Okay, okay. I know you want to have a cookie party of your own, but you're just not sure. You're not ready to commit. Well, here is your chance to WIN a FREE Hollie Jollie Cookie Party collection to host your very own cookie party! Time is of the essence, so you need to get to planning very soon! You have until Wednesday, November 2nd at 8 pm CST to post a favorite cookie recipe right here on the Polka-blog for your chance to win a complete party collection. One winner will be chosen at random November 2nd after 8 pm for this fabulous prize worth $30!!
The Hollie Jollie Cookie Party complete collection includes 12 fill-in invitations with envelopes, 12 recipe cards, 12 place cards, and 4 cookie awards! Find your favorite cookie recipe and leave it for us as a comment on this post to win. One entry per person, please. While you're at it, make sure you're a friend of ours on Facebook!
This weekend my family hosted our first pumpkin carving party. Yes, I said first... we will definitely be doing this again! We invited a bunch of our friends to join us for an evening of carving from 5-8. We figured this would give us enough sunlight to carve and a little darkness to get photos of our creations all lit up. I prepared some dinner and snacks, just a few simple items. I made some delicious tortilla soup, mummy hotdogs and some brownies. Friends brought festive drinks and an amazing 7-layer dip, along with their pumpkins to carve.
We laid out a big tarp in the grass for carving. It kept little bits of pumpkin out of the grass and gave everyone a good place to sit and carve with their families. We purchased some carving kits to share and this fabulous new scoop I found this year with a serrated edge (highly recommended!). It made pulling out goo so simple! We even tried Martha Stewart's tip of using metal cookie cutters to punch shapes into pumpkins and it worked like a charm! We set out a few buckets to collect all of the pumpkin goo, and there was plenty! My husband and a friend kindly sorted through buckets of muck to pull out the seeds for roasting. All of the rest of the pumpkin innards went into our composter and will make some great dirt for our spring garden.
If you have young kids, and a lot of friends with young kids, I highly recommend hosting a pumpkin carving party! Okay, you don't even need young kids! The adults had just as much fun! This was a great fall party, and required little planning. The best part is doing something fun with your family and people you love to be around.
You've probably noticed the flood of pink this month. Not only is October the month of costumes and candy, it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to promote education, detection, early diagnosis and support to survivors of breast cancer. I have all to many a personal connection to those battling cancer, not just breast cancer, that I felt moved to design a special set of notecards for the occasion. Whether you give the set as a gift, or mail handwritten notes to a loved one battling cancer, and even a survivor, these notes of hope and love are sure to make the battle just a little easier. You'll find that the quotes I chose are not cancer specific, so don't feel limited, there are lots of others just in need of some encouraging words!
Choose from a mixed box of 5 quotes, or 10 of one quote. Each set of 10 is packaged in a clear gift box with matching pink envelopes. The Speckled Duck will donate $3 from each set sold to The National Breast Cancer Foundation. I hope you'll help us make a generous donation to this cause, and just as importantly, send an encouraging note to someone who needs it. See our Featured page for all of our available cards for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You'll find these under our Featured tab and in our Etsy Shop.
Last Friday, my husband and I attended Dave Ramsey's one-day EntreLeadership summit in Dallas. (It was his idea to sport Speckled Duck Pink!) We've been big Dave fans for almost 4 years. Without his program, Financial Peace University, I'd still be working for someone else and undoubtedly we'd have furniture on credit and probably another car loan. Thanks to his program, we're nearly debt free, have an emergency fund and big plans for our future with much brighter heads on our shoulders. We're such believers in his program that we volunteer to coordinate a Financial Peace class once a year at our church to help others turn their lives around too.
We attended EntreLeadership, his one day crash course on being a strong leader and taking your business to the next level. I left there very inspired with an even better sense of "I can do this!" I got to meet him, after standing in line for nearly two hours to get my book signed, and I'd do it again. I'm not one to be a follower of fashion trends, labels and celebrities, but I have a deep respect and appreciation for Dave Ramsey and the knowledge that he has given me to change things for myself and my family–and now my business. As I sat and listened to him that day, all I could think was "That is the kind of leader I want to be and the kind of company I want to have."
Yes, I had to be the ultimate nerd and get my picture by the bus too!
I know better than to leave paparazzi moments to my hubby... but I love him anyway!
There's no lack of fun to be had around the holidays. Halloween is just the beginning of the fun-filled months ahead. But for me, December is when the real fun starts, and one of my very favorite things to do in December is host a Cookie Exchange. And if you've known me very long, you've probably attended one or two! For me, these parties came about after what I would call my "Cookie Bake-A-Thon," one full weekend with absolutely nothing on the agenda except to bake as many different types of cookies as humanly possible in one weekend to give as gifts.... and it wore me out!!
One day I came across the idea of a cookie exchange, which has been around for ages - how on earth did I not know about this?! The idea behind the cookie exchange is to invite a few friends who each bake a specified amount of the same cookie, bring it to the party and swap with the other guests. Now you have a multitude of cookies to give on your holiday platters and you only had to bake one kind! Genius. My guests are asked to bring 6 dozen cookies (no whining, for most recipes that is just two batches!) and each guest takes as many as they brought. Okay, minus a few for tasting, but who's counting?
This year will be my fifth annual cookie exchange, complete with the Speckled Duck's new collection Hollie Jollie Cookie Partie to make it that much more fabulous. (Sorry friends, the surprise is spoiled!) The collection comes with everything you need to make your exchange a success. Fill-in invitations, place cards, recipe cards and even four cookie awards for the Most Creative Cookie, the Best Decorated Cookie, the Best Tasting Cookie and the All Around Best Cookie! It's even available as a handy package ready for twelve guests!
So what are you waiting for? Order up some invitations and get your party on the calendar. Here's a few things I've learned over the years:
1. Beware of sandwich cookies, they're yummy, but remember they require twice the cookies!
2. Have your party on a Sunday afternoon in early December. Weekends are packed with company and social parties in the evenings, give your guests time to relax and come to a mid-afternoon party. The cookies will usually keep for a couple of weeks, but if you want to save some for Christmas day, just pop a tray in the freezer and thaw the day before you're ready to eat them.
3. Entertain the men. Last year my lady-guests brought their guys for a "Beer Exchange" in the back yard. Each guy brought a dozen beers and took (or drank) a dozen beers. It's a great way for guys to socialize and meet new friends.
4. Play some holiday music. You may just be hosting the first holiday party of the season, so get in the spirit.
5. Provide a few snacks and drinks.. other than cookies. A fruit and veggie tray is all you need to make sure your guests have plenty to choose from.
6. Start the cookie tasting as soon as most of your guests have arrived. There will be lots to sample and this takes time! Consider having a few knives available to cut large cookies into pieces so everyone can have a taste.
7. Remind everyone to bring a box or tin to take their cookies home in. It's a good idea to have a few gallon-size zipper bags handy too!
8. Ask your guests to bring copies of their recipe for everyone to take home.
I think you're ready... better get started looking through those cook books!