{Fab Friday Finds} 3 Unique Uses of Mason Jars

I think I speak for many women when I say, _I love Mason Jars!_ I swear, I
find new cool ways to use them every single day. They’re perfect for rustic
wedding decor, shabby chic home decor, storage, baking, the list goes on.
Sometimes I wonder what you **can’t** use them for! So for today’s {Fab Friday
Finds}, I wanted to share a few of my very favorite [Mason Jar](http://www.ama
amazon.com/e/ir?t=theplupro-20&l=ur2&o=1) crafts…

**1. Homespun Wedding Centerpieces.** This ultra easy DIY centerpiece idea on
[Emmaline Bride](http://emmalinebride.com/handmade-wedding/mason-jar-
centerpieces-floating-candles/) is just so perfect for a homespun wedding with
a whimsical touch! Simply fill Mason Jars with water, tie a decorative ribbon
around the top and then place a floating candle in each ([make sure they’re
long burning like these ones](http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004HA74Z8/ref=
1&a=B004HA74Z8&camp=217145&creative=399373)). Group a few jars together, and
_ta da_…instant gorgeous centerpiece!

**2. Mason Jar Storage
Caddy.** Use metal clamps ([less than $1/each on Amazon![](http://www.assoc-am
7-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=B000DZH7OY)) to
mount Mason Jars on wood and then onto a wall in your kitchen, bathroom,
office, wherever you need an awesome little storage caddy like this one seen
on [About.com](http://personalorganizing.about.com/od/bathroom/ig/Bathroom-

**3. Spray Painted Mason Jar
Planters.** Give Mason Jars a different look by simply spray painting them like Larissa of [Just Another Day in Paradise](http://thecsiproject.com/2011/04/13/spray-painted-mason-jars-by- just-another-day-in-paradise/) did! Then, grab some potting soil and get planting. I’ll take painted Mason Jars over boring pots any day! _What other ways are you using Mason Jars?_

Mixology – 10 Cool Weather Cocktails

I don’t know about you, but the cooler weather definitely has me in the mood
for some toasty drinks. In the fall and winter, there’s nothing I enjoy more
than coming home from work and mixing up a cool weather cocktail to warm me up
and let me unwind. That’s why I decided to chat with some bartenders,
mixologists and liquor representatives alike to compile this list of delicious
cool weather cocktails, separated up by general flavor, including:

Apple Cider | Chai | Coffee | Hot Coco | Pumpkin | Spiced

## Apple Cider Cocktails

### Orange Spiced Cider

Sent in by the people of [Ron Abuelo Rum](http://www.ronabuelorum.com/) and
[Numi Tea](http://www.numitea.com/), this easy and unique tea cocktail will
warm up your soul during those chilly days. To create, heat 8oz apple cider
until it’s very hot, then steep 1 orange spice tea bag in the cider for 5
minutes, covered. Uncover, add 2oz rum (they suggest Ron Abuelo Añejo rum) and
stir. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

### Heated Affair

Created by Jacques Bezuidenhout, Brand Ambassador for [Tequila
Partida](http://www.tequilapartida.com), this drink can be mixed by adding 2oz
tequila (they suggest Partida Anejo) with 6oz hot spiced apple cider. Then,
float heavy cream on top and garnish with fresh nutmeg.

### Hot Apple Pie

My friends at [Canadian Club Whisky](http://www.canadianclubwhisky.com/) sent
in this tasty recipe, which can be whipped up by adding 1.25 parts whiskey
(they suggest Canadian Club Classic 12) and .5 part Tuaca Vanilla Citrus
Liquor to a coffee mug. Top off with 4 parts hot apple cider, add whipped
cream and dust with cinnamon.

## Chai Cocktails

### Chai Amore

Sent in by Seattle-based chai company, [Jaipur
Avenue](http://www.jaipuravenue.com/) and created by Jackie Moffett of [Drink
Gal](http://www.drinkgal.com/), this recipe includes my absolute favorite non-
alcoholic cool weather drink: chai! To create your own, pour 1oz Tuaca, 1oz
amaretto and 4oz hot Jaipur Avenue Masala Chai into a mug. Stir, and top with
whipped cream (and cinnamon if you’d like!)

