Category: Party Planning

Virtual Holiday Cookie Swap

I’m doing a holiday cookie swap.  A traditional one goes like this:

You make a zillion cookies, and then you take them to a place.  And then you also have to print or hand write a zillion recipes so you can swap all of that stuff with everyone else too.

That might be your thing, but it might not be your thing.  And around these parts I try very hard to give you EASY solutions for your life.  Plus we can’t do the traditional way…so I want to think outside of the box.

So I’m doing things a little different.  We are kicking off some fun holiday posting with….

Cue the tree lighting……

Nicolyndime First Annual Virtual Cookie Swap!

Here’s what you need to do to participate:

  1. Sign up here for the Nicolyndime Email Subscriber List.  If you’re already a member, no need to sign up again.  Deadline to join is Friday Dec 8th.

  2. Send me an email at and tell me the following:  Your cookie recipe title, the ingredients, the directions, your first name or initials and state where you live (only of you want this published) and a little story (if you have one) about your cookie recipe.  A photo of the finished product is helpful too, if you can manage it.  Deadline for submission is Friday November 24th.

  3. You can also send me tips, simple craft projects, traditions, and other ideas to supplement your holiday cheer.

  4. It doesn’t have to be a CHRISTMAS cookie recipe.  In fact, I’d love cookies from all faiths and walks of life!

  5. You automatically get a FREE pdf cookbook of all the recipes that were sent in.  Emailed on Saturday Dec. 9th.

So wait… what you’re telling me is I hand over one cookie recipe, and I get an entire free, easy printable, cookie recipe cookbook in return?

No fees?  No baking?  No hand cramping by writing out thousands of cookie recipes on a little index card?  (Well no, it’s 2017 and that’s what computers are for…)

Yes, I say… you get lots of cookie recipes in return for giving only one. (Or more if you feel like sharing.)

Is this awesome, or what?  Please don’t say “or what.”

There IS a catch:  You have to get these into me by Friday November 24th so that I can steadily, and without a fevered pace, put together a beautiful cookbook.

The recipe book will go out only once… like Santa.

Send me those recipes and ideas folks……



Cheese Board under $25

Fall seems like a good time to talk about a cheese board, doesn’t it?  I’m not sure why, because cheese is great any time of year, but it seems like we want to get more earthy and aromatic when the air gets a little chilly.

I like entertaining, and I occasionally like to get a little fancy.  I got this cheese board for my wedding over 3 years ago, and I was way more excited than anyone should be to use this darn thing.  I’ve not had a cheese board worthy style party at my home yet… more like cookouts and really laid back shindigs.  So when one of the studios where I work was having a little graduation ceremony and we all were bringing some food to eat, I looked at that cheese board and said, “it is your time to shine!”

Of course I didn’t know what you actually put on a cheese board to make it all swanky like… except for cheese, and I didn’t know any cheese rules.  I don’t like stupid rules anyway.  Some are meant to be broken.

After researching all about cheese boards, I felt I knew enough to throw the rule book out and do my own thing.  Plus if Aldi didn’t have it, it wasn’t going on that board anyway!

Here’s how I did an Aldi cheese board for under $25.  $22.11 to be exact.

A cheese board should consist of at least a few things.  Cheese.  Cheese in a can is a no no.  Fruit.  Made with real fruit, doesn’t count.  And something else.  The something else can be salty, sweet, or savory.  I made sure I had a few different textures and layers of tastes for the palate.

Cheese board deconstruction is as follows:

You know my mentality… it doesn’t all have to be expensive.  Heck none of it has to be expensive, but you don’t want to look like you didn’t care enough to not just rush and throw some stuff together and pass it off as caring.  People can see right through it, and I take pride in my work.. be it a dance piece, or a simple cheese board.

Did you know Aldi has some fancy things in their store?  Yeah, if you take the time to look.  I selected this “high end” roasted garlic and tomato basil cheese, to pair with a regular swiss and cheddar block cheese.


The fruit… simple grapes, dried apricots, and a trail mix with nuts and dried fruit.

The something else….thinly sliced prosciutto, plus crackers (not pictured).

The presentation:  The tomato cheese was all pretty and marble-like.  It looked great on its own.  I cut the rectangle cheese block into some triangular wedges.  Leave the grapes as God created them, and slice the prosciutto in small strips and roll them up into bite size pieces.  A ramekin, or any other small dish can hold the dried apricot and trail mix so guests can add some sweetness to their taste buds.

