12 Beautiful Modern Thanksgiving Decorations

Modern Thanksgiving Decorations | Thanksgiving ideas, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

Admittedly, I tend to be a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving decorations. Not so much of the pilgrims and cornucopia variety, but more in the pumpkins, leaves and autumnal colors kind of way. Ok and even more honestly, we’re usually so busy cooking and baking and popping bottles of bubbly that crafting the perfect Thanksgiving tablescape is never really top of mind for me. That said, I can really get behind a seriously beautiful and modern Thanksgiving celebration, which is what inspired today’s round-up. If you need even more Thanksgiving ideas, from recipes to decor and more, visit me over on Pinterest where I’m pinning daily!

1. DIY balloon centerpiece [above]

Modern Thanksgiving Decorations | Thanksgiving ideas, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

2. DIY geometric string art backdrop

Modern Thanksgiving Decorations | Thanksgiving ideas, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

3. Dip dye placemats

Modern Thanksgiving Decorations | Thanksgiving ideas, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

4. DIY Thanksgiving balloons

Modern Thanksgiving Decorations | Thanksgiving ideas, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

5. DIY ombre mini pumpkin centerpiece

Modern Thanksgiving Decorations | Thanksgiving ideas, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

6. Printable Thanksgiving worksheet

Modern Thanksgiving Decorations | Thanksgiving ideas, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

7. Give thanks garland

Modern Thanksgiving Decorations | Thanksgiving ideas, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

8. Modern Thanksgiving table

Modern Thanksgiving Decorations | Thanksgiving ideas, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

9. DIY painted leaf backdrop

Modern Thanksgiving Decorations | Thanksgiving ideas, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

10. Mini honeycomb paper turkeys

Modern Thanksgiving Decorations | Thanksgiving ideas, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

11. Printable leftover pie labels

Modern Thanksgiving Decorations | Thanksgiving ideas, entertaining tips, party ideas and more from @cydconverse

12. I am thankful for balloon

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Homemade Holiday Stovetop Potpourri

How to Make Your House Smell like Fall | Homemade Stovetop Potpourri plus more entertaining ideas, Christmas recipes, cocktail recipes, Thanksgiving ideas and more from @cydconverse

An alternate title to this post would be something like, “How to make your house smell like the holidays!” And that would be totally, completely accurate. I believe my oldest stepson’s words were, verbatim, “Yum, it smells like Christmas in here!” Yes, bud, it does. You’ve probably heard of this concept before. Fill a pot with water, toss in a bunch of spices and fruit, simmer it on the stove and make the house smell instantly like fall and winter and dessert and cider and all those good things. But does it actually work? Why yes, friends, it does! So today I’m walking you through how to make this super simple homemade holiday stovetop potpourri, that is really perfect for the entire holiday season. Put a pot on the stove this weekend while you’re starting to get organized for Thanksgiving next week. Set a pot to simmer before guests arrive for a dinner party. Your house has never smelled so good, promise.

How to Make Your House Smell like Fall | Homemade Stovetop Potpourri plus more entertaining ideas, Christmas recipes, cocktail recipes, Thanksgiving ideas and more from @cydconverse

How to Make Your House Smell like Fall | Homemade Stovetop Potpourri plus more entertaining ideas, Christmas recipes, cocktail recipes, Thanksgiving ideas and more from @cydconverse How to Make Your House Smell like Fall | Homemade Stovetop Potpourri plus more entertaining ideas, Christmas recipes, cocktail recipes, Thanksgiving ideas and more from @cydconverse

How to Make Your House Smell like Fall | Homemade Stovetop Potpourri plus more entertaining ideas, Christmas recipes, cocktail recipes, Thanksgiving ideas and more from @cydconverse

Homemade Stovetop Potpourri

  • Orange slices
  • Fresh cranberries
  • Bay leaves
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Star anise
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves

How to Make Your House Smell like Fall | Homemade Stovetop Potpourri plus more entertaining ideas, Christmas recipes, cocktail recipes, Thanksgiving ideas and more from @cydconverse

How to Make Your House Smell like Fall | Homemade Stovetop Potpourri plus more entertaining ideas, Christmas recipes, cocktail recipes, Thanksgiving ideas and more from @cydconverse How to Make Your House Smell like Fall | Homemade Stovetop Potpourri plus more entertaining ideas, Christmas recipes, cocktail recipes, Thanksgiving ideas and more from @cydconverse

How to Make Your House Smell like Fall | Homemade Stovetop Potpourri plus more entertaining ideas, Christmas recipes, cocktail recipes, Thanksgiving ideas and more from @cydconverse

Begin by filling a medium to large pot roughly 3/4 of the way full of water. Drop in a handful of cranberries, a few slices of fresh orange and then drop in all of your spices. I like the combination of bay leaf, star anise, whole cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon sticks, but you can also just grab from what you have handy or find easily in the grocery store. You definitely want whole spices and/or herbs for this; anything powdered won’t work and will just make a mess. Heat the pot over medium-high heat to a low boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting and allow it to simmer. The fragrance comes from simmering this on the stove, so at this point you’re done! Keep an eye on the pot to be sure it doesn’t run out of water, because dried on fruit and bay leaf will make a mess. Top off with water as necessary and enjoy the smells of the holidays!

