The Baby Shower: Decor

I’ve shown you the menu, and the party favors, now it’s time to talk about the decor for the co-ed baby shower I just hosted last weekend.

The mom-to-be chose a “rustic” theme for the baby boy’s nursery, complete with lots of navy blue, plaid, and, well… “rustic” stuff.  So, I chose that for the baby shower decor.

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I scoured Etsy for great invitations and found this one from a shop called Minted Press.  Her prices were reasonable and service was quick.  Of course, I okayed this design (and all other major decisions) with the mom-to-be first.  I also checked in with dad-to-be, since it was a co-ed shower!

With a color scheme of navy and khaki/burlap, I set out on a quest.  I found everything navy, khaki and cream that I could find.  I found pom-poms at Just Artifacts, ribbons at Papermart, etc.  I used a 40% off coupon at the craft store to get about 10 yards of burlap so I

A really nice diaper cake from Pinterest.

A really nice diaper cake from Pinterest.

would have enough to craft with, and also decorate with.  I covered my dining room table in burlap, the dessert table in burlap, and the bases of the diaper cakes in burlap so they blended in with the table top.

Let’s talk about diaper cakes!  That is a post all by itself I suppose, but I am a big believer in the diaper cake for a shower decoration.  You can buy them ready-made, or you can make them yourself.  They are very labor-intensive and difficult to maneuver, but making them yourself saves a ton of money.   You then decorate them with gifts for baby:  teethers, rattles, socks, nail clippers, brush and comb, toys, etc.  I’ve included pictures of my cakes in the gallery at the bottom.

A dad's diaper cake (from Pinterest).

A dad’s diaper cake (from Pinterest).

I mentioned cakeS.  Yes, there were two diaper cakes.  One for mom, one for dad.  The dad one, instead of including gifts for baby, included beer and liquor mini-bottles.  Much like the one you see here, although mine did not look nearly this good.  Check out the gallery for a glimpse of the one I made, which included dad’s favorite beer (Dale’s Pale Ale).

I felt like in keeping with the rustic theme we needed to have some tree slices.  I looked all over for them and found that they were quite expensive in most places.  But, hey, you only have to buy them once and they pretty much last forever.  I found mine on Etsy from ScenicCo.  They worked with me on sizes and gave me a very good price on the purchase of several hunks of wood.

I loved the concept of creating a clothesline of baby clothes.  I saw it on Pinterest so I baby5was pretty sure I could pull it off (famous last words!).  I will tell you it was harder than it looks because you’ve got to have sturdy things to tie the line to.   I used Command hooks and the line did not want to stay on them, and then at one point I put too many things on the line and the weight pulled the hooks off the wall and I had to start over.  I finally got it to stay, as you will see in the gallery pictures below.

baby14I also liked the idea of a burlap pennant banners.  I found a package of two on Amazon and glued chipboard scrapbooking letters to them.

The rest of the decor was tissue pom poms baby11and fresh flowers.  I wanted baby’s breath, but couldn’t find a bulk quantity of it locally so I settled on alstromeria flowers in yellow and pale orange, keeping with our rustic ambiance.  All-in-all, I think it blended pretty well together.  You can see the pictures in the gallery below.

 

Disposable plates made from palm leaves.

Disposable plates made from palm leaves.

My favorite unique find–disposable plates that looked like they were made of wood.  Made from pressed palm leaves, these plates were more expensive than paper, but they were so worth it!  I got them from Webstaurant Store, which I’ve written about before.  I got the 8″ plates, as well as a package of platters that were also disposable.

To coordinate with those plates, I got disposable wooden forks.  Again, Webstaurant Store has the best price on items like this.

One thing is for sure, nothing ever looks as good as it does on Pinterest!  But, the mom- and dad-to-be were thrilled, loved the shower, and seemed very content with my efforts.  And that’s all I ever wanted in the first place.

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The Baby Shower: Mistakes Plus Party Favors

Dark blue Jordan almonds from www.nuts.com

Dark blue Jordan almonds from www.nuts.com

The co-ed baby shower I hosted for a dear friend is now in my rear-view mirror and I’ve had time to reflect on what went wrong, what went right.  I’ve already posted about the food.  Now it’s time to post about what went wrong.

First, I spent an hour making up little cellophane bags of colored candied Jordan almonds, tied with curling ribbon, for my guests as party favors.  And then?

I forgot to put them out in the party area.

