ALL POSTS TAGGED "Entertaining"

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Derby Day is upon us! Once you’ve found the perfect Derby hat or seersucker suit, it’s time to tackle another Churchill Downs staple: the Mint Julep.

Mint Julep Recipe  + Tips - HGTV Design Blog Design Happens
This classic Kentucky drink seems simple, but a few simple changes will take your julep from basic to best-ever. Here’s how to kick it up this year.

Find the right mint: Any type of spearmint will yield a delicious cocktail, but Churchill Downs officially sanctions the “Kentucky Colonel” variety in its Derby Day drinks. Check your local farmers’ market for live plants or herb bunches.

Flavor up your simple syrup: Making simple syrup is, in a word, simple. For a basic variety, combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan, then cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved completely. Add more flavor to the mix by adding chopped mint leaves before you heat. Once the sugar is dissolved, strain the mixture and refrigerate until ready to use.

Muddle, muddle, muddle: Muddling the mint in the bottom of the glass helps release the oils in the herb, yielding a more flavorful cocktail. No muddler in your kitchen? Use the handle of a wooden spoon or a chopstick.

Pick the right spirits: This is where personal preference comes in. Bourbons are typically made from rye or wheat, with the rye varieties having a spicier bite and the wheat varieties developing a smoother, sweeter finish. (Read more about the best bourbons for mint juleps here.) The sweeter (wheat) varieties, especially those on the younger side (read: aged 5 years or less) tend to work well for this type of drink. For tradition’s sake, it’s always a good idea to select a bourbon made in Kentucky for this cocktail.

Make better ice cubes: Freeze distilled water for perfectly clear ice cubes that won’t affect the flavor of your cocktail as they melt. Crush the ice in the blender and fill your cups halfway with ice before stirring up your drinks.

Get the right serving gear: Silver julep cups are most traditional — the best versions have a copper core to keep the drink frosty as you sip. No julep cups? Serve in a highball glass.

Make juleps for a crowd: To make this drink for a group, set out an ice bucket filled with crushed ice, a carafe full of mint simple syrup, fresh mint leaves, and the bourbon of your choice. Write out your mint julep recipe on a card or chalkboard to empower guests to be their own bartender.

Save your simple syrup: Celebrating derby day solo? Keep your mint simple syrup fresh for the next spring cocktail. Try this tip from our friends over at DIY Network’s Made + Remade: Add a little vodka. It doesn’t affect the taste, and will help prolong its life in the fridge.

What are your tips for better mint juleps? Leave your bar advice in the comments below.

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Alright, D-Hap readers. I need you to go way back in your memory banks for a minute. Back in 2012 and 2013 we shared some beautiful design vignettes created by our Home Studio interns that focused on both current and iconic design trends. Aspiring interior designer Justin DiPiero spent two quarters as an HGTV design intern and I’ve been shamelessly Insta-stalking him ever since he left.

Fast forward to 2015 and Justin is now a Homepolish interior designer in New York City. But finding the perfect job came with a bit of a nightmarish task — house hunting in the Big Apple. After finding the perfect spot in Brooklyn, he wanted to throw a city-style housewarming party to thank his friends for hosting him during his search. Certainly one of the perks of being an interior designer is being able to source beautiful products and inspiration to throw a killer soiree on a budget, and that’s just what he did. We love how he infused coastal style with elements found in NYC’s Chinatown. Check it out:

Justin’s Party Tips:

I tried to bring my two worlds together. Since I went to school in the South and identify myself as Southern, I wanted to pay tribute to the past but also inject some of the present; that’s what led the look and decor for the party.

Homepolish Housewarming Party

Homepolish Housewarming Party

Chic + Budget-Friendly Party Ideas

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I love celebrating Easter with a delicious brunch that celebrates sunshine, flowers and all things spring, but I’m terrible when it comes to planning ahead! I’ve been thinking about throwing an Easter brunch for my friends this year, and was looking for some tablescape inspiration (because like any true Southern gal who entertains, I take my table settings seriously), when I remembered a beautiful yet casual brunch setting by ladies at Caitlin & Caitlin from the sophisticated Los Angeles loft that was the winning entry in our Fresh Faces of Design contest.

