This is no time for major updates, so stick with simple tasks to make for a festive celebration.
Hosting a holiday gathering can be a lot of fun, but perhaps a bit intimidating, too. You want your house to look its best, but now isn’t the time to undertake any major updates.
Chances are, you’re busy enough just preparing for the event. So, focus on just the areas of your house where your guests will spend time.
Whether you’re a first-time party host with a few jitters, or an old pro looking for some new ideas, these tips will help you ensure that your home is ready for any gathering.
Light the way
The sun sets early this time of year, so it’s important to make sure the entrance to your home is clean and well-lit.
If you have a large front yard, try to focus on just the front entryway and the path leading up to it. Install porch lights, or replace the bulbs on existing lighting. Cut back any shrubbery that is obstructing the walkway.
On the day of your party, open the blinds on the front windows so your guests can see into your warm, festive-looking home as they approach. It’s a great way to create a sense of welcoming anticipation.
Pro tip: The easiest possible way to create instant lighting for walkways and paths is with the solar lights that you just stick into the ground. The sun does the rest of the work!
Take care of the bottom line
Our mothers used to say this, and it’s true: If your floors are spotless, they make your whole house look cleaner.
Even if you’re unable to do an in-depth house cleaning before your gathering, you will certainly want to make sure that all floors have been cleaned before that first guest steps over the threshold.
Pro tip: If you have carpeting, clean the carpets a minimum of three days ahead of your affair to make sure they have dried fully.
Brighten up your bathroom
If you’re bothered by grimy-looking grout in your bathroom, try this easy, inexpensive, and non-toxic method to get rid of it nearly instantly: Just spray on some full-strength hydrogen peroxide, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then wipe clean. That’s it!
Next, add some flowers, holiday decorations, or pictures on the wall to further spiff up your powder room, and it will be ready for your guests.
Pro tip: Instantly de-clog a slow-moving sink drain with a Zip-It. This inexpensive tool looks like a giant zip-tie. You just work it down into the drain to pull up hair clogs — all the other gunky stuff will come up with it.
Tune up kitchen appliances
Your kitchen appliances will be the workhorses of your holiday party, whether you’re hosting a full family dinner or a cocktail party. You want them to be fully functioning and ready for action.
Make sure all stove burners are working. Now’s the time to clean the oven if you haven’t done that for a while.
Clean out the refrigerator, and make sure that both the fridge and freezer are running at their optimal temperatures.
Make sure your dishwasher is in good working order. You can clean it easily with a dishwasher cleaner that you run through a cycle.
Pro tip: Sharp knives will make easy work of preparing the big meal. Make sure all your kitchen knives are newly sharpened, and also check the batteries in your electric carving knife, if you have one.
Make your space kid-friendly
If you make your home welcoming for children, you will ensure that their parents have a great time as well.
If you happen to have kids that are the same ages as your young guests, you’re in luck. But if not, consider adding some considerate touches that will make parents more comfortable, and alleviate kid boredom.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Turn a spare room or an upstairs bedroom into a private nursing/changing area for a new mom.
- Toddlers and younger children will want to be near their parents, so a good idea for them is to set up a corner of your living or dining room with toys, books, a tablet for watching cartoons, and some comfy pillows or throws.
- One of our favorite strategies for older kids is to turn the dessert course into an activity. For instance, you could bake a huge batch of sugar cookies in holiday shapes, and then put out different colors of icing to let kids (and adults) go to town with decorating their own cookies.
Pro tip: If you don’t already have children, or if yours are older, don’t forget to kid-proof your space. Put away anything expensive, breakable, or unstable. Do some baby-proofing, if necessary. This way you and the parents can relax and not have to worry about safety hazards.
Hopefully these ideas will take some of the worry out of holiday entertaining, and ensure that you and your guests can relax and enjoy each other’s company this season.
Posted by See Jane Drill on Zillow
No summer weekend (or fall or mild winter weekend for that matter) is complete without grilling a few awesome meals in the great outdoors. So why isn’t anyone ever enthusiastic about coming over to your place for some hot dogs, bean burgers, or even wagyu steaks? Could it be that your backyard barbecue decor is a little less than appetizing?
Well, look no further than these ideas to get the creative juices running. From hanging lights to a full-on bar cart, these simple tweaks will make your Labor Day or any old excuse for barbecuing all the more memorable.
