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editor’s note

Memories of my grandmother are inextricably mixed with Christmas. As an Air Force family, we often lived too far from where my parents grew up in Iowa to visit often, but when we did, it was usually over the holidays. My grandmother was an exceptional baker and professional cake decorator, and going to her house for Christmas always made me feel like magic truly existed. What else could explain the mountains of homemade cookies and candies, the intricately decorated sugar cookies,the amazing smells always coming from her kitchen? Grandma Meer really was an artist, her medium sugar and icing. My favorite cookies were the Santa faces, with their twinkling, merry eyes and generous piles of fluffy icing beard. I adored watching Grandma work, her hands quick and sure, turning blank cookie canvases—sometimes shapes I couldn’t even identify before they were decorated—into edible works of art as the many colors of icing were masterfully applied. When I was five years old, I received a very special Christmas present from my grandmother: a Christmas ornament decorated with royal icing. Not a flat ornament shape, but an actual spherical ornament completely covered in smooth white royal icing and my grandmother’s gorgeous icing roses. I’ve never seen anything like it before or since. To me, it’s an amazing treasure. My grandma’s incredible artistry, usually so fleeting, preserved. I cherish that delicate ornament, so lovingly made and given to me, and the memories it evokes. Perhaps that’s why I love creating new things, crafting, and sharing my innovations. Perhaps someday, someone will open up a small, treasured parcel from me, smile, and remember my love. Who could ask for more? Merry Christmas, Nicole Wills Editor

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ISSUE contents

Featured Parties 7 Harvest Time Rehearsal Dinner WINTER 2012

20 37 52 69

Thankful Thanksgiving The Christmas Cabin A Florida Christmas

76 A Very Merry Mod Christmas 87

52

Deck the Halls: Ornament Exchange Party

37

Joyeux Noel

Articles 54 Me Oh My Pie: Freeze Ahead Pies 50 Southern Belle’s Etiquette:

The Art of the Thank You Note

56

Great Games for Kids and Families

64

Creative Christmas Packaging

82

Holiday Baking

87

Tutorials 18

Elegant Hand-Stamped Napkins

30 Hemstitched Chair Tie-backs Tutorial 31 49

59

Ribbon Roses Tutorial Festive Christmas Marshmallows Tutorial Coconut Cupcakes with Rum Toffee Frosting

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Paula Biggs Editor-In-Chief Frog Prince Paperie Paula is a party-loving mom of two with a background in communications and a love for entertaining. She’s the owner of two printable party shops, Frog Prince Paperie and Frog Prince Occasions. Her styling and design work has been seen in national magazines such as Southern Living and Women’s Day Magazine as well as many well-known international entertaining blogs.

contributors Nicole Willis Editor Tradewind Tiaras, Inc. Nicole is the owner of Tradewind Tiaras, Inc. (est. 2000) and the brand new party planning and inspiration company, Tikkido.com. Nicole has worked for numerous journalism institutions, including NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. Her work has been featured in Yum! Food and Fun for Kids magazine; and many popular blogs, including Amy Atlas, The TomKat Studio, and Style Me Pretty.

Natalie Clause

Nancy Pfiefer

Southern Belle’s Charm

A to Z celebrations

Rebecca Propes

Giedre Augustinaviciute

Petite Party Studio

g.august photography

Thank you to our wonderful contributors that lent their time and talents to this issue of Festivities magazine.

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Supporting our military families by delivering baby showers one amazing shower at a time.

Support Our Showers


WWW.TIKKIDO.COM PARTY SHOWCASES INSPIRATION TUTORIALS


Harvest Time

Rehersal Dinner

WRITING, STYLING AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICOLE WILLS OF TIKKIDO.COM

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Harvest Time

Rehersal Dinner

WRITING, STYLING AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICOLE WILLS OF TIKKIDO.COM

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With nature’s change from the greens of summer to the glorious array of orange, golds and browns, fall is a reason to celebrate. A wedding is an undeniably special day. So much work goes into creating a bride’s perfect vision for the ceremony and reception— and expense, too. When faced with the thought of planning (and paying for!) a rehearsal dinner as well, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with an entirely new set of options and decisions. A rehearsal dinner doesn’t have to be expensive to be beautiful and memorable in its own right, however. A palette of silver, gold, and copper metallic hues was perfect for creating a rehearsal dinner with rustic elegance. Simple flower arrangements were created using white grocery store flowers, oak leaves painted with metallic spray paint, and even some wheat-like grass stalks gathered from the yard. Spray painted fruits and gourds added easy bulk to the flower arrangements, and complimented the harvest theme perfectly. Branches of oak leaves gathered from the backyard added beautiful, free bulk to the floral elements of the party. Grand total spent on the three large centerpieces: $29. FESTIVITIES BY TIKKIDO.COM AND FROGPRINCEPAPERIE.COM WINTER 2012

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Rustic Elegance

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WRITING, STYLING AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY XXXXXX OF XXXXXXXXX

Felted acorns, scraps of inexpensive lace, and boxes made out of scrapbook paper came together to make fabulous favor boxes for homemade caramels. For less than a dollar a piece, we had favors that were beautiful, delicious, and thoughtful.

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Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would ямВy about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~ George Eliot

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Cake Alternatives

Wedding cake is traditional at the main event, but what could be more perfect for a fall rehearsal dinner than a selection of pies? Cherry, pumpkin, and hand pie, a gorgeous apple tart, and mini pecan tassies were served— something for every taste.

The Little Details Matter Muslin bags were embellished with a simple oak leaf and acorn stamp. It only takes a few seconds to add the image, and it pulls all of the elements together. Handmade felt acorns with painted metallic acorn hats accent oak leaves perfectly.