Caitlin McCarthy and Caitlin Murray aren’t just a talented design duo; they also know how to entertain in style! The best part of this setup is that it’s elegant while managing to be casual and easy to pull together at the last minute, so it’s just the kind of inspiration I need to get my act together.

Loft Kitchen and Dining Room

Design by Caitlin & Caitlin

The dining area is located in a pass-through between the kitchen and bedroom of Caitlin McCarthy’s 725-square-foot loft located in a 100-year-old former office building. This spot was once a bathroom, and the tile floor below the table is original to the space.

Dining Table Made From Garden Trellis

Design by Caitlin & Caitlin

The table is made from a garden trellis set on a table base and topped with glass cut to fit the frame. Rather than opting for perfectly matched chairs, Caitlin McCarthy collected a variety of chairs she loved in various styles and colors. This look can work whether the mismatched look is intentional or not, which means it’s easy to accommodate as many friends at brunch as you can given your space and number of chairs.

Brunch Table Setting

Design by Caitlin & Caitlin

I absolutely love this table setting. It’s another example of how items don’t have to match one another, as long as they complement each other. And see that flatware? Looks like hints of last month’s Color of the Month!

Brunch Decor and Grapefruit Cocktail

Design by Caitlin & Caitlin

Host the Perfect Easter Brunch

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So, I’m with Marianne. I don’t love St. Patrick’s Day. I do, however, adore the color green and love a good party, so cheers! With only a few days until the BIG day, you’re probably looking for ways to celebrate. Luckily, everything we have is green and filled with Irish charm.

St. Patrick's Day Party Ideas

1. Wear This: Felt Shamrocks. As I’ve gotten older, my fear of being pinched on March 17 has dissolved. However, I love sporting at least a little bit of green for the sake of tradition. These felt shamrocks are simple to make and you can rock them in your hair, on your shirt or any other way you can think of. Seriously, once you make one, you won’t be able to stop.

2. Listen to This: The Irish Rovers. I don’t reserve Irish and Celtic folk music just for St. Patrick’s Day. These traditional Irish songs will have you on your feet and clinking mugs in no time.

3. Sip This: The “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” Cocktail. I said it last year and I’ll say it again: no green beer. It just doesn’t look right. But green cocktails? Now that’s something I’ll always nod to.

4. Decorate With This: Cute Dessert Toppers. Everything looks better with a little embellishment, even double-chocolate cupcakes (I know, right?). Download these (free!) printable toppers and add that extra touch to your dessert setup.

5. Eat This: Naked Rainbow Cake. I’m not sure what to say other than: make and devour this NOW. I mean, there are six (SIX!) layers of vanilla cake with six layers of vanilla buttercream frosting in rainbow hues. Glorious.

6. Make This: Lucky Party Banner. In reality, your party guests care about two things: booze and bites. If you want to add some festive flair to your digs, this banner is perfect. Download our (free!) printable banner template, cut out, add some twine and you’re all set.

More St. Patrick’s Day Inspo:

What are your St. Paddy’s Day party plans? Do you take part in any Irish traditions? Let us know in the comments below.

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I’m probably not the only one out there that’s feeling the winter blues (This does not apply to you, California folks!). Unfortunately, the groundhog saw his shadow, so it looks like we have a little more than two weeks of winter left. Thankfully, there is one solution to bringing some sunshine to these gloomy days — a party! You don’t need an excuse like a birthday, the holidays or a summer barbecue to get your friends together. You can throw one just because it’s winter and you feel like it. Who’s with me? We’ve rounded up our favorite winter party essentials that will keep your guests happy, cozy and ready to party.

Winter Party Guide

1. Sweater Napkin Ring / 2. Glitter Hair Pins / 3. Greek Chili / 4. Winter Sunset Cocktail / 5. Hot Chocolate Party Favors

1. Decorate With This: Sweater Napkin Rings. Knits are an easy, festive way to add warmth to your party decor. If you have a sweater collecting dust in your closet, cut small sections from it and sew the ends together to make cute, upcycled napkin rings. If you know how to sew a button, then this craft will be a cinch. Get 15 more ways to decorate with an old sweater>>

2. Wear This: Glitter Hair Pins. My favorite way to fight the winter blues is through sparkle and color. Dress up your LBD with glitter hair pins. Slide bobby pins on a scrap piece of paper to keep them stable. Apply a thin line of craft glue on top of the pin, sprinkle a generous amount of glitter and allow to dry. You’ll want to plan a grand entrance while wearing this fab hair accessory.

