August 5th, 2009 |
Summer is going to end before we know it and soon you will be back into your school year schedule. Host one last backyard bash before school starts to celebrate the end of summer with your kids. The kids will be thrilled with just a table full of goodies and a yard to run around in. So while the kids are occupied, entertain the parents with a casual dinner.
Use the back-to-school theme and run with it! Cover your table with a long piece of black butcher block paper, and draw on placemats with a white pencil or paint pen. Or cut out individual placemats from the black paper. It will look like a chalkboard! And if you add in each person’s name….it will double as your placecard, too. Keep your centerpiece simple, line the center of the table with simple flowers such as daisies and tulips. Use different types of vases – bowls, small vases, even glass mason jars, or glass milk bottles – to keep the look casual.
If you are looking for ideas for a menu – try a bread salad with tomatoes, lemon and cucumbers, buttermilk fried chicken, grilled corn-on-the-cob, and an old-fashioned latticed cherry pie.
Set up a kids table using the same black paper as a topper. Instead of drawing on placemats, draw out ruled lines and letters to make it look like a handwriting lesson. Provide the kids with plenty of easy-to-eat snacks….something they can grab on the run. My vote would be for mini hot dogs, pb & j sandwiches (cut out in a cute shape, of course), cookies and rice crispy treats.
Casual, cheery, and fun for all….this back-to-school backyard bash is the perfect send-off to summer!
Images: kids (ba-reps.com), table (realsimple.com), cookies and rice crispy treats (inmagine.com), mini hot dogs (horchow.com)
August 5th, 2009 |
Playdate activities….it’s always an endless search for something new and exciting that will keep the children occupied long enough for the mothers to enjoy a cup of coffee!
Playdough. It’s an activity that all kids enjoy. But spice it up a bit. Make playdough cookies!
Same concept: make a batch of dough, dye it different colors, and let the kids build shapes with it. The only difference, is that you bake the shapes and voila! Not only did the kids have fun, but you have colorful cookies to enjoy as a treat!
This would make a great activity for a child’s birthday party, too!
Play Dough Cookies
The original recipe proposes cookies in lollipop form, but have your kids get creative and create cookies in all different shapes. Just be careful to bake similar sized cookies at a time. Besides their super cute looks, these really delivered tastewise – they are sugar cookies after all, with a pleasent crumbly texture from the cream cheese.
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 3 ounces cream cheese
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- assorted colors of paste food coloring
- 24 lollipop sticks (optional)
- In the electric mixer, cream butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat until smooth.
- In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Stir till soft dough forms. Divide dough into fourths. Tint each with a different food color. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Working with half of each color, shape dough into 3/4 inch balls and for each cookie place 1 pink, 1 green, 1 blue and 1 orange (I used red, yellow, blue and green) ball together to make 1 large ball. Shape into a 12 inch long roll (like a snake), starting at one end, coil roll to make a 2 3/4 inch round cookie. Place cookies 3 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheet. Carefully insert lollipop sticks into bottoms of cookies.
- Bake cookies for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and store in an airtight container.
Recipe via The Cookieshop in English
August 4th, 2009 |
Add a fun twist to your next cocktail party by decorating with COLOR! Choose a color palette of three hues and break up your party into color-coordinated sections. For example, I have chosen a fuchsia, orange and yellow color palette for this party inspiration. Set your table up in three sections and include flowers, cocktails, appetizers, barware and edible garnishes in each section. Use neutral elements such as a tall glass vase, or votive candles in each section to unify the look. It’s somewhat of an “organization by color” project – but the final product will be so visual appealing!
When planning your food and drinks, try to keep your color palette in mind. Serve a signature cocktail for each color. For example, try a raspberry champagne cocktail (for the fuchsia), a mango cocktail (for the orange), and a lemoncello cooler (for the yellow). Get creative with your food presentation too….instead of serving one large crudites tray, separate the veggies by color. Place radishes on a plate with a small bowl of dip, carrots for the orange section, celery for the yellow section, and so on….
Bring in your pop colors with accessories. This festive invitation from Wedding Paper Divas is perfect for my color palette, but it comes in other color ways as well…perfect for any party! I found these great colored-glass votive candles at Plum Party Supplies. They come in all different colors, and I was thrilled to find them in all three of my pop colors – fuchsia, orange, yellow! These are great for placing in the different colored sections of my table, but will still give a unified look.
Images: invitation (weddingpaperdivas.com), shrimp cocktail (epicurious.com), wine glasses (thenest.com), table setting (potterybarn.com)
August 3rd, 2009 |
This shabby chic birthday brunch is all about natural sand colors mixed with cornflower blue. This lovely invitation from Minted is the perfect inspiration for the decor of the party….it has a subtle garden party feel, but with a color palette that I think is so sophisticated.
If you are hosting a larger party, consider setting up a few tables of 8-10 for brunch. In order to assure your guests have a lovely time, use placecards to determine the seating. Create a placecard display by filling a wood tray with sunflower seeds, beans, or rice (something in the natural color) and stand the placecards up in neat little rows.