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Party Tricks Beautiful, Inexpensive Florals Spray painted pumpkins, gourds, apples, and pears added easy, inexpensive bulk to the flower arrangements. Intimidated by the idea of arranging flowers? A simple pile of spray painted pumpkins and oak leaves looks just as stunning, and lasts all season.

Custom Wine Labels Try covering wine labels with a bit of scrapbook paper and glue to make the bottle fit your theme, no matter what the label looks like. A bit of twine, some spray painted oak leaves, and felted acorns make the wine bottles almost too pretty to open and drink. Almost.

Wine Charmed Keep guests from losing glasses with custom chalkboard wine charms. They’re perfect for any theme, and with the chalked name wiped away at the end of the evening, they’re ready for the next party and group of guests.

Pure Treats Homemade apple cider caramels taste like fall. And they can be made weeks ahead of time, which makes them the perfect favor and dessert table treat for a DIY event.


Beauty without the bankroll is possible for your rehersal dinner with a few creative projects

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`

Elegant

Hand-Stamped Napkins Unbleached muslin napkins lend rustic elegance to a fall feast and won’t break the budget. Make them even more perfectly customized with a simple stamp and ink that match the party theme.

Materials: Rubber stamp ink fabric napkins If using store bought napkins, test a stamp on a small, unobtrusive place to be sure that the ink doesn’t smear. Natural fabrics will work better than synthetics for this craft. Unbleached muslin is extremely inexpensive, and cut into 18” squares, makes easy, lovely cloth napkins. If sewing a seam or edging is intimidating, use pinking sheers to cut the fabric to prevent fraying. Once the napkin is ready, stamp the image on one corner of each napkin. Hundreds of stamp designs are available in ma jor craft stores, and custom stamps are also available from many online vendors. Use a colorfast fabric ink if you want the design to be permanent. If you use a washable ink, the napkins will look beautiful for the event, and then wash cleanly away afterward, ready to be stamped with a new image for the next holiday.

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Thankful

Thanksgiving WRITING, STYLING AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAULA BIGGS OF FROG PRINCE PAPERIE

Be thankful & family friendly with a table setting perfect for kids and perfect for parents. Around November, visions of turkey, pumpkin pie and andoille sausage stuffing start dancing through my head. The whole month, we start look forward to the time spent around the dinner table with those we love. And nothing says love in my family like good food - unless it’s a beautifully set table. In years past, I’ve made a “kids’ table” for the children to sit at apart from the adults; banishing the kids to their own space works out well when there’s a big crowd gathering to eat. This year for a million reasons, it will be just my nuclear family for dinner. I imagine that we aren’t the only ones not seating for twenty, so I created some inspiration for those wanting a kid-friendly table that appeals to adults as well. Don’t worry about elegance when setting a table for kids. If you have them and have eaten with them, you already know it doesn’t work. We went with bright and bold colors layered with lots of texture to make a table that feels warm and inviting. Colored mason jars with trendy billy buttons from florist, Buds, Etc., and a runner made from a length of fabric were the center of attention (and easy!) FESTIVITIES BY TIKKIDO.COM AND FROGPRINCEPAPERIE.COM WINTER 2012

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Leave grandma’s china in the cabinet and anything super-elegant in the closet. Kids love casual, even if it’s a bit dressed up, and they’ll love a bright, bold table to sit at with mom and dad.

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Keep them busy! Occupied kids are happy kids. Once dinner is done, let them reach for a “busy box” at their place setting. We filled ours with crayons, playdough, and a Thanksgiving thankful turkey craft. It’s just enough to give them somthing to do while finishing dinner as a family.

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Never underestimate what you can do with a few yards of inexpensive fabric. While most of the supplies for our table came from my (rather extensive) fabric pile, I did pick up brown polka dot and brown thatch fabric on sale and created a backdrop by covering a canvas and a quick nosew runner by ironing the hems. Leftover orange fabric from Halloween was cut into strips and tied to the chairs as tie-backs. Scraps from my fabric pile made most of the roses that were the primary accents for the chairs, glasses and centerpiece. There is always a sale on fabric at the craft stores, which makes it easy to make a great visual impact for a small price!

Make the kids at the table feel special at Thanksgiving with a few extras just for them! Each place at the table was set with a fun plate topped with an orange napkin. The napkin was wrapped in burlap ribbon for texture and a thin orange satin ribbon for contrast. Our “We are so thankful� printables were a great accent. Silverware in turkey branded holders were a fun and colorful addition. Finishing the place settings were the busy boxes for the kids to play with and place cards. The place cards are a must have for kid tables - they love seeing their names and it an easy thing to do to make them feel extra special. Something new we tried this year (since my oldest can now read) were conversation starters. There were giggles all around at the table, so we’ve declared them a hit!


Pie is the star of the show on Thanksgiving! All the other fussy desserts are not needed on turkey day, so hostess can breathe a sigh of relief that setting up an attractive table is a snap! A few nice florals and some cake stands to rest your pies on are all you need. Don’t forget pint-sized pies for the kids. They’ll love you for it. FESTIVITIES BY TIKKIDO.COM AND FROGPRINCEPAPERIE.COM WINTER 2012

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Turkey Day Party Tricks

Hemstiched Chair Tie-backs Materials:

1/3 yard fabric Embroidery floss 8 inches ribbon 3 fabric roses Felt Step 1. Cut a 12 inch x 44 inch (or wider) piece of fabric in the color of your choice. Step 2. Fold over and iron 1/4 inch long edges of the fabric. Step 3. Using a wide-eyed needle and embroidery floss, whipstich the ironed edges. Step 4. Tie to chair. Wrap around chair with the ends to the back. Cross the free ends over each other and tie tightly with ribbon. Pull on the ends to fit as close to the chair as possible. Step 5. Glue the roses in desired arrangement to a small piece of felt, cutting off any visible excess. Pin the arrangement to cover the ribbon on the chair back.