That’s right.  They were left sitting in my guest room (which, unoccupied, is my party staging area).  I didn’t remember them until all the guests had left.

Second, I underestimated just how long it would take to do everything.  Even though I hustled all day the day before the shower, and, the day of, I still came down to the wire, jumping in the shower at 3:05 with the guests of honor arriving at 3:30.  Thank goodness I can throw on clothes and makeup really fast!  As a result I didn’t get a lot of good pictures of everything.  For instance, I made these cute little bags of Jordan almonds…. oh I already mentioned that.

The shawl pins used for "corsages" for the mom and grandmothers.

The shawl pins used for “corsages” for the mom and grandmothers.

I also I made the mom-to-be and the grandmas special jewelry “corsages” that were really cute if I do say so myself.  They were shawl pins embellished with baby-themed charms, available at FoxiBelle’s on Etsy,  and a little picture frame that said “Mommy” or “Grandma”.  Sadly, I have absolutely no pictures of them to show you.  (I’m just glad I remembered them, and that they didn’t end up next to the damned almonds sitting in the guest  room!)

BUT… I did want to share with you a couple of great sources if you want to make the Jordan almond party favors for your next event.

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Ivory Jordan almonds from www.Nuts.com

Of utmost importance are the Jordan almonds.  You want them to be really fresh, and, if you need them color-coordinated, available in solid colors.  Nuts.com has those, and, get this–they are cheaper than the solid-color M&M’s that are often used for party favors.  Jordan almonds in solid colors are available for $7.99 a pound.  Solid-color M&M’s are $12.99 a pound!  The almonds are much more elegant and “special” than M&M’s, in my opinion.  And the ones from Nuts.com are super fresh.  Order extras so you can munch on them while you make up your little favor bags!

I did almonds in dark blue and ivory (they didn’t have a khaki colored Jordan almond).

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Navy crimped curling ribbon from www.papermart.com

For cellophane bags and curling ribbon, look no further than Papermart.  I’ve talked about them before.  You can’t beat their prices or quality.  The cellophane bags need to be small, otherwise you will spend a small fortune filling them up with candy!  Click here for the bags that I used, and I bought the smallest size available

The cellophane bags I used for Jordan almond party favors. Available at www.papermart.com

The cellophane bags I used for Jordan almond party favors. Available at www.papermart.com

(2.5″x2″x6″).

For curling ribbon, you simply cannot beat Papermart.  Click here for their crimped solid color curling ribbon selection.  You get 500 yards for $1.60!   That is a steal!  And they come in tons of colors to match any decor or occasion.  They also have smooth curling ribbon,  and even patterned curling ribbon.   For my party, I used navy and ivory crimped curling ribbons.

Then, just put about 15 Jordan almonds in each cellophane bag (I mixed the blue and ivory almonds together and put some of both in each bag), tie them up with curling ribbon (again, I used both colors for a more festive look), and you’ve got a very elegant party favor for a baby shower, wedding, or other special event!

In my next post, I’ll talk about the baby shower decor.

The Baby Shower Menu

babyIn my last post I mentioned a meatball recipe that I served at a co-ed baby shower.  I thought today you might be interested in seeing the whole menu (with my modifications, because you know I can’t leave most recipes well-enough alone).  And maybe even some photos?

In addition to the meatballs, I also served my homemade chips and salsa.  Then there were Paula Deen’s famous BLT deviled eggs.  I did modify that recipe some, by substituting about 3/4 of the called-for mayonnaise with sour cream.  I like sour cream better for deviled baby7eggs, it gives them more a twang, and they are less…mayonnaise-y.  I also added just a touch of sweet relish to the recipe for a little more flavor.

There was also fruit salad, but alas, it was not as cute as the picture above.  I was going to make that salad and the grocery stores had NO whole watermelons and NO whole cantaloupes.  So, I settled for a mixture of watermelon, mango, green grapes, kiwi, blueberries and raspberries, finished with a honey-coconut water dressing as described in this fruit salad recipe.  It’s a very simple dressing:   2 teaspoons of honey to 1/2 cup of coconut baby2water (for a large party-sized batch you probably need to double that).  It adds a hint of sweet refreshment to fruits, especially fruits that are out of season and not at their peak flavor.

