting.

Quote from David Stark about how he approaches designing and creating events. This evening perfectly illustrated one of our entertaining philosophies:  Create a conceptual moment in time in which the essence of an organization is put into three dimensions.  This is not about decorating.  Rather, it’s really about integrating what an institution is about, what an evening is about, impregnating meaning into the décor.”

I started out these questions thinking I was going to get a little bit in to the mind of creative genius. But really I got in to the heart. Entertaining is about so much more than the decor and the food.  It’s about entertaining with intention. While most of us won’t have an opportunity to work with Target or the Whitney on a large-scale event, we do celebrate our friends and family on a smaller scale. The truth is, what makes an event special is thinking beyond the decorating and really understanding why we are having the event in the first place. What is the “essence” of your guest of honor? Start from there and then intentionally plan your event with those traits, likes, passions in mind.

Sometimes I see a well designed, coordinated party being shared online, and while every detail is in place and it is quite lovely, there is something missing. It’s the heart and intention. I am absolutely going to make that a priority when planning my own events.

I feel grateful to have gotten to ask these questions of David. Follow his Instagram and Pinterest to see the cool things that are inspiring him. And go buy David Stark: The Art of the Party! Man, now I’m all fired up! I’ve got lots of entertaining focused posts coming up…looking forward to going a little deeper on these and letting my creativity out.

All photos courtesy of Susie Montagna for David Stark Design.

*This is not a sponsored post. I just really think David Stark is the bees knees. The book link is an affiliate link. You can see my affiliate link policy here.

Martha Stewart on a Martha Stewart Pedestal

Peach shortcake with succulents for a super easy party dessert and decorations. // cupcakesandcutlery.comThere is a time in every blogger’s life when they are reminded of their mediocracy. Sure, you get mentioned on big sites and hit a big traffic day with a viral post once in a while. You love what you do, you think you are putting out good content and you start to think of yourself as being pretty skilled, domestically speaking. And then you work with Martha Stewart. And you realize that while you know your way around a kitchen, you will never be Martha caliber. Case in point. I got an email from her company asking me to participate in a fun end of summer program.  I think, “duh – of course I’ll participate.” They asked me to make one of her delicious summer recipes that would feature their new cake stands (available at Macy’s) perfectly. I think, “Yes! No biggie.  I can do this.” So I click-through the recipe slide show to choose my recipe…each one a little more difficult or with more steps than the one before…I feel my confidence waiver. Man that Strawberry Cream Cake recipe looks good. But wait, is she making a legit cake for it? No store-bought? So I move on. And I land on the Plum Blackberry Galette

Putting together a kind of homemade ginger peach shortcake. // cupcakesandcutlery.comI’ve always wanted to make a galette, primarily because I feel like if I am going to attempt to make crust, this one is super rustic and would hide my errors. So I think, “Yes! The galette!” but as the days go on and I get closer to actually having to make it, I start to tremble slightly. Yeah, that crust still sounds pretty advanced for me. My neighbor, a baker who I had asked to spot me in my crust making, ended up with sick children and I knew that I would be completely on my own. So I decided that I would combine two of Martha’s desserts to fit my strengths. And I ended up making a Ginger Peach Shortcake, because the plums at my store looked grody and my kids won’t touch blackberries with a ten foot pole. But even that didn’t go exactly as planned. While all I did to the peaches to prepare them for the cake was add some sugar and fresh grated ginger, a tiny piece of ginger ended up landing in my eye. Martha doesn’t get ginger in her eye. Through this process I was constantly reminded of Martha’s supreme greatness. She really can do it all, and make it look easy as pie, or galette as it were. 

Super easy and delicious dessert idea. Ginger Peach Shortcake. // cupcakesandcutlery.comI stand behind my Ginger Peach Shortcake. I’m proud of it. It tasted amazing, looked pretty and is true to who I am as a blogger and person. So while I wanted to put her Plum Blackberry Galette on a pedestal, I think I’ll keep Martha up there too. It is good to aspire to be like someone else, but I think it is also important to know your own strengths and weaknesses. But it doesn’t hurt to have that little question in the back of your mind as you move through life, “What would Martha do?”

Succulents pair really nicely with bright, poppy colors. // cupcakesandcutlery.comI know many of you out there are on the same level I am in terms of cooking/baking skills. Let’s keep it simple and delicious. And then let’s make it pretty to look at.

Pale pink and gold planter with succulents. // cupcakesandcutlery.comI was very lucky that I was able to shoot this at Lauren’s house where she had plenty of cute potted succulents all ready to go. 

Gold flatware and air plants. // cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd gold flat ware for me to use. But I’m totally going add that to my wish list because, SO pretty! 

Domed Cake stands are the best! // cupcakesandcutlery.comMartha really does make the best cake stands and this domed one is lovely. I love that the white really stood out against the colorful scarves and fabric that I used. I fell in love with that peach/pink/red scarf the minute I saw it and, even better, it was on clearance! 

Easy party dessert idea. // cupcakesandcutlery.comThis easy Ginger Peach Shortcake would be the perfect last-minute dessert for a get together. I didn’t make a recipe for it, literally just sliced the peaches, tossed in about 2 TBSP of sugar and grated about a 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger in to the container. Then I put the lid on and gave it a good shake. I let it sit overnight to develop the juices and it was ready to go.

preparing-peach-shortcake-recipeI did make my own whipped cream though. I mean, I’m not a Neanderthal. I took a store-bought angel food cake and sliced in half. Then I layered on the whipped cream, and some peaches laid out in a super cute pattern. I added the second layer and then added more whipped cream and peaches. Done. Super easy.

Bright pinks, blues and gold make a gorgeous party table. // cupcakesandcutlery.comI’m still going to give that galette a shot one day. A girl has to have goals. So thank you, Martha, for challenging and inspiring us. And for the prettiest cake stands in all the land.

*I was sent a Martha Stewart cake stand. All opinions, stinging eye and sore arm from using a whisk to make the whipped cream, are my own.