ALL POSTS TAGGED "Entertaining"

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Let’s be honest: Whatever you’re doing right now, you’d rather be at the beach. I know I’d like to get some sand between my toes. If you’re land-locked like me but longing for the ocean, channel that into a beach-inspired picnic at the park (or at the sandy lake shore.)  Here’s what you’ll need.

Picnic Food Ideas and Recipes

The Menu Game Plan
Fresh, easy-to-prepare recipes are ideal picnic fare. Here’s what to serve at your beachy meal:

Eggplant Chips With Cilantro Pesto: This sweet, baked take on potato chips uses in-season eggplant. Pack the pesto in a screw-top jar for easy serving at your picnic.

Pressed Italian Sandwiches: These sandwiches from The Cilantropist were practically designed to be picnic fare: You “press” it overnight under something heavy in the fridge (think a can or two of tomatoes), then slice, wrap in paper and tie with twine. The result: an easy-to-eat, delicious sandwich that won’t be worse for the wear if the pasta salad shifts during transit.

Tuscan Pasta Salad With Grilled Vegetables: It’s the picnic staple…with an Italian twist. Make this pasta salad, studded with bits of sweet grilled fennel and bell peppers, up to 6 hours before you plan to serve it.

Cheesecake In a Jar: A picnic is the perfect time to cash in on the “food in jars” trend. Individual cheesecakes tucked into jars are easy to transport and easy to eat. Top with your favorite in-season fruit. Make at least 5 hours before your picnic, or the night before.

Sand Dollar Cookies: How adorable are these sand dollar cookies?! Give homemade snickerdoodles a beachy touch with a few slivered almonds like Elizabeth from Delicious Inspiration did.

Coastal Citrus Punch: Mix up this summery take on sangria in a glass jug for easy transport.

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Got a case of the Monday blues? I’m right there with you. But you know what? I’m going to employ a move from the lemon playbook and take the blues I’ve been handed and make — pie! That’s right, blueberry pie.

Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Pie

A bit of a stretch? Oh, perhaps. But blueberry season is just around the corner — and that, my friends, is lifting my spirits on this cloudy Monday afternoon.

More blueberry recipes:

Blueberry Muffins
Blueberry Scones
Appleberry Pie Cocktails
Also, tips for: How to Grow Blueberries

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When I was first introduced to Melody’s work, I was immediately smitten. Melody Brandon is an incredibly talented pastry chef and the co-owner of Sweet and Saucy Shop in Long Beach, California. Her cake designs and dessert displays are beyond perfection. I had the opportunity to interview Melody about how she got started, a few of her favorite events and what the future holds for her growing business. Read on to get to know Melody a little bit more and get inspired by some of her decadent desserts!

{Kentucky Derby Party}

1. You are a such an inspiration to so many, not only as an incredible cake and dessert designer, but as a savvy business woman. When did you know that this is what you wanted to do for your career? Tell us a little of your background and how Sweet & Saucy Shop came about. 
Well to be honest I actually always thought I would be an elementary school teacher and that is what I went to school for and almost finished my degree in.  I was assistant teaching in various classes when I found that teaching just didn’t have enough creative freedom for me and I didn’t like all the rules and regulations you had to follow.  I stopped teaching at the particular school I was at for a little break and in the meantime had just gotten married and loved throwing parties for friends and family and for quite some time had been obsessed with Food Network & cookbooks; although I had never really thought of it as a career option.

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Happy Cinco de Mayo! I usually like to celebrate this holiday drinking a strawberry margarita on the rocks and eating my favorite food, cheese dip. I may have to switch it up a bit this year and add these piñata cookies from SheKnows.com to my Cinco de Mayo dessert list. The striped sugar cookies have a hollow center so you can fill them up with your favorite candy. These are genius, really. I’m not sure I have the talent to bake these cookies, but I will gladly volunteer to be a taste tester for anybody who does! What are your plans for Cinco de Mayo (other than baking these cookies for me)? Tell us in the comments below.

 cinco de mayo cookies

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Yes, you read that title correctly. FERRIS. WHEEL. CUPCAKE. HOLDER. And yes, this product is frivolous, but I would argue that is what makes it awesome.

ferris wheel cupcake holder

There was nothing technically wrong with how we as a people were serving cupcakes before this invention. Putting cupcakes on a tray or on a cake stand was, and is, fine. All the same, I’m glad someone at Horchow thought, Ferris wheel seats kinda look like cupcake tins, HEEEEEYYYY, and created it. And I’m sure everyone marveling at this whimsical wonder at themed birthday parties, baby showers and weddings would agree with me.