3. Eat This: Greek ChiliKeep your guests happy by filling their bellies with comfort food. One of the easiest hearty meals to make is chili, and today just happens to be National Chili Day. This Greek version makes a big batch, so your guests can go back for seconds…or thirds. I’m not one to judge. Get the recipe here>>

4. Sip This: Winter Sunset CocktailThe combination of coconut-flavored rum, white crème de cacao and coffee-flavored Jamaican rum will warm your guests right up. Go the extra mile by topping it off with warm whipped cream. Get the full recipe here>>

5. Make This: Hot Chocolate Spoon FavorsWinter won’t be over after your party, unfortunately. Send your friends home with delicious hot chocolate spoons, so they can continue the party in their own home. Get the full instructions here>>

Stay safe and warm, friends! What’s on your list of winter party essentials?

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After being iced indoors most of last week, all I can think about is being somewhere warm. No, HOT. I want sand between my toes and condensation on the glass of a tropical drink. Speaking of which, today is National Margarita Day! It may be frigid out, but I’m not passing up a frozen concoction (that helps me hang on).

Raspberry Margarita Recipe

Photo + Recipe Courtesy of Casa Noble Tequila

Raspberry Margarita
Serves 1

  • 1 1/2 ounces Casa Noble Crystal Tequila
  • 3/4 ounce raspberry simple syrup*
  • 1/2 ounce ginger liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • rosemary sprig, for garnish
  • black pepper

Combine tequila, lime juice, ginger liqueur, agave and simple syrup into a cocktail shaker, and shake well. Pour over ice into a Collins glass, and sprinkle fresh ground pepper on top. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.

*For the Raspberry Simple Syrup: Combine 1/4 pound of raspberries with 1/4 cup of sugar and bring to a boil. Strain and push through a fine sieve. Reserve.

More recipes to try:

How are you celebrating National Margarita Day? With an ice-cold margarita … indoors … sheltered from the snow? Or maybe you’ll be hanging from a hammock somewhere warm with a bevvy in hand? Tell us below!

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One year I’m dressed up, sipping cocktails and crying during acceptance speeches, and the next year I’m eating popcorn in my PJs like, “Who is that? What are these movies?” In 2014 I was an avid moviegoer, so I can’t wait to see who goes home with that golden statuette in hand. If you ever needed an excuse for throwing a party (and dressing up!), the Oscars is it. Here are our essentials for ending award show season in style.

Oscar Night Party Ideas1. ModCloth 2. Amazon 3. Cocktail, HGTV 4. Decor, HGTV 5. Recipe, HGTV 6. DIY, HGTV

1. Wear This: Dancer’s Delight Dress. This LBD is perfect for holding champagne flutes and twirling for no reason. Plus, it’s the ideal outfit for judging all the designer ensembles strutting down the red carpet. Hey, if you can’t be there in Vera Wang, you might as well be the Fashion Police, amiright?

2. Listen to This: Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack. Star-Lord has incredible taste in music. If I were defending the universe, I’d probably keep some nice background tunes going, too. If you haven’t popped this mix in, it’s filled with the unique 1970s tracks that are featured throughout the film as part of the plot line. Good luck not dancing.

3. Sip This: Fizzy Lizzy Cocktail. Champagne is essential on Oscar night. The celebs will be drinking it, so you should, too. Transform your basic bottle of Champagne by mixing in homemade margarita mix. Rim the glass with raspberry sugar and drop in some raspberries. Pop! Fizz! Clink!

4. Decorate With This: Oscar Party Elements. Gold, glitter, tinsel, confetti and sparkle say “Hollywood Glamour.” We say, go glitter crazy.

5. Eat This: Feta, Mint & Watermelon Bites. Keep it simple. Fresh watermelon and feta appetizers flavored with red wine vinegar and mint pair well with your champagne cocktail. Plus, they look gorgeous, too.

