DIY: How to Make a Chocolate Heart Cookie Wreath

by Jillian Leslie on

How great is this Valentine's Day cookie wreath...

I saw this original Christmas cookie wreath Marcela M from The Celebration Girl created, and of course I thought it was the coolest thing.

So I asked Marcela if she's be willing to put together a tutorial for a Valentine's Day cookie wreath, and she so kindly agreed. So below is Marcela's tutorial....

Thank you very much, dear Jillian, for inviting me to post this tutorial in your blog.

This cookie wreath takes a little bit of time but is very, very easy to do, and it is an original way of presenting decorated cookies.

In order to make it, I used different cutters.

The light blue cutters, including the circles with which I formed the wreath are part of a set I bought at Ikea.

I also used heart shaped cutters, that I had bought a long time ago and a bow shaped cutter.

In case you want to do this cookie wreath and, since I know how hard it is to find a variety of cookie cutters in some  countries, I have made a template of the different shapes, so that you can print them and cut.

For the wreath itself, you can draw two circles of different sizes, according to your needs, cut them and use them to make the wreath. The biggest circle I used was equal to a 9 inch pan (20 cms).

I made this wreath out of chocolate cookies, because I like how chocolate cookies taste with royal icing, but it can also be made with sugar cookies or gingerbread cookies.

Use your favourite rolled cookie dough. For the royal icing, I used this recipe from Sweetopia.

For the wreath, you will need:

  • Cookie dough
  • Royal icing
  • Templates or cookie cutters (If you are using the templates you need to print them, cut them, place them on top of the rolled cookie dough and cut around them with a sharp knife)
  • Piping bags
  • Piping tips number 1 and 2.
  •  I also use squeeze bottles for flooding the wreath itself, because it takes too long with a piping tip due to the big surface
Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F or 150 degrees C.

Roll the cookie dough about ½ cm and cut the cookies. Place them on a baking sheet covered with baking paper and put them in the freezer to chill for about 10 minutes, so that they keep the shape.

Bake the cookies. Once they are ready, remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Transfer the wreath to the serving plate. The reason I recommend doing this is that, once decorated, it will become too heavy to transfer and it may break. It is therefore better to transfer it at this stage to make sure that it will remain intact.

Prepare the royal icing. Color it as desired and thin to the adequate consistency (I use the 20 second rule, which means that, if you draw a line with a knife on the royal icing, it takes 20 seconds for the line to disappear). Once the royal icing is ready, put it in piping bags/squeeze bottles. You are now ready to decorate!

Prepare your “decorating station.” I like to have all material at hand: cookies in cookie sheets,  a variety of sprinkles and sanding sugar, plates covered with parchment paper for applying sanding sugar, as well as the piping bags and an extra plate.

As you can see from the wreath, I decorated the cookies in different ways. I left some cookies really simple, with only one colour and no further details, and for some others I used other techniques.

I will now walk you through each of them:

For the simple cookies, I just outlined the cookie and then flooded immediately. I then shook it a bit, to even out the icing, and let it dry for 12 hours.

For the cookies with hearts, I outlined the cookie in the base colour and flooded it.

I shook the cookie, and once the icing was even, I piped dots in a different color. I then took a toothpick and traced a line going from the dot’s top to bottom…and a heart shaped appeared. I did this with all dots and then let the cookie dry for 12 hours.

For the cookies that have a single heart in the middle, I just added a heart-shaped sprinkle right after flooding.

For the cookies which have a border with sanding sugar, I first iced them as in the case of the simple cookies, and let them dry for 12 hours. After they were fully dry, I outlined them with royal icing, then immediately poured sanding sugar on top. I let the sanding sugar set (for about 30 minutes), then turned the cookie upside down to remove any extras.

You could use nonpareils instead of sprinkles using this same method.

I outlined some cookies with heart shaped sprinkles. In this case I proceeded just as in the case before, outlining the cookies after they were fully dry, and adding the sprinkles to the outlining icing.

For the wreath, I proceeded as with the simple cookies, but I let this one dry for 24 hours to make sure that the icing would not suffer any damage once placing the rest of the cookies on top of it.

After all cookies are decorated, you can start playing with them on top of the wreath, until you find a combination that pleases you. You can combine large and small cookies and stack some on top of the other, or combine a variety of small cookies.

Once you find a combination that you are happy with, glue the cookies to the wreath with royal icing. Let the icing set for 12 hours and your wreath is ready!

If you have extra cookies, you can place them in clear bags, tie them with a pretty ribbon, attach a couple of cute straws and give them as presents!

I hope that you like this tutorial and, please, do not hesitate to contact me by leaving a message in this post or contacting me at The Celebration Girl if you have any questions about the process or if you need any clarifications. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thank you again, Marcela, for showing us how to make this incredible treat!!