## Coffee Cocktails

### Irish Coffee

A popular recipe from Judith Choate’s [_A Reader’s
Cookbook_](http://www.redrockpress.com/delicious.html#readerscookbook), Irish
coffee is usually served as a late evening warmer-upper. To mix yourself up a
mug, place 6oz of hot, strong coffee in your glass. Stir in 1oz Irish whiskey
and 1tsp sugar. Spoon 3tbsp whipped cream over the top, sprinkle with cinnamon
and enjoy.

## Hot Coco Cocktails

### Peppermint Pattie

Sent in by the [Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort &
Spa](http://beavercreek.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/index.jsp?null), this toasty
treat is simply hot chocolate with Godiva Chocolate liqueur and Rumplemintz
added to taste and topped with whipped cream. For extra garnish, use crushed
candy cane for the rim!

### Hazelnut Hot Chocolate Liqueur

Hazelnut is definitely my favorite coffee flavor, so I was pretty excited when
the folks of [Coffee-mate](http://www.coffee-mate.com) sent in this one. To
make it, combine 1 1/4 cups hot water, 5tbsp Coffee-mate French Vanilla and
3tbsp baking cocoa in a pitcher and stir until dissolved. Mix in 2tbsp coffee
liqueur and 2tbsp hazelnut liqueur. Divide between 2 mugs and top each with
whipped cream.

## Pumpkin Cocktails

### Pumpkin Patch

This tasty pumpkin-flavored treat is a fall favorite at [New Orleans’ Whiskey
Blue](http://gerberbars.com/), located in the W Hotel. To re-create it, grab a
shaker and stir in 1tspn light brown sugar, 1tspn honey, 3 dashes of pumpkin
spice seasoning and 3/4oz fresh lime juice until it’s all dissolved. Then add
1.75oz apple cider, 1.5 oz tequila (they suggest Herradura Silver) and 1 egg

### Pumpkin Spice

Upscale NYC catering company, [Canard](http://www.canardinc.com)’s mixologist
Ryan Maerz suggests warming up to a Pumpkin Spice cocktail as the cool fall
weather starts to hit us. To build this beverage, mix 1 part Manuka Honey
Vodka, 1 part Stoli Vanilla, 1tbs pumpkin mash, 2 parts pumpkin spice simple
syrup, a pinch of salt and a splash of vanilla liquor.

## Spiced Cocktails

### Scandinavian Glogg

Direct from Scandinavia, this warm, sweet spiced drink sent in by [Spice
Islands](http://www.spiceislands.com) is sure to drive away the chills! This
one is going to take a little while to create, so to get started, place 1 1/2
cups vodka in a container with a tight fitting lid. Add 4 cinnamon sticks, 8
whole cloves, 1tbsp crystallized ginger, 1tsp orange peel and 2 whole nutmegs
(split each in half using a hammer). Tightly cover and let set a minimum of 24
hours, then strain. Mix flavored vodka, 2 bottles (750 ml each) burgandy wine
and 1 1/2 cups sugar in a large saucepan or stockpot. Heat, covered, but do
not boil. Serve warm and garnish each serving with raisins and silvered

5 Useful Favor Ideas for Fall Weddings & Other Autumn Events

Choosing favors for your wedding or any other event can be a difficult task, and a lot of weddings offer the same old things that no one ever ends up using. On the heels of last week’s post on [fall wedding theme trends](http://theplungeproject.com/trends-fall-wedding-themes), I wanted to share a few of my favorite favors for fall that are not only a little different, but also very useable! So whether you’re planning for fall nuptials or simply hosting an autumn get-together, these favors are sure to satisfy your guests!

## 1. Brownie Favor Pops

I’m a huge fan of cake pops…or really anything on a stick for that matter…but I haven’t yet been able to truly master them at home. If you’re like me, you’ll be happy to know that Beau Coup actually sells these delicious little brownie pop favors in a variety of designs and colors! Add a cute little gift tag matching your event decor, and you’re ready to let your guests enjoy this treat.

