May 21st, 2009 |

Tips for a Modern Picnic

Modern Picnic

The official start of summer is upon us this weekend – and that means it’s time to embrace outdoor entertaining!  BBQ’s, pool parties, dining alfresco in the garden – they are all fun!  But don’t forget the picnic – whether it is the end-of-the-year school picnic, dinner at  a music festival, a picnic on the beach or in your favorite park, or even under the stars in your backyard – picnics are a great way to casually entertain this summer.

So, what’s to set your picnic apart from any old picnic?  It’s all in the set-up!

Take time to plan out your picnic the way you would any party – choose a color scheme, define the space with decorations, and choose a fabulous menu.  Choose a bold blanket to be the backdrop of your party, and surround the area with stakes draped with either lanterns or ribbon, or tiki torches.  Add some bright throw pillows, and a low table to use as your buffet.  (the one pictured above from Crate & Barrel is fabulous – it rolls up, which makes for easy transportation!)

Acrylic or melamine plates and glasses are key to outdoor entertaining!  We all want to be environmentally-friendly – if you can invest in a set of plates this summer, you will definitely use them time and time again.  You can really have fun with these – try to find a bright color, or festive pattern that matches your party’s theme.

When it comes to food, remember that it needs to be transported to your picnic spot in a cooler.  Try to pack a separate one for food, and one for drinks (since that one will probably be opening more frequently).  Pack your serving dishes separately, and arrange your food on them once you arrive at your location.  Don’t forget to pack a sharp knife, a corkscrew and bottle opener, salt & pepper shakers, and garbage bags for easy clean-up.  If your picnic will continue into the night, don’t forget your candles!

The food you serve should be fairly easy to eat – traditionally, sandwiches, fruit salad, even burgers or hot dogs are served.  Looking for a few new ideas?  Try lobster sliders, watermelon salad, and carrot cake cupcakes.

Modern Picnic Food

Picnic image via Lollipop Events

May 21st, 2009 |

Seersucker: For Your Table!

seersucker-napkin-ringsIf you are a girl that loves a little seersucker now and then, you are going to love these!  Seersucker inspired napkin rings from Plum Party Supplies.  Perfect for a pool party, backyard BBQ, or a lobster bake on the beach!

May 20th, 2009 |

A Wedding Celebration at a Country Retreat

Country Wedding (small)

Today’s wedding inspiration has a little bit of country and a whole lot of charm.  A color palette of red, orange and yellow look bright and sunny, this casual, outdoor event is sure to bring pure joy to the happy couple!

Images: flower girls (brides.com), red barn (emilieinc.com), couple (gertrudeandmable.com), bouquet (weddingchannel.com)

May 19th, 2009 |

Napkin of the Week: Sail Away

sailboat

Sail into Memorial Day weekend with this napkin that just SCREAMS summer!  This festive boat would be great for any summer party or children’s birthday party.

Step 1: Fold the napkin. Lay the cloth napkin flat on the surface you are using and fold the napkin in half horizontally. Fold it again vertically so that you have a square that is the fourth of the size of your original napkin.

Step 2: Rotate the napkin. Turn the napkin so that it is in the shape of a diamond with the open edges of the napkin on the bottom.

Step 3: Crease the bottom of the napkin upwards so that you have a triangle. Fold both the left and the right points of the triangle until they touch in the middle of the napkin.

Step 4: Turn down the flaps. There will be two small flaps on your napkin. Fold them under so that the front looks like a triangle again. This time fold them with a line down the middle.

Step 5: Take the left and right points and fold them towards the back until they meet. As this is happening, crease the fold.

Step 6: Pull the flaps. There will be four flaps inside of the triangle you have formed. Pull these flaps out until they look like the sails of boats.

Image via Napkins with a Twist, instructions via ehow.com

May 19th, 2009 |

Summer Skewers

Summer Skewers

Fire up the grill and add a little excitement to your next party with these summer skewers!  Everyone has their go-to kabob or skewer for summer BBQ’s, but these 4 new crowd-pleasers from Better Homes and Gardens will leave your mouth watering!  (and your guests!)  Perfect for a Memorial Day BBQ or just a weeknight dinner on the grill.

Steak & Potato Kabobs

Pineapple & Scallop Skewers

Fontina-Stuffed Meatball Kabobs

Skewered Shrimp & Zucchini with Basil Cream Sauce

May 18th, 2009 |

Summer Treat: Frozen Watermelon Pops!

Watermelon Pops

Looking for a healthy summer treat?  Try these frozen watermelon pops for your next party….

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups cubed, seeded watermelon, cantaloupe, or honeydew melon
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon light-colored corn syrup

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender; cover and blend until smooth. Press fruit mixture through a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl to extract juices. Discard any solids. Pour the mixture into 3-ounce paper or plastic drink cups or pop molds. Cover cups with foil; cut a slit in the foil and insert wooden sticks.

2. Freeze several hours or overnight until pops are firm. To serve, remove from cups or molds. Makes 8 servings.

Recipe (bhg.com), patio (crateandbarrel.com), watermelon pops (corrinekozlak.com)

May 18th, 2009 |

Memorial Day BBQ

Memorial Day BBQ

Memorial Day weekend is the kick-off to summer.  With temperatures finally rising here in the midwest – this weekend is the perfect time to host a Memorial Day BBQ!

