by Wiley

My South Pole Santa’s heading to Antarctica for an annual research expedition that, to my understanding, involves a ton of pub trivia, freshly baked cookies, and four square meals a day. (As far as I can tell, the only downside to being a South Pole researcher is that one of your fellow scientists might in fact be a parasitic extraterrestrial that yoinks your snickerdoodle.)

Last winter, his deployment date fell around his birthday so we celebrated the occasion with a surprise Antarctica-themed going away/birthday party.

(pics by Ingo of Jerry Yoon Photographers)

WELCOME SIGN: Welcome to Walt’s Totally Lovely Antarctic Wonderland. WALT TLAW is a magical, palindromic place with a name that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. But that’s okay, because if you rolled your tongue out in WALT TLAW, it might get stuck on a flagpole. We hope you enjoy your stay! And please–DO NOT eat the yellow snow.

MENU: During your visit, you’re invited to:
**Hope aboard the POLAR BRIE EXPRESS (raspberry jam and baked Brie)
**Hunt for the EMPANADOMINABLE SNOWMAN (spiced beef empanadas)
**Ski alongide SOUTHPOLE CHICKIES (tequila-lime wings)
**Cozy up under our FIGS IN A BLANKET (prosciutto-wrapped figs)
**Take a stroll in our WINTER GARDEN (arugula and beet salad)
**Ride an ICICLE BUILT FOR TWO (white chocolate pretzel sticks)
**Pan for YUKON GOLD NUGGETS (seasoned potato wedges)
**Join the MARCH OF THE PENGUINS (vanilla cupcakes)
**Lob some ITALIAN SNOWBALLS (fresh mozzarella with herbs)

Here are some penguin cupcakes bringing home the catch of the day (gummy fishies), as inspired by Hello, Cupcake! by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson. These penguins were made with vanilla cupcakes, frosting, a splash of black food coloring, marshmallows, yellow Starbursts, chocolate cookies, and mini chocolate chips.

These “icicles” are homemade white chocolate-covered pretzel rods with crushed almonds. The rock candy sticks were just a nickel at Michael’s.

It rained the day of the party so this abominable snowbeast pinata currently resides in my bedroom, along with a mysteriously diminishing supply of candy.

The snowflake pendants were made with a Gocco, a Japanese screen-printing machine. The mantel was decorated with books designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith, Rosanna ceramics, and hydrangeas in a Spanish glass vase.

My friend Joelle baked a pistachio ice cream cake, and I made laminated mini flags to decorate her delicious creation. The cake represents Antarctica and the flags represent the 12 signatory states of the Antarctic Treaty. Did you know that there are two South Poles? There’s the Ceremonial South Pole and the Geographic South Pole. The Geographic South Pole is repositioned every New Year’s Day to account for the shifting of the ice during the prior year.

(pic by Steve Spiker of Stealing Beauty Photography)

Walt’s mom lent me some childhood photos for the party (as well as the episode of Super Sloppy Double Dare that Walt appeared on when he was a kid!).

This eco-friendly chandelier’s made out of tissue paper and coffee filters and strung underneath the real chandelier.