Candles are fine, but unless you get an early start, you’ll be eating your grilled emu in near darkness. Instead, transform your backyard with better lighting, whether by spotlighting a few significant trees or adding solar-powered lanterns along the walkway. Lorena Canals, a home living expert in Hastings on Hudson, NY, likes Christmas lights for their price and ease of use.
“Just put in a few wooden posts if you don’t have a pergola to drape with them,” she suggests. Place the posts around the seating and grill area, and string twinkle lights in between. Or go old-school and hit up the hardware store for half a dozen Tiki torches. Insert them into the ground to light the way to your backyard, or arrange them to light up dark corners of your yard.
Add a prep place
There’s more to hosting a barbecue than tossing meat onto flames. Think dip mixing, salad tossing, and egg deviling. To this end, consider creating a flat surface that can be used for prepping side dishes and plating appetizers. It could be as simple as a couple of saw horses and a piece of plywood covered with a bright tapestry. Or invest in a built-in outdoor kitchen counter near the spot where you grill. Best of all: You won’t have to leave the party to do your prep work.
Define your backyard barbecue space with an outdoor rug. There are literally thousands of inexpensive options that are relatively easy to clean and maintain.
“Most backyard barbecue areas a have a cement, brick, or wood floor,” notes Canals. A rug adds instant warmth to cold flooring and makes your backyard look like an extension of your indoor style. A fire pit is another smart bonus outdoors.
“You can easily build your own with a DIY tutorial online or pick up one at your local home or garden center,” she says.
Or add a swing.
“A hanging chair or swing are two fun ways to inject a little energy into the party scene,” notes Jessica Sutton, lead curator with Dot & Bo. In particular, bold geometric patterns look great outside, like this black and white rug for $197.
Tap into the power of pallets
If you have a few extra wooden shipping pallets hanging around—or you know someone who does—you can get very creative, notes Canals.
“Pallets can be taken apart and made into the most perfect seating areas for your patio,” she says. Just toss on a few cushions—and you’re done. Or stand up two pallets and connect them with a slab of concrete to make a patio bar. Paint pallets in a coordinating color, install hooks on one side to hold bar towels, and then top it with a colorful set of melamine glasses on a tray.
Wheel in a bar cart
Your friends love you (really, they do!), but they aren’t coming to your backyard to watch you fiddle with marinated octopus on the grill. It’s all about the drinks—fresh mojitos, icy cold lemonade, rum punch, summer sangria, or plain ol’ beer. Add a bar cart or create an outdoor bar area off to the side, and stock it with an ice bucket, openers, and a serving tray, suggests Sutton. This bar cart from Dot & Bo is $272.
Arrange better seating
Your lawn chairs are most likely fine, but why not curate a look that’s way more inviting? Backyard barbecue furniture should have the same consideration as your indoor dinner parties. Think cozy and comfortable, and toss out a few outdoor cushions in bold colors and patterns that pop. Or take a cue from Sutton.
“One of my personal favorite arrangements is simple: Place an outdoor sofa facing two chairs to encourage conversation, and then add a side table in between the seating or use an ottoman,” she explains. A stool plays double duty, functioning as a table when topped with a tray or as additional seating when guests are over.
Posted by Jennifer Kelly Geddes on realtor.com
Your outdoor space will be ready for a decadent staycation or lively entertaining with these budget-friendly tips.
Published by Douglas Calhoun on Zillow Blog.
You’ve got your sunscreen out, your watermelon sliced, and your grill smoking. No matter if you’re on a balcony, patio or urban roof deck, outdoor entertaining is the best.
While you’re gathering supplies to enjoy a lemonade or ice cold brew with friends and neighbors, pick up a few decorative add-ons to enhance your outdoor space. Setting the mood for a party in the sun or under the stars is easy with these tips and treasures.
Classic bistro lights seal the deal
Hang a strand or two of Edison bulb string lights above your table or in the entry way to your patio. These classic string lights blend with almost any style of furnishings and work year-round.
Adding lights is a simple way to create ambiance — and since it isn’t permanent, it’s great for renters. They create a flattering light for your vainest of guests, and provide a gorgeous glow as the sun sets.
Snake eyes: decor and games are one and the same
These giant dice make for a cheeky center piece, and will inevitably add a lot of laughs — and possibly some competition — to your cookout.