Ribbon Roses These ribbon roses are fairly easy to make, but require a bit of time to complete. The size of your rose in the end will depend on the length of your strip of fabric, so plan accordingly!

Materials: 1 inch wide x 20-44 inch strips of fabric Hot glue Step 1. Fold the strip of fabric in half along its length, then in half again. Step 2. Tie a knot in the end of the strip of fabric. Step 3. Roll the fabric tightly around the knot several times. Use hot glue to hold the roll in place Step 4. Fold the fabric at an angle and wrap tightly around the center. Apply glue every few fold and wraps to make sure the rose stays together. Step 5. When your rose is the size you desire, cut the leftover fabric and glue the end to the bottom of the rose.


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ME OH MY

PIE

Freezable pastries for the hurried hostess WRITING AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICOLE WILLS OF TIKKIDO.COM The hectic holiday season is notoriously stressful, with so many parties, events, and entertaining obligations that quickly fill calendars. Making homemade pies for Christmas dinner is often one of the first things to get cut from the to-do list; many people instead opt for sad, gummy, store-bought versions instead. Rather than running into a time crunch at the end of the holiday season, why not plan ahead and freeze pies early in December, before the social calendar gets completely swamped? Tracy DeWitt, a chef-instructor at the Arizona Culinary Institute, and Dave Smoake, a chef-instructor at Le Cordon Bleu, are a pastry-baking wonder team. Together, they won the 2006 National Bread and Pastry Championship, and took silver the following year at the National Pastry Team Championship. They’ve competed in five Food Network challenges as a team, and won two of those challenges. These guys know their pies, and we turned to them for advice for freezing ahead so all you have to do on Christmas day is pull the pies from the freezer and bake.

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“Any time after Thanksgiving,” DeWitt says, “as soon as there’s room in the freezer, start filling up the space with pies and cookies for the holidays.”

“We all want convenience,” Smoake adds, “but who wants to give up the flavor and smell of a freshly baked pie?” Some pies freeze better than others, but with Chef DeWitt and Chef Smoake’s guidance, we’ve assembled a list of common favorite pie varieties, and their best tips and tricks for doing the fussy work of pie-baking ahead of time.

FRUIT PIES Fruit pies, like apple and cherry, freeze beautifully, the chefs say. Cornstarch or tapioca work better as a thickener than flour when freezing pies, since they’re frozen in a raw state, so choose or adapt recipes accordingly. Make fruit pies as you normally would, and pop in the freezer unbaked. Once frozen solid, wrap well with several layers of cling wrap. When it’s time to bake, unwrap and cook the pie straight from the freezer at the temperature recommended in the original recipe. You’ll need to bake approximately an extra 10-15 minutes than is called for in the recipe to accommodate the frozen start.

PECAN AND PUMPKIN PIE Pecan pie is a Christmas favorite, but this traditional dish is best baked and then frozen, according to the chefs. On Christmas day, pull the pie out and let thaw, then put in the oven at 325 Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes. “The goal is not to add color,” Smoake says, “just to get it warm and re-crisped.” This technique works well for pumpkin pies, too. With both pecan and pumpkin pies, be sure that the pie is completely cooled down before wrapping in cling wrap.

CHOCOLATE PIE Classic chocolate silk pie doesn’t freeze very well, but DeWitt reports that a very similar pie, a Diplomat, freezes beautifully. DeWitt recommends pre-baking the pie crust, or using a graham cracker or oreo pie crust (which she reports are absolutely delicious and her favorite with a chocolate Diplomat, and are great store-bought, too). The Diplomat filling is a cooked filling, so all that needs to be done when you’re ready to eat is to thaw the pie and top with whipped cream and a few curls of chocolate, if you’re so inclined.

No need to feel guilty about buying your pie crusts. They are an acceptable shortcut; just make sure the filling is homemade! If you’re still not sure about making homemade pie, here’s a liberating tidbit from the chefs: It’s ok to buy pre-made pie dough. Chef DeWitt leans in toward Chef Smoake conspiratorily and says, “Should we admit this in print? Yeah. At home, we use the storebought crusts. We take it out of the box, use our own pie dishes, and destroy the evidence. We’ve done the old switch-a-roonie.” So there you have it: from the mouths of two of the very best chefs in the nation—the world!—using store-bought pie crusts is an acceptable shortcut. It’s homemade filling that really makes the difference.

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Homemade Apple Pie

Freezable Chocolate Cream Pie

FROM CHEFS TRACY DEWITT

FROM CHEFS TRACY DEWITT AND DAVID SMOAKE

AND DAVID SMOAKE

Makes: 3 pies

Makes: 1 pie

INGREDIENTS 5 granny smith apples 6 T sugar 6 T brown sugar 1/8 tsp salt Zest and juice of half a lemon 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon 5 tsp cornstarch 1 1/2 T butter, cubed Pie dough, enough for a double crust pie Peel, core, and slice apples. Toss apples in a large bowl with sugar, brown sugar, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Place apple mixture into the unbaked pie crust. Add cubes of butter on top of apple mixture. Place top crust of raw pie dough on top, sealing with an egg wash. Brush an egg wash on top of the pie crust, too. Pie can be frozen at this point and baked fresh at 400 degrees the day of the event. Bake for about an hour, until crust is nicely brown.

