Animal Cookie Party Favors

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong (as seen in Country Living Magazine, May 2020)

I like to send off guests at the end of a party with something whimsical, delicious and homemade. Usually the delicousness is found inside a tin and it’s always worthy of a smile. These cheeky and nostalgic animal cookies were packed inside decorated Altoids tins. Perfect for holding 4 small cookies and a note. PRO TIP: Make sure to soak the tins in a cleaning solution first or your cookies will taste and smell like Peppermint…or wintergreen.

Party Favors, Animal Cookie Recipe, Libbie Summers Recipes, a food-inspired life, party gifts, upcycled gift tins, altoids tins upcycled, cookie recipe, sugar cookie recipe,
The Only Sugar Cookie Recipe You Will Ever Need
(makes 3-9 dozen cookies depending on the cutter size)

What you need: 
3 cups all-purpose flour (more for bench flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (softened)
1 cup sugar (I use vanilla sugar)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (can substitute 1/4 teaspoon bubblegum extract)
Sprinkles (optional for dough)
Royal Icing (recipe to follow)
Nonpareil sprinkle mix for decorating (I used a mix of pastel colored nonpareils, you only need about 3 tablespoons total)

What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and extracts.
4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. The dough may be stiff…this is okay! PRO TIP: at this point you can stir in 2-3 tablespoons of sprinkles to your dough.
5. Do not chill the dough, just get right into it! Lightly flour a work surface and cut off enough dough to be workable. Roll out to a 1/4-inch thickness and cut shapes with your cookie cutters. Place on the prepared baking trays and bake for 6-8 minutes.
6. Allow to cool completely before frosting and decorating.

Royal Frosting
(makes 3 cups)

What you need: 
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoons powdered egg whites (or meringue powder)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Food coloring (optional)

What to do:
In a large bowl, stir together sugar, water and meringue powder until completely mixed. Adjust as needed for consistency. Add a bit more water if too thick and a bit more powdered sugar if too thin. Tint with food coloring if desired. Cover until read to use.
Cookie Recipes, Country Living Magazine, Party Favors, Libbie Summers, The Only Sugar Cookie Recipe You Will Ever Need,

Gift Tins
1. Thoroughly wash and soak tins (if you are upcycling an old Altoid’s tin) to get the minty smell out.
2. Cut 2 pieces of scrap paper or paper napkins the size of the lid.
3. Using Rubber Cement or Modge Podge, glue the pieces of paper to the outside and inside lid.
4. Trim edge with any fun trim. I used a wee pom pom trim.
5. Cut a piece of parchment or tissue paper for the inside and fill with your treats!

DIY: Felt Fortune Cookie Ornaments

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

Tie on a package or holiday tree or my favorite…a Chinese takeout container filled with homemade sprinkle fortune cookies! 
Felt Crafts, Felt Fortune Cookies, Felt Ornaments, Fortune Cookie Ornaments, Holiday Ornaments, Fun Packaging Ideas, Libbie Summers Entertains, Libbie Summers Crafts

Felt Fortune Cookie Ornaments
makes 1

What you need:
Felt Scrap (6″x 6″), I like to use a heavier weight felt
Ribbon, I used a printed holiday ribbon but you can use a blank ribbon and write your own message on it
Embroidery thread
Adornments like small beads and pom poms
Needle
Scissors
Pencil
Ornaments, Felt Crafts, Felt, Crafting, Holiday Crafts, Fortune Cookies, A food-inspired Life, Libbie Summers Crafts
Step 1: Cut the felt. 
Using an item that is a 6-inch diameter (I used a bowl), trace around it with a pencil onto the piece of felt. Cut out circle.
Felt Crafts, Felt, Crafts, Holiday Crafts, Fortune Cookie Crafts, Fortune Cookie, Libbie Summers Crafts, A food-inspired life
Step 2: Cut the ribbon.
Cut a piece of ribbon that is 2-inches larger than the circle.
Crafting, Felt Crafts, Libbie Summers Crafts, Fortune Cookie, Holiday Crafts, A food-inspired life
Step 3: Fold the Fortune Cookie. 
Place the ribbon (fortune) in the middle of the felt circle and fold in half. Hold/pinch the half circle at the top of the arch with two fingers. Use the other hand to push the bottom flat side in toward the top causing a crease and creating the fortune cookie shape. At this point you can hold the two ends together. If you need a more guided tutorial, watch my video HERE at :46.
Felt Crafts, Felt Fortune Cookies, Fortune Cookie Ornaments, Libbie Summers Crafts
Step 4: Sew ends together. 
Using the needle and colorful embroidery thread, sew a stitch to keep the ends of the fortune cookie together. At this point, you have officially made a Felt Fortune Cookie! I love this idea for a place card or to use hundreds of them for a fun tablescape!
Felt Ornaments, Holiday Crafting, Felt Crafting, Libbie Summers Crafts
Step 5: Make it an ornament (if you like). 
Using your needle and thread, knot one end and thread through the top of your fortune cookie. Thread on a bead and pom pom and tie a loop at the top.
Felt Ornaments, Fortune Cookie Ornaments, Felt Crafts, Libbie Summers Crafts, Holiday Crafts, Holiday Ornaments

