I recently helped host two parties, both for babies. One was an early celebration for my granddaughter’s first birthday. The color scheme was pink and white. All. The. Way. My family had been waiting a long time for a little girl since I grew up in a house with six brothers, then raised three sons and loved-on one grandson. It was always “Judy and the boys.” But not anymore.
The other party was a baby shower for the daughter of one of my besties, LouAnn. The color scheme was sky blue and white, with a few cherished googly eyes thrown in for fun.
Both parties were designed with love and whimsy. For the baby shower, co-host Nan, decorated white pumpkins with ribbons. I had never considered bedecking pumpkins in this way, but when I saw hers, I was suddenly ALL IN on party spirit. Nan’s natural enthusiasm for life has a way of doing that to you.
She inspired me to make pretty pumpkins for my baby girl’s party. I bought white pumpkins and spools of ribbon to match the delightful print of the table runner my daughter-in-law, Meera, had purchased. Thanks to Meera, I am now obsessed with the color and pattern of this line of paper products from The Rifle Paper Company.
When I went to decorate the pumpkins, I got a heaping case of startitis and texted Lou Ann to ask if I could bring the supplies to her house and let her work her magic on them. She whipped these up on her kitchen counter while her dinner cooked. I love them! They make me smile.
Lou Ann is one of those creatives who gets in this peaceful place and calmly creates beautiful objects. It is as much a pleasure to watch her work as it is to work alongside her. Long-time readers of Judy’s Chickens may remember the post I wrote on how she used greens from my yard to make a stunning winter floral arrangement.
Individually Wrapped Frosted Cookies for Party Favors
One of the tasks I took on for both parties was to make frosted cookies for party favors. I invited Nan and Lou Ann to come over for the
morning day to help me out. I had never successfully negotiated how to use royal icing and a piping tool to decorate cookies. They were pros. A lot of what they taught me is explained more succinctly than I could ever express in the blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction.
You will need a disposable piping bag and a #2 or #4 piping tip. A Ziploc bag works fine if you run out of piping bags.
Gel food coloring has more color pigment than regular liquid food coloring, so you need less and the colors are truer. The girls taught me to poke a hole through the foil lid with a toothpick and use the toothpick to add color. We made three bowls of icing: white, sky blue, and pink.
They showed me this nifty way of filling a piping bag.
First, they piped an outline onto the cookie to create a nice edge.
After the outline dried, they used a miniature spatula to fill-in the interior space with icing. You may need to thin the icing with water, first. This filling-in process is called flooding in the icing world.
In addition to piping supplies, Nan brought this awesome adjustable rolling pin that keeps the dough thickness consistent when rolling out cookies. This leads to more even baking.
How to Make Royal Icing
3 ounces (6 T) pasteurized raw egg whites 3 tablespoons meringue powder
1 pound (4 cups) confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
Water for thinning icing, as needed
Gel Food Coloring
Piping bags and tips
I mixed all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. I made the first batch with vanilla extract and the second batch with lemon zest. Both were good. You can store leftover icing in the freezer.
After we made the blue and white cookies, Lou Ann got busy on the dresses.
When she added the pink, I melted.
After the girls left, I decorated a few cookies for my grandchildren. I pushed the easy button on those and used a pastry brush to slather on the frosting without piping an outline first. Still cute, especially when I added the fun sprinkles from The Kitchen shop in Nashville. I purchased the cookie cutters and the adjustable rolling pin from there, as well.
I was babysitting that day, so in between all the rolling, baking, piping, flooding, and laughing, we women of the kitchen took turns holding my darling granddaughter.
Long before I learned about royal icing and piping, I frosted cookies another way with my grandson:
“Dog!” says my grandson.
A Few Other Party Touches:
Leave it to Nan to come up with a specialty drink for a party. She loved this cocktail when she had it in Las Vegas and figured out how to reproduce it.
These asparagus roll-ups were the best I have ever tasted. Liz, another host for the baby shower, created them. She used a combo of Boursin and Parmesan cheese in the spread.
My DIL ordered this delicious and gorgeous strawberry cake from Baked on 8th.
My sons’ generation refers to a baby’s first birthday cake as a “smash” cake. Baked on 8th makes those as well. This one has strawberry frosting and was out of this world. The blue high chair was used by my husband’s father. We continue to use it with love and careful attention — it may not be up to today’s safety codes.
My future DIL (!) Lily, ordered the flowers from the Green Hills Kroger. Ever since Lead Floral Designer, Liz Blalock joined their staff, the floral department has blossomed with beautiful arrangements.
The two parties were back to back events. Each was very different, but both were filled with many delightful moments, now memories, enhanced by the special touches of all who were involved in planning and hosting. After each event was over I had that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Corny, but Oh so TRUE!
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