5 Reasons Homeowners Can Throw Better Super Bowl Parties! [INFOGRAPHIC]

Highlights:

  • Watching the big game at home with your friends & family offers many advantages.
  • There’s more room to entertain a large crowd and you don’t have to worry about complaints to your landlord if you cheer too loudly!
  • The kitchen is big enough to make as many appetizers as you want, and if some of your guests are only there to watch the commercials, they can do so on a different TV in another room!

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

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3 Outdoor Parties to Plan This Spring

Now that spring has officially sprung, and we’re busy looking ahead to the warmer days to come, it’s also time to start thinking about seasonal party plans. Spring is, in my opinion, the ultimate time of year for outdoor entertaining — it’s warm and sunny, but not so hot that your guests will be uncomfortable, and it’s cool enough at night to light up a fire or throw on a cozy sweatshirt.

And sure, simple barbecues and backyard gatherings are great, but when it comes to outdoor parties, getting a little creative can really pay off. So this year, throw a fete your friends and family will never forget with one of these fabulous (and simple!) ideas.

1. Homegrown Music Festival

iStock/wundervisuals

Instead of dropping hundreds of dollars and having to deal with hundreds (or thousands) of sweaty strangers, host your own low-key music festival. Create a Spotify playlist and invite your guests to add a few of their favorite tunes, that way you’ll have a personalized soundtrack to score the event. Set up a dedicated dance area in your yard’s sunniest spot to truly capture that festival feel (just make sure to stock up on sunscreen first).

2. Personalized Wine Tasting

iStock/courtneyk

Hitting up wineries is a popular spring activity, but actually finding a vineyard and getting your crew on the road can be an ordeal. So instead, have each of your guests commit to bringing a few of their favorite budget bottles, and let each person lead of tasting of their picks. Ask for the bottle names before if you can, that way you can prep a list of wines for each guest to take home.

3. Flower Crown Crafternoon

Kendall Peters

Fresh flowers are one of the best parts of spring, so why not get your best buddies together to craft flower crowns out of some beautiful blooms? Make sure to set up a selfie station too, because we all know flower crowns make the best Instagram bait.

 

Posted by Bridget Mallon on hgtv.com

 

6 Ways to Bump Up Your Barbecue Decor (Just in Time for Labor Day)

NelleG/iStock

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.

Hang lights

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.

Photo by Native Son Design Studio

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.

Photo by Olive Branch Integrated Outdoor Design

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.

This bold geometric pattern looks fabulous outside. Dot & Bo

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.

Drinks are served! This DIY pallet bar can also double as a prep space. fabartdiy.com

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.

Synthetic rattan is easy to clean and makes this bar cart a winner. Dot & Bo

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.

Photo by AZEK

Posted by Jennifer Kelly Geddes on realtor.com

Finding Bliss During the Hectic Holiday Season

When you’re making your to-do list and checking it twice, be sure that taking time to enjoy the season is at the top.

Shutterstock ID 327170654; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

Shutterstock ID 327170654; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

The end of the year can be a hectic time. Why not slow down for a moment to think about giving yourself (and others) the gift of sanity this holiday season?

While most of us yearn for calm during the last few weeks of the year, we often find ourselves amped up, with little time to relax. Create some peaceful moments during the remainder of this holiday season by organizing your time and energy around the things you value most.

For some people, the joy of the season comes from gift-giving. For others, it’s all about experiences like watching a parade, going ice skating, or checking out the holidays lights. Traditions such as sending cards or throwing festive tea party may define the holidays for you. And while people and social gatherings make the season bright for some, others like to focus on celebrating the spiritual aspect of the holiday.

Once you decide which parts of the holidays mean the most to you, keep your focus on what you value. From now until the end of the year, only buy items or create experiences that support those values.

A game plan for curbing the chaos

  1. Organize yourself first. Put some time on the calendar to enjoy the true meaning of your holiday. Ensure you block off this time for yourself before everyone else gets the last piece of you. Remember the flight attendants’ cautionary tip: Put your oxygen mask on first so you can be there for others and help them. Putting an appointment on your calendar guarantees you have some special time for yourself — even if it’s only 30 minutes or an hour.
  2. Remember that less is more. It’s so easy to get carried away by all the holiday hoopla surrounding you. But buying fewer gifts means you’ll spend less time wrapping, and making fewer commitments means you’ll have more time to do what you value most.
  3. Allow just one spot for a creativity zone. Limit all your gift-wrapping, card-writing, and project-making activities to one area. This is a space where you can leave everything set up and ready to use. It’s okay to have “work in progress.” Not every room in the home needs to be staged to perfection.
  4. Create your own holiday party team. Enlist a small group of teens, college students or friends who are willing to help you tackle your to-do list. When you pay or barter with others for assistance, your shopping, cleaning, organizing, decorating, and cooking will be much less stressful. Call them and get them scheduled.

