Here are some things that I have learned about making and decorating cupcakes.
Whenever I make cupcakes, I always use my ice cream scoop to fill the liners. The ice cream scoop measures out the perfect amount of batter everytime, and keeps me from spilling all over the pan.
After the cupcakes have been baked and thoroughly cooled, I prepare to decorate them with a disposable decorater icing bag and a metal "star" decorating tip.
With scissors, I snip about 1/2" off the pointed end of the bag. Then I slip a "star" decorating icing tip into the bag, forcing it all the way to the bottom. I fold down the top of the bag, and then push the frosting down with the back of a spoon until there is no more air at the bottom of the bag. Then I unfold the top of the bag and twist it so the frosting doesn't come out the top. With consistent pressure and without moving my wrists~ only my arms, I squeeze the bag while spiraling around the top of the cupcake.
Just like in this photograph from a Martha Stewart magazine (except the lady is decorating cookies)
The top of the bag should be facing the ceiling, while the star tip should be about 1/2" from the top of the cupcake. I let a little bit of the cupcake peek out around the edges under the frosting. When I get to the center, I stop squeezing, and gently lift the bag up.
Our last birthday was a pajama party with pizza, cupcakes, karaoke (picked up the machine from a yard sale!), a movie and popcorn. So we chose to decorate the top of the cupcakes with a "hot buttered popcorn" tag. I found the image online at art.com. I reduced it and copied it 19 times in Microsoft Word and then printed it. Then I cut out two squares together at a time, folded them, and taped a toothpick inside. I looped one more piece of tape and put it inside to close the tag.
There are lots of fun tags you can make depending on the theme of the party. Just google images you are looking for. Another idea is to top cupcakes with fresh fruit. This one was from a party a couple years ago. It has a raspberry on top and mint leaves from my garden. This wasn't the prettiest cupcake of the bunch, but it was all that was left when I remembered to take a picture!
Hobby Lobby has some cute popcorn boxes.
Whenever we have a party, the first thing I think of along with the theme is what colors to do. I don't spend a lot of time and money on parties, but a color theme is important to me. For the pajama popcorn party, the colors were red, yellow and light blue. So we blew up a bunch of light blue balloons, strung them on twine that ran the length of the room, and ran Christmas tree lights along it. I attached the strand of lights to the twine with bread sack ties every few feet.
By the way, I'm thinking about painting the brick on my fireplace. Do you think I should do it? If so, what color?
I love to put a vanilla cupcake candle on my candle warmer. Then, if I bake the cupcakes a day ahead, the house can still smell like cupcakes at party time! (they are from walmart of course)