Bring natural elements into your table centerpieces. Potted plants, candles perched on wood coasters, glass hurricane candles filled with pussy willow branches. Tie your napkin with a piece of raffia or a ribbon, and stick a white flower into it to finish off the presentation. Dress up a basic birthday cake with some fresh flowers on top….flowers make everything look special!
No party is complete without a signature drink….ask the birthday girl what her favorite cocktail is ahead of time. An Arnold Palmer (half lemonade, half iced tea) would be a perfect non-alcoholic option. Dress up your drinks by adding a custom flag to your straws. The pop of blue ties into our color palette, and they are darling when personalized with a cute saying, or something as simple as “Happy 30th!”
This brunch inspiration would be ideal for a bridal shower as well. The beautiful colors, simple decorations and sophisticated feel ensures a lovely afternoon with friends. Doesn’t it make you want to pull a floral party dress out of your closet and plan a party?!
Images: invitation (minted.com), drinks (brides.com), blue cake (theknot.com), table setting (artfool.com), placecards (saltharbor.com), party dresses (jcrew.com)
August 1st, 2009 |
I found these delicious looking treats over at Big Red Kitchen. Edible cocktails. Jello shots. Whatever you want to call them, they are so fun….I must try them at my next party! Festive, colorful, and perfect for an evening of outdoor entertaining. I bet a few of your guests may even squeal with delight when they see them as they recall the jello shots of their past. Don’t let these childhood-like treats fool you, they have a bite and will sneak up on you if you have a few too many.
Edible Cocktails: Sangria
1 3/4 cups Reál Sangria
1 1/2 cups Limeade
3/4 cup Cointreau
4 packets Knox Gelatine – one whole box
zest of one lime for garnish
Mix the first 3 ingredients in a small sauce pan. Add Knox and let sit 3 minutes until gel softens. Turn on heat to medium and heat for a few minutes until gel is completely dissolved, no need to boil or get very hot. Pour into a 9 inch square pan that has been lined with plastic wrap. Chill covered overnight. To unmold, turn cocktail over onto a cutting board, remove plastic wrap and cut into 36 equal sized pieces. Top each piece with a small bit of lime zest. Place on pretty tray and serve immediately. Makes 36 pieces.
Tips on Making Edible Cocktails
1. Before adding the Gelatine, taste the cocktail first and adjust flavor if needed.
2. Keep chilled at all times! These will dissolve into puddles if not kept cold. Mine got soft on the car ride over to the party, which a quick trip to the freezer fixed them up just fine, but oh the puddle they made in my lap on the warm car ride home!
3. Remember the ratio to turn your favorite cocktail into an Edible Cocktail- one packet (7 grams) Knox Gelatine to every 8 ounces (240 ml) of fluid. More Gelatine will make the cocktails even more firm if necessary.
Be creative and have fun!
July 30th, 2009 |
For a summertime wedding full of charm, take some old “country” ideas and update them to create a modern event that will have the town talking for weeks! If you are a bride planning an outdoor, casual wedding, opt for a short wedding gown, such as this one from Amsale. Short and sassy will not only update your look, but it will keep you cool on the dance floor!
Green and purple are a natural pair….but instead of opting for soft, pastel colors…..go bold! A chartreuse green and strong purple will bring your event to life and you can have a ton of fun with your decor. Use white and green as your base colors, and pop in the purple in all of your floral details.
Update a classic white wedding invitation with a bold green monogram like this one from Wedding Paper Divas, and carry the green ink thru all of your stationery. Wedding programs, thank you cards, even the placecards. When it comes to decorating your tables, take a cue from those old “country charm” ideas I mentioned above and use a plaid table cloth. Done in these bold colors, it looks updated and fresh….perfect for a summer wedding! I love the centerpieces on this table! They took footed trifle bowls and filled them with a large bunch of the same bloom – here they used irises. The single bloom, and bold color from the irises is a more modern look – paired with the plaid table cloth – it’s the perfect combination!
Carry the green throughout your event by creating a dessert buffet to surround the wedding cake. Dessert buffets offer your guests a bunch of options in terms of dessert, and when they are done in a monochromatic theme they look oh, so sophisticated!
Images: short wedding gown (amsale.com), purple bouquet (theknot.com), plaid table setting (brides.com), invitation (weddingpaperdivas.com), lime placecards (realsimple.com), dessert buffet (amyatlas.com)
July 29th, 2009 |
Bridal showers don’t always have to mean frilly, white, and tacky! Delight your bride-to-be and her guests with a modern art deco themed bridal shower. Using turquoise and melon orange as your color palette, choose bold patterns and modern lines for all of your party details.
Invite your guests with this modern invitation from Wedding Paper Divas. It sets the tone for this festive event, and gives your guests just a tiny glimpse into what you have in store for them!
Use white as your base color for decorations and table settings. Create a bold centerpiece by using a series of white vases. Fill each vase with a single type of flower, each in a different pop color such as orange, yellow and white. Look for clean-shaped flowers such as tulips, gerber daisies, or orchids. To add another touch of color to your white place setting, place a single bloom on each plate. Attach a card with your guest’s name on it, and it can double as your placecard!
