January 26th, 2012

I HAD to make a separate post for the dessert station we designed for Operation Shower. There are so many details and fabulous desserts and let’s face it…I love sweets! Sunshine Safari quickly became one of my top favorite dessert stations for many reasons.

When I design tables for charity events, we encourage local vendors to donate their specialty items as part of the overall display. It’s a great way to showcase some amazing talent and I get to meet and try new treats! As part of the design challenge, I really wanted to showcase the adorable printable party set that Paper & Cake designed and play off the colors and patterns. I LOVE the flavor tags, arrow signs and all the fun she incorporated into the design. It really brought this collection to life. It’s important with a bright color palette to make sure the table doesn’t get too over saturated and crazy, or nothing will stand out. That being said, I instantly knew the background and general decor for the tablescape needed to be more neutral and reminiscent of the natural colors found while on safari. I took a more literal approach to the challenge and wanted the animals to be the art and the desserts the focal point.

I always start with the backdrop and basic table design first to give a base for the rest of the table. I draped large sheets of burlap and an old fishing net over a metal photographers backdrop frame. Thank goodness my husband, The Pixel Studio, was there for set up b/c placing the leaves just right proved to be a two man job. Carolyn Horton Events loaned me her bag full of greenery and I used a lot of it to frame the backdrop on each side. I think the green created a nice, natural frame and reminded me of a real safari tent!

Then the fun part! When I was told that Pottery Barn Kids was allotting each designer $250 of product toward their table design I about flipped. I am obsessed with Pottery Barn Kids and spent quite a long time trying to decide what to use. There were so many perfect pieces! When I saw the Zebra and Giraffe Explorer Canvas Art I just knew they’d be perfect hanging from the backdrop. It really tied everything together and provided the subtle color I wanted. I’m not gonna lie…I wanted to change my daughters room to safari after seeing these. They also come in this pink and gray Hippo and Giraffe Canvas.

When I think safari, I think old trunks, luggage and treasure. I was thrilled when Found Vintage Rentals let me raid their warehouse in search of the perfect pieces. This is where my vision really started coming to life. My concept for the table was that an explorer on safari had come across various animals and plants and wanted to take them home to show his kids. The desserts are miniturized versions of all his wild findings. Showcased on crates, in drawers, on trunks and old tool boxes I absolutely loved how perfect the pieces from Found Vintage Rentals proved to be. I also used their globe and lantern…a safari must have. I get so giddy when I get to use “prop” pieces in a design. I really think they add texture, height and depth in all the right places.

Now on to the desserts! When working with many different vendors, it’s almost like having lots of different designers come together under one roof. Part of the design challenge for me, was making sure everything was cohesive and didn’t get too eclectic. I knew that the desserts should be the focal point (of course) and that each donating vendor should stand out in their own way. Knowing this, I decided it would be best to choose an animal and color for each dessert. This is a great way to have each treat showcased in it’s own light without them all looking to similar. I could not have been more ecstatic about how each dessert told it’s own story.

First up, the cupcakes! I chose bright pink as a main base color that would start to highlight the Paper & Cake designs and spray painted floral boxes to use as the cupcake stands. Floral boxes are a cheap and easy way to create height. Because they come in wood color, you can easily paint or spray paint them any color you want! I wrapped some orange yarn around the boxes to give them some subtle texture. The lovely JennyWenny Cakes donated the cupcakes for this event and let me tell you, they were delicious! I am a huge banana fan but it has to be done just right when it comes to desserts. She made the most amazing banana chocolate chip cupcakes. AMAZING! She also made chocolate with caramel and vanilla buttercream cupcakes. A big favorite. Her animal was the blue elephant. JennyWenny Cakes created the fondant toppers with suns and elephants and they were sheer perfection. I love to watch people bite into cupcakes and these produced instant smiles and had eyes lighting up.

Next up, a treat that is quickly becoming a new dessert trend. Meringue Bake Shop created the PushCake long before it became popular and she is truly an expert in this area. The PushCake is layered cake and frosting in just the right amounts. Served in a push pop container reminiscent of the ice cream treat I enjoyed as a kid, these are easy to eat and are full of flavor. She created her own display trays which provide the perfect stability and spacing between pops. Her popular Orange Crush and Chocolate Vanilla were enjoyed by all. For most, this was their first encounter with a  PushCake and they were “ooohing and aaaahing” over how cute, fun and tasty they were. She incorporated the zebra designs from Paper & Cake on each PushCake too! Cute! If you live in the Orange County area, Meringue Bake Shop sells her confections at local farmer’s markets and takes orders daily.