Food for BBQ’s has to be one of the easiest – and everyone has their favorite summer dishes – so throw some burgers on the grill, toss up a fresh salad and shuck some fresh corn on the cob.  Today, let’s focus on how to set a festive table for your weekend of patriotic parties!

It looks like the weather is going to hold up – so plan to host your party outside on the patio.  Dust off that patio furniture, and freshen up the space with some new chair cushions and throw pillows.  These red, white and blue stripe cushions from Pottery Barn are perfect for our Memorial Day BBQ!

Hang paper lanterns from under your umbrella – it will add some color by day, and a nice glow at night to any table!  Flowers would be lovely on the adults table – but if you are hosting a party with some tiny guests, give them their own festive centerpiece – fill Chinese take out containers with tons of red, white and blue candy!

Combine patriotic colors and patterns for your placesetting – I love this idea of tying a tin star around your napkin – so festive!  If you are looking for some disposible party supplies, go check out my favorite resource, Plum Party Supplies.  The patriotic supplies below -  grosgrain ribbon paper goods, flag party crackers, and red acyrlic tumblers – would be great for any summer party!

memorial-day-bbq-supplies-small

Images: placesetting, lanterns and candy centerpiece (bhg.com), patriotic beverage tub (inmagine.com), patio table (potterybarn.com), party supplies (plumparty.com)

May 17th, 2009 |

The Cadillac of Picnic Baskets

picnic-basket

I found this picnic basket on Delight.com today – and am just in love with the bright colors!  This would make a perfect wedding or shower gift for a couple!

You can’t go wrong with this set as it includes everything you’d ever need while enjoying cuisine at the park – four plates, four cups, utensils, cutting board, wine key, salt and pepper shakers, and a backpack that holds it all plus a bottle of wine, a large insulated compartment in the back, and a blanket to top it all off.   Not to mention it is probably the most stylish picnic basket I’ve ever seen!

May 16th, 2009 |

A Birthday Celebration with an Asian Flair

Asian Flair Birthday Party

Looking to throw a birthday party with a festive theme?

Try using an Asian theme…complete with paper lanterns, chopsticks and fortune cookies!

Set the stage for your celebration by setting up one long table and hanging paper lanterns above it to define the space.  Use shades of red, orange and pink, with accents of gold to set your table.  Try tying wooden chopsticks to your napkins with a simple ribbon.  There are two options for placecards – and I can’t decide which is my favorite!  You could do a classic paper card with Asian script on it – or you could use these darling silver fortune cookies from Beau-Coup.

asian-flair-fortune-cookiesAn Asian dinner would not be complete without noodles!  Set up a noodle bar complete with sliced veggies, crushed peanuts and different sauces.  As a compliment, serve lemongrass shrimp skewers, Asian braised short ribs, and for dessert – create custom fortune cookies!

Make sure to create an inviting seating area for your guests to relax after dinner,  sip on Sake and at night you can light fireworks (if the season’s right and you have someone willing to control the activity). Decorate the area with bamboo mats, and vases full of bamboo shoots, and more paper lanterns.

As a favor for your guests, package items in a Chinese food take-out boxes instead of traditional gift bags. Stuff them with  fortune cookies, inexpensive paper fans, Chinese yo-yos and pocket-size Chinese checkers.

Images: table setting (flickr.com), chopstick napkins (socialcouture.com), Chinese take-out box favors (amorologyweddings.com), placecards (weddingchannel.com), noodle buffet (angelayeung.com)

May 15th, 2009 |

Domestic Diva Bridal Shower

Hosting a bridal shower for a bride-to-be that considers herself the next “Martha Stewart”!?  Host a Domestic Diva shower!

Invite your guests to an afternoon of culinary activities!  Send a festive invitation, like this one from Wedding Paper Divas, and include a recipe card and instructions for every guest to bring their favorite recipe to share with the bride.

Focus your decorations around kitchen untensils – I absolutely love this silverware chandelier, and how easy to add some spoons, spatulas and whisks into your flower arrangements?!

Instead of your typical bridal shower games, challenge your guests to a cookie bake off.  Have sugar cookies already baked (you could do basic circles, but it would be really cute if you did bride and grooms!), and have bowls of colored royal icing and tons of sprinkles ready before your guests arrive.  Have your guest of honor judge the final submissions – and don’t forget to provide some celephane bags for your guests to bring the cookies home with them.

I have the perfect party favor for this shower!  This adorable set of four measuring cups has clever and romantic phrases (A heap of love, A spoonful of affection, A dash of tenderness, A pinch of joy) are engraved on the handle of each measuring spoon. The traditional measurements (1/4 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon, 1 teaspoon, 1 tablespoon) are engraved on the back side of the handle.  Perfect for the happy couple and for guests to remember their special day!

 

Images: centerpiece, baking supplies (inmagine.com), invitations (weddingpaperdivas.com), measuring cup favor (beau-coup.com), blueberry tarts (hostessblog.com)

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