Event Styling

Do-It-Yourself: Trees as Party Centerpieces for Any Occasion

Event Styling: Tree Decorating Isn’t Just for Winter Holidays

Today we are going to cover one of our favorite ideas for centerpiece decorations – the “tree”.  A tree?  Yes! with a little planning and prep time, tree centerpieces are super sweet, whimsical and a great conversation piece. This is particularly fun if you use the trees to hang custom cookies, party favors or message cards.  The added bonus is at the end of the party, everyone un-decorates the trees and takes the ornaments home as favors.  Investing in a handful of trees is a great idea because you can use them year-round, and showcase all of them at Christmas time!

Sweet Dani B Event Styling - centerpiece-tree-party-ideas

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How-to Video on Preparing Custom Cookies for Tree

Matching Centerpieces to Party Themes

For many people, the centerpiece for their tables is usually the most difficult to match to a theme.  Flowers tend to be the go-to decoration (for adult parties), but unless you really know how to arrange them, the tables don’t look finished and paying for a florist can be expensive.  Balloons work (for birthday and kid parties), but getting a large number of them into a small car is never fun.  I can’t tell you how many we’ve popped in transit!

Once you have decided on a theme, you can easily find matching cookie cutters and use them as your template for baking cookies, creating message cards (out of card stock), and even as the decoration (and party favor) themselves!

Ideas for Tree Table Centerpieces

1.  Feather Trees for Centerpiece Decorating

White Feather Tree with Leaping Ballerina

White Feather Tree with Leaping Ballerina

Our obsession with feather trees has grown over the years so Dani tends to keep an eye out for them.  “Google search” feather trees and you’ll see dozens of choices.  Be careful with the size – make sure they will be big enough to hold your cookies and that they have a sturdy base.  One of our favorite feather trees is the Grandin Road tree which we feature in our How-To Decorate Cookies video segment.

2.  Branches for Centerpiece Decorating – Cookies & Message Cards

Sweet Dani B Custom Cookie Trees Made from Branches

Custom Cookie Trees Made from Branches

You can go to a local florist, Pier 1 Import, or (if in New York) the flower district to buy branches like these.  They just have to be sturdy enough to hold your ornaments.  You have nothing to worry about if you plan to hang message cards from them.

Tips for Hanging Custom Cookies

To secure your branches use marbles, floral foam, or styrofoam.  Marbles are great because they add weight, but are the more expensive option.  If you balance the branches and the cookies or ornaments well, you shouldn’t have too many problems. The key is to test the tree with the exact number of ornaments days before your event.  We recommend you search Amazon for best retail prices and other vase ideas (search: floral arrangement supplies).

Sweet Dani B Event Styling Wishing Tree

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Message Card Ideas

You can match cookies to message cards by using your cookie cutter to outline the shape of your card.  Hang cards for:

  • Place Card Tree | Table Number Display
  • Special message to guests
  • Hang blank cards so that guests can write/hang messages for the guest of honor
  • Pictures related to the event; use craft scissors to give it a special flare!

3.  Cupcake “Tree” Towers

Sweet Dani B Event Styling

While these aren’t exactly trees, setting up a cupcake tower is beautiful and the shape reminds us of a pine tree. Choose one color frosting per table, and add a miniature custom cookie to the top cupcake!  We love miniature cup cakes, and you can buy them by the dozen at the supermarket.  Make your own icing colors to match your theme.

More cupcake centerpiece decorating ideas:

Dani B Event Styling: Baptism | Cupcakes on a Tree Trunk

Do-It-Yourself: Creating Amazing, Affordable Cakes (with Cookies of course!)

Everyone loves that  moment at a birthday party when it’s time to sing Happy Birthday.  And while the birthday girl or boy is the center of attention, the #2 spot goes to the cake.  This happens across most events: baptisms, showers, retirements.  Let’s not kid ourselves, if we all could, we’d call our favorites: Hoboken’s Cake Boss or  Charm City Cakes (Ace of Cakes).