INGREDIENTS 4 cups milk 1 cup sugar 9 oz cornstarch 4 eggs 2 egg yolks 8 oz chocolate chips 4 cups heavy cream, whipped to a soft peak. Heat milk with half the sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Combine half the sugar with cornstarch in a bowl. Whisk eggs and yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Add some hot milk into the egg mixture slowly. Return everything to the pot, return to medium heat, and whisk continulously until it thickens and begins to boil. Boil out the starchy taste (1 minute), whisking continuously to avoid burning. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips. Whisk until melted. Stir mixture over ice bath until the temperature is below 70 degrees. Whisk 1/3 of the whipped cream into the chocolate cream. Add remaining cream and fold to incorporate. Fill pre-baked pie crusts (or graham cracker or Oreo crusts) with chocolate cream filling. Freeze for long term storage.

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LOW EFFORT

Christmas Cabin

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A holiday trip

up to a rustic mountain cabin is a magical experience. Snow, tall pines, sledding and skiing and building snowmen—it’s the stuff of fabulous Christmas memories. But often

a rental cabin can feel a little stark and strange without Christmas decorations. With a creativity and planning ahead, you can easily pack all you need for a festive Christmas morning away.

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Hot cocoa on a snowy Christmas morning is a must. Make it special with very little effort by using a bedspread as a tablecloth covering a bookshelf to make a hot cocoa station. The key is to use what you have on hand, and be able to improvise. You won’t want to pack anything from home that you don’t have to!

fresh greens Nothing is more perfect for a cabin Christmas than sprigs of fresh evergreens. Send the kids out on a nature treasure hunt, armed with a pair of sturdy scissors and a mission to find pine cones and fresh cuts of cedar, juniper, or pine—whatever can be found in the native vegetation. Sprigs of greenery can be tucked on presents and around plates, adding an instant festive touch. Most rental cabins aren’t decorated for Christmas, so a week at a cabin is a perfect opportunity to get a real tree. Find a local Christmas tree farm or stand, and enjoy the amazing scent of fresh pine and decorate with a few inexpensive ball ornaments and pine cones the kids find. To keep the kids busy, have them glitter the pine cones to make sparkling rustic ornaments.

Traditional trims Throw on some Christmas carols and string popcorn chains in front of the fire one evening. All you need is some stale popcorn (it breaks less easily) and a needle and thread. Tip: Don’t make the popcorn chains too long, especially if you’re doing this craft with children, because the thread can tangle and knot. Shorter chains can be connected to make longer chains for the tree.

rustic stockings Christmas stockings hung by the fire are a must in our family. Bring your family stockings, or make simple felt stockings. Felt won’t fray, so nothing more is needed than a simple seam. Use pinking shears to cut out the stocking shape for extra charm.


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All out EFFORT

Christmas Cabin

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A little more planning and only a little more packing can make your holiday mountain getaway even more special. A piece of black posterboard and white chalk make an easy backdrop for the cocoa station, are easy to pack, and cost about $.50. Regular spoons were replaced with chocolate dipped spoons coated with crushed candy canes and mini marshmallows. The same pecan sticky buns and coffee cake were served in the high effort version of the Cabin Christmas, but homemade cinnamon rolls, brown sugar bacon, and sparkling sugar cookies were added to the buffet. More fresh greens surrounded each plate, creating luxurious, festive, but oh-so-simple table dĂŠcor.

for a truly magical touch sure to delight young and old alike, marshmallows were cut into Christmas shapes using tiny cookie cutters Elegant cardinal printables inspired many of the decorations and crafts for the High Effort Cabin Christmas. Stockings were made to match the simple, striking motif. Printable circles and tags dressed up presents and inspired handmade ornaments for the Christmas tree. A no-sew faux shearling tree skirt made a snowy bed for the gifts. Fresh garland decked the mantle. The air was filled with the magical scents of fresh pine and gingerbread spice.


there is nothing that evokes the warmth of the season like a rustic twinkling tree and a fireside to sit by

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A pinch of glitter turns tags into something extra special!

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As the sun set, the tree and fire cast their warm glow through the cabin. Snow fell gently outside, and cups of rich hot cocoa were served inside. A winter family getaway to the mountains is always a wonderful experience, full of snow-play and ruddy cheeks and happy memories. But a Cabin Christmas, even though it takes a little more planning and effort, is something truly remarkable and memorable.

Vendor Credits Cardinal hair bow - Pickles and Piggies http://www.facebook.com/picklesandpiggies Cardinal Christmas Printables Frog Prince Paperie, frogprincepaperie.etsy.com

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Cabin Christmas Party Tricks

Festive Christmas MARSHMALLOWS There’s nothing more delightful than a hot cup of homemade cocoa on a snowy Christmas morningwith a few marshmallows, of course. Make the morning even more special with these marshmallows in holiday shapes. It’s a project so easy even a toddler can lend a hand.

