real parties: shades of white

Simone from Beach Vintage sent this lovely white party my way. It was held for her daughter’s 4th birthday and is so beautifully clean and elegant. The paper lanterns paired with vintage china are the perfect setting for an afternoon tea, and while she added a seaside touch by using flowers & shells, it would also feel just right as a winter party with snow and crystal ice.

{more details and images via beach vintage}

If you’d like to submit an original birthday party for consideration, e-mail me at birthdaygirlblog{at} (And remember, it's not all about the kids... parties thrown for friends & family are just as much fun to feature!)

chocolate peanut butter pie

I made this peanut butter pie recipe for my book club last weekend and it went over so well that it was gone before I remembered to take a picture. Luckily I found a similar recipe at the Pioneer Woman so you can get the idea of what it should look like (though apparently she had the same problem). I highly recommend it for a party... a total crowd pleaser, but a little goes a long way... it’s super indulgent!

{image via the pioneer woman}

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

-4 cups chocolate wafer cookies
-2 sticks butter, melted
-1 cup creamy peanut butter
-1 (8-ounce) package softened cream cheese
-1 cup powdered sugar
-1/2 can condensed milk
-8 ounces fresh whipped cream (or Cool Whip)
- garnish: crushed peanuts, chocolate shavings


Crush the cookies in a food processor.
Pour melted butter over the top and stir with a fork to combine.
Press into pie or tart pan and bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes, or until set.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Beat the peanut butter, condensed milk, powdered sugar and cream cheese in a mixer until smooth.
Add in the whipped cream and beat until smooth, scraping the sides as needed.
Pour filling into crust, evening out the top with a knife or spatula.
Chill for at least an hour before serving.
Garnish with crushed peanuts & chocolate shavings if desired.

fall favorite: pumpkin spice cake

Embrace your next fall birthday with seasonal flavor. This decadent pumpkin spice cake is an elegant alternative to pie.

{image & recipe via country living}

Pumpkin Spice Cake

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin purée
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground nutmeg
Pumpkin Cream-Cheese Frosting*

1. Prepare cake pans: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat three 8-inch cake pans with softened butter. Cut three 8-inch circles out of parchment paper and fit them into the bottom of the cake pans. Lightly coat the paper circles with butter and set aside.
2. Make the batter: Cream butter until smooth in a large bowl with an electric mixer set on medium speed. Add the sugars and mix until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until the mixture is smooth and light. Set aside. Combine the pumpkin purée, buttermilk, and vanilla in a medium bowl and set aside. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and nutmeg in a large bowl and set aside. In thirds, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to the butter mixture, blending well after each addition until smooth.
3. Bake the cake: Pour batter into the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of each cake comes out clean -- 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pan on wire racks for 30 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and return to the wire racks until completely cool.
4. Assemble the cake: Place one layer on a cake plate and top with one-third recipe of Pumpkin Cream-Cheese Frosting. Repeat with the second and third layers. Serve or store refrigerated for up to four days.

*Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package (8-ounce) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup pumpkin purée
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

Blend the cream cheese, pumpkin purée, butter, orange juice, zest, and vanilla in a large bowl using an electric mixer set at medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and creamy -- about 5 more minutes.

party inspiration board: high style halloween

Several weeks ago one of my readers asked for a suggestion about what to do for her daughter's birthday party on Halloween. She also mentioned her daughter's love for the color pink, which immediately got me thinking... what if pink is the new orange? (for Halloween at least). I love the combo of hot pink and black, and there's no better time to be flashy and glam. Think gothic meets glamour and decorate with a mix of traditional black Halloween accessories (ravens, skulls, lots of candles) and Paris houte couture style (chandeliers, lacy frills, feathers). Create a signature pink drink and serve it in a punch bowl with dry ice. Encourage everyone to dress up in outrageous costumes and hand out prizes for winners.... black glittered pumpkins perhaps?

Row 1: silver skull via torie jayne; masquerade & black candy via lolliblog; striped tables via hwtm
Row 2: pumpkins via country living; chandliers via better h&g; candy via torie jayne, shakers via pottery barn; lambs via martha stewart
Row 3: crows & curio cabinet via torie jayne; tablescape via better h&g; feather wreath via etsy

real parties: nesting shower, part 4

Last but not least... the rest of the pictures from the nesting shower I hosted last weekend. Let me know how you liked this multi-day format and I may do more posts in the future dedicated to a single theme for the week.

{images ©bg 2009}

bird's nest cupcakes: nesting shower, part 3

Birds nest cupcakes... the ideal dessert for a nesting shower.  I used chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, toasted coconut & chocolate covered almond ‘eggs’.  Just one word of caution... I made the almonds the night before and some of the blue powdered sugar sunk into the chocolate overnight.  If time allows, it would be best to serve them the same day, but c'est la vie... they were still yummy.

{image ©bg 2009}
Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz (227g) cold cream cheese1 stick (113 g) unsalted butter, firm but not cold
1/8 tsp salt
3 3/4 cups (375 g) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat batter, beat the cream cheese, butter and salt on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Reduce the speed to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until incorporated.
3. Add the vanilla and beat just until incorporated. D
o not overmix or the frosting will incorporate too much air; it should be creamy and dense, like ice cream.
4. Add milk, 1 tsp at a time, if frosting does not have a spreadable consistency.

Toasted Coconut
(makes 1.5 cups)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350.  Spread coconut on a baking sheet, bake until light brown 8-10 minutes rotating pan once. Set aside to cool.

