Outdoor Party Planning with Chef Kelli

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The spring and summer party season is here and Fox2 invited some of our favorite ‘party people’ to showcase great ideas when it comes to planning the setup, food, and décor for the perfect party.

We’ll start with setting the scene. The size of the gathering and weather may dictate whether you’re hosting strictly outdoors, but whether indoors or if you’re looking for some shade to cover your guests from the elements, proper planning is the key, according to Wayne Cope of Bloomfield Party Rentals.

Learn more about their offerings and see examples of Wayne’s work at his company’s website

Once you’ve got the layout decided, it’s time to focus on the décor. Kevin Miller, owner of Twigs and Branches Floral, dropped by the Fox2 News parking to accessories the tables and party tent Cope set up with some of his favorite, easy-to-do ideas.

For Graduation

Batter up

Take a large cylinder found at most craft stores. You can use bats you have already or buy some plain ones at any sporting goods store, and add some peanuts and baseballs at the bottom of the cylinder to create some interest.

Tuff runner

Visit a hardware store to get a fake grass rug and cut it in strips to use as a runner going down your tables. Add some candles and you’re good to go!

Sport box

Take a 12x12” wood box that you can find at most craft stores.  Fill it with moss and add a football or any other ball on top to change up the sport theme.

Go green

Spray painted glass cylinders from the dollar store. Hot glued some ribbon in green to the middle of the cylinder. Glue “STATE” one letter at a time on each of the 5 cylinders. Fill the cylinders with water and add a floating candle for a simple and cute centerpiece.

Then take plastic containers and spray painted them white. Use some floral oasis foam and cut to size to put in containers. Green dianthus can accent the container.

A white cotton napkin rolled up with hot-glued green ribbon in a napkin ring size and a white cutout letter of an ‘S’ to the green ribbon completes the presentation.

Made in Michigan

Floating candles

Find some copper wire at your local craft store and bunch it up on the inside of a glass cylinder. Add a floating candle.

Metal lanterns

You can use pretty much any lantern and they are at all your local home décor stores. Add a pillar candle inside.

Metal containers

Add some floral oasis to a metal container and fill them with yellow billy balls with a few shooting out.

Light bulb centerpiece

Fill a large cylinder with bistro lights and all you have to do is plug it in nearby electrical outlet.

Click here to learn about Miller’s company and see more of his ideas in practice.


Finally, it’s time to talk about the food. Chef Kelli Lewton visited Fox2 to share some of her favorite party-time meal and snack recipes.


MYO Graduation Push Up Pops & Ice Cream Sundae Jars

  1. To begin making the push pops, start by baking cake into half sheet pans. (2 boxed cake mixes makes 1 half sheet pan)
  2. Once cake is baked and cooled you are ready to assemble.  First, place the push up mold on a stand (You can also use vases filled with mini marshmallows or chocolate chips).  Next, use stainless steel ring cutters to cut out the cake from the sheet pan.  Make sure that the cake circles easily fit into the push up mold.  If the cake is too thick, cut the circles in half.
  3. Using a piping bag filled with frosting, pipe a small amount of icing on top of the first layer.  Next, add the second layer of cake, followed by more icing.  Continue layering until it fills the push pop mold.
  4. Optional: Add a touch of garnish such as candies, shaved chocolate, toasted coconut, sugar -made flowers (available at cake decorating stores or online).




Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies in Mini Mason Jars


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce (optional)

8 small ( 4oz) oven safe ramekins/mason jars


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
  • In a stand mixer or a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, about minute.
  • Add the sugars and beat until fluffy and pale-colored, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the vanilla extract and egg, and beat for 1 minute.
  • Add half the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture, using a wooden spoon, mix chocolate chips into batter.
  • Divide batter evenly between 8 lightly greased mason jars (half full).
  • Place mason on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden-brown on the edges.
  • Remove from oven and let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving, with or without ice cream.


Decorate Your Own Cookie

Display your favorite baked cookies for your guests. Suggestive display items can include rustic pans lined with linen cloth, cookie jars, or sheet pans.

In small glass bowls, have your decorations out. We suggest having colored butter creams, flavored ice creams in tubs over ice, colored sprinkles, mini M&Ms, crumbled Oreos, chocolate chips, Nerds candies, chopped dried fruits, whipped cream, toasted coconut, colored coarse sugar, mixed nuts, and crushed candy bars.

‘Made in Detroit’ Mac & Cheese Bar

Toppings such as to include buffalo chicken poppers, bacon & green onions or go fancy with steak bites, broccolini and sundried tomatoes.


MYO Nacho Bar


Take 4-6 inch aluminum pie tins and arrange your favorite nacho toppings;

·         Assorted salsas

·         Onions

·         Diced tomatoes

·         Pickled jalapenos

·         Turkey and or beef taco meat

·         Assorted cheese

·         Steak bites

·         Pulled southwest chicken

·         Beans

·         Grilled vegetables

Take pie tin top place nacho chips in tin, top with your favorite ingredients and sprinkle with cheese.  Place on BBQ grill and close lid for about 3 minutes until warm and melted.


MYO Guacamole Bar

·         Put out a base guacamole with ingredients to add extra POP!

·         Cilantro

·         Garlic

·         Tomatoes

·         Oranges wedges

·         Lime wedges

·         Jalapeno’s

·         Banana peppers

·         Corn

·         Black beans/white beans

Use small serving bowls with spoons to stir, mix and match.

Click here to see more of Chef Kelli’s recipes.