6. Make This: DIY Glitter Nails. Who has time to hit the salon these days? (Maybe my priorities are all wrong. Lookin’ at you, Netflix.) Give your nails a chic, salon look without the cost by using materials you likely have in your craft drawer. Paint your nails with clear polish, and while they’re still wet, cover liberally with fine glitter. Once dry, shake off to remove any excess glitter, then apply a top coat of clear polish to seal in the glitter. Lastly, show off throughout the night.

More Oscar Inspo:

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Steak Frites

Steak frites may be the perfect meal. Think about it; rich beefy goodness paired with salty crunchy potatoes and topped with a delectable sauce. What is there not to love about that? In my opinion, this combo is great any way it’s prepared, but this version is currently my favorite way to cook up the classic. I took advantage of a super sale on primo beef from my local butcher and picked up center cut filets rather than my beloved strip. The filets are pepper crusted on one side and drizzled with a savory red wine sauce to complement the cut. I upgraded from sticks to circles and fried up a crispy potato chip that easily swabs the plate picking up every last drop of precious sauce. The meal is completed by adding a quick green salad of peppery baby arugula and sliced green onions that are lightly dressed with olive oil, red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt (no recipe needed, just make it to personal taste). This is really a dinner (or lunch) for two, so it’s okay to spend a little extra on your steak and be a little indulgent as you take on this culinary classic.

Get the Recipe

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Sweet Potato Salad

Falling somewhere between appetizer and side dish, this unique tasting salad is a welcome alternative to mayonnaise-laden versions offered at backyard barbecues. The tender sweet potato slices tossed with a lime-based dressing and fresh herbs, then topped with crispy tortilla strips and queso fresco offer a combo of flavors that are bound to get the conversation going at any gathering. The recipe easily doubles to accommodate more people and you can make the recipe to serve with grilled chicken for a colorful and interesting weeknight dinner.

Get the Recipe

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Even for those of us who make crafts for a living, furnishing an entire party with handmade decor can be a bit of a challenge. Meanwhile, cute store-bought decorations tend to be pricey. The compromise? This summer, simplify your party decor (while still adding a handmade touch) with one simple watercolor technique and your printer.

Make Your Own (Adorable!) Watercolor Party Supplies - HGTV Crafternoon on Design Happen

Watch this week’s video to see how to turn one design into all of these (adorable!) printable party decorations:

YouTube Preview Image

This herringbone design is a fun twist on the trendy pattern, but the sky’s the limit for your template: Try polka dots, stripes, zig zags or an abstract, drippy design. The good news for you? Even if you don’t have time to create your own custom pattern, you still can download our ready-made party supply templates right here…for free!

Download the Party Supply Templates Now

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June is Great Outdoors Month, and for good reason. These warm summer nights are begging us to get out of our homes. So, while the nights are still balmy, why not throw a movie night with the stars? No, I’m not saying you should invite Leo DiCaprio. What I mean is, move the party outside and screen movies in your own backyard! Here are a few tips for making your cinema soirée a success:

Throw an Outdoor Movie Night
Create a Display
First things first: set up your theater. DIY Network shows you exactly how to transform your backyard into an outdoor entertainment center. Renting an inflatable screen for your movie night is a great option, but you can also project the movie on a white drop cloth or large white wall.

MORE MOVIE NIGHT TIPS

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Accent Pillow Collage

Top L to R: Pottery Barn, Pencil Shavings Studio, Lonny | Middle L to R: Yossawat, Design Home, H&M | Bottom L to R: Country Living, Target, H&M

We could use up all of our effort — and budgets — on flawless furniture, but the details are what really bring a room to life. With the summer holidays and parties quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to experiment with new design ideas and tips.

For this warm weather season, many designers are harnessing the impact power of accent pillows. Whether it is a coordinated look, or an eclectic mix of different styles, the beauty of this trend is that you can continuously change the mood and feel of a room by simply switching out a few inexpensive cushion covers.

BONUS: CHECK OUT 500+ LIVING ROOM INSPIRATION IDEAS>>

Try mixing a nautical inspired pillow with a contrasting graphic stripe for a crisp yet bold statement. Or create a more subtle tone with vintage embroidered pieces with a calm color palette. The possibilities are endless with this trend — and they will no doubt impress at all of your summer parties.