Or for a no-cost decor-and-party-game combo, fold tons of paper planes in vibrant colors to populate the table. They’ll take flight later in the night, and guests of all ages can take aim at the horizon — or each other.
Bring the beach with hanging lanterns
Hanging hurricane lanterns or these nautical lanterns modeled on vintage glass canning vessels creates a seaside vibe no matter where you’re celebrating. Candlelight is essential to your gathering, and hanging lanterns are perfect because they elevate the mood and won’t blow out.
Take a walk to easy seat
Temporary seating is a must when entertaining outdoors. These red-stripped canvas poufs are ideal if you’ve got a smaller outdoor area.
A few of these placed in conversation clusters encourage a casual atmosphere while providing a comfy place to sip. Guests can scoot over easily to make room without having to handle clunky metal chairs or heavier seats. Poufs and large pillows are also easy to store away inside and bring out when you’ve got a party-crasher later on.
One-of-a-kind pillows, everywhere
When in doubt, just throw tons of pillows at your outdoor area. This abstract and summery design by a maker on Society6 is an affordable way to bedeck your deck with custom artworks.
A stack of five or six pillows on a canvas drop cloth or outdoor mat make for a coveted horizontal hang in the rays. No need for your patio to feel matchy-matchy — grab tons of different colors and styles of pillows and throws so folks can create their own plush arrangement.
Waste not, paper cutlery
Make big waves with small details in your plates and cutlery. You can stay stylish and eco-friendly with this delightful compostable pack of forks and knives.
No one wants to lug dishes and silverware outside and then back inside for the dishwasher. Have your guests toss these in the bin and recycle on your way downstairs tomorrow. An easier clean up and you can save the environment? Yes, please!
Chic and tiny table for two on the fire escape
From New York to Paris, this Euro-designed miniature wonder is exactly what we dreamed of. A table for two, perfect for sipping wine and people watching, or an opportunity to fly solo with coffee and a good book.
This attachable shelf is an ideal solution for morning meditation or evening imbibing on your balcony or fire escape. No matter how tight the quarters, you can create a cozy moment to share with friends.
A vertical garden: easier than you think
This modular garden container attaches easily to an interior or exterior wall in your home. Wally One is one of the smaller and streamlined versions. Start with one pocket and grow a vibrant plant or herb garden.
If your patio or deck is close to the kitchen, you can be the urban farmer you always envied, heading out to snag a pinch of basil or thyme. You can always order more pockets to expand your green thumb efforts all around your home.
Get more outdoor inspiration.
With Thanksgiving fast approaching, you’ll want to prep your kitchen for the work ahead. Don’t wait until the day before to get everything cleaned and organized. Here are some tips from HomeAdvisor to make sure your kitchen’s ready for the big day:
Clean, Clean, Clean!
Clear and clean your countertops, butcher blocks and dining tables to ready them for the slew of groceries, dishes and ingredients to come. Store unnecessary items somewhere out of the way. If you have a countertop microwave that you won’t be using for the holiday, consider moving it to make more room. Also move blenders, drying racks and any other non-essentials that might free up space. Next, wipe surfaces down with a washcloth dipped in soapy water. If you have harsh stains, break out the sponge to scrub them off.
Make Sure Your Equipment is in Working Order
Make sure that any equipment you’ll be using is in working order. This includes everything from your range hood, stovetop, dishwasher and oven to your can opener, electric mixer and corkscrew. If you’re the adventurous type, it might even include your grill. It’s a good idea to perform this exercise even if your appliances are in good condition — just to avoid any last-minute holiday disasters. If you find that any of your appliances are in need of repair or maintenance, you’ll need to call a repair service to see if they can fit you in on short notice.
Pay special attention to items like your sink and garbage disposal, which will get heavy use on Thanksgiving. Run the disposal a few times before the holiday to make sure it is working properly. If it begins to clog, assess whether its one of the few issues you can fix yourself or a major issue that requires plumbing assistance, such as a complete disposal replacement.
Purge Your Storage Areas
If you’ll need additional cabinet or shelving space during the holiday, consider rearranging or purging your storage areas. This is a good opportunity to discard or donate anything you no longer have use for. If you’re making room in the pantry, it’s a chance to get rid of food past its expiration date — or to donate spices and non-perishables you’ll never use to a charity or a local shelter. If an item is useful but will be in your way, find temporary space in a closet or a different room.
