(BPT) - Whether an afternoon tailgating before the big game or a fun-filled evening under the dazzling autumn stars, the forecast for this season's entertaining is trending toward cozy, comfortable and outdoors.
"I think the big lifestyle shift right now is toward eating out less and entertaining more at home, and autumn is the perfect season for taking your get-togethers outside," says Keith Winkler, marketing manager for dinnerware giant Replacements, Ltd. "Think about it - the temperatures are cooling down following our record breaking summer heat. You can have more people at outdoor gatherings than you can generally fit in your home. Plus, there's more flexibility because you can easily have one or more set ups, whether that means setting up tables for dinner or having canapÃ©s and finger foods around a fire pit."
Fall is a great season for ditching the paper and plastic and taking your dinnerware outdoors. Tableware industry experts say there are many positives to introducing your "good stuff" to Mother Nature. It won't blow away like paper plates, and it's far more environmentally friendly than Styrofoam.
Mix it up
While serving finger foods on small plates is extremely popular and encourages your guests to mingle, there's a definite return toward the comfort and connection of a sit down meal. To set the perfect fall table, designers encourage mixing and matching patterns to reflect your distinctive style.
"I generally start with a pattern that sets the tone for the evening, one that reflects what I'm feeling for this particular gathering," says Replacements' designer Julie Robbins. "Whether that's a cute salad plate that's going to sit atop the dinner plate, or a fun color I want as my main design element or theme. I then add pieces that either draw out that feeling or ground the place setting to give me the ambiance I want for my entire table."
Robbins says that may mean pairing a current fall favorite, such as a dinner plate in Woodland by Spode, with vintage American amber glass from the 1940s. She also mixes different pieces. For example, adding a hued glass accent salad plate creates another layer of dimension, while a bright goblet can infuse a much needed pop of seasonal color.
Light up your evenings
There's really no need to go heavy on the decorations for fall outdoor entertaining. Bright leaves, pumpkins, seasonal berries and other naturals create the perfect autumn decor. Experts say you don't need a floral centerpiece if you have nature all around you. Instead, use candles to light up your evenings.
"It's time to upgrade from the Mason jar look by mixing glassware and candles," says Robbins. "Lighting can truly set the mood for your gathering, which is why I'm big on creating an eclectic grouping down the middle of my table by mixing glass and metal candlesticks with hurricanes, clear decanters and other pieces I can use to hold candles. If you don't think you have enough pieces, old tumblers make great votive cups, while you can also turn wine glasses and goblets upside down and place candles on the inverted base. This is beautiful for daytime entertaining, and when lit, creates a simple, warm feeling on those nights when you're just starting to feel a nip in the air."
Looking for more fall inspiration? Robbins and team suggest checking out Replacements' website at www.replacements.com.
Spring and summer present endless opportunities to celebrate, from events like graduations and birthday parties to barbecues and gatherings with friends. Impress guests and add an element of fun and whimsy to your party with easy DIY balloon projects, such as Floral Balloon Tails and DIY Glitter-Dipped Balloons.
Celebrate Summer with DIY Party Decor
(Family Features) Spring and summer present endless opportunities to celebrate, from events like graduations and birthday parties to barbecues and gatherings with friends. Impress guests and add an element of fun and whimsy to your party with these easy DIY balloon projects.
Party planning experts Seri Kertzner and Michelle Bachman of Little Miss Party recommend making a bold statement by using fresh flowers to create floral tails on your balloons. It’s an unexpected detail that adds a colorful element to your tablescape. You can tailor the flowers to your party’s color scheme or the guest of honor’s favorites. Put any leftover flowers in vases or use them for a table runner to pull the theme through.
DIY glitter balloons from Kelly Mindell of Studio DIY are another fun project that can lift the look of any occasion. Simply coat clear balloons with spray adhesive and roll them in glitter to add sparkle to your gift table, centerpiece or dessert area.
With Balloon Time’s portable helium tank on hand, you can inflate balloons for creative uses anywhere you want to celebrate.
Floral Balloon Tails
Purchase light, fresh greenery that has a flexible stem. A florist or local farm stand can help identify the greenery best suited for this project.
Buy jumbo confetti balloon. To make the balloon instead, pick up a clear jumbo balloon at a local party store. Cut tissue paper into small pieces and add cut tissue into the balloon before inflating.
Inflate confetti balloon with helium tank and tie with string or ribbon.
Take strand of green leaves and wrap greenery around string, starting at the balloon stem.
Notes: Be aware that popcorn ceilings and hot ceiling lights can pop balloons. If high ceilings are a concern, tie balloons to a jar of decorative rocks or candy in the party’s color scheme.
DIY Glitter-Dipped Balloons
Inflate balloons using helium tank and tie with ribbon.
Pour glitter onto paper plate.
Spray adhesive on bottom third of the balloon and roll sticky part in glitter until it is completely covered.
Tap balloon to remove excess glitter.
While the stress-relieving capabilities and health benefits of gardening are well known, a twist on this timeless hobby offers a way to add charm and a whimsical feel to your home and garden. Creating an enchanted fairy garden, such as the Fairy Garden Broken Pot or Naturalist Fairy Garden projects, can boost imagination and offer a family-friendly way to hone your green thumb.
Gardening with an Enchanted Twist
(Family Features) While the stress-relieving capabilities and health benefits of gardening are well known, a twist on this timeless hobby offers a way to add charm and a whimsical feel to your home and garden. Creating an enchanted fairy garden can boost imagination and offer a family-friendly way to hone your green thumb.
These miniature landscapes, often hidden in a secluded area of your garden or planted in decorative containers, are an easy way to refresh your interior or exterior decor and can be revamped seasonally to align with any design theme. The possibilities and styles are endless, so to help you get started, the crafting experts at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores created these fairy garden projects featuring a host of tiny details to bring your scene to life. Pottery, moss and tiny figurines will make your garden complete.
Fairy Garden Broken Pot
Crafting time: 3-5 hours
Supplies and Tools:
Tightly fill bottom of planter with smaller pots and packing peanuts or bubble wrap. Cover packing peanuts/bubble wrap with moss, gluing in place with hot glue.
Place fairy items as you desire, securing with hot glue. Trim bottom of plant to a 1-inch stem and secure it in place with hot glue.
Naturalist Fairy GardenCrafting time: Weekend project
Skill level: Some experience necessary
Supplies and Tools:
Flip wooden tray over so bottom is facing up. Spray paint bottom and sides gold. Allow to dry. Using old rag or paper towel, rub on wood stain sparingly, allowing gold to show through stain in areas. Allow to dry.
Measure width of opening between sides of tray. Transfer measurement to green floral foam and cut with serrated knife.
To create hillside for house, cut green foam to resemble a hill with highest point in back corner of long side of foam. Slope downward to create impression of hill toward a river, and contour other side to go slightly uphill, forming river bed. Hot glue foam to bottom of tray. Add foam at top of the hill for more height, if desired.
Place sheet of adhesive moss on top of foam, cutting out areas for river and hut. In river area, apply path of hot glue and dump pebbles on top. Use bigger stones on sides to create river bank. Pour bottle of nail polish onto riverbed, brushing stones to look like water.
Place hut at highest point, gluing it down with liberal amount of hot glue. Nestle bushes and trees around hut, varying sizes of round mosses and trees, and hot glue in place.
Glue white birch rounds behind hut for backdrop to glue trees and shrubs around; giving off appearance of a hut nestled in the hillside. Attach bushes to outside of sidewalls. Glue stepping stones in place to create path to river.
Add additional fairy items to fill out the scene.
Find more inspiration to create magical little villages from start-to-finish at joann.com.
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