Mer Mag

By Morgan Modica
cookie decorating

I don’t think of myself as a jealous person, but that little kid inside me is green with envy over this wonderful, whimsical children’s party. Hosted by the ever-talented Merrilee Liddiard — blogger behind Mer Mag and author of Playful — the grown-up dessert spread at this soiree makes for the most lavish kids buffet ever. Combine that with homemade paper crowns, an interactive cookie decorating activity and the most gorgeous industrial setting, and you’ve got the makings for one heck of a kids party. Keep reading to find out where this mama-of-three gets her inspiration and to see all the gorgeous details, and don’t forget to visit Mer Mag for all things creative and playful!

*photography by Jessica Peterson 

Your must-have entertaining tool?

Always have a go with the flow attitude.

What (if anything) scares you about entertaining?

Cooking! I can bake but my skills with the skillet are still novice and I get a bit scared of preparing certain meats.

Tell us about today’s party concept:

We had a house theme, which could work well for a house-warming party or a fun birthday party for kids, where the guest of honor could wear this fun paper house-crown and could receive a cardboard dollhouse as a gift.

We wanted it to be casually fanciful.

The entertaining rule you rarely break:

Have at least one “WOW!” factor that can break the ice and get guests (including the kiddos) socializing – or at least help to overlook other party imperfections.

Your signature entertaining dish:

As I mentioned earlier, I can be a tad cooking impaired, so I look for foods that I can “assemble” and then always call on outside help where I can (i.e. my husband, my friends, my Mother-in-Law, the store!, etc.).


… but I can put out a mean plate of crackers, artisan bread and cheese, or even a Caprese salad. And for dessert I can bake great pies, cakes and cookies.

The taste your always craving:

Chocolate – like really good artisan, rich & dark chocolate with touches of something to crunch on.

What do you always keep stocked in your refrigerator?

As of late, plenty of strawberries and raspberries!

What’s on the menu for this party?

I’ve always been nuts about those scenes in movies (like Little Princess and Harry Potter) where kids just sit down to (or even stand around) a table full of stacks of scrumptious finger foods and treats. I love this philosophy for kids – where it looks almost too fancy but then they are allowed to dive right in! Fingers and all!

So I always set out plates, platters and bowls full of fruits, grains, cheese, cakes, chocolates, cookies and more when entertaining kids. And in this party we added my Mother-in-law’s scrumptious summer salad and hand made dressing (which her grandkids actually love to gobble up!).

Get the recipe for Merilee’s Summer Salad & Poppyseed Dressing here!

The perfect dinner party playlist includes:

The Talking Heads – upbeat, but interesting and often a good conversation starter.

Your standard hostess outfit: 

Something comfy, drapey and pretty!

Your go-to hostess gift:

An art print – either one of mine or a friends.


Your dream dinner guests:

I love to entertain close friends and family, but how cool would it be to sit down with the likes of Bjork, Thoreau, Emily Bronte, Matisse, Picasso, Sonia Delaney and Lizbeth Zwerger and talk shop!?

Your entertaining style in 5 words or less:

Just 2 words… playfully simple!

Current favorite color palette for parties:

These days, I’m really loving blue with black (I almost always have to have a bit of black).

Where do you shop for party supplies and entertaining pieces?

I try to make as many things as possible, which keeps cost down and adds to a touch of fun and originality. You can do this without as much effort as you might think (trust me, if the idea is too grand or too hard chances are I ditch it). Poster board and cardboard can go a long way.

Also I’m a huge thrift store fanatic and found this great enamel wear set for a steal as well as these fun gold animal accents. Adding a bit of age to a party along with hand made and modern elements really helps to ground it for me.

Your tips for planning a party for kids:

Have something interactive — such as these house cookies that can be decorated with food coloring pens or just a brush and some food coloring — helps give something for wandering little hands to do.

Finger foods is always a good idea (actually, a must in my book) and don’t shy away from elevating things a bit every now and then! I think encouraging kids and parents to not be afraid to put out some nice dishes for kids and fancy treats here and there is a good thing. Give the message that “I trust you to learn how to handle yourself here” and also, “I want to do something a bit more special for you every now and then.” And then you can have Frozen balloons, string cheese and juice boxes at the park on a later date.

Visit Mer Mag for more crafting and party inspiration!