Organize Your Fridge
You’ll need to make room in your refrigerator for all the food you’ll have to store before and after Thanksgiving. To make sure your fridge is holiday-ready, empty out the entire refrigerator and repeat the process you used with the cabinets and shelves. Anything that’s expired should go in the trash. What’s left should be placed back as succinctly as possible.
Pro tip: Condiments, produce and dairy products should be kept in the drawers or door of your refrigerator to save room on the shelves. Try to fit beverage cans and bottles in the door on the bottom rack. Leave extra room on the bottom shelf for your turkey.
Get Your Dining Table Ready
Once you’ve prepped the kitchen and freed some space on the countertops, you’ll need to clear the dining table to set it for dinner. Clear off any leftover groceries or dishes and move them to the kitchen. Then clean the table and chairs — and run tablecloths, pillows and cushions through the wash as necessary. Next, you can set your table to impress your guests and showcase all of your hard work.
Preparing the Thanksgiving feast can be stressful. And waiting until the last minute to get your kitchen in order can make it even more stressful. Take some time to prep your kitchen in advance of the holiday so you’re ready to tackle the big job without any surprises or disasters. That way, you can cook the meal and enjoy the holiday with your family without a hitch!
This story was written by Andrea Davis and originally appeared on HuffingtonPost.com.
It’s all about perception and creating that element of surprise.
Celebrities like Heidi Klum are known for having extravagant Halloween parties, taking the occasion to another level. To create a memorable, celeb-worthy bash of your own, we asked interior designer David Brian Sanders — whose A-list clients include “Desperate Housewives” star Marcia Cross — as well as event planner Emily Cann to share their tips.
Pick a theme
“My first Halloween party I planned … I crammed [in] every single idea I had,” Cann said. “Everyone loved it, but it ended up being too many ideas and not necessarily cohesive.”
Sanders says it’s OK to draw inspiration from multiple places, but the key is to make it believable.
“You can always incorporate a little ‘Chainsaw Massacre,’ ‘Friday the 13th’ [and] ’70s,” he said. “Just keep it real. Keep it authentic.”
Once you narrow in on a theme, have fun with it.
“I would probably do something like ‘Twilight,’” said Sanders, who is friends with the creator of “The Vampire Diaries.” “But take it to the line and cross over. Create the illusion of what we think a vampire world could look like and add an element of fantasy.”
Be a kid at heart
When planning a party for adults, it doesn’t have to be serious. In fact, Sanders says it’s important to create a fun environment not just for kids.
“Incorporating the idea of a fairy tale into holiday-themed bashes is huge — especially for adults,” he said.
One way to boost the fun factor: add a game to your space.
“I’m doing a lot of foosball tables [in celebrity homes],” he said. “They’re back with a vengeance.”
He’s also a believer in a classic ping-pong or pool table. “It adds a rush to the evening,” he said.
Plan a surprise
Halloween is all about making people jump out of their skin, but Sanders says space planning can make or break a surprise.
“People will be more frightened when they don’t know what’s around the corner,” he said.
To add suspense, consider taking your house party outside.
“Create a house outside your home with tents, hallways and plywood ceilings,” he said. “Make it look fun with decorations. A lot of it is psychological.”
Watch the clock
If you decide to build something big like a haunted house, be careful you have enough time to take on the project.
“Time can definitely work against you when you are planning,” Cann said. “Cute items on Etsy, a place where I always look to get lovely and unique details, can take weeks to ship to you, and some vendors are booked until certain time frames, so the earlier you start the better.”
This advice also applies to the day of your event.
“Try to shoot for your party being set up 30 minutes before you had planned,” Cann added. “There are always those early guest arrivals that you want to be ready for!”
To create a truly spooky party, it isn’t just about looks.
“The element of sound can make or break a haunted house [or party],” Sanders said. “You can have a recording going that’s all ‘ooohhh, aaahhh,’ but that’s not authentic. You need to have the element of surprise with sound.”
He recommends investing in sound equipment and making your own recording.
“Create a dead person talking, but make it as real as possible with no echoes,” he said.
While digital sound equipment can be expensive, Sanders says it’s worth every penny for themed parties.
Save & splurge
That isn’t to say you need to spend a ton to create a celeb-worthy party.
