Jan 16, 2015

A Milk and Cookies Engagement Party

I was thrilled when my brother-in-law first told us he was purchasing a ring! It isn't every day you add a sister-in-law to the mix, especially one that you really like! I know I take it for granted that I currently have three sisters-in-law and am blessed to call them all friends. Now I look forward to adding one more awesome lady to the family. Kyle, thanks for picking a good one! We had high expectations and you delivered. True to my love of planning parties, I decided that I wanted to throw the happy couple an engagement party. With the abundance of celebrations I threw last year - seriously, people, stop having babies - I figured I needed to go super low-key for the engagement party. I almost succeeded in that, but my excitement got the better of me and I added a little DIY fun to make it a little more personal and special. 

The idea for this party started with the food, oddly enough. I adored the idea of throwing a 'cookies & milk' party. Who doesn't love a really great cookie and a cold glass of milk? Simple, fun, and meant to encourage a playful and relaxed vibe. No one could take themselves too seriously with a milk mustache or licking chocolate off their fingers. (Kind of like that time I ate string cheese in front of billionaires...but that is a different story.) 

The second inspiration for the party design was the engagement gift I had planned for the happy couple. It has become somewhat of a tradition that I  give every couple in our family burlap monogram art commemorating the year of their marriage. A simple handmade gift that also happens to work perfectly as a party decoration. 

The other decorations grew from there. I added some rustic elements (natural wood, burlap), simple white flowers, patterned straws in mason jar sippers, a hand-drawn 'calligraphy' table runner, and topped it off with a few chalkboard details. I can't quite put my finger on a name for the style of this party. A throw-back to elementary school days, yet all grown up. 

We had six types of cookies in all: browned butter chocolate chip (w/ and w/out nutella), browned butter snickerdoodles (w/ and w/out caramel), chocolate crinkle, and peanut butter. To add variety to the cookie display I pulled out my cake stands, cookie stands, pie plates, and even a wood slice to use as serving dishes. My husband was a great sport and rigged up a way to hang my kitchen menu chalkboard from a tree to provide the 'Cookie Bar' sign.

The milk table turned out just as cute. White milk, chocolate milk, glass-bottled Coke (the yummy Mexican kind), and water rounded out the beverage options.

I was a little hesitant at first to put milk in large drink dispensers outside. Even with the table in the shade I wanted a little extra 'insurance' against the milk going warm and gross. The solution was to put reusable Plastic Ice Cubes into each drink dispenser. It kept the milk perfectly cool the entire length of the party and didn't dilute the drink like normal ice cubes. 

{A quick digression on drink dispensers here: Drink dispensers seem to be ever so popular right now and I, for one, love them. However, there are good ones and there are bad ones. The dispenser holding the white milk is a fantastic one. The dispenser holding the chocolate milk is the 'wanna be' dispenser and it was not awesome. I actually disliked it so much I returned it to the store the next day. There are two main things I look for in a dispenser - quality of the spigot and airflow during dispensing. For example, my nice dispenser (from Pottery Barn) has a metal spigot whereas the cheap dispenser (from World Market) has a plastic one that almost feels like it would snap off from normal use. The air flow is also important because it impacts how well the liquid flows out of the dispenser; this is how you can tell if the dispenser is well designed. The Pottery Barn dispenser has a teeny tiny hole in the lid (barely visible) that allows enough air to enter the dispenser so that you can keep the metal lid on and looking pretty during the party. To use the World Market dispenser you have to unlatch and open the lid slightly to get any flow. I found this really frustrating so I packed that sucker up and took it back. They were great about taking the return so no hard feelings with the store. And for Christmas one of my awesome sisters-in-law (and I guess my brother, too) got me the smaller version of my Pottery Barn dispenser (yay!).}

Ok, now back to the party...

For cups, I debuted the Mason Jar Sippers purchased with a 'thank you' gift card from planning the safari themed baby shower last year. I bought these as a set, but you can also turn regular mason jars into drinks with mason jar daisy straw lids.

The Cokes kept cool in a galvanized metal drink tub I purchased years ago for my wedding.

In addition to the large 'Cookie Bar' chalkboard, we had a few other chalkboard touches. The banners were actually 'faux' chalkboard, which is just a fancy way to say that I cut black cardstock paper into pennants and then wrote on them using my son's white sidewalk chalk. You have to be careful not to smudge it before the party, but it works great! The cookie labels were also created using black paper and a chalk marker. My drink dispenser tags were a gift made by my husband (he's a keeper!) and are pretty much a staple at all my parties.  