Materials: Kraft brand StackerMallows Tiny cookie cutters Homemade marshmallows cut into fanciful shapes has been done before. But sometimes you just don’t have the time or the equipment to whip up a batch of homemade marshmallows. A new product from Kraft is ideal for a quick, shortcut version to this classic Christmas project. Kraft is now making a new shape of marshmallow that they call StackerMallows. They’re designed for making s’mores, and are small, flatter rectangles of marshmallow rather than the traditional cylinder shape. Perfect for making s’mores. And, as it turns out, perfect for making shaped marshmallows for hot cocoa. Simply use miniature cookie cutters to cut classic holiday shapes out of the StackerMallows. That’s it. One step. Done. All that’s left to do is pour yourself a steaming mug of cocoa and enjoy. FESTIVITIES BY TIKKIDO.COM AND FROGPRINCEPAPERIE.COM WINTER 2012

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The Art of the Thank You Note WRITTEN BY NATALIE CLAUSE OF WWW.SOUTHERNBELLESCHARM.COM

Thank You Notes

are a simple way of showing gratitude towards someone who has done something kind for you. Whenever someone gives you a gift or helps you out, they’re taking a piece of their own resources and handing it to you, a resource that could have been used to plan for their own future.

When you send handwritten thank you notes, it allows those who have sent gifts to know you received the gift, how much you appreciated it and how important their gift was to you! With that consideration, a thank you note is a very tangible way to show your thanks for that gift. It’s something that takes just a moment or two of your own time, yet clearly and permanently shows gratitude for a gift to someone else.

Pretty foldover cards are perfect for sending notes!

When you sit down to write your note, use stationery! Scrap paper doesn’t scream “I appreciated what you did for me.” I’m partial to very simple cards with an elegant image on the front and a blank inside upon which a note can be written. Always handwrite a thank you note, and write neatly when you do. A handwritten thank you note has a certain level of elegance that you just can’t capture by typing and printing a note. Take out your pen and write down your thoughts. If you prefer, you can draft the note at the keyboard, but then copy your final text from the screen to the card. Address your notes by start off with the word “Dear,” then imagine you walked into a room and saw this person (or these people) without having seen them for a year. How would you address them? That’s what you should use next. For example, if it’s an old friend, use their first name. If it’s one of your parents’ friends that you don’t know particularly well, use Mr. and Mrs. Last Name.


Things to Include in a Thank You Note 1.

The reason you are writing the note (i.e. for a gift or award).

Susie H

Dear M rs. Calla ghan

-

ollings

Thank y ou my hear so much for gift t se of the lo vely doll to finally t on that exact o n e have her f o r ages, and . I have had . She is have had am s per g again for reat fun playing fect for my col o excited lec w thinking of me th ith her every d tion, and I ay. Than is Christm k you as! Love, Susie

2.

Mention the occasion for the recognition of the gift (i.e. 9th Birthday).

3.

Mention the gift specifically (i.e. jewelry, green sweater, pen and pencil set)

4.

State why the gift is important to you, and share how you will utilize the award or gift.

5.

If you received money, tell the giver how you expect to use it. (Purchase clothing, an item you’ve save for, save for college, etc.). However, never write down the amount of money given – refer to the gift as “money.”

6.

Share any special, sentimental or unique meaning which the gift may have.

Timeframes for Sending Thank You Notes Shower Gifts

Even though the gift giver attended the shower in your honor and you had a chance to say thanks for her gift, you should still send a written note.

Wedding Gifts

Each wedding gift should be acknowledged with a written note within three months of receipt of the gift. It’s best to write the notes as soon as possible after gifts arrive, however. Write a note even if you have thanked the giver in person.

write the notes. It’s okay to call close friends rather than write.

Condolence Notes or Gifts

Everyone who has sent a personal note, flowers or a donation should get a written thank-you. A close friend or relative can write the notes on the recipient’s behalf.

Congratulatory Gifts or Cards

Anyone who sends a present, or a card with a personally written message, should receive a note in return.

Gift received when sick

Thank you notes should be written as soon as the patient feels well enough—or a friend or relative can

Natalie Clause runs thesuccessful party product business, Southern Belles Charm, in Las Vegas, NV. Visit Natalie at www. southernbellescharm.com

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A FLORIDA CHRISTMAS WRITING, STYLING AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAULA BIGGS OF FROGPRINCEPAPERIE.COM

It’s been over a decade since I’ve seen snow in December or had to wear anything but short sleeves on Christmas day. For some, I know that a roaring fire and frigid weather are a must to celebrate the holidays, but not here in Florida. We prefer flip flops and perhaps a frosty beverage. Sure, we have turkey and the trimmings, but those fantastic Floribbean flavors tend to creep into holidays. You’ll find families having Florida spiny lobster for dinner, a crab dish or two and sides influenced by our Carribean neighbors (depending on your part of the state). As in any proper Christmas meal, there are desserts with all that fabulous food. A few of which I’m sharing recipies with you here:

a classic key lime pie and some addictively yummy coconut rum-toffee cupcakes. In the tradition of decorating with what is native as in the days of old, we went out and decorated for our Florida Christmas party with sea shells, star fish and sand dollars. Using just a tiny bit of bright pink brought a little color and contrast to our backdrop of neutral white.

What is “Floribbean” cuisine? Floridian restaurants and homes are heavily influenced by world cuisine, and by the Carribean in particular. Floribbean is a fusion of these international flavors.

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From home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another The warmth and joy of Christmas, brings us closer to each other. ~ Emily Matthews


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CLASSIC KEY LIME PIE Key lime pie is a classic Floridian dessert; note that the pie is actually yellow, not green! The limes used in this pie are special to the region--they’re a bit smaller and a bit more tart than the persian limes you find at the store. And nothing goes better with a little warm weather than a thick slice of this pie.

INGREDIENTS Crust 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs 3 tablespoons sugar 1/3 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine crust ingredients and press into a 9-inch pie pan. Bake the crust for 5 minutes and cool. To prepare the filling, whip the egg yolks in a mixing bowl at high speed until light and fluffy. Drizzle in the condensed milk slowly, then gradually beat in the lime juice and zest. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and refridgerate for a minimum of 4 hours before serving.