How to Make Your House Smell like Fall | Homemade Stovetop Potpourri plus more entertaining ideas, Christmas recipes, cocktail recipes, Thanksgiving ideas and more from @cydconverse

How to Make Your House Smell like Fall | Homemade Stovetop Potpourri plus more entertaining ideas, Christmas recipes, cocktail recipes, Thanksgiving ideas and more from @cydconverse How to Make Your House Smell like Fall | Homemade Stovetop Potpourri plus more entertaining ideas, Christmas recipes, cocktail recipes, Thanksgiving ideas and more from @cydconverse

How to Make Your House Smell like Fall | Homemade Stovetop Potpourri plus more entertaining ideas, Christmas recipes, cocktail recipes, Thanksgiving ideas and more from @cydconverse

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[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]

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DIY Graphic Cookie Aprons

DIY Graphic Aprons from @cydconverse | Hostess gift ideas, DIY gifts, homemade gifts, entertaining ideas and more!

Last week I shared the cookie exchange that I recently hosted for a gaggle of my favorite women. Today I’m sharing the quick and easy tutorial for making the DIY aprons that I gifted each lady as a little thank you for joining me for the day. Guys, these have homemade hostess gift written all over them! Inspired by Kelly’s DIY graphic tees, I wanted to come up with a cute, cheeky phrase that would fit the cookie theme. After much delibration, I thought I’d play on the ubiquitous “But first, coffee” phrase that you see just about everywhere these days and, thus, the world’s coolest apron was born. If you need to know just how easy these are, I made twelve in under two hours!

DIY Graphic Aprons from @cydconverse | Hostess gift ideas, DIY gifts, homemade gifts, entertaining ideas and more!

DIY Graphic Aprons from @cydconverse | Hostess gift ideas, DIY gifts, homemade gifts, entertaining ideas and more!

Supplies

DIY Graphic Aprons from @cydconverse | Hostess gift ideas, DIY gifts, homemade gifts, entertaining ideas and more!

Begin by using a large heart-shaped paper punch to punch hearts out of your iron-on glitter paper. I picked up the glitter paper at Michaels in the aisle with the fabric dyes, but you can also find it via Amazon using the link above. I made all twelve aprons using one full sheet and about a quarter of a second sheet. I did find that the glitter paper had a bit of tendency to get a little hung up on the punch, so rather than pushing the punch down slowly, give it a good rap on top and that should cut through nice and neat. No need for being gentle here!

DIY Graphic Aprons from @cydconverse | Hostess gift ideas, DIY gifts, homemade gifts, entertaining ideas and more!

DIY Graphic Aprons from @cydconverse | Hostess gift ideas, DIY gifts, homemade gifts, entertaining ideas and more!

Next up, lay your apron out on a flat, heat resistant surface. Lay out your letters to find the best arrangement, being sure not to go too low or too high so the letters sit appropriately across the chest. Determine where you’d like to place your heart, and then iron everything down using a warm, dry iron. Place a pillowcase or other thin fabric in between your letters and the iron to keep everything protected. Press firmly and iron everything for a good 30 to 40 seconds, then remove and check to be sure everything is securely tacked down. If not, no biggie! Just iron everything again until everything is fully attached. For best results, read the instructions on your particular brand of iron-on paper and letters to be sure you’re setting yourself up for success. Then you’re done! The world’s cutest aprons in just a few minutes of work for each one. Voila!

DIY Graphic Aprons from @cydconverse | Hostess gift ideas, DIY gifts, homemade gifts, entertaining ideas and more!

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[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]

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How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange

This post was sponsored by Eagle Brand. Thank you for supporting
the sponsors that 
help make The Sweetest Occasion possible!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

Baking cookies around the holidays has a long, sweet history in my family. I remember gathering as a kid with my mom, grandmother and aunts to mix, roll, cut and bake cookies for an entire weekend every year. To this day my mom and I still confer at some point in early December to divvy up the cookie baking list if we aren’t able to get together to do the actual baking. While we try to add new things in every so often, we always go back to those tried and true favorites that everyone in the family goes crazy for year after year. This year when Eagle Brand reached out about teaming up to host a cookie exchange, I was perhaps a little bit giddy in how enthusiastically I jumped on board! Cookie exchanges bring back the most amazing memories of my childhood, gathered with generations of women in my family to sing and bake the day away. Needless to say, I could not wait to invite a bunch of the coolest ladies I know (including my mom, of course) to join me for a day of cookies and champagne.