Hang your ornament on a holiday tree, tie it on a present or do what I LOVE TO DO and let it adorn a colorful Chinese takeout container that’s filled with easy to make SPRINKLE FORTUNE COOKIES.
Felt Ornaments, Felt Crafts, Felt Fortune Cookies, Holiday Crafting, Libbie Summers Crafting, A food-inspired Life
Holiday Gifts, Fun Cookie Gifts, Fortune Cookie Gifts, Chinese New Year, Libbie Summers Entertains, Libbie Summers Crafts,

DIY: Cupcake Liner Wreath

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

Holiday wreath? Sure, ANY holiday with the right colored cupcake liners. I love this for a fun quick craft! 
Cupcake Liners, Wreath Making, Crafting, Paper Crafts, Baking Supply Crafts, Libbie Summers Crafts,

Cupcake Liner Wreath
makes 1 (12-inch) wreath

What you need:
120 paper cupcake liners in whatever colors you like (I used pastels for this wreath)
1 (12-inch) styrofoam wreath form
scissors
straight pins
Ribbon to hang
Paper Supplies, Wreath Making, Cupcake Liners, Libbie Summers Crafts, Crafting, Paper Crafts

What to do: 
Step 1: Prepare the cupcake liners.
Working with two liners stacked together at a time (doubling them up makes them more sturdy when pinning to the styrofoam), make a cut down one side just to the bottom and cut the bottom of the liners out (the circle part at the bottom of a cupcake!). Continue with all of the liners. You should have 60 sets and 120 colored circles (I’ll show you what to do with those later).
Wreath Making, Cupcake Liners, Crafting, Paper Crafts, Libbie Summers Crafts, Holiday Wreaths

Step 2: Attach the liners to the styrofoam wreath form.
Start anywhere on your wreath (this will become your “top” and be covered with ribbon when you hang it). Wrap one set of liners around the wreath and secure in the back with straight pins. You could also glue the cupcake liners with stick glue, but I find them secured better with straight pins AND you can take the pins out and reuse the wreath). Continue adding the liners (alternating colors) by overlapping the previous liners and securing in the back with straight pins. Work your way around the wreath until it is completely covered. Note: The last liner is a bit of a bear to add, but don’t worry, it will be covered up with a ribbon! 😉
Fun Crafts, Easy Paper Crafts, Wreath Making, Cupcake Liner Crafts, Libbie Summers Crafts
Step 3: Hang your wreath!
Cut a piece of ribbon the length you need for hanging over your door or wherever you think would be fun to hang! I hung mine over the side of our mid-century liquor cart from the rum decanter!
Baking Supplies, Cupcake Liners, Wreath Making, Libbie Summers Designs, A food-inspired life, Paper Crafts, Kid's Crafts, Wreath Making

PRO TIP: Remember all those circles you cut out? They make the BEST confetti!!!!
Confetti, Cupcake Liner Confetti, Party Ideas, Wreath Making, Libbie Summers, Paper Crafts

DIY: BIG WOW Handmade Holiday Garland on a Budget

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey
Location: The Paxton House

Need a show stopping garland for your staircase bannister? I did this recently for a holiday launch party for my Yum Yum Smile Shop culinary salon line at The Paxton House in Thomasville, GA. Decorating is easy when you start with a beautiful place like The Paxton House –an historic inn that is modern and colorful and cool like its owners Carol and Charlie. The goal was to create a big WOW when guests arrived that was inspirational, attainable and affordable (the three most important things when I set out to design an event). I used solid colored wrapping paper and stuck with pink ribbon to coordinate with the Yum Yum Smile Shop feel, but you could use anything! I’d love this in paper of big buffalo plaid checks or vintage holiday papers or fancy metallic papers. Your imagination is the most important thing you’ll need, the rest is easy. Here’s how I did it.