Salted caramel. I’m going to let you salivate over those words. I believe salted caramel is the flavor of the year. I am obsessed and in love with this perfect blend of sweet and salty and have a whole slew of recipes involving these two ingredients that I cannot wait to use. Caramels to me are a delicacy. I relate them to my great grandmother who always had one in her mouth. I never thought I’d be so in love with them myself. To find a really good…I mean REALLY good caramel is a challenge. Once you’ve had one though, your life will be changed forever. When Firefly Confections sent several pounds of their handmade, hand wrapped caramels, I eye balled them for hours. I finally gave in and tried one (hey…a girl has to taste test!) Heaven. Pure, salted heaven in a caramel. The perfect texture, consistency, and flavor. HEAVEN! I had to hide the rest b/c they are so addicting! These caramels were such a treat and I saw many guests stuffing handfuls into their pockets for later. I placed them in the drawers of a Found Vintage Rental find like the little, bite size treasures that they are. Now I know why grandma always had one. ADDICTING!! Firefly Confections make an array of sweet treats. You MUST order some caramels.

The Marshmallow Studio. If you haven’t heard this name, you’ve been under a rock. The Marshmallow Studio has revolutionized marshmallow treats, creating some of the most detailed, edible party favors in any theme or character imaginable. Alejandra was kind enough to spend the whole day helping with set up and she is just as sweet as her mallow creations. I instantly knew she had to have the flamingo. What she created was beyond what I had ever envisioned. These adorable, pink flamingos are completely edible! I placed them in an old tool box with styrofoam and blue tissue paper. They were wading in an oasis waiting to go home with each guest! I lost count at how many people could not believe they were made of marshmallow. AMAZING! So, so cute and fun. I’m a huge fan. She also hosts classes so check out her website for more info.

I love seeing something unique in the industry and when I went onto The Sweetest Affair’s website I was quickly intrigued. They specialize in handmade lollipop bouquets and custom flower favors. These creations are truly works of edible art. You must head over to her site and check out all the gorgeous displays. She took the patterned paper from Paper & Cakes designs and turned them into beautiful petals for each custom lollipop flower. Not only were these displayed on the dessert station, they were found in vases throughout the shower and definitely caught everyone’s eye. They provided the perfect edible floral bouquets for this safari and I cannot wait to place an order with her for future events. LOVE THEM!

You can’t have a safari without binoculars and safari hats! Allyson Jane has been donating to Operation Shower for many many events and I have been dying to see her creations in person. She designed these fun cookies that made their debut on a bed of grass. They were the perfect size and tasted so good! Sometimes decorated cookies don’t taste that great and it’s all about the design. These were such a sweet surprise as they tasted DELICIOUS and looked perfect. Allyson Jane is a true artist and these cookies disappeared in the blink of an eye! Check out he website for photos of her fabulous confections.

I wanted each mom to go home with a safari animal so we cut out Paper & cake characters and make chocolate pretzel favor bags for all the guests. The palette that they are hanging on was found by a dumpster. No joke! I saw it and instantly knew they’d make the perfect display. I attached each bag with a clothespin and propped it on against the table on some vintage trunks. How easy is that?!?

Bring on the monkeys!! A Twist of Cake is a cake pop genius. I am in awe of what she can make out of a cake pop! For baby showers, she makes characters or shapes into baby rattles. For reals!! I knew she had to have the monkeys. How cute are they?!? I check her Facebook page daily for new designs. If you dream it, she can make it! These pops were red velvet and so scrumptious. I saw moms taking two or three as they couldn’t believe it was cake under there! I used flower vases for the display vessels. I wrapped pink and orange yarn and added some of the patterned paper to the tops, filled them with lemon heads and stuck the pops in. They had their own, bright trees and looked so cute on display. A Twist of Cake also gives classes and is constantly creating new characters.

I know you’re all dying to know about the cake. It shouldn’t even be called a cake. It should be called an edible masterpiece. I have been a huge fan of Hey There, Cupcake! for a  long time and had the pleasure of meeting Stevi at the Hostess with the Mostess launch party where designed an insane Alice inspired creation. When I was told she was donating a cake for Operation Shower, I couldn’t have been more excited. I knew it had to be the centerpiece for the whole station and set aside the perfect crates to display it one. Every single detail was edible. From the flowers made of rice paper and fondant to the edible chevron design and the rice krispie elephant. That elephant was amazingly sculpted and dusted with edible disco glitter. Hey There, Cupcake! did such an amazing job of incorporating the colors and feel of the table into her cake. It could not have been more perfect and people were snapping photos left and right. And guess what…it was chocolate salted caramel flavored. GET OUT! I could live off the frosting/filling alone. I still can’t stop staring at it. LOVE!

And now, I will leave you with this funny flamingo that I couldn’t resist placing on the table. He was a white elephant gift that I won. My dad found him at a thrift store and he’s full of personality.

A special, HUGE thank you to the photographers at Operations Shower. Nicole Benitez Photography and Jackie Culmer Photography captured all the sweet moments. The Pixel Studio provided some detailed shots as well.

Please help Operation Shower continue their amazing work by donating or gifting items from their Amazon wishlist. These showers make such a huge, positive influence on the families that they support.


One Response to “Operation Shower Sunshine Safari – Dessert Station”

  1. [...] sure to check out Marie’s post for all of the dessert details and sweet vendors! /* Pin [...]

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