Btw, here's the template. Click to enlarge.

 

FREE Valentine's Day Party Printables in ENGLISH, SPANISH, and FRENCH by Love Party Printables

by Jillian Leslie on

Ana of Love Party Printables created this Valentine's Day collection of her adorable "Little Children" printables, and this time she not only designed them in English, she also designed them in Spanish and French. We pride ourselves on being an international site, and now I feel like we've really arrived!

Each collection contains the same party printables: straw flags, cupcake toppers, napkin rings, "Be My Valentine" banner, water bottle labels, tented cards, invitations, gift tags, labels, favor tags, and mini cake bunting.

DOWNLOAD THE HIGH RESOLUTION FILES FOR PRINTING:

The whole collection in Spanish...

The whole collection in French...

I can't wait to see all your international Valentine's Day parties. Please add them to our site so I can show them off...

Thank you, Ana, for making our site even more global. To learn more about our talented friend, Ana, please visit her at Love Party Printables.

Also, for more Valentine’s Day inspiration, check out these great parties from our site and see all of our free party printables.

 

RECIPE: Awesome Pasta Caprese Salad

by Jillian Leslie on

If you need to put together a super quick appetizer with a lot of flavor, this pasta caprese salad is it!

It's simple to make, and all I recommend is using super fresh ingredients (and not overcooking the pasta).  I use farmer's market cherry tomatoes, yummy virgin olive oil, fresh lemons for the lemon juice, and the best buffalo mozzarella I can find. And I have to say I get so many compliments on this. Here's how to do it:

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta (farfalle is my favorite for this, penne is a good alternative)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves (pressed or minced)
  • 1 shallot (minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 pounds of cherry tomatoes (or cored seeded red tomatoes)
  • 12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
Directions

Boil the pasta with a pinch of salt, then set aside in a large bowl to cool down.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, minced shallot, salt, and pepper.

The dressing might seem a little salty, but once it goes on the pasta, it will balance out.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add to the dressing.

Add the dressing and tomatoes to the pasta.

Dice the mozzarella into 1/4 inch cubes and add to the pasta once the pasta is cool enough not to melt the cheese.

Chop the basil and add to the pasta, tomatoes, and mozzarella.

Enjoy! Yum!

DIY: How to Make A Rice Krispie Treat Dragons for Chinese New Year

by Jillian Leslie on

Norene from Party Pinching puts together some of the most creative dessert tables on our site. Because it's the Year of the Dragon, her most recent Chinese New Year table featured these incredibly creative Rice Krispie Treat dragons.

If you want to do something for Chinese New Year, how about making some for yourself (and even getting your kids to help because they'll love the ingredients). Plus, they're quite easy, take a look...

SUPPLIES:

  • Rice Krispie Treats
  • Strawberry Fruit by the Foot (red)
  • Wilton candy eyes
  • Jujubes (red)
  • Mini m&m’s (red)
  • Color by the Foot Fruit by the Foot (yellow/orange/green mix)
  • Optional – can of frosting

DIRECTIONS:

  • Cut Rice Krispie treats into 1” x 1 ¾” rectangles.
  • Wrap with red Fruit by the Foot, cut so it overlaps a little, it should stick to itself.  If not, use frosting to attach.
  • Cut a piece of red Fruit by the Foot for the top to fit.

  • Add the red Jujubes – if they do not stick to the fruit snack, use frosting to attach.
  • Add eyes and m&m nose.
  • Cut small yellow triangles from the Color by the Foot.
  • Attach two triangles to the side of the head and one in between the eyes with frosting if desired.
  • Make the tail from the red Fruit by the Foot, pinching it to make it wavy so it looks like ribbon.
  • Attach head to tail – if it has trouble sticking, attach with frosting.

Voila! Aren't they adorable?! Thank you, Norene for your tutorial. To learn more about Norene check out her blog, Party Pinching, and you must see her other gorgeous dessert tables!

DIY: How to Make Crayon Hearts for Valentine's Day

by Jillian Leslie on

Melissa from The Joys of Home Educating made these fantastic crayon hearts to give to her kids' friends for Valentine's Day. I think this is a terrific idea and my silicone heart molds are on their way right now from Amazon so I can make some for my daughter and her friends.

The best part is they are simple to do. Put your broken crayon pieces in silcone cupcake trays and place in the oven at 250 degrees for about 15 minutes. That's it!

And if you want specific crayon colors, you can buy crayons in single color boxes here at Amazon.

Look how cute Melissa's heart crayons turned out. If you want to dress yours up like Melissa did, we've got cute Valentine's Day printable bag toppers here free on our site.

To see Melissa's full tutorial head over to her blog The Joys of Home Educating. Thank you, Melissa, for the great idea!