Grand Totals:

Roasted garlic tomato basil cheese  $2.99

Cheddar Block  $1.79

Swiss Block  $1.79

Prosciutto  $2.49

Dried Apricots  $2.79

Trail Mix  $4.99

Red Grapes  $1.98

Six Cracker Assortment  $3.29

Drum roll please….$22.11

It’s also worth noting that all of the food is not pictured here, and I could have easily made two or three cheese boards with the above products.  That’s enough to replenish your board all the night through!

Don’t have a cheese board?  Use a cutting board!  No one will even know the difference, and remember… no rules.

You rebel you!


4 Thanksgiving Ideas for the Family Gathering


Today I’m bringing you some (hopefully) fresh ideas to entertain your family on the big turkey day.
Everyone knows that when everyone gets together, they gorge on turkey and all the sides, plus dessert…. and usually all settle in to watch football, or traditionally chit chat and gab away.  Kids tend to entertain themselves (either good or bad).
Instead of everyone doing the thing they do every year, why not add a little extra into the mix?
Here are 4 ideas to shake everything up, (just a little bit)
Recipes:  Having a potluck?  Want to try something new for next year?  Have the people that bring a dish, also bring copies of the recipe.  They can also send you or give you the recipe before hand so you can make copies and provide them for guests to take if they want to introduce the dish into other events.  One of the greatest things about recipes is that the dish is continually always known by the person you got the recipe from.  It can be a widely known recipe, but if someone you know introduced you to it, it’s THEIR recipe!  Let your recipe live on this year.  For the more tech savvy crew, you could even create a newsletter with everyone’s recipes, but make sure you have a paper friendly version for the non techie folks.
Time Capsule Craft:  This next idea comes from my love of crafting.  I know not everyone loves glitter and glue, but this simple craft is fun for the whole family.  Create a Christmas Tree ornament that will seal the moment in time.  Provide clear plastic fillable ornaments, and have guests fill them with craft supplies that you or they provide.  (Craft table potluck anyone?)  Personalize ornaments by having guests write simple memories on small sheets of paper.  Ideas to get you started are; major life events such as marriages and births, major life accomplishments like graduating, or landing a good job, and simple life events like favorite holiday movie, food, or song.  A link to directions and craft supplies can be found HERE but don’t limit yourself to just these craft supplies.  They have such cute things in craft stores these days, so take a trip to just meander.
Silly Talent Show:  Everyone has a silly talent or trick.  Can you recite the alphabet backwards, or do some magic tricks?  Have guests showcase their talents after dinner.  Let guests know ahead of time so they can prepare and aren’t put on the spot.  Kids particularly might love this activity, so let them steal the show if they want.  You might get an entire magic show, or dance recital!
The Most Important of All:  Give back.  Vow to do an act of kindness.  No act is too small.  Share your ideas and proclaim your act to everyone.  Maybe you can get together and volunteer your time.  Feed off of one another, steal each others ideas, and most importantly… follow through.  Acts of kindness are only great if they play out.
Want more ideas?  
I’ll be emailing additional ideas including a free printable PDF activity placement for all ages to my Nicolyndime Club email list subscribers only!  Want to subscribe now?
Here ya go:

Click to join photo - Copy

Plus check out last year’s free printable to keep you sane!

Happy Fourth of July and Surprise!

Happy Independence Day, and Happy Birthday America!  My husband wanted to invite a bunch of our friends over for the 4th of July weekend to cookout.  It was our first big shindig in the new house.  I finally got to use a lot of my wedding gifts!
Pink lemonade clearly needs some mixing…..but these little chalkboard signs were so cute!
Soooo since we were having everyone over anyway, I decided to hijack his gathering and throw a surprise birthday in for him too.
I let everyone know and we had a cake for him.  His birthday isn’t until mid July so he was surprised!  I made my own hockey cake toppers….and the colors were black and gold!
As usual, I had to throw my touch on the party decor.  I had some red, white, and blue tableware, and tossed in some patriotic items from around our home.  (A 48 star wool flag from an estate sale in PA.)
We had grilled hamburgers, brats, and chicken, corn, and I made ribs in the oven.  Our sides were fruit salad, potato salad, pasta salad, and roasted vegetables.  For dessert you can see I made a hockey brownie, store bought cookies, and the cake and ice cream.  See my corningware in action?
My husband was really surprised and a little embarrassed because of the outpouring of generosity.
It was a nice evening, and I can’t wait for the next one!

