Sweet Designs: Party Trends to Try

While we all admire an Amy Atlas party, can the average party mom really accomplish her standard of style?

Studio 5 Contributor Michelle Virtue pulls from the pages of Amy Atlas’s new book, “Sweet Designs” and shares a few takeaway trends that are actually do able.

The new book by Amy Atlas, Sweet Designs, takes you step by step through the process of designing what I like to call a “Double A (Amy Atlas) Party”. You know—the kind of party people talk about and swoon over from start to finish. The book is more than a colorful gallery of Amy’s artistic celebrations. It is a guide to planning your own party with basic design foundations, simple recipes, crafting genius and a darling collection of those little things that make everyone wish they were on Amy’s guest list. My favorite part about the book, aside from the colorful layout, is that all of the parties are doable. Sure, I may not have access or the bank account to have my glitter truffles flown in from NYC, but I can certainly display sprinkled cupcakes on a white platter and wrap candy bars with gift wrap. Amy’s style is clean and simple, but it’s also famous for unique color combinations, countless details and deliberate placement. The content of this book provides a party foundation applicable for any season, occasion, guest list or generation. Trust me on this one—add it to your collection! http://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Designs-Bake-Craft-Style/dp/1401324401/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1332339847&sr=8-1

Here are a few of my favorite tips from the book as well a few things I have found helpful in designing with Amy Atlas style.


Decide whether the food or the design is more important to you. Amy Atlas didn’t become famous for traditional theme parties and I doubt you will ever see her feature a Toy Story party on her blog. Instead, she selects her focus based on a color scheme, food presentation and an overall “WOW” factor.

She mentions in the book that she is constantly looking for inspiration. It can come from fashion, the shape of a sweet treat, the pattern on a pillow or the feel of a particularly striking piece of art. Look for your inspiration and make that your focus.


Amy says this about her use of white in her tables—”It’s essential for creating a resting place for the eyes, and it gives a table breathing space. Using white pieces brings clarity and crispness to a table. . .” Start collecting white serving pieces you can use on your tables. A crisp white linen is a must—even if it is only used as a clean base to “ground the tableau.”

White dishes in all shapes and sizes can be very affordable. Purchase them in sets of two or three if you’re serious about entertaining. I prefer to use square or rectangles to encourage clean lines and maximize space. Tai Pan Trading and Crate & Barrel are two of my favorite sources for white serving pieces. http://taipantrading.com http://www.crateandbarrel.com/


Amy’s designs are anything but flat and boring. My favorite Amy Atlas technique is the use of graphic and colorful backdrops that bring the eye up and make the table “pop.” You won’t believe what a difference this makes to the overall feel of your party. There are lots of different way to accomplish vertical interest. Even if your house, wall or venue doesn’t provide the perfect backdrop—don’t worry! Use a custom cut piece of particle board, Masonite or foam core to your advantage. They can be painted, covered with giftwrap, upholstered with batting and fabric or made into a chalkboard. Use these panels in multiples for larger gathering or weddings. If you don’t want the hassle of handling a large piece, I suggest using 3M removable hooks, a dowel and fabric/curtain panels. This is a simple and inexpensive way to create a party background. Balloons, streamers, lanterns, lamps, slat or bead board panels!

Photo of Pastel Pretty, Copyright Sweet Designs: Bake It, Craft It, Style It, Hyperion Books 2012
Photography by Johnny Miller.

You can also help your table rise to new heights by layering and lifting the display on your table. Make stands, cake plates and lifts a part of your design and you create interest and variety.


Let’s face it, the food on an Amy Atlas table is picture perfect. Everything looks like it came from a high end New York bakery. There’s a good chance that many of the items in Amy’s book did originate from some of the best confectionary suppliers in the country. The good news is that Sweet Designs shares some of Amy’s secrets for dessert shortcuts. The book is full of recipes and ideas for making the food portion of your buffet quick, easy and stylish. Think dipped pound cake (the kind you buy in the freezer section PRE-SLICED at the grocery store), Krispie treats (SO EASY), bulk candy in vivid colors, wrapped candy bars, simple sugar cookies, lemon bars, meringues and whoopee pies.

When displaying your food, make the lines clean, the colors bold and the variety plentiful. Use paper, tissue, sprinkles and candy on platters for display. Amy’s food is always lined up perfectly, cut cleanly and to perfection AND it looks delicious. Be deliberate in your food choices and think outside of the box. Amy puts it this way—”. . . as a sweets stylist, I am constantly looking at both not for what they (sweets) are, but for what they can be.”

JELLO cookies are one of my favorite recipes for a quick and easy pop of table color. Fun for the kids and guests will love them. Think baby shower, bridal shower or birthday party!

Jello Cookies

1 ½ cups salted butter softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 (3 oz) pkg jello You can use any flavors you want.

Beat butter in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Blend in egg and vanilla. Mix flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture.

Divide dough into 4 sections. Sprinkle 2 Tb of jello onto each section. Knead together with dough. You may want to add a few drops of food coloring to make the dough more vibrant.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in the extra jello from the packets. Place, 2 inches apart, on parchment lined baking sheets. Flatten with bottom of bowl or a glass.

Bake 8 at 350 degrees. Cool on baking sheets 2 min. Remove to wire racks and cool completely.

Book Bonus: If you own Amy’s book, you have access to the free templates featured in many of her table stylings. Buying the book is worth it for that alone.

To watch Amy’s Sweet Treats video trailer, visti–http://vimeo.com/38645246

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