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Maybe you’re uber-prepared and you do all of your shopping ahead of time, but I know if I was hosting a New Year’s Eve party tonight, I’d be scrambling right about now — and I’m sure my bubbly would be less than chilly. Thankfully there are a lot of pretty ice bucket options to help keep everything just right.

ice buckets

Left column, top to bottom: Nambé “Tilt” Ice/Champagne Bucket, The Bathtub Champagne Chiller, Extra Large Teak Ice Bucket by Jens Quistgaard for Dansk, DIANE von FURSTENBERG Chain Link Ice Bucket. Large image: Top Hat Ice Bucket. Middle column, top to bottom: Waterford Crystal Lismore Ice Bucket & Tongs – Cobalt, Vintage French Champagne Ice Bucket. Right column, top to bottom: Handyman’s Ceramic Pail, Vintage Red Apple Ice Bucket.

I’m raising my glass to you, dear design lovers, and wishing you a 2012 filled with health, wealth, love, happiness and an abundance of style. See you in the new year!

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Last week, we headed to the hardware store to pick up some supplies for our massive sunroom makeover and found ourselves in the plumbing aisle, inspired by this recent DIY we spotted right here on HGTV.com. We’ve been spending so much time working on huge projects with even huger deadlines, crafting something small and fun seemed like a perfect evening activity to take our minds off the gigantic sunroom renovation.

Industrial Pipe Candelabra DIY- Erin Loechner

Our latest DIY project.

Bonus? Halloween was right around the corner and we’re always up for a bit of creepy chic in our home.

I don’t have a DIY to share because the process is completely self explanatory: choose your favorite pipes and build away! Yes, just like Lego’s. Who says kids get to have all the fun?

Industrial Pipe Candelabra DIY- Erin Loechner

Creepy chic indeed!

If you’re DIY shy and need some templates to work from, here are a few fantastic options from around the web!:
1. Nick Fraser’s pipework series is by far my favorite, but requires a powder coating process. Perhaps spray paint would do the trick?
2. This plumbing pipe candelabra makes for a unique holiday decoration, yes? I love the look!
3. And finally, a DIY candelabra video for those of you who really play by the rules.

Happy crafting, friends! I’ll be checking in next Wednesday to share another chic lighting surprise – this time in our master bedroom! See you then!

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I’ve proudly sported a moustache in my Twitter user icon since 2008, so while I may already be falling behind on NaNoWriMo, I’ve had the jump on Movember for a few years now. Movember (moustache and November, get it?) is a wonderful month-long event that involves men growing moustaches to raise money and awareness for men’s health issues like prostate cancer, but even if you weren’t born a man, or weren’t lucky enough to be blessed with a naturally bushy and beautiful ‘stache like the one that I have, you can still have plenty of facial hair fun. Bust out these moustache straws from LittleRetreats at your next party, and I’ll bet you’ll be popular.

mustache straws

How cool would these be at a birthday party, bachelor or bachelorette party, or even a wedding? Everyone loves a good photo op, and trust me, everyone looks better with a moustache. Just look at Tom Selleck, Clark Gable, and Mr. Potato Head. (Don’t forget to donate to/get involved in Movember here!)

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October 31st is right around the corner! It is such a fun holiday to celebrate with decorating, dressing up and hosting parties. Here are a few festive, creative ideas to get you in the Halloween spirit.

1. Host a Halloween Cupcake Decorating Party

Gather the kids, cupcakes and toppings and have a ball! This easy, inexpensive party theme is sure to please kids and adults. The TomKat Studio printable party collection I designed for this theme adds the finishing touches to tie it all together.

