(Photo by Monika Branley via The TomKat Studio...I aspire to this kind of gorgeousness!)
I found a fabulous blog post recently with some awesome tips on designing a dessert table, and I was so excited to put them into play at my daughter's birthday party. I had a vision in my mind of how my table display was going to look, but I came to find out that putting together a dessert table was a little harder than I thought. The table turned out looking lovely, but it was quite a bit different than what I had expected to end up with...
I made one big mistake...
I didn't do a test run.
I should have gotten out all my cake stands, jars and platters and tested out the table arrangement beforehand. I knew that I should have, but I have a very bad habit when I'm trying out something new, for the first time, for a special occasion: I never do a test run! I put things off and tend to wait 'til the day of to get details figured out, and it's a bad, bad, bad habit! I seem to be especially prone to this when it comes to cooking or baking...I'm not awesome at either, so I tend to put off thinking about it until I don't have time to practice making something at least once. Then all I can do is just pray that the result turns out somewhat edible!
I've decided to establish a rule for myself from now on for party planning/designing/cooking/baking/ everything else on the planet:
Always do a test run!
One great tip from the article is to avoid going overboard with the food for the dessert table. It gets incredibly overwhelming to try and make several different things yourself, and it's expensive to buy items from bakeries or order fancy baked goods online! I originally had plans for all kinds of things for the dessert table (mini cheesecakes and brownie bites along with cookies and cupcakes), but ended up not having time for them all, of course! It was definitely for the better...we ended up with just about the right amount food.
I'm also trying to improve at asking for help from others. I don't know why I always imagine I can do everything myself, because I never can! All I made were the cupcakes, and the cookies were made lovingly by my mom and sister-in-law Amber. Cream puffs courtesy of Costco!
(It was dark when Kara's Sunday evening party got underway and the
dessert table was all assembled. Flash photos at night are not my favorite!)
Kara was supposed to have her own mini-cake, but that was one more thing that I didn't do a test-drive on! I baked her a cake, but when we tried to removed it from the mini-cake pan that I had bought (but never used), it stuck to the pan, despite the fact that we greased it with Crisco. We tried to remove it carefully, but it went all to pieces. So, just a cupcake for her!
My original plan for the dessert table as a whole was somewhat elaborate. Alas, after my sister-in-law and I assembled and hung the canopy over my dining area, I quickly came to see that I wasn't going to be able to fit as many things on the table as I wanted to. The fabric would drape over things if they were anywhere near the ends of the table, plus the canopy made the space on the table feel more closed in. As I was finally arranging all my things on the table...far too last-minute...I saw immediately that it was going to be too cluttered. So, I started nixing items one by one.
I had wanted to place a tray with bottles of strawberry lemonade and cute stripey straws on the table...that had to go. I still used the bottles and straws...and they were so cute!!!...but they got snatched up by the kiddos before I got a pic! (I am so hiring one of my fabulous photographer friends next party!)
I was going to fill a couple of pretty glass apothecary jars with candy and cute pink strawberry marshmallows. They simply didn't look right...had to nix them too.
I was also going to put two square platters in front for some of the cookies or cupcakes, and place cake stands behind them. It looked too cluttered, especially with the frames and flowers I was absolutely determined to display somehow. So, no platters! I ended up with just my 3 favorite cake plates for cupcakes and my tiered server for cookies and cream puffs.
My end result was sweet and pretty, but very simple. Maybe that was best though...the canopy made everything seem "fancier" (my little nieces sure loved it!), and it was kind of the star highlight of the table anyway.
The great thing is, there's always more parties to plan and more chances to create something awesome! In two months, for Jake's birthday...I'm going to have a dessert table that says "RAWR!"
(Probably literally. Love this dinosaur theme!)