FREE Valentine's Day Party Printables from Anna and Blue Paperie

by Jillian Leslie on

Wait until you see the Valentine's Day party printables Stefanie from Anna and Blue Paperie designed exclusively for us! I love how playful, yet modern this "So Sweet" collection looks.

The collection includes: invitations, party circles/tags, bag toppers, a "Happy Valentine's Day" banner, water bottle wrappers, candy circles, Valentine's Day cards, labels/gift tags, tented cards, thank you tags, straw ribbons, and an 8x10 "Happy Valentine's Day" welcome sign. There's everything you'd need to throw yourself a fantastic party!

DOWNLOAD THE HIGH RESOLUTION FILES FOR PRINTING

Thank you, Stefanie, for your fancy and fun designs. To learn more about Stefanie, please visit her Anna and Blue Paperie blog and Etsy shop.

Also, for more Valentine’s Day inspiration, check out these great parties from our site and see all of our free party printables.

PARTY ON A BUDGET: A Vintage Ballerina Birthday for $150

by Jillian Leslie on

I saw this Vintage Ballerina Birthday on our site that Jenifer H created for her daughter, and I thought it was beyond beautiful.

Then I read that she pulled the whole thing off for $150 and I almost died. How did she do it? I, of course, had to find out Jenifer's secrets, and she so generously agreed to share them here. We won't tell, Jenifer, we promise!

My daughter, Ellah, has a love for ballerinas and dancing. When I was shopping at the Round Top/Warrenton Antiques Show in Round Top, Texas, I found a stash of vintage little ballerina prints. I purchased them for her room, and when she saw them, the gasp she took helped me to decide the theme of her 3rd birthday - a vintage ballerina.


Vintage ballerina print in spray-painted frame

When planning my two children's birthdays, under one month apart, I know we cannot break the bank two months in a row on birthday parties.  Although I'd really love to do it, I guess God really didn't have birthday parties in mind when He planned our children.  I also work with plenty of moms through my store with similar circumstances or moms who just want to save money.  Perfectly understood.

1st Tip - K.I.S.S

My first money saving tip is always the theory KISS: Keep it Simple Sweetie.  I am with the idea 'less is more.'  My daughter's party was very, very simple.  I kept the party small which helped cut the cost.  We invited family plus a few of my daughter's closest preschool friends, about 25 guests including the children. 

I served less expensive foods by having a simple brunch.  Breakfast foods can be inexpensive to make!  My husband and I cooked french toast, pigs-n-the-blanket, oven baked ham and swiss sliders (via Pinterest - so easy with very few inexpensive ingredients), chicken salad croissant sandwiches, homemade raspberry muffins and we had a simple green salad and fresh fruit in season. My mom brought the chicken salad, so my most expensive menu item was lovingly donated. 


Chicken salad croissant sandwiches


Pigs in the blanket

I kept the ballerinas' activities so simple.  Since coloring is a 2-5 year old favorite, I printed off a ballerina coloring page free from the internet for the girls to color and decorate.  I also purchased foam princess crowns and foam stickers on clearance for $5.00 total. 


Crowns to decorate

The girls had a blast creating their own princess ballerina crowns to wear during the party.  The last activity was, simply, dancing.  All party guests either wore their own tutu or we let them wear a tutu from our play clothes.  The little ballerinas cut a rug with what you might call very modern, interpretive dance moves - so entertaining and it was free!

2nd Tip - Use & Reuse

This is a fun and important tip: Use and reuse what you have!  I love "shopping" the house (and my mother's house) to find what will work with my party's theme.  I think it's perfectly acceptable to ask family and friends to borrow items that could work for your party.  Get creative with the stuff you already have.  The vintage ballerina prints that I purchased for my daughter's bedroom were some of the main party decorations I planned to use, but they didn't have frames.  Lo and behold, in my search, I found three identical, unused frames in my garage that happened to fit the pictures!  That was a score.  The frames were black, so I purchased spray paint to coordinate with the party color scheme and simply spray painted them and hung the art.  Easy and inexpensive. 

Absolutely everything that I used to serve the food and candy I either owned myself or I borrowed from my mom's vintage dish collection. 


Borrowed vintage dishes

The pops of turquoise you see in the platter and round place mat I already had.  Another party item I reused was the large mirror seen in the outdoor table photos. The mirror was kept from our bathroom remodel and worked as a great ballet mirror.


Ballet mirror from bathroom remodel

3rd Tip - Use your connections

Here I saved most of my money on the most expensive parts of the party - the photography, the cake, the bunting, the invitations and party accessories - all because of people I know.  Do you have a friend or family member you know who takes better photos than you?  I do!  A good friend of mine is the photographer of Jennifer Schattle Photography.  Jennifer and I partner together on projects every year including my children's birthday parties, so I am blessed to know and work with such a talented friend.  Of course, you don't have to know a photographer.  Ask people you know who can help! 