Filling 3 egg yolks 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk 1/2 cup key lime juice 1 teaspoon grated lime zest

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Store-bought sweets can quickly be made into show stopping treats. A little food coloring painted purchased fondant, food grade seashells and some brown sugar were put together to make ordinary bon-bons quite extraordinary!


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COCONUT CUPCAKES WITH RUM TOFFEE FROSTING Makes 24 cupcakes. Coconut is a flavor forever associated with a bit of the tropics. And in Florida, we do love our coconut. Another thing we love is rum - pina coladas, rum runners, hurricanes and yes, even rum cakes. Inspired by these flavors, I made up a little piece of Florida heaven for celebrating at Christmas. Moist rich coconut cake topped with a cream cheese frosting flavored with rum and crunchy, buttery little bits of toffee brickle are truly a divine experience.

COCONUT CAKE INGREDIENTS 1 cup coconut 4 eggs, separated 2 sticks butter 2 cups sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon vinegar added to curdle Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tins.

FROSTING INGREDIENTS 8 oz cream cheese 1 stick butter 1 1/2 teaspoons rum extract 1/3 cup toffee brickle Whip cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the rum and blend. Fold in the toffee brickle.

In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and extracts. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in soda and salt. Add the flour to the mixture alternating with the buttermilk; begin and end with the flour. Turn off your mixer and fold in the egg whites, being careful not to deflate their volume. Fold in the coconut. Spoon batter into the cupcake tins and bake for 15 minutes or until an inserted wooden pick comes out clean. Remove from tins and cool completely before frosting. Cake recipe adapted from A Treasury of Souther Baking

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That feeling, that How-Could-I-Ever-Find-The-Time sensation, is createthose a festive Christmas what inspired Festivities magazine. Sure, grand parties are atmosphere! arehave widely at craft stores, to with amazing, but Natural we don’tshells always theavailable time, budget, or ability a little glue and fine can sparkle. realthe coral pull it off. That’s why,glitter in ourthey magazine, we notStay onlyclear showofyou in stores; our high-effort reefs are inparties, danger!but There are many life-like resin, over-the-top, we’ll also s That feeling, stone and glass options out there.

SEASHELLS AND GLITTER

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GOT GAME?

Great Games for Kids and Families BY NICOLE WILLS OF TIKKIDO.COM If even the mention of a family game night makes you cringe at the thought of repetitive, luck-based games like The Game of Life or Chutes and Ladders, take heart. There is an entire world of more interesting, engaging, educational board games out there commonly known as Euro-style board games. Typically, Euro-style games are focused more on strategy than simple luck, which makes them much more engaging to players. This is not to say that all Euro-style games are complicated; many have simple rules, and many are even made for children. A great many of these games come from Germany, where more board games are published per capita than any other country. And if ever in doubt about what game to pick, a Kinderspiel des Jahres awards (Kids’ Game of the Year award) are a great place to start.

AGES 3-6

The key to finding a good game for this age range, says Ellis, is game length. Small children with short attention spans need games that are quick to play. Ellis recommends Animal upon Animal, by game maker Haba. “It’s a great game for kids, and even adults don’t mind playing it, game after game.” It’s a tactile, engaging game that involves stacking animal shapes and was one of the 2005 Kinderspiel des Jahres award nominees. Also highly recommended in this age range (and still enjoyable for older players): Der Schwarze Pirat

Steve Ellis, an owner at Rainy Day Games, one of the nation’s premier game stores in Aloha, Oregon, says that the key to a good game is re-playability. “That’s especially important when you’re talking about games for kids,” Ellis says, “since they often like to play the same game again and again.” But what’s more important, Ellis notes, is paying attention to the dynamic of the group playing the game. A family with children has different needs than a group of engineers. “Be cognizant of what fits the group,” Ellis says, and everyone will have a great time. Most Euro-style board games can’t be found at your local Big Box store. Instead, look for an independent game store. A family looking to explore the world of Euro-style games might be overwhelmed by the options available. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from game store employees.

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AGES 6-10

At this age, children are able to play games that really start to bridge the gap between children’s games and traditional Euro-style games, Ellis notes. At this age, Ellis’ favorite recommendation is a game called Qwirkle, in which tiles with shapes and colors are set out in a Scrabble-like way to score points. Also recommended in this category: Labyrinth

9 AND UP

Around age nine, kids are really ready to start playing more of the traditional Euro-style board games. Ellis highly recommends Ticket To Ride as the perfect introduction to this style of game. It’s also particularly nice because, unlike many games, it can be played with only two people. The Forbidden Island is another excellent family game. It’s a cooperative game, in which the players act as a team and play against the game itself. Also recommended in this category: Settlers of Catan Carcassonne Puerto Rico FESTIVITIES BY TIKKIDO.COM AND FROGPRINCEPAPERIE.COM WINTER 2012

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BY PAULA BIGGS AND NICOLE WILLS STYLING AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY REBECCA PROPES OF PETITEPARTYSTUDIO.COM There are more ways to wrap and give a gift than using plain old wrapping paper and those pre-made bows you get out of a plastic bag. Lots and LOTS of wildly creative ways. Given the wonderous assortment of packaging supplies available from cute shops like the Petite Party Studio (petitepartystudio.com)—there is positively no excuse for boring present giving. If you’ve thrown a party with these supplies, you might even have some around the house. Cute striped paper straws and chevron favor bags. Ribbon, baker’s twine, jute twine, or yarn. Price tags left over from that yard sale. And, if you’re anything like me, an embarrassment of craft supplies like washi tape, stamps, and ink.