Chocolate Almond Robin’s Eggs
Makes about 2 pounds

2 1/2 cups (13 ounces) un-blanched whole almonds
1 pound chocolate chips
1/2 cup blue dusting powder

- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Toast almonds for 15 minutes on a baking sheet. Line baking pan with parchment paper; set aside.
- Place chocolate in a medium bowl; place bowl over simmering water until melted.   
Drop in the Almonds and stir until coated.
- Transfer nuts onto prepared baking pan and separate nuts so none stick together.  
- Refrigerate until chocolate has set, about 20 minutes.
- Place powder into bowl. Toss the nuts in powder and gently tap off any excess powder.
- Store separately in airtight containers for up to 1 month.

the onsie game: nesting shower, part 2

Instead of the traditional shower games, we had each guest bring a onsie for a guessing game.  As I mentioned yesterday, guests were asked to bring a unisex onsie that reflected something about them.  We hung up all the onsies on a clothesline across the living room- which consequently made for some cute shower decorations.  The mom-to-be to was asked to look over all the onsies and pick out one at a time.  For each onsie she had 3 chances to guess who it had come from.  If she guessed wrong 3 times, the person who gave her the onsie raised her hand- and as a ‘penalty’ for guessing wrong, she got to ask the mom-to-be a trivia question about pregnancy, child development or celebrity babies.  Guests were allowed to ask their own questions, but I also had multiple choice questions on hand for everyone in case they didn’t know what to ask.  

All in all it worked out great.  The mom-to-be had a lot of fun playing, and we all got a laugh from some of the baby trivia questions.  Best of all, we outfitted the baby for at least a few weeks!
I forgot to take a picture of the onsie that I made and it doesn’t really show up in the group photos, but mine was an elephant.  They’ve been my totem animal since I received a stuffed Babar as a baby (still have it to this day).  I created it from a stencil on blue & white polka dot fabric and sewed it onto a white gerber onsie.  It was adorable, and very easy to create.  A great gift idea for any new mom!

{images & designs ©bg 2009}

paper monday: nesting shower, part 1

There’s a lot to cover from Saturday’s nesting shower, so I’ll be sharing a few details each day. Since today is ‘paper Monday’, I thought I’d start with the invites and my coordinating design & craft work.

I loved these nest invites we ordered from Tiny Prints. They really set the tone for the color and theme of the shower. In addition, we decided to surprise the mom-to-be by asking each guest to bring a onsie for a guessing game (more on that tomorrow). I created this insert to compliment the invite... and almost accidentally mailed one to the mom-to-be, which of course would have defeated the whole purpose!

For favors, we ordered little nests from Party Pail and included blue jellybeans. To make it easier for guests to take them home, we decided to put them in clear gusset bags and tie them up with blue satin ribbon. I designed the labels using round stickers from Paper Source to finish them off. They were a hit!

We kept the decorations to a minimum, but my co-hostess had a number of beautiful nests set around her home, and I added a birdcage lantern for guests to include notes with their wishes & advice for mom and baby.

Finally, I wanted mom to have a little something special to wear, so I followed the prize ribbon tutorial from Nicole at Making it Lovely and created a removable ‘mommy to be’ pin for the center. It was actually quite simple to create, and turned out to be just the right final touch.

Still to come...
Tues: details on the onsie game
Wed: birds nest cupcakes
Thurs: more shower pictures

{images & designs ©bg 2009}

real parties: rockin' robots

I recently stumbled upon Trio Events and fell head over heels for this robot party.  A few months back I posted about some robot party ideas which would be right at home among these creative details.  The bright red and blue color combo is so fresh & modern... and the kids must have gone crazy over all the giant robot heads.  My favorite elements reside at the ‘atomic candy station’ though.  Did you notice the top tier of the cake with fondant robots?  And how about the over sized pinwheels? 

{images via trio events}

cupcakes in a cup

The idea of spooning buttery, frosting-laced cake from a coffee cup appeals to all my sensibilities.  In fact, it's the very definition of cupcakes.

{images and recipe via sweet paul}

Cupcakes in a Cup
Makes 8 large cups

1 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened+1 tablespoon for greasing the cups
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
coconut shavings

Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease 8 large coffee cups.
Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time.
Mix in vanilla, flour, baking powder and milk.
Mix until smooth.
Spoon batters into cupa, filling about two-thirds full.
Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 12 minutes.
Cool, frost and sprinkle with coconut shavings.

party inspiration: lucky strike bowling bash

I'm designing some bowling score cards for a friend's Mad Men inspired 'lucky strike' bowling birthday party at the end of the month, so naturally I needed a little inspiration. The party is being held for around 200 adults at a bowling alley. The early sixties theme will work seamlessly with the retro feel of the alley, and to add to the vibe there's going to be a four piece jazz band with a bar and lounge area for dancing. With so many guests attending, the favors I would normally suggest like classic bowling shirts or tube socks are just too costly, but the score cards will double as a memento from the evening. For food, I recommended costumed waitstaff pass bite sized portions of American comfort foods such as mini burgers, hot dogs and grilled cheese, with a traditional birthday cake or cupcakes for dessert. Guests are being encouraged to come decked out in their party best.  More to come later on the score card design and the real party details... it should be an evening to remember.

Resources: Unfortunately, a number of these images were pulled long before writing this post, but known credits go to the following: Lucky Strike Lanes, Etsy, Tiny Prints.

real parties: at the office

I'm curious... how do you celebrate birthdays in your office?  The Paper Source blog offered some great ideas this week  about how to decorate a cubicle or office and make a co-worker feel special.

{images via p.s.}

My office on the other hand, prefers to celebrate with what we affectionately call 'the table of food'.  Just as it makes sense for the creative minds at Paper Source to create beautiful decorations, I work for a major grocery retailer, so food and food packaging always get the focus.  We've even gone so far as to have food themes... like the purse cake below, homemade for our fashionista boss.  It's completely excessive, but never fails to make us feel loved and appreciated.  And isn't that what birthdays are all about?

{images copyright bg 2009}