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So, you’re throwing a “sayonara to summer” party this Labor Day weekend. You probably have ice, fruit and salsa ingredients on your list, but what about the key components like set-up, atmosphere and activities? It doesn’t need to be stressful and complicated, but there are a few essentials or extras (see: lounging poolside) to keep in mind before inviting friends and family over.

Dining: Places to Sit When You’re Not Being a Social Butterfly

Party-Ready Outdoor Space

Party-Ready Outdoor Space

Party-Ready Outdoor Spaces

MORE: 13 Party-Ready Outdoor Spaces

THROW THE PERFECT LABOR DAY PARTY

Here in Knoxville, Tenn., there’s nothing we love more than an outdoor cookout on a summer night. Sitting around the fire, enjoying nature, and cooking up delicious meals are what summer is known for around here. These amazing glow-in-the-dark log stools would be the perfect out-of-this-world seating arrangement. You don’t even have to worry about tripping over the logs when the fire goes down.

glow-in-the-dark stools

PLUS: S’MORES ANYONE?>>

Of all the joys of summer – swimming, grilling, camping – there is one that I can’t get on board with: linen. Obviously, it’s lovely and fitting for the season, but the moment I’m in a linen shirt it’s wrinkled and stained. I’ve banned it from my wardrobe. This dinnerware, however, could let one enjoy the feel of linen without all the drawbacks. It looks natural and “raw” but clearly works just as well with dressed up silverware.

west elm linen plates

Festival season is upon us! My Bonnaroo countdown for this year started the day I left Bonnaroo last year. Needless to say, I’m a bit excited. It’s hot; it’s crowded; you get zero hours of sleep, but boy, is it worth it. Before, it was all about being as comfortable and cool as possible during the festival, but now it’s just as important to look stylish and fashion-forward, thanks to festivals like Coachella. Festival fashion has become its own genre, and stores like Forever 21, Urban Outfitters and American Eagle Outfitters have created pieces specifically targeted to festival-goers. So, look like a rock star in your shades and fringe while listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Summer Music Festival Fashion

Music Festival Fashion Essentials at HGTV's Design Happens Blog

1. Floppy Hat / Target
2. Cotton Maxi Dress / H&M
3. Backpack / Topman
4. Necklace / Urban Outfitters (similar)
5. Sunglasses / Ray-Ban
6. Infinity Scarf / Etsy, Necklush
7. Denim Vest / H&M
8. Floral Shorts / H&M
9. Stud Boots / Topshop
10. Chevron Cuff / gorjana

Music Festival Fashion Essentials at HGTV's Design Happens Blog

7 Ways to Look Stylish at Shows:

1. Load up on arm candy.
2. Add color and layers with a light summer scarf.
3. Keep your hair back and get ready to rock with a long-lasting fishtail braid.
4. Stay cool during the music with a free-flowing boho skirt and tank like fashionista Olivia Palermo.
5. Accessorize your hair with tassels and headwraps.
6. Or, add in some freshly-picked flowers to a loose braid.
7. Block those UV rays and look stylish at the same time with a banded sun hat.

It might not have shown up on your calendar today as a date to remember, but August 10 is officially National S’mores Day. What better way to celebrate such a holiday than by roasting up this delicious treat and sipping fun drinks on a glamorous camping trip – otherwise known as “glamping.” We’ve got tips for throwing the perfect backyard camping party and a chocolate cocktail to keep you cool on hot summer nights.

Happy Hour Cocktails: The Full Collection

Glamping Tip 1: Whether you are glamping in your backyard or in the woods, there are a few things to remember when setting up your campsite. Always make sure to pitch the tent on level ground. Clear sticks and stones away beforehand. Pick a tent (or canopy or fort made out of blankets) that fits your needs. Want to set up a table with enough chairs for friends? You’ll need a bit more coverage than if your glamping adventure is a snug little area for two.

Tips for Glamourous Camping Glamping

Glamping Tip 2: Throw an outdoor dinner party during your glamping trip. Invite friends over for a barbecue, buffet dinner, or sit-down dinner – just remember to keep the theme casual and the clean up quick and easy.

Tips for Glamourous Camping Glamping

Glamping Tip 3: Serve a signature cocktail.This twist on a hot chocolate drink is perfect to cool your guests off on a hot summer night.

Texican Tailgate Cocoa Freeze Cocktail Recipe

Cocoa Freeze Cocktail Recipe

So, call up your friends, mix up some drinks and stoke the fire. You’ve got s’mores to make and glamping to do!

Do you ever get into an appetizer rut? It happens to all of us: With a party looming, you think, “Oh, I’ll just make/buy…for the 17th time this summer.” It’s great to have go-to dishes (for me, it’s guacamole), but sometimes it’s nice to shake things up. Here are 5 ways to upgrade classic appetizers this summer.

Eggplant Chips With Cilantro Pesto

Eggplant Chips With Cilantro Pesto

Instead of: “Regular” Chips and Dip
Try: Eggplant Chips With Cilantro Pesto
Now, there’s nothing wrong with potato chips, corn chips, or even sweet potato chips. But wander with me into the realm of unexpected-but-delicious and try roasting in-season eggplant chips. Use long, thin Japanese eggplant (available at your local farmers’ market) for the optimal ratio of crispy skin to sweet chip. While they’re roasting, use your food processor or blender to whip up fresh cilantro pesto.
Get the Recipe >>

Creamy Lump Crab and Corn Dip

Creamy Lump Crab and Fresh Corn Dip

Instead of: Store-Bought Creamy Dips
Try: Lump Crab and Corn Dip With Oven-Crisped Crostinis
It’s a well-established party fact that people flock to hot, oozy dips no matter the temperature. But many store-bought versions have more mayo than filling, leaving them soupy and well, kind of underwhelming. This version uses lump crab and in-season corn alongside three cheeses for a thick, hearty appetizer that will leave guests weak in the knees. While it’s baking, throw some sourdough bread slices in the oven — boom, you’ve made your own crostini.
Get the Recipe >>

3 More Appetizer Upgrades

You’ve seen images of blossoming cherry trees in artwork, interior design and even jewelry. But have you ever seen them on marshmallows?

Cherry Tree Marshmallows

Meaghan at The Decorated Cookie used food coloring pens to create these miniature cherry blossom branches. If you can draw dots (and who can’t?), then this project will be a cinch for you. Display them as a cute centerpiece or heck, why not roast them during your next fancy camping trip (otherwise known as glamping)?

I must admit, I’m not much of a camper. I love the idea of it — roasting marshmallows, cooking over a campfire, enjoying nature and so on. But I’m not a fan of bugs — more like terrified of them. And I can’t seem to get comfortable in a sleeping bag (who’s with me?). So, in honor of National Camping Month, I decided not to go camping, but glamping (glamorous camping) instead.

 Glamping

Now, this chic bedroom turned campsite is more like it. You get the best of both worlds — great views of nature AND the luxuries of home. Once you get the right music and lighting going, you can invite some friends and make a dinner party out of it. Happy glamping, everyone!

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