Garland, Holiday Garland, Colorful Holiday Garland, Libbie Summers, A food-inspired Life, Gift Garland,

What you need: 
Yardage of ribbon for bannister wrap and packages (I used two different colors of satin ribbon, but you could use all the same color)
Empty Cardboard Boxes (varying in size), The lighter the box the better!
Wrapping Paper
Fresh Greenery with long branches, I gathered various kinds of greens from the garden. (you could use artificial…but why?) (PS, you’ll need a lot)
Scissors
Tape

What to do:
1. At the top of your bannister, tie one end of a roll of satin ribbon and working your way down the steps, TIGHTLY wrap the ribbon around the bannister. Tie it securely at the bottom of the bannister.
Note: I used satin ribbon so I wouldn’t harm the historic staircase in any way. If you wrap the ribbon tight enough around the bannister, it will stay secure enough to hold the weight of the boxes and greens very easily.
DIY, Gift Garland, Holiday Garland, Libbie Summers, Holiday Decorating

2. Determine how many packages you’ll need for the size of your bannister and based on the size of your boxes. Wrap your packages and tie each with a satin ribbon that has been tightly crossed in the back and brought to the top to tie in a bow. You’ll need the ribbon secure to the package when attaching to the bannister.
3. Cut one 18″ piece of ribbon for each package you wrap. (you may need more for larger boxes, but wait until you get that far)
4. Working from the top and smallest to largest box, use the extra piece of ribbon you cut and thread it through the cross of ribbons on the bottom of the package. Then, thread it through the ribbon you have tightly wrapped around the bannister. Wrap it around the bannister and tie it off in a tight bow to hold the package in place (make sure to tie them off going different directions, they will naturally fall into place). You may see this ribbon, so make it pretty!
5. Continue tying packages onto the bannister (leaving a few inches in between and increasing the spacing as you move down the bannister).
Garland, Holiday Garland, DIY, Libbie Summers, Holiday Decorating
6. Thread your greens through the ribbon wrapped around the bannister in between the packages. Trim any long branches so they don’t stick out. Also, add a few greens to the top of your packages, it will look like the greens are growing all over the gifts! Make sure to go down the steps and look at the greens from all angles. Fill in any holes you see with greenery.
7. As a bonus (which I didn’t have time to do for this event). I would love to see a stack of packages at the bottom of the steps (on the bannister side).
8. Not only was this a gorgeous and inspiring focal decoration, it served as a great “backdrop” for party pics from the event! Here’s my hostess Carol Whitney in her pink velvet blazer. The coolest innkeeper in all the land.
Carol Whitney, The Paxton House, Thomasville, Georgia, Yum Yum Smile Shop, Libbie Summers, Gift Garland, Holiday Gift Garland

 

DIY: Blueberry Baseball Centerpiece

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey
Location: The Loft at Straton Hall Events

When you have a box full of baseballs leftover from a previous event and your “Pork and Berries” dinner needs a centerpiece…you make blueberry baseballs! #homerun

Blueberries, A food-inspired life, Centerpieces, DIY, Crafts

Blueberry Baseball
makes 1

What you need:
1 Baseball
Newspaper
Scissors
Blue, white, and black paint
Masking Tape
White glue
Water
Paintbrushes
Paper Towels
Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Blueberries, Baseball, DIY, How to, Paper Mache, Blueberries, Dinner Party, Ideas, Crafts

What to do:
1. Mix equal parts white glue and water in a small bowl. While that mixes, cut the newspaper into half inch strips. Then, cut the strips into small 1-2 inch pieces. Use the masking tape to create a “lip” on one side of the blueberry…this will be the top of your blueberry. Paint the mixture onto the baseball, place one piece of newspaper on the baseball. Continue one by one until ball is completely covered. Allow to dry completely.
Pro Tip: We made a “stand” out of rolled up foil for the balls to dry on.
Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Blueberries, Baseball, DIY, How to, Paper Mache, Blueberries, Dinner Party, Ideas, Crafts

2. Mix white, black and blue paint together to make a perfect blueberry color. Cover the entire baseball blueberry in the blue color. Allow the blueberry to dry completely. Save leftover paint, you’ll use it soon!
Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Blueberries, Baseball, DIY, How to, Paper Mache, Blueberries, Dinner Party, Ideas, Crafts

3. Mix black paint with a slight amount of white paint. Using a thin brush, paint a primitive star in the lip at the top of your blueberry. Allow to dry.
Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Blueberries, Baseball, DIY, How to, Paper Mache, Blueberries, Dinner Party, Ideas, Crafts

4. Add a bit more white to the saved blueberry blue paint mixture. Wet a paper towel and dip it into a slight bit of paint and pat the color all over the sides of the blueberry. Let dry overnight.
Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Blueberries, Baseball, DIY, How to, Paper Mache, Blueberries, Dinner Party, Ideas, Crafts

Thats it! Gather some trimmings from your Blueberry Bush (or any tree outside), lay the branches down the center of your table. Add in your blueberry baseballs and fresh blueberries if you like.
Tablescape, Blueberries, Papier Mache, centerpieces, Tablescape, Blueberry Season

Get the latest from Libbie!
Stay up-to-date with the latest recipes, photoshoots, videos and much more!