The baby’s room is being decorated in what the mom called a “rustic” theme, and so we agreed on a rustic decor for the party consisting of lots of navy blue and burlap.  (My next post will be about decorations.)  I found a recipe for little mini cheese balls and I thought, “Hey!  Those look very rustic!”  They were also very delicious and were very fast to disappear.  Definitely a recipe you could make days in advance, and just insert the pretzel sticks the day of the party.  I served alongside some rustic crackers for spreading.

Also somewhat rustic looking were these tortellini skewers.  You boil up some cheese tortellini baby3al dente and gather some olives, basil leaves, mozzarella balls, and cherry tomatoes, and thread them on skewers.  The only problem was I couldn’t find the colored tortellini so mine weren’t as colorful as the ones in the picture.  But, they were still quite tasty, because I marinated the cooked tortellini overnight in Olive Garden brand Italian dressing.  Then I gave the finished skewers a very light drizzle of the dressing just before serving.

baby6Next, I offered up some little finger sandwiches.  These “Lemony-Cucumber” sandwiches were really delicious (would be even better served in the summer when cukes are at their peak).  I have some tips on these, though.   First, use a very good quality cucumber, preferably Kirby or Persian cucumbers.  Remove the seeds if using Kirby.  Slice neatly using a mandolin if you have one, and take care to dry the slices for a while on paper towels.  Also, I recommend what the recipe calls for–a really good quality, hearty wheat bread.  I used Nature’s Own brand, which is good for regular sandwiches, but it just didn’t stand up well to these when it was time to slice them.  Finally, in hindsight I wish I had done two things differently.  One is using Irish butter, which I think would have really enhanced the flavor (see my thoughts on that here.)  The other is sprinkling just a touch of kosher salt on the cucumbers before making the sandwiches, just to bring out their flavor a little more.

Last but not least, since this was a co-ed baby shower, I wanted to offer up one more hearty baby5recipe for the men besides the meatballs.  So, I made this taco crescent ring.  There was not a single slice of it left when the party was over so I am assuming people liked it?  I did not serve it as shown, but simply with sour cream and salsa (who has time for fresh lettuce when you’re prepping all this other food?)   I’ll warn you that it is NOT as “big” as it looks in the picture.  It looks ginormous in the picture but it comes out probably 10-12″ wide when you’re done.  It does not come out as pretty as this picture (thanks, food stylists everywhere, for making the rest of us feel inferior).  I also recommend baking it and serving it from a pizza stone.  The pizza stone bakes the crescent rolls up better than a metal pan, and, keeps it warmer longer during serving.

baby4Finally, for desserts I served cupcakes and marshmallow pops.  What are marshmallow pops?  Marshmallows with a straw inserted in them, then dipped in white chocolate, and decorated with sprinkles, drizzles, etc.  This picture is of very well-done ones that I found on Pinterest.  Mine were not this pretty, but they did look nice enough.  Several pieces of advice on this one.  First, get good paper straws that are both decorative and sturdy.  I bought mine from an Etsy shop called Eve’s Party Market.  They sell tons of different designs to match your party decor and their prices are quite reasonable.  Second, use good white chocolate, not “vanilla bark.”  I used Ghiradelli, which was at my warehouse club for the upcoming holidays.  It was quite affordable and it melted beautifully and it coated the marshmallows very smoothly.  They looked “glazed” when finished.  Third, with chocolate use only oil-based food coloring.  If you try to use liquid or gel coloring you run the risk of ruining the texture of the chocolate.  You can find oil-based coloring in a ton of colors on both Etsy and Amazon.  Fourth, the chocolate is much-improved with a touch of flavoring.  I used cotton candy flavoring (also available on Amazon).  But, I didn’t read it carefully when I started and it was glycerin-based, not oil-based.  So in one batch of melted white chocolate I put too much and it completely ruined the batch.  The chocolate “seized up” and wouldn’t flow smoothly.  I had to throw that away and start over, using only a couple of drops of the flavoring.  So, buy oil-based flavorings made especially for candy making.

I do not make pretty cupcakes, so I didn’t even attempt that.  I had a friend who bakes make a couple dozen for me.  She did 12 chocolate and 12 vanilla, and tried her best to color the vanilla ones “khaki.”  It came out looking like peanut butter frosting, but it was still vanilla and it was delicious and the colors were in line with the rustic party theme!  I have a ton of fancy chocolate cake decorations that a friend of mine gets for me where he works (thanks, John!  xoxox) so I decorated those myself.  You can see those in the photo gallery below.

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