“With celebrities, the sky is not always the limit,” Sanders said. “A number of high-profile people are very conscious about budget.”
He’s a believer in spending $100 on one item and then going to a dollar store for other items.
“Mix how and where you spend your money to get the most bang for your buck and create that wow factor,” he said. “I love pumpkins, but I also love a good smoke machine and spending some money on audio/visual.”
Cann also notes Halloween candy can be surprisingly expensive.
“Bigger is always better from what I’ve learned,” she said. “Go with popcorn and jumbo marshmallows rather than black M&M’s to fill an apothecary jar.”
At the end of the day, Halloween parties are all about perception.
“It’s the collection of multiple elements that creates the experience,” Sanders said.
Designing your yard for entertaining guests and for parties means figuring out a plan. What kind of parties do you want to have throughout the spring and summer? Is your circle of friends composed of a few folks or everyone from your office and then some? What are your interests, and which ones do you share with your friends?
Depending on your budget and the size of your outdoor area, you could transform the area into a breathtaking space that everyone will want to spend time at on the weekends. To give you ideas for designing your party space, here are some photos to inspire you.
As pictured here, a balcony space can be perfect for entertaining guests, with wicker chairs spread out for different views of the scenery, along with a fireplace to sit near at night and easy access to the inside for dinners and drinks.
Enjoying the view
The basics of an outdoor entertaining area often include a porch with tables and chairs. This photo, credited to a Lumberton, New Jersey, professional, is simple but has a breathtaking view of the scenery. It’s intimate for parties of four to six and leads indoors for windy or chilly temperatures.
The small table and high chairs allow for relaxation and conversation under a fabric awning that protects against the sun’s rays. Stone steps lead from the porch to the pond that feeds into the water below for a scenic view. It’s comfortable, quiet and easy for homeowners who want to invite a few friends over on the weekend.
Need more fire?
Having an outdoor grill is important for parties because then you can grill hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks and more without having to transport those items from the kitchen to the yard and back again. Having an outdoor fireplace allows people to stay warm during cool nights, see one another under the warm lighting and cook s’mores.
So why not put both of those in close proximity to each other for increased warmth and lighting? This outdoor grill and fireplace in West Dundee, Illinois, are next to each other and inlaid with stone to blend together on this stone tile patio. The cushioned seating is designed to be close to the fire while allowing a cook to get to and from the grill easily for serving and grilling. It’s fast, efficient and guarantees plenty of warmth on cold nights.
Comfy and intimate dining
For couples and families, a Glassboro, New Jersey, landscaper made an outdoor dining area perfect for a romantic evening or gathering. Four chairs are situated around a metal wicker table that is set and ready for dinner with a burning fire in the fireplace behind it. The view of the pond offsets the sunset, and the landscape evokes a feeling of calm and peace.
It’s serene, comfortable and perfect for those who need an escape from the busy weekdays to connect with one another again. For those who want to recreate a scene like this in their yard, the two pieces that you must have are the outdoor fireplace and the stone deck.
The cost to install a fireplace averages between $2,000 and $2,700, though it could vary depending on the outdoor conditions and materials required. A stone deck’s price will also vary because of the type of stone and landscaping conditions.
Designing outdoor party spaces on balconies or terraces means it will be more modern and cozy than a backyard with tables and chairs. This terrace space by a contractor from Dayton, Ohio, has an assembly of cushioned chairs and couches around an electronic firepit. It easily transitions into the house for those cold nights when a fire pit might not be enough warmth.
There’s a dining area for occasions when a host or hostess might want to set the table and say grace. In short, a terrace or rooftop party space just means you’ll be more comfortable and often have quicker access to amenities than what you’d have out in the backyard.
Fun games for every age
Do you enjoy strategy games or a workout? Why not install a life-size chess board in your backyard? How about a life-size Scrabble board or bowling alley?
In addition to having an outdoor grill and some seating, large game boards are eclectic and fun accessories that people will remember when visiting your backyard. It’s a recent trend, having appeared in cities such as Toronto, Tokyo and New York, including a life-size version of the board game “Mouse Trap” in Queens.
Getting in some time on the green
If you know friends and coworkers who love to golf, then installing a putting green in your backyard is perfect for parties on the weekends. This green in Palm Desert, California, has different distances between each hole so everyone can practice their putt from short or long distances. It’s good for those who are experts at the game, or even those who want to try their hand at golf for the first time.