I also know someone who bakes - conveniently, my husband.  He is not a professional, but he grew up baking with his grandmother and does a wonderful, tasty job.  We insist on baking our children's cakes/cupcakes every birthday, so we save money in that department yearly. 


Caked baked by Jenifer's husband -- incredible!

In addition, I have an aunt who owns a custom sewing business, Kustom Kids of Kingwood.  When I had decided on the ballerina theme, I knew I wanted a bunting.  I shopped around and found that they were a little pricey for me.  I contacted my aunt and she quickly put together my requests (and my favorite piece of the party) for a fraction of what I would have paid anywhere else. 


Bunting sewn by Jenifer's aunt

Finally, I own my Etsy store Hello Love Designs where I sell printable party invitations and party accessories.  I also work with one of the top US press printing companies allowing me to have my invitations professionally printed for cost.  I printed out the cupcake toppers, tent labels, and favor tags on my own home printer, cut, and we were ready to party!  I have the Little Vintage Ballerina birthday invitation and full printable party collection for sale in the store.


Custom invitation designed by Jenifer


Cupcake toppers and tent labels designed by Jenifer

4th Tip - Use printables

I LOVE printables!!  Printable party accessories add such detail to a party and save money at the same time.  You can purchase anything from full party packages to just the pieces you need for a low cost.  Then all you have to do is print, cut them out, and you're ready to add beautiful detail to your party.  If you're really on a tight budget, there are many blogs, designers, and sites who offer free party printables.  You will spend a little time assembling, but the money you save is so worth it!

5th Tip - Use Etsy

For me, Etsy is an indispensable source.  Great deals are to be found everywhere!  Etsy offers such a variety of products, styles, and prices that everyone is happy.  I found (another favorite piece) a vintage floral sheet that I used as the table cloth outside at a great Etsy store called Eager Hands.  It was so reasonably priced, and the seller was kind enough to throw in sweet little "extras."  In fact, the eyelet trim I used to trim the party hats came as an "extra" from her shop. 


Eyelet trim on party hats

I also purchased the cupcake liners from The Cupcake Social used to serve candy, Ellah's tutu from Cheeky Chic Baby, and Ellah's headband from Prim Couture Shop - all on Etsy.  Note:  Ellah's birthday outfit was not a part of our party budget.


Ellah's birthday outfit

My one "splurge" item was the floral arrangement and, truthfully, it wasn't all that expensive.  I took the florist my pitcher, an inspiration photo, and a budget and they worked up something gorgeous that I could afford.  I always plan and shop ahead comparing prices.  I try to avoid last minute purchasing which can end up costing me more money.

Thank you, Jenifer, for sharing all your tips and your beautiful party with us. You did an incredible job!

To see more of Jenifer's designs, check out her other pretty parties on our site and her Etsy shop, Hello Love Designs .

 

FREE Valentine's Day Party Printables from Bird's Party

by Jillian Leslie on

How lucky are we... The famous Bird of Bird’s Party created another adorable collection of Valentine's Day party printables for us. I'm calling this our "Sweet Cupid" collection as I'm sure you can see why.

The collection includes: editable invitations (where you can type in your own info), editable tented cards, party circles, "Be Mine" mini cake bunting, sweet Valentines, and a "Happy Valentine's Day" banner.

DOWNLOAD THE HIGH RESOLUTION FILES FOR PRINTING: IMPORTANT!! You will need the following password (case sensitive) to open the PDFs after download: party.

Thank you, Bird, for such cuteness! To learn more about Bird and see all her designs, please check out her shop, Bird’s Party.

Also, for more Valentine’s Day inspiration, check out these great parties from our site.

 

 

GIVEAWAY: Win a $50 Gift Certificate to Mirabelle Creations

by Jillian Leslie on

Deanna from Mirabelle Creations, who created these adorable "Owl Always Love You" Valentine's Day printables we're giving away, is also generously offering to one of our readers, a $50 gift certificate to her Etsy shop. Thank you, Deanna!

If you're looking for party printables, this is the giveaway for you because Deanna creates sophisticated, beautiful designs that will add that extra touch to any party. Take a look at some of her work below, plus she can customize any order.

To enter the giveaway, just “like” Mirabelle Creations on Facebook, then leave a comment at the end of this post saying you did it.  Also, to learn more about Deanna and read up on her party styling tips that come with a hint of southern charm (she's from Kentucky after all), check out her blog.

We’ll pick a winner at random on Thursday, January 19th at 10:00PM (PST).  Any entries after that won’t be considered, sorry. We will use random.org to generate our winner and will notify you by email.

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