## 2. Hot Sauce

hues like oranges, rusts and browns are ultra popular for fall, so why not supplement an organic color scheme and add a kick to your reception with personalized hot sauce bottles for your guests like these offered on [the Knot](http://www.dpbolvw.net/click-4105853-10750930)? If you want to give your guests something they’ll definitely use, going with an edible favor like hot sauce is totally the way to do. After all, it _is_ football season!

## 3. “Fall in Love” Wine Bottle Stopper

What better way to dress up your favorite bottle of wine than with the rustic and warm tones of this copper fall leaf wine bottle stopper from Beau Coup? ! And since each favor comes packaged in a clear gift box with a festive fall motif with a matching copper organza ribbon and printed “Fall in Love” hang tag, they’re ready to go…no “assembly” required!

## 4. Custom Candles

I’m not sure why, but a nice, scented burning candle just reminds me of fall and the upcoming holiday season…which is why I think it’s awesome that [Yankee Candle](http://www.yankeecandle.com/) offers personalized candles (with custom photo labels) for wedding favors! Choose your candle scent — _I’m really feeling flavors like Vanilla Satin and Cinnamon Stick for the season _– and they’ll make a custom “branded” candle for you and your hunny’s special day!

## 5. Cheese Spreader with Wine Cork Handle

Everyone who entertains needs a nice cheese plate and spreader, so why not give your guests this lovely little item from Beau Coup as a favor? Packaged in autumn shades, this works perfectly for fall nuptials and autumn get-togethers alike!

**What other great favors are you feeling for fall?**

Giveaway – Shabby Chic Wedding or Home Decor from Sophia’s Sign Boutique

Happy Monday, everyone! I apologize for limited posting last week, but Michael
and I are finally back from our trip to visit family and friends in the
Northeast, and the Plunge Project is back to regularly scheduled posting —
starting with a great contest brought to you by [Sophia’s Sign
Boutique](http://www.etsy.com/shop/SophiasSignBoutique)! Sophia’s shabby chic
cottage and home decor shop is full of shabby chic signs, vintage wedding
signs, personalized signs, nursery signs, home organization with key hooks and
wall vases that can be used for a variety of decor uses. Whether you’re
planning a vintage-inspired wedding or simply decorating your home, you’re
likely to find something you love in Sophia’s Sign Boutique. Here are a few of
my favorite items…

Shop owner Jodi actually sent me a darling organizer shelf, complete with Mason Jar vase built in, which works perfectly as a kitchen organizer. It’s just like the one above only black, and it fits perfectly into my kitchen! So, now that you’ve seen some of what Sophia’s Sign Boutique has to offer, I’m sure you’re wondering how you can add a piece from Jodi’s shop into your home or wedding decor.

### To Enter:

Do any of the following and leave a comment on this post for each entry. Each
entry must be a separate comment, and you can enter up to 4 times:

1. Browse [Sophia’s Sign Boutique](http://www.etsy.com/shop/SophiasSignBoutique), choose your favorite item, then leave a comment on my blog about what item you would order if you won.
2. Like [Sophia’s Sign Boutique on Facebook](https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sophias-Sign-Boutique/137809622960136).
3. Like [the Plunge Project on Facebook](https://www.facebook.com/PlungeProject).
4. [Subscribe to the Plunge Project](http://feeds.feedburner.com/ThePlungeProject) via email or RSS.
One lucky winner will receive his/her choice of item from Sophia’s Sign
Boutique, so stay tuned because I’ll be choosing a winner shortly after 5pm
EDT using Random.org and announcing via Facebook on Friday, September 23!

