If it were totally up to us, we would be living on a farm or rural homestead in the middle of nowhere, spending our days foraging for mushrooms, milking our goats and gathering pine boughs from our backyard. But the reality is that we live in cities, and when one of those cities is Chicago, in the dead of winter, there isn’t too much nature to be found in our backyards (and, well, we don’t have backyards). We love having flowers in the house during these bleak weeks, but most flowers can’t withstand the dry heat in our homes for more than a few days. Thank goodness for one of the hardiest flowers around: carnations! These are the longest-lasting blooms, and we love using them for parties because they are so robust, and all of the fussing doesn’t phase them. —
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Pink was the perfect color for our chocolate dessert party; we stuck with pink and brown (chocolate!) as our colors, and kept all of the lines really clean and simple so that the densely packed carnations and indulgent chocolate treats would really be the highlights. We used a huge roll of brown craft paper as the table “cloth,” then had the idea of drawing the guest’s names on the craft paper with a white colored pencil. The small brown hearts scattered across the tables are cookies! And one of our favorite unexpected table elements was the tiny buds from the carnation stems, which we scattered across the tablescape.
Basically, this party was an excuse to bake every indulgent chocolate thing we have been wanting to make (and, uh, eat). We had dense flavored with rum and almonds (for which we whipped up a rich chocolate frosting), a light and fluffy , (which we filled with pale pink whipped cream), (we flavored ours with peppermint extract), and . Short on cake stands, we had the idea of using glasses and vases with plates sitting on top and filled those with pink and white M&Ms for extra color. The perfect small cake and cookie platters!
We wrapped larger heart cookies with white string to set each place setting, and gave the girls a bracelet party favor. These look way harder to make than they actually are; the secret is having a great source for beautiful ribbons and trim. Pick your favorite two or three ribbons and layer them on top of one another. Then top with a decorative fabric flower or beading detail and hand stitch everything together. Leave the ends long so they’re easy to tie on and have long pretty tails.
Since this party was for two couples and two single gals, we wanted to send everyone, not just the girls, home with favors. A party is so much more fun when everyone goes home with a little treat. So we put together our own hot chocolate kits. First, we made a powdered mix. Next, we dipped bamboo spoons in melted chocolate flavored with a pinch of cayenne pepper, but you could really flavor it with just about anything you want to spice up the hot chocolate. Finally, we added homemade pink ! We cut them in the shape of hearts (using powdered sugar or corn starch is key for handling them so they aren’t overly sticky). We labeled each element: 1. Mix with milk; 2. Stir; and 3. Enjoy! Then we packaged them together in white paper bags wrapped with white string.
Photos by Anna H. Blessing. Styling, crafting and food by .