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

My grandmother was always a little bit crazy (in a totally lovable way, I swear) about keeping Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk stocked in her pantry this time of year. (By the by, she also always had the ingredients for her favorite party dip recipe on hand, too, but we’ll save that one for another day.) When the folks at Eagle Brand suggested that we switch things up and actually host a super fun un-cookie exchange, I was game. They challenged me to create two delicious, brand new and totally unique recipes that would make it super simple for you to host or attend a cookie exchange. So, think the world’s most amazing fudge recipe (check!) and a killer bar cookie recipe (check!) in lieu of making tray after tray of cookies. Today I’m sharing both recipes, plus my tips for hosting a merry un-cookie exchange!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

To keep things fun and festive, without wanting anyone to feel overwhelmed given how busy all the women I know are these days, I asked my lady pals to each bring along two dozen of their favorite cookies. Traditional cookies, bar cookies, bark, fudge, whatever was best and easiest for them! I made dark chocolate caramel corn fudge and triple layer dulce de leche brownie cookie bars, which were the undeniable stars of the show. (Ahem, even if I do say so myself.) My sweet cousin Diane made a really festive holiday punch while I chilled several bottles of champagne. I set up a quick and easy bar station so everyone could self-serve punch, champagne or mix a quick cocktail. Stacks of bakery boxes (from Shop Sweet Lulu) allowed everyone to easily pack up cookies and treats to bring home at the end of the festivities, while an assortment of platters and cake stands made the perfect way to display everyone’s creations while we were listening to Christmas music and catching up.

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

Cookie Exchange Party

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

I really wanted to send each of my ladies home with something sweet (in addition to their cookie stash, of course) so I made super cute aprons for everyone! (Stay tuned for the DIY tutorial next week so you can make your own, too!) Everyone went crazy for them, and they were surprisingly simple to make. They’d also make a really sweet hostess gift! If you’re not into making aprons, no worries. You can skip the gift portion entirely or send everyone home with a pretty ornament or a cute cookie cutter. Everyone gets so busy during the holiday season with personal and family obligations, so it felt like a nice little extra touch to thank everyone for carving out an afternoon to come over and hang out. Plus, who can resist a punny graphic apron? Not this lady!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

For decor, it’s totally ok to keep things simple! I sprinkled a bit of confetti around and filled a tray with glittery ornaments and called it a centerpiece with the addition of a tall cylinder vase holding big white hydrangea blooms. A few cute extras like little bottle brush trees, colorful paper straws, gold trimmed glasses, sweet little twizzle sticks and pretty cocktail napkins pull everything together in a way that’s crazy festive and really chic, without driving you crazy over the details. I made a big installation of honeycomb balls and gold lanterns over the bar area to serve as a single, bright and merry focal point. (You can snag the honeycomb balls from Shop Sweet Lulu and I got the gold lanterns on Amazon.) You don’t need to get overwhelmed with decorating! Pull from your existing holiday decor, add in a few little extras and let those cookies do the talking.

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

How to Host a Merry Cookie Exchange with @cydconverse + @eaglebrand | Cookie exchange recipes, holiday party ideas, entertaining tips, best cookie recipes and more!

If you’re getting into the holiday spirit big time like I am right now, you need to host a cookie exchange! Better yet, snag my recipes for the world’s best dark chocolate caramel corn fudge and triple layer dulce de leche brownie cookie bars and host an un-cookie exchange. A single tray of each will yield you a bunch of treats for your favorite people. You can also share your favorite bar and fudge ideas with Eagle Brand on Facebook and Pinterest, and visit Eagle Brand’s official un-cookie exchange hub for dozens of additional recipes! Toss a few ornaments around the house, add champagne and a solid holiday playlist and you’ve got an instant party! Thanks so much to Eagle Brand for inspiring an amazing afternoon. The guests included some of my best friends, a handful of cousins, old high school friends and even a few babies who conveniently went down for naps right as we started group photos. Coming together and finding a really special way to celebrate friends and family is what the holidays are all about to me and I loved having a chance to host everyone. Hip hip hooray for a cookie exchange!

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[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]

This post was sponsored by Eagle Brand. Read more about our editorial policies. For more seriously delicious recipes, follow Eagle Brand on Facebook and Pinterest

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Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn Fudge

This post was sponsored by Eagle Brand. Thank you for supporting
the sponsors that 
help make The Sweetest Occasion possible!

Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn Fudge Recipe from @eaglebrand and @cydconverse | Best fudge recipes, cookie exchange recipes and party ideas!

As part of the festive un-cookie exchange I hosted in collaboration with Eagle Brand, today I am sharing the world’s best fudge recipe! Clearly, I’m biased on that one, but I have a bit of a love/hate relationship when it comes to fudge so when I set out to make a fudge recipe, I set out to make the very best one of all. This fudge recipe is smooth, rich and requires a whopping three ingredients! (In all honesty, I tried a few other variations with a few additional ingredients and simpler was better.) This is the fudge recipe that is going to make a believer out of you. It’s going to become your go-to recipe to bring to parties and work functions. It’s going to become the fudge your friends beg you to make year round. It’s the fudge that is going to challenge your grandma’s fudge as the family’s favorite recipe. Those are big words! But they’re truth.

Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn Fudge Recipe from @eaglebrand and @cydconverse | Best fudge recipes, cookie exchange recipes and party ideas!

Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn Fudge Recipe from @eaglebrand and @cydconverse | Best fudge recipes, cookie exchange recipes and party ideas! Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn Fudge Recipe from @eaglebrand and @cydconverse | Best fudge recipes, cookie exchange recipes and party ideas!

Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn Fudge Recipe from @eaglebrand and @cydconverse | Best fudge recipes, cookie exchange recipes and party ideas!

Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn Fudge
Makes approximately 16 pieces

  • 12 oz dark chocolate chips
  • (1) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed milk
  • 3 cups caramel corn

Place the dark chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a heat-safe bowl. Heat over a double boiler until chocolate is thoroughly melted and incorporated with the sweetened condensed milk, stirring frequently. In the meantime, line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper. Once the chocolate mixture is smooth and thoroughly heated, remove from the heat. Using a rubber spatula, fold in two cups of caramel corn, reserving the last cup. Once caramel corn is incorporated, pour into your pan and spread out evenly. Press the remaining cup of caramel corn onto the top of the mixture and then chill for 3 – 4 hours or overnight. Cut into squares and prepare to stun your friends!

Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn Fudge Recipe from @eaglebrand and @cydconverse | Best fudge recipes, cookie exchange recipes and party ideas!

Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn Fudge Recipe from @eaglebrand and @cydconverse | Best fudge recipes, cookie exchange recipes and party ideas! Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn Fudge Recipe from @eaglebrand and @cydconverse | Best fudge recipes, cookie exchange recipes and party ideas!

Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn Fudge Recipe from @eaglebrand and @cydconverse | Best fudge recipes, cookie exchange recipes and party ideas!

Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn Fudge Recipe from @eaglebrand and @cydconverse | Best fudge recipes, cookie exchange recipes and party ideas!

Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn Fudge Recipe from @eaglebrand and @cydconverse | Best fudge recipes, cookie exchange recipes and party ideas!

Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn Fudge Recipe from @eaglebrand and @cydconverse | Best fudge recipes, cookie exchange recipes and party ideas!

This is the simplest fudge recipe, but guys, it is so good! We’re talking one of those perfect, fuss-free recipes that just becomes a staple in your rotation that you’ll make over and over and over again. While recipe testing I made what felt like countless batches and our friends and neighbors and family ate up every last piece! You can pop caramel corn using your favorite microwave variety or pick up a bag of the kind that is already popped. The combination of the caramel corn and the dark chocolate is so tasty, but a touch unexpected, which is what makes this such a hit.

Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn Fudge Recipe from @eaglebrand and @cydconverse | Best fudge recipes, cookie exchange recipes and party ideas!

Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn Fudge Recipe from @eaglebrand and @cydconverse | Best fudge recipes, cookie exchange recipes and party ideas!

Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn Fudge Recipe from @eaglebrand and @cydconverse | Best fudge recipes, cookie exchange recipes and party ideas!

I made my fudge with the original Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed milk, but they also make Low Fat and Fat Free varieties that I’m sure would work just as well with this recipe! As a long time baking mainstay, you can find Eagle Brand products at practically any and every local grocery store regardless of where you live. This holiday season, share your favorite bar and fudge ideas with Eagle Brand on Facebook and Pinterest, and visit Eagle Brand’s official recipe hub for dozens of additional recipes! (Oh, and don’t miss my triple layer dulce de leche brownie cookie bars!) With this recipe and my tips in your corner, you’ll be ready to host your very own un-cookie exchange!

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[Art direction, recipes + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]

This post was sponsored by Eagle Brand. Read more about our editorial policies. For more seriously delicious recipes, follow Eagle Brand on Facebook and Pinterest

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