Party Planning: June Vision Board

june picnic party

This month I bring you the June Party Planning Vision Board for my go to image of a June Picnic.  Father’s Day is June 19th, but this party would fit for any reunion, gathering, or birthday party too!
What is a June picnic without the old fashioned nostalgia of red and white checked gingham?!  Plates, cups, napkins, and additional boxes for snacks to carry around are adorned with the cheeky pattern.  I also added some red chevron, polka dot, and striped bamboo cutlery to the mix.  Plastic hot dog containers can also hold small packets of condiments, hand wipes, or the packets of individual sunscreen at the bottom left hand corner of the board.  These are nice for guests that may have forgotten their own sunblock.
Keep small children entertained while eating by allowing them to play with picnic sticker play sets, and afterwards big kids and little kids alike will love to play or watch some lawn games like large tic tac toe, or chutes and ladders.  Keep the game going into the night by using the ring toss both in the day time, and night time with the addition of glow in the dark necklaces.  These are great for guests to wear too.  Don’t forget to light up your outdoor party at night with these solar light lawn markers, and send guests home with a hamburger key chain to remember their party with you!
If you use my vision board for your blog, or inspiration for your own party, please give me credit, and I would love to see photos of your actual shindig!


Party Planning: Vision Board

mothers day tea vision board

Today I am bringing you the first in a monthly series of Party Planning Vision Boards.  These are tools to help you visualize a theme, or a pathway to your perfect party or event.  I love creating parties with wonderful details to make guests feel special, and I typically start with something quite similar to this.
This month I am focusing on a Mother’s Day theme.  This Mother’s Day tea party is everything girly, and perfect for Mommy to have with her children.  Focus all of the party decor on making the table settings the focal point of the party, with additional buffet space complementing the atmosphere.  Use cute and decorative platters as centerpieces, and display delicious cupcakes.  Hang pink and purple paper lanterns above the table to give the space an enchanting look.  Dress guests up in pearl beaded necklaces and allow them to create charm bracelets as favors.  Create place setting favors by tying paper or cloth napkins with cute tea party theme lollipops and yarn, or baker’s twine.  Provide an assortment of light teas, with cream, sugar, honey, and lemon (keeping in mind any dietary restrictions of guests) and let the kiddos have their spill free “tea cups” with a straw.  Everyone will love sitting at such a beautifully decorated tea table, and enjoying the time to chat and relax.
Whatever you do, remember the women you love on Mother’s Day.


Monthly Vision Boards: Party Planning Inspiration

I do apologize that I haven’t been posting as regularly as I did in the past.  I am reworking my brand, and at the same time I have had a great many dance job offers out of the blue (which I am absolutely loving!!).
I’d rather not post fluff just to post, and instead post things that I am really passionate about.  I am trying to have more of a variety of everything I love.. and that’s a lot, so bear with me while I work this all out.
One thing I love is party planning.  I don’t know about you, but I love entertaining.  It’s been hard moving to a totally new state, 1,000 miles from everyone you knew, but at the same time I am meeting a lot of fun and wonderful people.  Since we moved into a way larger place, I have been brainstorming about great themed parties again.  So, I am bringing you an inspiration board for a party each and every month.
This month I am featuring a Mother’s Day Tea Party, which I will post on Wednesday.  Come back to see it then!
Let’s go back in time today…… (cue that wavy dream sequence where I tilt my head in pensive thought).
Years back I had a little vintage 40’s and 50’s inspired tea party.  I invited a few close women and we had a nice afternoon of relaxing and girl talk.
The vision was a super feminine, frilly, and delicate party with childhood delights in mind.
I created a Spring menu:


And set the table with pastels.  You can see some of my etsy creations were alive and well back then.


The pastel colored apple bowls were a Goodwill find.  And I created my own cloth napkins, and embellished them with a vintage brooch.
It was also my best friend’s birthday, so I made a 4 layer pastel cake.  I decorated the top with some colored chocolate hearts that I made from a chocolate mold.


Favors included a small candy buffet….
and these very prize puff inspired carry out boxes full of small girly trinkets.
It was a fun afternoon, and I miss my best friend and her mom (my Ma B) but friends are always close in our hearts!
Tune in Wednesday to see my Mother’s Day Tea Party Vision Board!