Set up a drink station so that you aren’t running around filling up glasses…..use cylinder vases in varying sizes as your “punch bowls” and fasten drink labels to each. Garnish each glass with a small slice of fruit for little special touch! I absolutely love surprising guests with a dessert buffet at a bridal or baby shower. Not only are they absolutely beautiful, but it gives guests an opportunity to walk around and sample all of the goodies while they watch the guest of honor open her gifts. Use a variety of white dishes to showcase all of your different desserts. You can use scrapbook paper in coordinating colors or patterns to line some of your plates. Coordinate the desserts with your bakery (or with the hosts that may be baking these lovely treats), so that all of the desserts are color-coordinated. When put together, you will be thrilled with how festive and professional the dessert buffet looks. You can also provide small bags or boxes, and your guests can fill them up to bring home as a party favor.
Images: little girl (amorologyweddings.com), invitation (weddingpaperdivas.com), table setting (brides.com), monogram cookies (sweetandsaucyshop.com), orange and turquoise dessert images (amyatlas.com), drink station (elegantbride.com)
July 29th, 2009 |
Here’s a fabulous spritzer that’s great for a warm afternoon spent picnicking on the grass. Make it with either orange juice as directed, or with frozen lemonade.
- 1 cup Campari
- 1 liter mineral water
- 2 cans frozen orange juice concentrate
- orange slices
Mix all ingredients in a pitcher and serve over ice. Makes 12 servings.
Recipe via Bloom.acious
July 28th, 2009 |
Kids are natural pros when it comes to mini golf!
Part skill, part luck, and a whole lot of fun makes it the perfect activity for a child’s birthday party.
Invite your guests with an invitation far above par from Tiny Prints. Create an obstacle course for your mini-golf course. Martha Stewart has created a plan to transform your backyard into a one-of-a-kind putt-putt course (with no damage to the lawn):
Tools and Materials
Baking sheet and play sand: Makes a fine sand trap
Two-by-fours: Erect barriers for runaway balls with painted two-by-fours (see diagram below for placement).
Cardboard: Used is the foundation for the gopher and windmill
Acrylic paint and Mylar pinwheels: To dress up gopher and windmill (You can also even out a bumpy lawn or make a ramp to a hole by placing cardboard under the turf.)
Electrical tape: To create trimmings, like the flags on the croquet wickets
Colorful golf balls and kid-size clubs: Available online, they double as party favors
Golf tees: Get plenty, and use some to secure the turf edges
A xylophone: This instrument forms part of an obstacle.
Artificial turf: We used 200 square feet of this turf for the greens, and simply cut out rounds for the “holes.”
Plaid fabric and dowel: To make flags, photocopy plaid fabric, cut out, tape to a dowel, and affix a number sticker.
Backyard Nine-Hole Course Ideas (you may want to make fewer holes for younger children)
We laid out the greens (all artificial turf) as shown in the diagram (click here for printable version); they are each between 5 and 10 feet long.
No place like gnome: A wily creature tries his best to block a shot.
Picnic area: The table is both an obstacle and a spot to wait for a turn — just keep feet clear of balls in play!
Sand trap: In a piece of artificial turf, cut a rectangle slightly smaller than a rimmed baking sheet. Fill pan with sand; position rectangle over it.
Waterfall: It’s not exactly a water hazard, but a sprinkler will leave the turf nice and slippery.
Perfect pitch: Golfers can hammer out a tune as they try for the hole (a roll of tape) up a ramp to a xylophone set between two angled two-by-fours.
Sitting pretty: Two folding chairs form a tunnel and provide another comfy spot for a break.
Pinwheel windmill: To make, cut an arch in two sides of a cardboard box and trim the edges with electrical tape. Insert plastic pinwheels into the top of box. Secure handles underneath with duct tape. Affix more pinwheels to the front with tape.
Ruff!: It takes nerves of steel to tap a ball straight through the croquet wickets — they’re embellished with electrical-tape flags — and into the doghouse.
Gopher the gold: Create a cardboard gofer to greet players at the final challenge. Try taping him to a box with a hole cut out of the bottom for catching golf balls.
Carry the traditional golf theme thru your food, decorations and party favors. Set up a food table using metal buckets as a centerpiece. Fill these buckets with treats for the kids, such as popcorn balls, powdered-sugar donut holes, and white chocolate malt balls. Serve juice boxes and sandwiches for lunch….wrap sandwiches in plaid paper for a decorative touch!
Send the kids home with a plaid box of golf-themed goodies. A TY Beanie Baby – CHARITEE the PGA Golf Bear, a Mini Golf Play Set, and chocolate golf ball candy. I found these great green, plaid boxes at Plum Party Supplies.
Images: invitation (tinyprints.com), grass centerpiece (hostessblog.com), golf ball cookies (whippedbakeshop.com)
July 28th, 2009 |
Think about adding an unexpected element to your centerpieces for your next party. I L-O-V-E this idea….beautiful flowers, paired with playful fish…charming, colorful, and totally fun!
Images via Details Details