5 Must-Haves for Dessert Table Design

If you follow this blog and/or a variety of other wedding end event-related blogs, chances are you’re into dessert tables as much as I am. And based upon the fact that the [Creating the Perfect [Candy/Dessert/Ice Cream/etc. Bar](http://theplungeproject.com/creating-the-perfect-dessert-bar) guest post featured here last year is still one of the more popular posts on the Plunge Project, I know quite a few of you are interested in creating beautiful dessert tables yourself. But of course, there’s a lot that goes into creating the perfect dessert table and a lot of supplies are necessary to make it beautiful. It’s not just about the candy and desserts themselves. That’s why I’m sharing a few of my must-have items for designing dessert tables…

**1. Apothecary Jars** –
I love, love, love displaying candy in apothecary jars — on dessert tables like the one I designed for my future sister-in-law’s [baby shower](http://theplungeproject.com/blue-yellow-badtz-maruhello-kitty-baby-shower) and in my home — so I really love this set of Terra Apothecary Jars. If you’re interested in purchasing any of these, find all 3 on Amazon (in order as shown above): [19.25″ footed apothecary jar](http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001HI5R3E/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=theplupro-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399369&creativeASIN=B001HI5R3E)![](http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=theplupro-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B001HI5R3E&camp=217145&creative=399369), [16.5″ footed apothecary jar](http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001HI7VRO/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=theplupro-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=B001HI7VRO)![](http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=theplupro-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B001HI7VRO&camp=217145&creative=399373) and [Terra Collection footed glass apothecary jar](http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001HI1W4W/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=theplupro-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399369&creativeASIN=B001HI1W4W)![](http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=theplupro-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B001HI1W4W&camp=217145&creative=399369).

**2. [Martha Stewart Crafts Large Circle Cutter](http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0044JOO3M/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=theplupro-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=B0044JOO3M)**![](http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=theplupro-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B0044JOO3M&camp=217145&creative=399373) – In the past, I had some definite trouble cutting perfect circles, so I recently picked up one of these. It cuts perfect circles from 4 inches to 12 inches in diameter at .18-inch increments, which is very handy for circular labels, table banners, cake toppers and more!

**3. Dessert Pedestal Jars** – Sometimes apothecary jars just don’t do the job, which is why I’m loving this set of 3 [Grasslands Road Just Desserts Cupcake Pedestal Candy Jars](http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004RSL5BO/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=theplupro-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=B004RSL5BO)![](http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=theplupro-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B004RSL5BO&camp=217145&creative=399373) found on Amazon! Cute, right?

**4. [2″ Circular Scallop Punch by EK Tools](http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003DKS088/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=theplupro-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=B003DKS088)![](http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=theplupro-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B003DKS088&camp=217145&creative=399373) **- I’m pretty sure I could not live without this punch. If you’re printing labels for each dessert table item, creating cupcake toppers, favor tags, napkin rings, etc., you definitely need this punch! [EK Success](http://www.amazon.com/gp/search?ie=UTF8&keywords=ek%20success&tag=theplupro-20&index=arts-crafts&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325) makes a lot of other great punches as well.

**5. Dessert Pedestals** – If you’re looking for a more simple dessert pedestal, be sure to check out this [12-Inch Pedestal by Rosanna](http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000I0JTCM/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=theplupro-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399369&creativeASIN=B000I0JTCM). So pretty! _What are your dessert table must-haves?_

Bright & Cheerful, Pink & Orange Baby Shower

Since the birth of my beloved nephew Vinny 6 weeks ago, I’ve come down with a
case of baby fever. But alas, Michael and I agree it’s not quite time for us
to multiply just yet, so instead I’ve been living vicariously through others
and enjoying cheerful baby shower tablescapes like this one sent in by Ashley
Carlson of [Eye Candy Event Design](http://www.EyeCandyEventDesign.com). Mommy
Erin is due to have daughter Scarlett Mai next week, so her friends (and Eye
Candy Event Design) threw this extra special summer get-together to celebrate
the arrival of a new little bundle. I really love the pink and orange color
scheme…so perfect for summer!