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I found out a little late that today is National Chocolate Chip Day which means I didn’t get to aggressively eat chocolate chips all day. (I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing yet.) But it has given me plenty of time to browse some drool-inducing recipes for later. Tonight may be a dessert first kind of night. Here are my favorite picks, with first place going to the chocolate chip banana bread. That glaze — I can’t stop staring.

Chocolate Chip CookiesGanache-Dipped Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe >>

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake BrowniesChocolate Chip Cheesecake Brownies Recipe >>

Chocolate Chip Banana BreadBanana Bread With Chocolate Chips and Chocolate Glaze Recipe >>

3 More Recipes!

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Well folks, we made it through Christmas but the entertaining train hasn’t stopped yet. After all, we need to kick 2014 off in style. If you’re throwing a dinner party to welcome in the new year, why not customize some inexpensive flatware to match your table setting? Watch my video and see how a little paint goes a long way.

This isn’t the first time I’ve used Plasti-Dip, and I’m still totally carried away with it. It’s just so fun! What would you like to dunk in this magical stuff?

Paint Dipped Silverware

Missed an episode of Weekday Crafternoon? Catch them all right here.

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If you’re planning a sweet treat for your upcoming holiday festivities, cotton candy may not be the first dessert that comes to mind, but why not? When you infuse white sugar with spices inspired by chai tea and dust with edible glitter (yes, edible glitter!), your guests will be charmed by these nostalgic-turned-chic puffy white clouds of spun sugar. Wouldn’t this be amazing alongside a glass of champagne on New Years Eve? I’m on a bit of a cotton candy kick, it seems.

Not a fan of chai? Feel free to customize your spice combinations. I might have to try grapefruit zest + vanilla + rosemary next time I bust out the cotton candy maker, or perhaps bring a little heat with smoked paprika and lime zest? Who knew cotton candy could be so creative?

Chai Spice Cotton Candy

We’ve teamed up with our friends over at DIYNetwork.com’s Made + Remade to throw a holiday party, and you’re invited!

Follow along as we craft the party decor, set the holiday table and cook up the menu. Along the way, you’ll get the step-by-step instructions and tips to throw a great party in your home. Catch up on all the posts here.

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A couple of weeks ago I showed you how to make your very own Wood-Burned Cheese Board (you’ve made yours by now, right?), and now, with Thanksgiving only a couple of days away, it’s time to shop for the right things to top it with. After all, you don’t want to end up with a plate full of pre-cubed cheddar on the big day, do you? Not that there’s anything wrong with cheese cubes, but why not treat your dinner guests to a perfectly crafted cheese feast?

Just watching that made me hungry! This cheese plate would be a great appetizer while waiting for the turkey to finish roasting, or you can serve it with dessert for any of your guests who aren’t in the mood for pie. As long as you stick to our formula, you’ll always have a perfectly balanced (and gorgeous!) cheese board for your guests.

The Perfect Cheese Plate

We’ve teamed up with our friends over at DIYNetwork.com’s Made + Remade to throw a holiday party, and you’re invited!

Follow along as we craft the party decor, set the holiday table and cook up the menu. Along the way, you’ll get the step-by-step instructions and tips to throw a great party in your home. Catch up on all the posts here.

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Centerpieces are one of my most-requested crafts, and with good reason: they make the biggest impact on your party table, and the wrong choice can seriously impact your good time. After all, there is nothing worse than having a spirited conversation interrupted by a towering flower arrangement, am I right? To add insult to injury, cut flower centerpieces are often expensive and only last for a few days.

With this in mind, I set out to create a lovely, low, and inexpensive centerpiece for our holiday party. I started with a moodboard knowing that I wanted to include velvety dried celosia cockscomb, feathery small ferns for texture, and copper for glamour and warmth. Then it struck me–what better container for a long, low, dramatic centerpiece than a length of gutter? Check out the results in the video below:

The best thing about this centerpiece is that with the proper care it will last from Thanksgiving straight through to Christmas. Here is a total rundown of the materials I used:

  1. aluminum gutter, cut to size with tin snips (be sure to wear work gloves)
  2. gutter end caps
  3. copper metallic spray paint
  4. assorted small succulents
  5. Xerographica air plant
  6. dried celosia cockscomb
  7. flowering kale
  8. lemon button ferns
  9. rabbit foot fern
  10. assorted dried mosses

Be sure to watch this space (as well as our friends at Made + Remade!) this week as we reveal the rest of our holiday table setting ideas. And join me next week for another entertaining Weekday Crafternoon video!