Using unconventional materials to accent presents makes for a delightful presentation, sure to tickle anyone lucky enough to receive such a thoughtful gift. A wooden spoon makes a clever gift tag for an edible gift. Keep that one in mind for those inexpensive but thoughtful neighbor and teacher presents! Those straws bought for the annual Christmas party also make an adorable burst of color atop a plain brown craft box—and look even more lovely layered with chevron favor bags, a doily, and a baker’s twine pom pom. A simple plastic tube filled with colorful candy and tied with a tag makes a perfect stocking 65


stuffer. Ribbons woven together in a simple pattern add so much more interest to a package than a plain bow. Rebecca Propes of the Petite Party Studio and the designer of these lovely gift wraps says, “Making creative gift packaging shouldn’t be intimidating. Simple is usally best! The addition of a handmade element to a present can really make your gift recipient feel all the more special for the effort you made.”

COOKIE MIX IN A JAR

Think beyond the gift wrap aisle of your local mega-marts when doing your Christmas wrapping this year. A trip into an independent party supplies or craft store can yield much more creative results that will be appreciated by the recipient as much as the gift.

FIND EVERYTHING TO MAKE A CREATIVE CHRISTMAS OF YOUR OWN AT

Petite Party Studio 223 N. Gilbert Road Gilbert, AZ 85234 info@petitepartystudio.com Phone: 480.518.2603

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Customized tags attached to your gifts give them great polish!

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Gumball Tubes

make fantastic favors for classrooms and holiday parties!

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Deck the HALLS Ornament Exchange Party

STYLED BY NANCY PFIEFER OF MY PARTYSOVER.COM PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICOLE WILLS OF WWW.TIKKIDO.COM


Holiday parties crowd the schedule during December, leaving little free time to attend all the celebrations, let alone plan one of your own. Hosting an ornament exchange is an easy way to organize a party during this busy season.

quick TIP Do you want to add height and visual interest to your buffet, but don’t have a collection of cake plates? Set a plate on top of a pillar candle for an instant lift.

The concept is simple, and works like a white elephant exchange: have each guest bring an ornament, hand-made or store-bought, wrapped in gift wrap. Guests sit in a circle, and take turns either unwrapping an ornament from the pile, or stealing an already-opened ornament from another guest. The emphasis in this party is simplicity and ease. No elaborate baked goods, no ma jor craft projects to create the dĂŠcor. A simple but striking backdrop made from ornaments hung with ribbons is perfect for the theme. Centerpieces of dishes piled with more ornaments are gorgeous, and amazingly easy to throw together at the last minute. A printable set from Frog Prince Paperie, with its Deck the Halls theme, is perfect for an Ornament Exchange party.

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Bon bons

Store bought chocolate covered cherries are dressed up with store bought candies and look like adorable miniature Christmas puddings. A little sprinkle of disco dust (edible glitter) always adds a festive, magical touch.

Kiwi Tr�s

Fresh fruit is always an easy, welcome addition to a dessert spread. Arrange kiwi slices on a plate to look like Christmas trees. A bamboo skewer makes a foodsafe trunk.

Strawbe�y Santas Strawberries, chocolate, and whipped cream—what could be better? This delicious treat comes together in just a few minutes. Hull strawberries, and attach them to an Oreo cookie base with stabilized whip cream. Add a dollop on the tip of the strawberry for the pom pom at the top of Santa’s hat. If stabilizing whipped cream sounds tricky, a whipped topping like Cool Whip works nicely, and will hold up for the whole party without melting.

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An entire festive holiday party that only takes a couple hours to plan and set up? How perfect for a hectic holiday schedule. Throwing a party shouldn’t cause more stress than the enjoyment it brings. After all, we throw parties to enjoy time with our friends and family, to revel in the joy of the season and the company of those we hold dear.

Enjoy the holidays with easy entertaining!

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a very merry mod

Christmas BY PAULA BIGGS STYLING BY NATALIE CLAUSE OF SOUTHERN BELLE’S CHARM PHOTOGRAPHY BY SARAH BOUCHARD OF THE SILHOUETTE STUDIO

Part of the wonder of the Christmas season is looking around and seeing how very many ways there are to celebrate. Every decoration is a little bit of Christmas joy out for the world to see. Traditional is always heartwarming and fabulous, but decor that is a bit out of the box makes you take notice. Natalie Clause of Southern Belle’s Charm created her Christmas dreamland in bold, modern graphic patterns of red, black and white. With the help of some amazing vendors, the party stylist covered every square inch of her dining room with wonderful cheery detail. Clever favors, and creative handmade decorations sat along side a hot coca bar and many yummy handmade treats. Natalies says, “I live in the fantastic Las Vegas! So many times, my son wishes he would wake up to a winter wonderland. So this year, I promised him snow.” And snow there was! The children created a winter wonderland for themselves with some faux snow and a snow fight inside.

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Christmas morning was never so stylish! There are so many amazing and thoughtful details to this party, it’s hard to cover them all! If you would like to see more of this “mod” Christmas party, visit Natalie on the web at southernbellescharm.com. There are many more photos and recipes from the party to see.

