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Hop to It!

Make an Easter party and egg hunt fun and memorable—without breaking the bank.

Big holidays call for special parties, but the planning can seem daunting. While each particular holiday may drive your selection of colors, favors and other elements—such as Easter and springtime, pastels, baskets, bunnies, religious symbols and the like—funds and fresh ideas may be in short supply.

Interior designer and party planner Rebekah Dempsey, of A Blissful Nest, encourages parents to stay on budget by getting creative and reinventing items they already own.

“You can take what you have around your home, spruce it up with color, and for the holiday, add in a few key elements,” she says. “For this Easter party, all the furniture pieces and props were from my home.”

For example, a vintage suitcase purchased years ago at a flea market becomes the perfect vessel to hold the Easter treat buckets. And think double duty if you do plan to purchase items.

“I thought it [would be] fun to use buckets instead of baskets, because the kids can take these to the beach,” she says. “I just added cute tags, and the kids were off to their egg hunt.” If you decide to purchase baskets, consider selecting well-made ones that will keep for reuse year after year and can hold other items when spring is over. If weather permits, Rebekah suggests another tip: Bring the indoors out to expand your party play area. An Easter egg hunt, inside the house or out, is always fun. But if you can, bring inside pieces out and “organize elements to make a livable space,” Rebekah says. For this party, she created three areas: a tall table covered with burlap left over from a craft project holds grownup desserts; a shorter table offers desserts at kid height; and the lowest table is laden with favors for easy access. This simple recipe, along with added touches, such as lanterns, pomettes, flowers, edible decorations and printables, created a memorable celebration.

Most importantly, when you create a “made-just-for-you” feeling with homey touches and a party that all ages feel included in, you can be sure your guests will be happy. To assure this outcome, Rebekah offers one final note: “Never let your guests leave hungry!” Goodie take-home boxes are a great way to share the bounty and ease clean up, too.

Fruit and Cheese Tartlets

Fruit & Cheese Tartlets

Serve these mini tarts in small paper cupcake liners or place in colorful footed eggcups for a fun display (pictured).

Makes approx. 20 tartlets
Prep time: 20 minutes plus 30 minutes to chill dough
Cook time: 12-15 minutes

Tartlet Dough

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 stick plus 2 Tablespoons (10 Tablespoons)
cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
Mini muffin tins
Non-stick spray or butter to prepare pans
Mini cupcake liners (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour and confectioners’ sugar by hand or in a food processor.
3. Add butter pieces and combine until butter pieces are incorporated and approximately pea-sized.
4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and almond extract together. Add to the dry mixture and combine, but don’t overmix the dough.
5. Place approximately a golf ball-sized piece of dough into each prepared mini muffin tin cup. Use your hands or a shot glass to form the mini tart; don’t overwork the dough.
6. Freeze the tarts for 30 minutes or more before baking.
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
8. Cool on a rack until room temperature; remove from pans and fill as desired.

Quick Mini Tarts

For an easy fruit tart, use round shortbread cookies such as Walker’s Scottish Shortbread or similar, apply a thick layer of the cheese filling and place berries on top. Serve immediately.

Cheese Filling and Fruit Topping

¼ cup brown sugar
1 (8-ounce) package Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fresh berries and fruit of your choice, such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, mandarin orange slices (canned), etc.
3 Tablespoons jam, such as apricot, for glaze (optional)

1. Push brown sugar through a mesh strainer or sieve to remove any lumps.
2. Combine brown sugar, softened cheese and vanilla.
3. Fill each tart with the sweet cheese mixture and top with assorted fruit. If using, warm jam and lightly brush on top of fruit. Chill until ready to serve.

By Hillary Black
Photography and Styling by Rebekah Dempsey, A Blissful Nest

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