_Vendor Credits_ _Event Design: [Eye
Candy Event Design](http://www.EyeCandyEventDesign.com)_ _Macaroons &
Cupcakes: Eye Candy Confections_ _Candy Tags: [Beleza Design](http://www
.Beleza-Design.com)_ _Photography: Natalie Chavez of Eye Candy Photography_

{Buy or DIY} Vintage-Inspired Jewelry Organizer

My [Pinterest](http://pinterest.com/prnicolev/) obsession may or may not be
getting out of control. Either way, I have another darling little Pinterest
find that I must share this week…this gorgeous, vintage-inspired jewelry

This beauty is actually for sale
for [$79 from The Vintage Treehouse on
painted), but when I first caught sight of it on Pinterest, I pinned it to my
DIY board because I think this is something I could definitely do at
home…_thus the {Buy or DIY} in the title_. To create a similar piece, you’ll
likely have to visit a few antique stores and thrift shops in search of a
frame to re-purpose. Then, all you’ll need is some lace trim (generally found
at any craft store; I personally frequent Jo-Ann’s) and a way to attach the
trim to the frame (depending on the material of the frame).

DIY Recycled Wine Crate Shelves

Have I mentioned recently how much I love
[Pinterest](http://pinterest.com/prnicolev/)? Yeah, I know…I’m obsessed.
Anyway, thanks to my obsession, I discovered this awesome DIY recycled wine
crate shelves over on [Babble](http://blogs.babble.com/family-
style/2011/08/02/20-cool-decorating-tricks/?pid=2498#slideshow). __When I
eventually re-design my home office, I’m going to need to make some of there
beauties. _Love <3…_

{Mixology} Signature Wedding Cocktails

We’ve all heard that a great way to keep your wedding budget manageable is to cut the open bar and instead offer simply wine, beer and a signature cocktail. But it’s often hard to determine what exactly that signature cocktail should be. After all, it needs to be unique in its own rite and also reflective of you and your beau. You want to choose something your guests simply love. In an attempt to help some of you create your signature wedding cocktail, I’ve compiled a few very delicious recipes sent in to me by bartenders, restaurants, liquor companies and more. _Enjoy…_

### The Lars Wallin Wedding Cocktail

So my favorite part about this first drink is the incorporation of “frozen
roses”…so cool and classy for a wedding! **Ingredients:**

* 1 part [Xanté](http://www.drinkxante.com/)
* 2 parts rosé wine
* .5 parts simple syrup
* .5 parts lemon juice
* 3 raspberries
* Rose petals

1. Freeze clean rose heads or petals in ice cube tray.
2. Shake all ingredients and strain into glass.
3. Garnish with frozen rose when ready to serve; the ice will melt and the flower will “bloom”.

### Rio Royale

The Rio Royale is a great bride’s signature cocktail if you and your hunny
want to each select a special drink. Sent in to me by [Tito’s Handmade
Vodka](http://titosvodka.com/), this one takes some time to make, as it has to
rest for one week prior to being served. Be sure to keep that in mind if you
choose it as your signature cocktail. **Ingredients:**

* 1 liter of Tito’s Handmade Vodka
* 1 vanilla bean, split
* 1 pint of fresh strawberries, stemmed and cut into quarters
* Sparkling white wine or champagne

1. Create Strawberry & Vanilla infused vodka by combining vodka, vanilla bean and strawberries.
2. Shake well, and allow to rest for one week.
3. To build the cocktail on your big day, pour 1.5 oz. of your chilled vodka mixture in a champagne flute.
4. Top with your favorite sparkling white wine.
5. Garnish with a split strawberry.

### Tito’s Kickin’ Mule

Now if the Rio Royale is a little too feminine for your beau or if the two of
you simply want your our signature cocktails, Tito’s Kickin’ Mule makes for a
great groom’s cocktail. This is a great drink for the men because it is not
overly sweet but is also very simple to make. **Ingredients:**

* 1.5oz Tito’s Handmade Vodka
* .5oz fresh squeezed lime
* 3oz ginger beer

1. Combine all ingredients in a rocks glass filled with ice.
2. Garnish with a lime wedge.

### No Thyme Like The Present

[Shabu](http://www.shabuparkcity.com) of Park City, Utah created this
cocktail, which won the title of Park City’s Signature Spring Cocktail for
2011. The name of the drink makes it perfect to serve at a wedding, _don’t you
think?_ Plus, it has an exceptional and refreshing taste! **Ingredients:**

* 1 sprig thyme
* .25oz fresh lime juice
* .25oz cucumber simple syrup
* 1.5oz Hendricks Gin
* Approx. 3.5oz white grape juice

1. Muddle the thyme.
2. Add lime juice, syrup and gin to shaker.
3. Shake and strain into a collins glass filled with ice.
4. Fill glass to the top with while grape juice, stir and garnish.