Plan ahead for personal peace

Once we’ve organized our holiday tasks and timetable, the next trick is managing ourselves so we can enjoy gathering with family and friends. It’s normal to focus on how the house looks or what you’re wearing, but what really sets the tone for holiday events is how we present ourselves to others.

Just picture the comparison:

  • A harried host saying, “Come in, come in, oh gosh, I’ve got stuff in the oven, toss your coats in the guest room, bathrooms are down the hall, come in and join us.”
  • A calm, smiling host saying, “Welcome, let me give you a hug! How you are doing this evening? I’m so glad you’re here.”

As you plan, prepare, and experience the event, keep asking yourself, “What would make this easier for me?” For example, you could bake your holiday goodies from scratch and shop for centerpieces at the local florist, or you could order edible delicacies and stunning wreathes online and have them delivered.

And don’t be afraid to accept help. When someone asks if they can help you serve food, answer the door, or wash dishes, say yes. This not only helps you better handle your hosting duties, but also diffuses others’ discomfort when attending parties. Some guests struggle with social anxiety, and helping gives them something else to focus on.

Throughout the holiday season, remember: These moments with friends and family are precious, and it’s up to you whether you stress out or smile.

Posted by DorothyTheOrganizer on Zillow

Pick Your Favorite Party-Ready Pool

Which of these professional pool designs is your ideal escape from the summer heat?

With temperatures rising as summer begins, a refreshing dip in a cool pool is at the top of most folks’ lists. Do you daydream about your ideal backyard oasis with a crystal blue pool and stylish lounge chairs? Zillow compared six gorgeous outdoor pools from professionals on Zillow Digs™ to find the leading pool design for the season.

Which pool is best primed for a party? The hard part is choosing just one. Get your vote in now and check back to see the winner on July 1, 2015.

Modern or Mediterranean luxury

If luxury designs with maximum privacy and all the high-end additions are right up your alley, check out these pools. The modern pool designs include geometric-shaped patios, fountains, outdoor kitchens and hot tubs. For something warmer, Mediterranean swimming pools offer elegant designs using a mix of earth-toned stone structures and extravagant features like fireplaces and built-in fire pits.

Traditional garden grandeur

Not into that celebrity look? Select a favorite from these peaceful, garden-forward designs. The lush green plantings accent the crisp blue water perfectly. Each includes a water feature and poolside patio with lounge chairs. Surrounding most traditional pool designs you’ll find pergola or trellis structures to support climbing vines with colorful blooms.

Tropical pool paradise

Alternatively, feel right at home in the summer heat alongside one of these tropical pools. Both boast palm trees and other tropical vegetation. Notice the curved pools common with this design. Enjoy tropical layouts on warm summer evenings with lighting features such as tiki torches, pathway lamps and built-in fixtures. Is one of these your dream pool?

Posted by Tali Wee on Zillow

13 breathtaking outdoor party spaces

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.

© Distinguished Home Improvements LLC

© Distinguished Home Improvements LLC

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

© Window Covering Concepts Inc.

© Window Covering Concepts Inc.

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?

© Monarch Nurseries Inc

© Monarch Nurseries Inc

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

© Darlington Designs LLC

© Darlington Designs LLC

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.

© DesignMine

© DesignMine

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

© DesignMine

© DesignMine

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

© Back Nine Greens Inc

© Back Nine Greens Inc

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

© RR Paving and Masonry

© RR Paving and Masonry

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

© PH Architects LLC

© PH Architects LLC

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

© The Mace Group Inc.

© The Mace Group Inc.

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

© Luxury for the Home

© Luxury for the Home

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

© Landmark Custom Landscape

© Landmark Custom Landscape

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

© O R Landscaping Inc

© O R Landscaping Inc

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.

This article was originally published by By Andrea Davis of HomeAdvisor on MSN Real Estate. To see the original article, click here.

Wow Your Guests! 8 Creative Party Themes for Any Occasion

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

Casino Night Dessert Table Designed by Kelly Lyden

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.

Playful Dining

Casino Night Place Setting Designed by Kelly Lyden

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

Breakfast at Tiffanys Tablescape by ALM Chandler

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

Kara Allen Fisherman Outdoor Party Setting

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.

Catching Dinner

Kara Allen Fisherman Outdoor Party Setting

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

Coffee and Tea Tasting Bar by Victoria Hudgins

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

Asian Table Setting by Chris Nease

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.

Fondue Party Designed by Kelly Lyden

Simple and Sweet

Fondue Party Designed by Kelly Lyden

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

Boxed Luncheon Table Designed by Chris Nease

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

Feather Breakfast Party Designed by Victoria Hudgins

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?

Feather Breakfast Party Designed by Victoria Hudgins

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.

This article was originally published by By Farima Alavi on hgtv.com. Photography by Jackie Wonders. See the original article here.