The most time-consuming DIY party decoration ended up being the table runner. People seemed quite surprised I had made it, which I generally take as a compliment. Unless it is followed by the phrase 'oh how interesting'. Interesting is always a bad sign when it comes to DIY. Armed with kraft postal wrapping paper, a sharpie, and a plastic trash bag, I hand wrote 'love' across the entire length of the runner, probably while watching Project Runway. After the first pass, I went back and thickened up the down strokes of the letters to give the impression that it was calligraphy. The plastic bag was placed under the kraft paper to prevent bleeding onto my carpet. I made a similar kraft paper table runner for a winter baby shower a while back. {A little money saving tip - don't buy kraft wrapping paper in the wrapping paper section, buy it in the postal supply section. For example, this kraft postal wrapping paper is less than 6 dollars for 30 feet. I use it for gift wrap mostly, but it made a gorgeous table runner. }

I couldn't bear to get rid of this paper after the party so it is currently sitting in my garage waiting to be used as gift wrap. See what a great background the runner provides for the setup! And a perfect reminder of what the party is all about...cookies, I mean, love!

And now for my favorite part of the party - the dessert plates! I generally get a little too excited about party supplies, so when partypail.com offered to let me try some of their products (no strings attached) I may or may not have flipped out (in a good way). You know that giddy feeling when you have a party idea in your head and then you find something that fits the picture in your head perfectly? Hmm, just me? Well, it was love at first sight with these chalkboard Mr and Mrs Plates from partypail. Like I said, I get a wee bit excited about party supplies (and office supplies...maybe supplies in general?) It turns out it is a little difficult to decorate a party in all black and white and have it look festive. The touch of color on the plates and the black and white striped straws helped keep it playful instead of boring.

Mmmmm...now I want a cookie.

And what kind of party would it be without flowers? I have been mildly obsessed with white hydrangea this year. This bunch I bought at Trader Joe's lasted for two weeks!  One large arrangement was the sole decoration on my (we'll call it rustic) picnic table. And a few smaller bunches were placed in mason jars on the Cookie Bar for an understated fancy.

Despite my intense love of cookies, I did encourage the party guests to take a few home for the road. Kraft paper bags and black heart stickers (both from kraft&color on etsy) served as favor bags. A chalk marker was used to add a 'K+N' or 'love' to the stickers. You can also find the DIY instructions here for the tree slice chalkboard.   

In an attempt to distract from the state of my drought-ridden California yard, I put a few clusters of balloons around the setting. Little did I know that the balloons would also serve as entertainment for the toddlers. Bonus! 

As always, what really makes a party successful is the people. There were no games, no activities, just mingling and eating cookies. A perfect example of what I have come to love most about throwing parties - providing a fun setting to celebrate life and enjoy each other's company. Of the approximately 50 guests, we had teeny babies, college students, grandparents, and everything in between. It was a beautiful picture of what it is like to live in a community in the true sense of the word, and gives me great encouragement that the newlyweds will be supported by people in all life stages.    

Party Supply Sources: 
plates and straws >> partypail.com {Note - partypail no longer has a website so links are updated to amazon}
favor bags and stickers >> Kraft&Color on etsy.com
table runner >> kraft postal wrapping paper and sharpie on amazon
galvanized tub >> World Market
the good drink dispenser >> Pottery Barn
cake plates, pie plate, and tiered server >> Crate & Barrel, Williams Sonoma, and Sur la Table
mason jars >> OSH
balloons and plastic white table cloth >> local party store
wood slices for cookie tray and DIY chalkboard >> Michaels
mason jar daisy straw lids >> amazon
Plastic Ice Cubes >> amazon
water pitcher >> Crate & Barrel

{All of the party supplies used in this party were purchased by me with the exception of the partypail plates and straws. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.}


  1. Hi! What a cute, casual party for everyone to enjoy. I love chalkboards and white hydrangeas, too. =)

    The paper pendant with the chalk letters is very cute! My mom told me once that if you want to keep chalk on paper (or contact paper, in my case), spray the paper with hairspray after you finish writing with chalk. It won't hold up to rain or water, but it'll hold the chalk in place while you are trying to transport or hang the banner.

    I'll be sure to mark these from your Pinterest page!