### Hibiscus Champagne Tonic

Alright, you know this one’s special because it was initially created by
celebrity chef [Nisa Lee](http://nisalee.com/) for a party thrown by Halle
Berry! **Ingredients:**

* 1tsp. rose water
* 1tsp. fresh lime juice
* 4tsp. wild hibiscus-flower syrup
* Sparkling rosé wine
* Hibiscus flower for garnish

1. Place a wild hibiscus flower and rose water in the bottom of a champagne flute.
2. Add lime juice and hibiscus syrup.
3. Top with rosé wine.

### Blushing Bride

The problem with getting a little tipsy on your wedding night is that you often have to wake up early in the morning and head off to your honeymoon…hung over…but not with this cocktail! Crafted by Alex Ott, this cocktail is infused with [Mercy](http://www.drinkmercy.com/), a new beverage that helps alleviate the negative effects of drinking alcohol, making sure the morning after is filled with happy memories…and not a hangover.


* 2 parts New Amsterdam Gin
* 4 parts cranberry juice, hibiscus tea or cherry juice
* 2 pinches ground ginger
* Splash of lemon juice
* 3 parts Mercy

1. Combine all ingredients, except Mercy, in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
2. Shake vigorously, and strain over an ice-filled pilsner or frappe glass until 2/3 full.
3. Float with Mercy and garnish with a cherry.

### The Royal-tini

Alright, I know I said I wasn’t getting caught up in all the royal wedding hype, but I felt it appropriate to include this sapphire-inspired concoction created by a mixologist at the [Ritz Carlton Amelia Island](http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/AmeliaIsland/Default.htm).


* 1.5oz Bombay Sapphire
* .75oz Blue Curaçao
* .5oz lime juice
* .5oz simple syrup
**Instructions: **

1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
2. Shake and pour into a martini glass.
3. Garnish with a lime pinwheel.

### Pop Rock-tini

If you’re having a more fun, laid-back affair, this one is definitely for you!
Sent in by [tenOak Bourbon House + Lounge](http://tenoakaustin.com) in Austin,
this is one I’ll definitely be testing out soon. It would also be perfect for
a bridal shower or bachelorette party! **Ingredients:**

* 2oz Chambord vodka
* 1oz peach schnapps
* 1oz cranberry juice
* 1oz pineapple juice
* 1oz of Prima Perla Prosecco

1. Shake above ingredients in a shaker.
2. Lightly coat the rim of a martini glass with agave nectar, then sprinkle pop rocks on the rim.
3. Fill with items in your shaker.

### Raspberry White Truffle Martini

Ya know how some drinks sell you simply on the name? This was one of those
drinks for me, sent in by [BRIO Tuscan
Grille](http://www.brioitalian.com/index.html). ** Ingredients:**

* 1oz whipped cream
* 2oz Sobieski Raspberry
* 4 raspberries
* Half of a fresh-squeezed Lime
* .5oz simple syrup

1. In a martini shaker, add ice and all ingredients.
2. Shake well and strain into a martini glass.
3. Garnish with 2 raspberries.
**If you want to see more drink recipes, check out my post from last week on [summer cocktails](http://theplungeproject.com/9-summer-cocktails). Happy mixing!** _[Disclosure: While I was not paid for the above post, Xanté, Tito’s and Mercy did provide free samples.]_

Blue & Yellow Badtz MaruHello Kitty Baby Shower

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of hosting a baby shower for my future sister-in-law (AKA my brother Bob’s fiance), Cory. Cory loves Hello Kitty, so from the moment I found out she was pregnant, I knew I wanted to incorporate her slight obsession into the shower. When I found out she would be having a boy, however, I knew I had to revise my plan just a bit…which is how I ended up going with a Badtz Maru theme. For those of you unfamiliar with Sanrio characters, Badtz Maru is the penguin with the spiky hair. I ultimately chose him over other male characters like Keroppi (the frog) because my nephew is going to be named Vinny VanScoten, which IMO is the name of a badass, and the spiky haired penguin just suited that better 😉 But of course, I still managed to incorporate Hello Kitty just a bit…

