Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Party Table Scape

I love Christmas and as always, the whole house is trimmed from top to bottom.  Every year, for my annual Christmas Cookie Baking Party, I try to come up with a new setting for the the dining room table for our luncheon. This year it was set beautifully for all to enjoy, gift bags for everyone (see below) included a CD of Christmas music, a pashmina, random Christmas themed gifts for all, a dated baking party coffee mug, as well as a candy bar.  Christmas presents to take home and enjoy, and to remember what a great day we had.

 In the box covered in plaid wrapping paper and a handmade bow was the coffee mug.  On the table I used an off white silver and gold plaid tablecloth, ran red plaid and buffalo checked wool scarves across the the table, red chargers, off white plates, a holly rimmed salad plate, silver flatware, shiny linen napkin tied with baker's twine, silver jingle bell, a homemade place card with everyone's name and a sprig of cedar. 

Down the center of the table I used more fresh cedar, as well as, artificial flocked scotch pine greens with red berries and pine cones tucked into the fresh greens.  Also tucked into the greens, champagne and red glittered pine cones, and large gold, silver/champagne colored Christmas balls that matched the same balls in the chandelier.  The champagne sled and glittered reindeer and the champagne bottle brush and red berry trees, were down the center of the table.

All the girls sat down to a lunch of  Creamy Brie with Grapes and Fresh Pears, Chicken Salad with Cranberries and Almonds with a Mayonnaise Dill dressing or Chicken Salad with Cranberries and Almonds with a Dijon Mustard and Dill dressing, A Layered Vegetable Salad and A Greek Pasta Salad with Feta Cheese.

Then it was on to dessert, Sugar Cookie Fruit Pizza or Peanut Butter Bars.
Party Gifts - Everyone had a pashmina tied in a bow to the backs of their chairs to take home with them.
 And my creative sister had these mugs made for everyone as a remembrance for a hard days work.  

The CD was also made by my sister, she put a lot of hard work into that too. Thanks sis for all your help!
Another gift, the candy bar I put together. I bought Christmas themed food containers to stuff with chocolate for everyone to take home as well.

This is how I made the candy bar jars.
I re-used these crock jars that I had, and started with a roll of burlap and lace ribbon.
Cut it to go just halfway around the jars, then used a smaller Christmas ribbon to run down the center of the lace.
I ran a line of hot glue down the center of the lace and carefully pressed the Christmas ribbon on the glue.
That was easy, look how cute that is!
All three are done, I actually made more, the candy bar kept expanding.
I wrapped the jar with the ribbon and used hot glue to attach it to the jar.  The glue will peel right off when all the candy is gone and the jar is used for something else.  I tucked the chalkboard signs with twine down inside the ribbon to hold it, added a clothes pin clip, but thought it needed something else so I added the cedar sprig.  CUTE!
When all the jars were done, I filled them with chocolate and peppermint candy, what woman doesn't like chocolate or candy?!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, Peace and Love to everyone who follows this blog!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Party's Over!

The Cookie Baking Party is over, and the Baking Babes baked 27 different kinds of cookies to share with family and friends.  Believe it or not, we counted every cookie and our grand total of all cookies baked was over 2900 (about 242 dozen)!  Wow, that was more than last year.  A BIG shout out to the girls, who worked very hard in accomplishing this fete. Outside of the oven getting really tired of baking tray after tray of cookies, for about 12 hours, the day went pretty smooth.  Oh, and my decorator's Kristin and Rachel, all I can say is that they did beautiful work, professionals, should open up a bakery.

I have to say this is work, we get tired, our feet hurt, our bodies hurts, but at the end of the day I forget about it because it is worth every ounce of all that. Everyone ends up going home with a huge container, with a variety of cookies, and it's all done in one day.  I call it organized chaos, but really everyone does have a job, my sister's job every year is cleaning up, she loves to do it and DO NOT stand in her way!