2. BOO Your Neighbors

Are you familiar with “BOOing”? If not, you should be! It is such a fun tradition. Secretly leave Halloween goodies on your neighbor’s front porch, along with this free printable sign and instructions. The idea is that they will then BOO another neighbor and the whole neighborhood will get in the Halloween spirit. We were BOOed this weekend, and we’re baking tonight to keep it going. Download Free BOO Sign + Instructions

3. Make a Spooky Halloween Banner

I hosted a girl’s night in last week, and we all made this fun Spooky Halloween banner. Download Free Printable Spooky Banner Letters 
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For October, our trend savvy HGTV.com editors chose teal as the Color of the Month. This lovely shade falls somewhere between blue and green. While researching ideas for using this rich color, I came across a wide spectrum of tones, many of which were called teal but seemed too blue. I think a true teal has more green in it. I compiled a few ideas on how you can use this color in your next event. First up, sweets like candy, cupcakes, sprinkles and candy apples that are eye-catching and easy to serve at a casual or elegant gathering.

tealpartyideasteal sweets :: sprinkles, candy apples, candy corsage, chocolate bar, cupcakes

Paper is always an essential part of the party, at least for me. Use invitations, tags, thank you notes and paper decorations in teal to carry the color scheme throughout.

tealdecoratingideasteal paper elements :: thank you cards, tags, pomettes, tissue flowers

I spotted some great decorative pieces in teal that can add the color and style to your gathering. I love this custom made initial, which could be placed on your food/dessert table or by the front door to greet guests. The gorgeous pattern is fabric, which could be used to make a table cloth or runner.
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After I spotted this silhouette pumpkin on Design Happens last week, I was totally inspired to find ideas for black and white Halloween decorating and entertaining. I am loving what I’ve come across and thinking I may just have to go with this striking palette for my mantle this year. Do you think you could decorate for Halloween without orange? C’mon, get crazy!

black and white halloween ideas

Shelley from The House of Smiths shows us how to create a Halloween vignette of mostly black and white on a budget. This knotted black ribbon wreath immediately caught my eye on Pinterest. I love how simple, yet glamorous is it. Donna from Party Wishes added a few inexpensive touches to her porch to get in the mood for Halloween. And here’s the silhouette pumpkin tutorial featured on HGTV that inspired this post. Isn’t it fabulous?

The white foam pumpkin embellished with a decal and jewels is an easy project with a spooktacular result. My printable cupcake toppers lend to a glam black and white color scheme. Pair with a plastic spider for a creepy look. I spotted this gauze mummy wreath on Etsy and love it. Do you see the skeleton hands hanging down from it? Spooky. Spiders are a must when choosing this black and white theme for decorating or a party. This downloadable print is part of Shelley’s Halloween shelves.

black and white halloween

These creepy plates are freaking me out! Scare your guests by covering up the illustrations with food only to reveal body parts while they’re eating. Talk about freaking out! These real scorpions mounted in a display box will gross everyone out. Living in Arizona, I’ve seen a few in real life, and it’s not pleasant. Need a party favor? How about sending your guests home with a tub of embalming cream? Good news, it’s pumpkin marshmallow scent. Yum. Greet your visitors with this life-size ghost that you can easily make yourself with this HGTV tutorial.

Have I inspired you to decorate with black and white this year or do you think orange is required for Halloween?

Let me know by commenting below!

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“It’s almost too pretty to eat” puts us into cliché territory, but I honestly think that’s true of these edible fall leaves from Sugar Robot. The colors are so lush, and the details so lifelike, it’s like someone collected them on a New England leaf-peeping trip. I can’t believe it’s just wafer paper and food coloring!

edible leaves

These are elegant enough for fall wedding tiers, but also fun as cupcake toppers. You could even use a few to spruce up a pumpkin pie for an extra-special Thanksgiving spread. If leaves aren’t your jam, Sugar Robot is still worth checking out for edible feathers, flowers, butterflies (imagine desserts looking like the butterfly art I posted about and you’re close), and spooky Halloween accents. See? Seasonal entertaining’s a piece of cake.

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Did you catch Anna’s Color of the Month post for September? Your response to indigo was really positive. Readers called it calming, pretty, lovely, organic and many more flattering adjectives. Indigo falls somewhere between blue and violet and is named after a dye used in India and other countries around the world. When it comes to entertaining with indigo, finding inspiration gets quite a bit harder. I have personally never used this color for a party, but after my research, I think it would be beautiful for a dinner party or wedding.

sources :: plate, placemat, coasters, tea towel

What I did find, was that you often see gorgeous intricate patterns paired with items of this color, as seen above in the plate and tea towel.

While searching Etsy, I spotted a few handmade paper items including a heart garland, journal and gift tags. Aren’t they gorgeous?