I was on a pretty tight budget with this table, but I didn’t want to sacrifice quality in the name of saving money. The solution? Lots of homemade treats! Michael and I made marshmallow pops, meringue cookies and delicious chocolate-dipped pretzel rods, and paired those items with some delicious candy provided by some very generous vendors _(I’ll introduce you to them in just a bit)_, and a very creative cake made by an up-and-coming cake baker.

At our wedding, Michael didn’t even get to see the dessert buffet because our guests dug in before we returned from taking photos, so for this event I decided to find a clever way to keep guests from digging in before our mommy-to-be got to sample the table.

In keeping within budget, I created centerpieces for the tables and for the dessert table out of tissue paper dahlias __and spray painted sticks _(there’s a great DIY tutorial for the dahlias at [Martha Stewart Weddings](http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/article/pom-poms-and-luminarias?czone=inspiration%2FDIY%2Fdecorations))_. Placing those in glass vases from the Dollar Tree _(with black stones — also from the Dollar Tree — to hold the sticks in place)_, made for inexpensive yet playful centerpieces.

As one of our shower activities, we played baby bingo. Each card had a variety of baby shower gifts listed on it, and every time Cory opened a gift, guests with that gift on their card marked it off with a bingo chip _(in this case, Smarties)_. The first guest to get bingo won a prize.

The activity that helped the parents-to-be the most, however, was the diaper raffle. Each invitation included a card explaining that for each pack of diapers a guest brought with them, they would receive one raffle ticket. In the end, one guest won a prize, and Bob and Cory ended up with over a thousand diapers!

**Now, to introduce you to a few of my wonderful vendors for this shower…**
[**Seattle Chocolates**](http://www.seattlechocolates.com/) supplied some delicious cool mint truffles for the dessert table, in addition to a variety of other amazing samples that I got to snack on at home. Everything I tried was simply amazing, but the [Birthday Cake Truffle Bar](http://shop.seattlechocolates.com/scc/summer-love/birthday-cake-truffle-bar.html) they sent me to sample was by far my absolute fave. In fact, I might just need to order some more, because I’m pretty much dying for one as I write this. If you have a sweet tooth like me, I highly encourage you to check out Seattle Chocolates!

**[Can You Imagine That!](http://www.niftycandy.com/)** sent me the candy pebbles and Sandy Candy sticks that I used on the dessert table. In addition, they sent over adorable little edible “sand” art baby bottles which I gave to each gift as a favor. The kids at the shower really loved them, and seeing them make their Sandy Candy art made me think of what a cool idea this would be for a children’s party!

**[Blair Candy](http://www.blaircandy.com)** supplied chocolate sixlets and lollipops for the dessert table. Like many bulk/wholesale candy distributors, Blair Candy offers a variety of candy to suit any dessert table, and you can search on their website by color or category. It’s also a family- owned and operated company, which makes you feel good about ordering from them.

**Geeky Goodies’ **Dani Moses baked up the very adorable cake for this shower. And let me tell you, not only was the cake super cute, it was also amazingly delicious…which I feel is the ultimate test of a great cake baker. Dani’s still working on getting her website up, so if you’re interested in talking to her about a cake, email her at leeismee(at)hotmail.com.

**Michael Denton, Personal Chef** (AKA my husband) made quite a bit of the sweet treats above, including the meringue cookies (stay tuned for a recipe post next week) and chocolate-dipped pretzel rods, in addition to the entire food spread. He’s in the process of creating his own business venture, so if you’re looking to hire a personal chef to cater your next event, stay tuned! You can also email him at denton.michael.j(at)gmail.com. _[Disclosure: Seattle Chocolate, Can You Image That! and Blair Candy supplied the above items free of charge to be featured in this post.]_