I start the party off every year with a light breakfast for all.  This year, homemade sticky buns, homemade banana bread, store bought bagels and flavored cream cheeses (I can't make everything!), coffee, tea and OJ to get everyone revved up.  And YES I have rules! As everyone is eating I read off the rules, everyone has to follow the rules or things get jammed up.
 My niece, my sister and I got a jump start earlier in the week to get some of the baking done.  We wanted to get some of the more time consuming cookies out of the way.  Sugar cutouts, butter cutouts, gingerbread, ribbon cookies, some new cookies that we never made before, and the pignoli and pizzelles.  We did the cutouts ahead, so my niece could start decorating them the day of the party, while everyone else was mixing and baking other cookies.  Doing this saved a lot of time.  She does a great job, she's so talented and creative!  She was actually taking the time to get every nook and cranny of the cookies, I then went and purchased a pair of craft tweezers to make it easier for her.  My great- niece Rachel (can you believe I have a great-niece?!, she's a lovely girl) jumped in later to help her cousin out with all the cookies, both are wonderful decorator's. 
 Pretty snow globe snowmen and snowwomen.
 We decided to go a little crazy with color for the ribbon cookies, and I love it!
 Matched up the jimmies/sprinkles and.....
 .....look how pretty they are!
 My sister is the pignoli cookie queen, she allowed me to help and showed me how they are done.  These are one of my favorite cookies.  Also very time consuming, but well worth it.
 This is the ingredient table set up and ready for my bakers.  Everything they need to make these delicious cookies.  We went through 60+ lbs of flour, 30+ lbs of sugar, 30+ lbs of butter, 72+ eggs and a variety of other ingredients to make our fabulous cookies.
 Utensil table for all to use.  Everyone brings their Kitchen Aid mixers, baking sheets, measuring spoons and measuring cups, I provide extras if needed, and everyone has a cute apron. The apron below my friend Jennie had made for me, she's a doll!  Everyone is also asked to bring an ingredient, flour, butter, sugar, etc. 
 This table is set up for my niece, the cookie decorator.  Every jimmie/sprinkle imaginable as well as flavored sugars for her to use.  This year I found lavender and orange ginger flavored sugars.  The lavender sugar actually has lavender flowers in it and was so fragrant while baking!
These were the cookies we baked off beforehand, all lined up and waiting for her to decorate.
 The red lidded containers in the background are also full of cookies for her to decorate, there were cookies everywhere, even under the tables in containers.  And for the cookie decorator, what party is complete without a baking shirt?  Gingerbread Gone Bad!
 Chocolate thumbprint, sprinkled and then filled with caramel or fudge, sprinkled again with edible stars or topped with a gold or silver gilded pecan.  These were gorgeous when they were done!
 Another of my favorites and new this year...
 Poinsettia cookies, more like a pastry but oh so good!
All the Kitchen Aids lined up with care.  We could do a commercial for Kitchen Aid Mixers, the best mixer around! Ten of my favorite family members and friends, I love them all! 
 We had red, green and white for the holiday season, hahahaha!  It makes me happy to see them all lined up and mixing cookies, call me crazy, but I love this party!  Relatives and friends coming together around the holidays is always fun.
Lots and lots of baking sheets, full with cookies, lined up and ready to be baked off.
Spritz and Ricotta cookies done and waiting to be trayed up for distribution.
 Orange cranberry biscotti and fruit filled thumbprints baked and cooling.
Plated variety of cookies.
Left - Spritz, Butter Balls, Sprinkled Spritz, Pecan Tassie, Peanut Blossom, Shortbread and Chocolate Chip.
Right - Raspberry Filled Thumbprint, Fig Filled Pillows, Apricot Filled Thumbprint and Chocolate Caramel Filled Thumbprint with Edible Stars.
Lemon, Cranberry, Pistachio Wreaths.
 Decorated Sugar Cookie Cutouts.
Packing up the cookies to distribute to all the bakers....
 .....all done and ready for picking.  Our trays were LOADED with cookies!
 An 11 1/2  foot counter and three large tables is what it took to hold all of them.
 There were eleven bakers, two did not get in this picture. Thank you all for such a great day you're the best!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, Peace and Love to everyone who follows this blog!