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There’s almost always an array of delicious drinks at your average summer shindig: Iced tea, lemonade, soda, and adult beverages like beer. However, the cup options tend to be limited to one thing: Plastic cups. Don’t get me wrong, I have an inherent fondness for plastic cups because I associate them with having fun, but I’m not so sure they’re ideal for every bevvie. Studio Qubus’ Sommelier Wine Glasses seem like a great compromise.

plastic cup wine glass

Czech designer Maxim Velčovský perches plastic cup lookalikes atop stems for a wonderful highbrow/lowbrow effect. The shape is casual enough to be informal, but the material and stem make sipping something like a nice Pinot Noir feel a little less “frat party.” Now that’s something worth toasting!

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Men, you can keep your Transformers. Robots are cool, but I get a much bigger thrill seeing The Double bar cart (from the brand-new online entertaining store Society Social) morph into a unique accent table.

Society Social bar cart

As the name suggests, the faux bamboo cart was ingeniously designed with both uses in mind. Great height and a glitzy finish for the table days, wine/stemware racks and wheels for easy entertaining. I love furniture that can mix business and pleasure (and can help me mix a mean Manhattan). Cheers lookin’ at you, kid.

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I enjoy reading about featured blogger Brian Patrick Flynn’s design crushes on Sarah Richardson and Kyle Schuneman. And as I can’t help but have crushes of my own, every month I’ll be sharing with Design Happens readers my favorite designers in the party/event industry. Today, I’m introducing you to Jennifer Sbranti, founder of the popular website, Hostess with the Mostess.

Jenn was literally my “first crush” when I joined the party blogging community. If you’re looking for inspiration, her site is essentially a database of beautiful parties by great planners, stylists and regular readers. It’s always a thrill to have my own parties and photo shoots featured on HWTM. So, I came up with a few questions for the lovely Jenn, and I think you’ll enjoy her answers, her hosting tips and a look at the latest party trend. (Move over cake pops!)

{1} What party or shoot that you’ve styled is most popular with your readers?

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The color team at Design Happens chose cerise as HGTV’s June Color of the Month. In the reveal post, Anna shared a collection of fabulous products along with home decorating inspiration using this fun hue. Some of you loved it and some of you were not big fans. For those who adore this happy, vibrant color, I’m wrapping up our June look at cerise with entertaining inspiration featuring this deep, hot pink and similar shades. Personally, I have a weakness for all tones of pink, so searching for party ideas that incorporate this color was quite enjoyable. I adore it paired with blues, especially bright blue as shown in this gorgeous tablescape.

Cerise Collage

credits :: tablescape, cupcake liners

Planning an event or gathering? Cerise is an unexpected, gorgeous color to incorporate. It works well for showers, brunches and weddings. With such a girly color, dainty details are a must. Dress the part with a gorgeous frock or accessorize with a ruffled clutch. Yes, I am one of those hostesses who coordinates her outfit with the party. Display cupcakes beautifully by adding cerise ribbon and bows to a tiered cupcake stand.

Cerise Collage

credits :: dress, cupcakes, clutch

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How are you celebrating the 4th of July this year? If you’re attending a party or gathering, I suggest you volunteer now to bring dessert. I’ve collected seven easy, festive and delicious recipes. Plus, with the patriotic cupcake wrappers and party toppers I designed exclusively for HGTV readers, you’ll be sure to impress the host and other guests!
HGTV Exclusive From The TomKat Studio - Fourth of July Cupcake Circles & Wrapper - Free Printables

Free Printable Party Circles for Desserts - 4th of July - The TomKat StudioHGTV exclusive :: download free printable party circles

Free Printable Cupcake Wrappers - 4th of July - The TomKat StudioHGTV exclusive :: download free printable cupcake wrappers

I seem to always be in charge of dessert at gatherings with family and friends. I absolutely love to bake {when I’m not blogging}, especially cupcakes. Cupcakes are easy, cute and oh so popular.

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Although our deck is far from ready to decorate (I have strict rules to finish the interior of my home before I can start on the exterior), summer is here and I can’t pretend like you all aren’t outside enjoying perfect evening dinners on your perfect patios. But if you’re not, this post is all about how to build the perfect patio (on a budget!) for every one of your summer whims.

Whether you’re an alfresco dining connoisseur, urban dweller or beach bum, I’ve got a patio design for each of you. Just humor me while I live vicariously through you, OK? Deal.

Small space HGTV Design Happens - designer Erin Loechner - patio furniture urban dweller

You never have to sacrifice style for space.

For the Urban Dweller:
Short on space but large on style? Get the most out of your tiny terrace or mini-balcony by going modern with an elemental table, side tray and hanging planters.
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