Nearby is an outdoor grill for putting on a few patties while you practice, and a few lamps in the ground around the flora means you can practice at night as well. Having a green like this means turf, not real grass, though, or else you run the risk of a lot of patch. While the cost reported by homeowners to install turf averages between $3,900 and $5,500, it varies depending on square feet.
Taking a few laps around the pool
If you live a particularly hot climate, one of the best installations for outdoor parties is a swimming pool. This pool in New Rochelle, New York is comfortable, kid-friendly and can hold a lot of people. There’s a dining area and fire pit for warmth and relaxation in between laps.
While the cost to build a swimming pool might be expensive, between $7,800 and $11,100, it varies by materials and square footage. Also consider accessories such as the waterfall featured here and landscaping around the pool to help it flow with the backyard.
Extracurricular activities for all
This backyard in Newtown, Connecticut, has plenty of room and activities for guests with different interests. On one side is a swimming pool for kids, people who want to relax and the aquatically inclined. On the far right side is a tennis court for those who might be competitive or want to get a good workout in. There are chairs and tables for eating and chatting while others enjoy the activities provided by the pool and tennis court.
Remember that tennis courts require a playing surface, a net and lines for determining boundaires, so be sure to hire a tennis court contractor to construct it.
Entertainment for everyone
If you have children and want them to have a place to play with their friends during parties, you should have an outdoor playground or play equipment installed. Kids love to go to playgrounds and swing, go down slides, climb on the monkey bars and more. Having that in the backyard is even better because you will be able to watch them without worrying about kids wandering off, and you can enjoy other comforts of home.
This backyard in Westfield, Indiana, has a play structure near to a covered patio with a fireplace, outdoor grill and cabinet for a complete kitchen setup. It creates a comfortable atmosphere for adults and children to ensure a fun weekend for everyone. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of installing a playground in your yard, you can have an outdoor-playground contractor build it for you.
An outdoor living room
To enjoy the outdoors with the comforts of your living room, homeowners can create a luxury living space on their back porch. This covered porch in Dallas has almost everything you’d find in a living room. Couches and comfortable chairs sit near a burning fireplace with a flat screen TV and coffee table. Temperature is controlled by the outside, and it’s easy to transition from comfort to the outdoors. The separation provided by windows and doors is gone, so homeowners who enjoy nature and indoor relaxation get both with this design.
Ample space for guests and grilling
If you really need space for entertaining during any time of year or climate condition, then make sure you have a covered patio that can hold a lot of seating. It’s an additional bonus if you put an outdoor grill nearby for feeding everyone rather than going in and out of your kitchen. This outdoor patio in Lake Forest, California, has a wooden awning, lots of cushioned seating and a fireplace with a flat-screen TV overhead. The stone tile flooring can endure a lot of foot traffic, and awning overhead protects against rain and some wind. The landscaping helps it to blend in with the backyard and provides some protection against the elements.
A backyard big enough for any occasion
If you have many people you plan to entertain, you will need enough space in your backyard. This backyard from a Hialeah Gardens, Florida, landscape designer has the room and necessities for entertaining large parties with plenty of seating and tables, allotting room for more seats to be brought out and situated on the green or stone tiles. There’s an outdoor grill for cooking and a hot tub covered by a patio awning for people to relax in with the landscaping completing the look. If you want a backyard like this, a landscape designer will be crucial to its creation.
You can throw a party for any occasion, including birthdays, bridal showers or just because it’s Tuesday. Welcome guests to your home with these easy-to-create, engaging party themes that work for any occasion.
1. Bold Casino Party
A casino-themed party is an interactive way to celebrate any occasion. Bold, lively colors and sweets bring excitement to the dessert table. Kelly Lyden of The Party Dress covered the dessert table with a black-and-white cabana striped tablecloth for a dramatic effect. She added black round stickers to a white cube vase to resemble a die and filled it with a red carnation pomander ball that mirrors poker chips. Dress up cupcakes by gluing playing cards on toothpicks, and label bite-size dessert with poker-chip tags by WH Hostess.
Carry the bold, colorful theme through to the place setting. Kelly placed a crisp white napkin, tied with a whimsical polka-dot ribbon and a poker-chip tag by WH Hostess, atop standard white plates. Fill votive candles with green sprinkles to portray the traditional green color on game tables, and serve red champagne punch for an extra pop of color.