We’ve teamed up with our friends over at DIYNetwork.com’s Made + Remade to throw a holiday party, and you’re invited!

Follow along as we craft the party decor, set the holiday table and cook up the menu. Along the way, you’ll get the step-by-step instructions and tips to throw a great party in your home. Catch up on all the posts here.

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I love a party, so when I heard about the Design Happens/Made + Remade holiday party, I jumped at the chance to contribute. And I must say, the projects I made for this party are among some of the favorite things I’ve ever made, ever. To kick things off, my sights were set on the food table. I dusted off a wood burning tool and made this rustic modern cheese board — I don’t think I’ve used one of these tools since summer camp!

This cheese board is a simple afternoon project that you will use for Thanksgiving straight through to New Years Eve, and did I mention it also makes a lovely hostess gift?

Wood-Burned Cheese Board

Stick around, in the coming weeks I’ll show you how to top that board with the perfect cheeses, as well as gift wrap, entertaining, and holiday decorating ideas. It’s gonna be fun, y’all.

We’ve teamed up with our friends over at DIYNetwork.com’s Made + Remade to throw a holiday party, and you’re invited!

Follow along as we craft the party decor, set the holiday table and cook up the menu. Along the way, you’ll get the step-by-step instructions and tips to throw a great party in your home. Catch up on all the posts here.

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Congratulations to our winner Josh, who loves to mix up pumpkin martinis with a cinnamon and sugar rim. Come back on November 1 for another great giveaway.

I tend to go a little overboard with Halloween party preparations. Partly because I’m a lifestyle editor and partly because Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday, I’ve been thinking about pumpkins, DIY costumes and creepy food for months. But you can still have a low-stress Halloween gathering even if you haven’t planned a thing until this very minute. Yes, really.

Here’s your game plan: Make a sweet and a savory snack (say, maple nut popcorn and creepy chips with guacamole) and both kid- and adult-friendly punches. Kids will love our cemetery slime punch (complete with gummy worms!), and adults will be crazy for this Pumpkin Spice Sangria served inside a pumpkin. For a large group, ask guests to bring an additional appetizer or drink to share.

Pumpkin Spice Halloween Punch Recipe

To help you out with last-minute decorations, we’ve partnered with Target to give one lucky Design Happens reader a free party pack complete with plates, napkins, straws, decorations and more. Read on for the full Pumpkin Spice Sangria recipe, plus enter for a chance to win this party pack.

ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN

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If her irreverent personality and great fashion sense weren’t enough to make you love Nicole Richie, just look at her backyard:

Nicole Richie's Outdoor Entertaining Tips
When she’s not acting or designing pieces for her House of Harlow collection, she loves to entertain outdoors at the Laurel Canyon, Calif. home she shares with husband and Good Charlotte frontman Joel Madden, daughter Harlow, 5, and son Sparrow, 3.

She can’t stand the b-word (bohemian, that is), so she designed the outdoor space with a “relaxed and eclectic vibe” in mind. Richie unveiled the newly-revamped space to Domaine Home at a recent dinner party. It’s a stunning mix of classic outdoor elements (like natural stone) paired with modern touches like mismatched, industrial metal chairs.  See the entire space here >>

On her backyard color palette: “It was important to me to keep the color palette strong but not too overpowering. We’re all about having everything be really eclectic and relaxed.” She settled on turquoise, yellow and black as a unifying colorway for her.

On dinner party seating charts: “I’m against assigned seating. I like people to come to my house and feel like they can do whatever they want.”

Nicole Richie's Outdoor Entertaining Tips
On her design aesthetic: “My house has that summery look and feel all year round…luckily for me I live in LA and can get away with it.”

Nicole Richie's Outdoor Entertaining Tips

On her home: “Our house is the one people come to, to hang.”

Nicole, feel free to invite me over anytime! Photos by Justin Coit for Domaine Home

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