But how much is a highly customized cake?  According to the Carlos Bakery website, a consultation and cake tasting is $100.  And according to Charm City, a 3D cake starts at $1,000!

Following are a few creative ideas for an amazing, affordable 3D Cake without spending hundreds of dollars.  You can make or buy as much of this as you want.  Time is money – so the more you do, the more you’ll save!

Once you have decided on a theme for your party, you will need:

  1. Cake
  2. Toothpicks
  3. Letter Shaped and/or Number Shaped Letter Candles (on a stick)
  4. Cookie Cutters to match your theme
  5. Sugar Cookie Recipe
  6. Royal Icing Recipe, Royal Icing Kit
  7. Construction Paper (Optional)
  8. Skewer Bamboo Sticks (Optional)

We will be using Sweet Dani B Cake Topper or Custom Decorated Cookies of course, but you can make or buy your own.  Local bakeries, even the supermarkets, sell very pretty cookies in different themes.

(1) Simple Backdrop – the Cake

First, start with a plain cake.  If you order from a local bakery, make sure you tell them you do NOT want any flowers OR writing on it.  Pipe dots (as shown above) are okay if you don’t know how to do it yourself.  The first time one of my clients did this they asked her three times if she was sure!

Below you will see cake pricing for supermarkets in the Hoboken/New York City area for a sheet cake that serves about 25 people.  This is for a whipped cream topping cake and a single fruit filling.  Delicious and simple.

At Home: About $12 for ingredients, depending on complexity

Shop Rite (Hoboken): $36

Whole Foods (NYC): $75

D’Agostino (NYC): $16 per quarter sheet cake (serves 12 – 16 people)

(2) Cake Topper Cookies

Use the cookies you baked to decorate your cake.  If you want a 3D effect, bake Cake Topper Cookies which use toothpicks to help them stand.

Sweet Dani B Cake Topper Cookies(3)  Additional Cake Decorating Effects

Layer your 3D masterpiece with a message board made from construction paper and bamboo skewer sticks.  Cut them to match the height that you want.  For this birthday cake, we made palm trees to match the jungle theme that my client used throughout the year for her son’s parties.  We even hung a cookie monkey from the tree!

Sweet Dani B Cake Decorating and Party Styling Ideas

Jungle Theme Cake

For this baptismal cake, we made a simple “God Bless” banner sign.  You can print the message on your home computer directly onto the paper to give it a more finished effect, or handwrite it for a personal touch.

Sweet Dani B Cake Topper Cookies and Party Styling Ideas

Baptism Cake Decorating Ideas

(4) Personalized Birthday Candles

The finishing touch!  Use personalized letter or number birthday candles (see Jungle Cake image).  You can cut the sticks so that the letters float right on top of the cake, or create a staircase effect by cutting the sticks different sizes.  If you want to get super creative and make your own personalized birthday candles, Martha Stewart has a how-to online.

Customized Birthday Candles

About Cost

As we mentioned earlier, a custom cake from a high-end bake shop could start at $500.  Depending on the base price of the cake and where you buy the cookies, one of the cakes that we have shown you here could cost as little as $50.

One of the most frustrating misconceptions about Sweet Dani B products is that we are too expensive.  But consider this:

Jungle Theme Cake:

Cake cost:  $30 (Shop Rite, Hoboken)

Animal Cookie cost: $7 each x  3 = $21

Heart Cookie Package: $35

DIY Palm Tree (mom did it): $3 supplies

Total cake cost:  $89!

So for less $100, we got an amazing centerpiece (we set this at the main table, and had people place the gifts around it).  I think this Jungle Theme 3D Cake got almost as much attention as the birthday boy did when he was blowing out his candles!

Contact us if you need help with party or event styling.  It’s one of our favorite things to do when we aren’t designing cookies!  A special thanks to Urban Girl Squad for inviting us to speak as a New York expert event stylist at their most recent Mommy Event!