2. Breakfast at Tiffany’s Party
Set the right tone for any feminine soiree with a Breakfast at Tiffany’s theme. ALM Chandler of Her Royal Heinous and Aubrey Ache created the flamboyant centerpiece by cutting holes in standard gift boxes, placing a vase filled with clear glass pebbles in the middle and wrapping the boxes in blue wrapping paper to resemble Tiffany & Co. boxes. “My intent was to use the traditional Tiffany’s elements, but to add an exaggerated sparkle,” ALM says. Hydrangea-filled vases and martini glasses and black-and-white photos of Audrey Hepburn complete the feminine look. Add Breakfast at Tiffany’s movie quotes to Tiffany-blue gift bags to collaborate with the theme.
3. Vintage Fisherman’s Party
This vintage fisherman-themed outdoor party by Kara Allen of Kara’s Party Ideas is perfect for the avid fisherman in your life or for any outdoor fall gathering. Kara covered a simple table with a burnt-orange tablecloth and topped it with fishing net to build the foundation for the rest of the table setting. Fill a vintage basket with fall foliage and various fishing gear, and accessorize the table with log stands and vintage wicker creels.
Place vintage plates on genuine log chargers surrounded by coir rope to add to the natural, outdoor feel. Kara dressed up plaid napkins with white napkin rings adorned with bait. Incorporate items you already have, such as fishing lures and reels to enhance the theme.
4. Coffee and Tea Tasting Bar
Throw a coffee and tea tasting party during the day or at night. Victoria Hudgins of A Subtle Revelry brought shades of lavender and lilac accented with white to the dessert table. She filled hanging glass bottles and white vases with purple flowers for a feminine touch. Chill the coffee and tea before guests arrive and serve the coffee with frozen milk cubes. “Frozen milk quickly becomes a treat when turned into milk ice cubes. They’re extra sweet with added sprinkles for flair,” she says. Serve a selection of muffins and scones and give specialized tea bags as party favors. Photography by Michael Chan
5. Cultural Gathering
Infuse cultural elements for your next gathering. Chris Nease of Celebrations at Home began by using a rich color scheme of deep red and gold emphasized by Asian accents, such as fans, a bamboo centerpiece and a Japanese teapot. “Exotic travel themes are popular for all types of celebrations. You may be inspired by the cuisine from a certain area, a trip you took there or simply love the unique cultural differences,” she says. Fill Chinese take-out boxes with fortune cookies to double as decor and party favors for guests.
6. French Toast Fondue Party
Hold a French toast fondue party for friends for an effortless yet memorable experience. “French toast fondue is very simple, and makes for a great activity where people can linger over the table chatting,” says Kelly. Fill the pot with oil and serve dishes of egg mixture, French bread cubes and dipping options such as sugar, brown sugar, strawberry jam and syrup.
Simple and Sweet
Kelly set the fondue brunch table with wicker charger plates and a wheat centerpiece set atop a bold yellow-and-white plaid tablecloth for a natural, healthy look. Tie gift tags by WH Hostess to miniature maple syrup bottles for a sweet way for guests to remember the brunch.
7. For the Fashionista in You
You don’t need an excuse to get together with the ladies. An outdoor fashionista-themed luncheon is versatile and whimsical. Chris filled decorative storage boxes from the craft store with light, easy-to-eat meals. She tied the storage boxes with lavender ribbon and a tag with a list of the contents inside. The storage boxes make a great party favor, along with the leopard-print bangle bracelet used as a napkin ring. Chris attached brown grosgrain ribbon handles to a paper bag to resemble a shopping bag, and filled it with a variety of flowers for a playful centerpiece.
8. Breakfast Burrito Party
Start the day off right with a party. Victoria kept this breakfast burrito party simple but enlivened the space with bold and colorful feathers, yarn and paper cups. “Incorporate bright colors, a simple design and a few quirky elements for a relaxed and pretty celebration,” she says.
How do you like your eggs?
Victoria used stark white plates and dressed them up with messages written in bold ink. She wrapped the burritos in several strands of colorful yarn for an extra punch of color. For a buffet layout, place each ingredient on a plate and label it with colorful writing. Allow guests to match up their favorite pairing of spices and ingredients for an engaging gathering that will be remembered forever.