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PARTY VENDORS Event Styling and Paper Products:

Southern Belle’s Charm

Printables: Frog Prince Paperie Fondant, Cupcake Toppers and Sweets:

Lynlee’s Petite Cakes

Custom Bling Tree Shirt and Tutu:

Tini Posh

Candy Favor Boxes: Party Starters Custom Mod Tie: Little Vys Candy Cane Footless Ruffled Tights:

Isadora/Rachuel80 Poms: Titi’s TuTus

Quatrefoil Cake and Cupcakes:

Retro Bakery

Ornament Cookies:

Cookies Are My Canvas

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holiday baking

CRANBERRY PISTACHIO BISCOTTI RECIPE FROM NICOLE WILLS OF TIKKIDO.COM

Every holiday needs a few sweets! If you’re looking for something a little different for this year’s cookie tray, try one of these recipes! Studded with festive green pistachios and red cranberries, these biscotti make a wonderful addition to any holiday cookie tray. They’re not as sweet as many Christmas cookies, which makes them perfect with coffee for a breakfast treat. Who can resist Christmas cookies for breakfast every once in a while?

Ingredients: 3/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup olive oil 2 eggs, beaten 2 teaspoons vanilla 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 1 3/4 cups flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 cup dried cranberries 1 cup shelled pistachios Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine sugar, olive oil, and beaten eggs. Mix until thoroughly blended. Add vanilla and almond extracts, and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir together. Mix the wet and the dry ingredients, creating a wet, sticky dough. Once completely mixed, add the cranberries and pistachios, and mix until distributed evenly through the dough. Divide dough in half, and shape into two long, flat logs of dough on a sheet of parchment paper. Wet your hands with water to keep the dough from sticking to your hands. Each loaf of dough should be approximately a foot long, and 2-3 inches wide.

Bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. In the meantime, reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees. Use a sharp bread knife to slice the logs in 1” thick slices. Cutting the log at an angle will give you that distinctive biscotti shape. The more severe the angle, the larger your biscotti will be, but the fewer you will have in the end. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake a second time at 275 degrees for 10 minutes. Let cool and enjoy

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holiday baking

PECAN COOKIES

RECIPE FROM GEIDRE GIEDRE AUGUSTINAVICIUTE OF G.AUGUST PHOTOGRAPHY www.gaugust.com

Ingredients: 5 1/2 oz unsalted butter, softened 5 1/2 oz sugar 1 cup self-raising flour 1 – 2 tbsp milk 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1 1/4 cup pecan nuts Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Sift in the flour and beat to combine. Add milk and the vanilla extract and mix to form dough. Reserve 10 pecan halves. Chop the remaining pecan nuts and knead in to the dough. Divide the dough into 20 and roll each piece into a ball. Place 10 balls on each baking sheet. Press down to a thickness of 1/2 inch, then press a pecan half into the centre of each cookie. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 - 15 minutes. Leave the cookies to cool in the baking sheets.

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PHOTOS BY G.AUGUST PHOTOGRAPHY www.gaugust.com


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PRINTABLE PARTIES WITH MAGIC.

frog prince PAPERIE

INVITATIONS

DECORATIONS CUSTOM DESIGNED PARTYWARE

PRINTABLE PARTIES WITH GROWN -UP FLAIR WEDDINGS B IRTHDAYS BACHELORETTE H O USEWARMINGS ANNIV ERSARIES

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Joyeux N oel WRITING, STYLING AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAULA BIGGS OF FROG PRINCE PAPERIE


Christmas Dinner is Served Holidays around here are very much about roots and tradition. And an obsession with really good food. I recently came up with an explanation why we are all so crazy about eating at our gatherings when, of all things, I was reading a Rachel Ray magazine where she equated her recipe stash as a scrapbook of memories and adventures. I think this is why food is so important to us; as a military family, we didn’t grow up next to family, and we associated the very different food we ate on our visits with them as memories.

When we eat, it is more than just sitting down for a good meal. We’re sitting down with our memories, and with the company of good friends and family, making new ones. Case in point, I still remember sitting in the kitchen with my brother Sean after making my first Sherry Almond Pie from Grandma Nita. We both took a bite, and immediately said to each other, “Tastes like Grandma’s house.” Jambalaya reminds me of 300 year old oak trees, dripping Spanish moss, and the scent of humidity and magnolias. The fragrant sweet smell of Aunt Rochelle’s cookies brings me back to her farm house kitchen and the sturdy round wooden table, and Old Bay and a good beer will always take me home to the waterfront of Virginia picking crabs and having laughs with loved ones.

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Joyeux Noel draws its inspiration from my New Orleans family. Our roots there have always given our cooking a decidedly Ca jun/Southern flavor, and at this Christmas dinner we celebrated those tastes.


The napkins at the place settings were held by crystal napkin rings by Tradewind Tiaras. Favor boxes and menus for the night were also there.

Pommes Annettes with rosemary served in individual spoons

Apricot brie in puff pastry was hels under glass and tied off with a printable accent

An heirloom secretary was used to serve desserts out of. The gold, white and teal theme was even translated to the tree!

Ruffled fabric accented with a glass bulb, ribbon and boxwood decorated each chair

Oysters served on a bed of rock salt. They were later cooked Rockefeller style.


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Usual holiday favorites were made bite-sized so we could exercise a bit of portion control with our little bit of everything It was fun weaving in a little family history and heirlooms when I planned this dinner. The dinner table was set with a hand made table cloth and set of napkins from Malta that were gifted to us last Christmas by our Nashville-based brother and sister-in-law layered over burlap for texture. I also set out our wedding silver and candlesticks, magnolias, antique silver toned chargers and my collection of plates I bought just because I thought they were pretty窶馬one of them match. The favor boxes I designed after the ironwork in the quarter, and attached a gift tag with some jute to each box to make the boxes also serve as a place card.


festivities magazine

all photographs and writing contained within this document are the intellectual property of Paula Biggs of Frog Prince Paperie, LLC and Nicole Wills of Tikkido.com. Please do not duplicate without express permission.


Festivities Magazine Winter 2012