5 Ideas for Throwing a Laid-Back Fourth of July Picnic

My favorite way to celebrate the Fourth and beat the heat? A simple outdoor picnic featuring a cool color scheme and even-colder drinks. So whether you’re planning a summer picnic or a casual backyard fete, these are my favorite tips for a simple outdoor soirée.

july fourth table styled for minted by kelli hall
july fourth table styled for minted by kelli hall
boxed blueberries, july fourth table styled for minted by kelli hallPackage your favorite summer fruit in individual-size kraft boxes.

july fourth table styled for minted by kelli hallFresh cherries make a simple snack.

1. Think finger foods.
You can make a terrific picnic with foods that require only two fingers to eat. Start with the healthy nibbles packaged in individual portions: summer fruit like blueberries and cherries, olives, cheese cubes, crackers, and so on. Then, round those out with heartier options such as open-face sandwiches, sliders, or a make-your-own bruschetta bar with baguette slices and a variety of toppings.

blueberry and rasperry ice cubes,july fourth table styled for minted by kelli hallFrozen-berry ice cubes in patriotic colors

2. Keep drinks ice-cold.
Help guests beat the heat by making sure their drinks stay cold. Wrap beverage bottles in cloth napkins to insulate and keep them chilled; I also love freezing fresh berries in ice cubes for a quick cocktail cool-down.

july fourth mini picnic styled for minted by kelli hallLarge throw pillows are a comfy alternative to a picnic blanket.

sparkler and tag, july fourth table styled for minted by kelli hall

3. Add festive summer touches.
What’s July 4th without some sparkle? Be sure to pack sparklers (or small bottles of bubbles if you’ve got lots of younger kiddos in tow) for some post-picnic fun. Pro tip: Place the sparkers (handles down) in a container about half full of water; once they’ve been used, you can quickly extinguish them in the water.

july fourth table styled for minted by kelli hallTie a simple tag on a sparkler stick with festive grosgrain ribbon.

bubbles and wand, july fourth table styled for minted by kelli hallYour littlest guests will love a bottle of bubbles with a unique blowing wand. 

july fourth table styled for minted by kelli hall

4. Keep things packable and portable
When you’re planning a summer picnic, packing is key—here are some of my favorite tips and ideas:
• Wrap drink bottles in fabric napkins to keep drinks insulated (and looking pretty!).
• I also like to roll fabric napkins and a fabric table runner around drink bottles—it helps save on basket space and keeps them wrinkle-free.
• Recruit helpers: I usually ask two people to help carry all of the picnic items to the picnic (all in one trip!).

fabric wrapped bottle, july fourth table styled for minted by kelli hallA simple napkin wrap keeps drinks cool and bottles pretty.

menu hand fan, july fourth table styled for minted by kelli hallCool down with a paper-menu-turned-hand-fan.

5. Think double-duty.
Keep things efficient by choosing picnic items that will work double-duty:
• Beat the heat with paper-menu hand fans: Attach a wooden stick to the back of a menu card and wave away the humidity and bugs!
• I like to wrap flowers in a white paper lunch bag—it keeps the stems in place while packing your picnic and can be used as a bag for post-picnic rubbish.
• Decorate place settings with fruit to add a festive pop of color and also serve as a tasty snack.

july fourth table styled for minted by kelli hallWrap flowers in a paper lunch bag that can be used later for rubbish.

july fourth table styled for minted by kelli hallScatter cherries on the picnic table like edible confetti.

summer poppies, july fourth table styled for minted by kelli hallDecorate the picnic table with a simple mason-jar arrangement of one or two blooms, like poppies and Queen Anne’s lace.

july fourth table styled for minted by kelli hall

july fourth table styled for minted by kelli hall

Resources:
“Watercolor Frame” invitation by Laura Condouris for Minted
“Cute Red Little Flowers” fabric napkins by Alexandra Dzh for Minted
“Breton Stripe” table runner by Melissa Selmin for Minted
Wooden cutlery
“Ombre” menu card by Dean Street for Minted
Hand-fan sticks
“Cool Cobalt” pillow by Kelli Hall for Minted
Mini buckets
Bubble wand
Bubble bottles
Picnic table
Picnic basket (similar)
“Enjoy” gift tags by Melanie Severin for Minted
Small modern cake stand from Minted
Wire basket (thrifted)
Kraft boxes from Minted
“Family Name” stickers by Jill Means for Minted
“Aviary & Ink” place cards by Kelli Hall for Minted
“Johannis” gift tags by Jack Knoebber for Minted
“Kite” party sign by Lena Barakat for Minted

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Baby Shower Idea: Tropical Jungle

Coming up with a fun and fresh baby-shower theme can be a bit of a challenge, but as soon as I saw Rebecca Turner’s “Jungle Fun” fabric, I knew it’d be perfect. The cheerful, illustrated pattern is just the right mix of playfulness and whimsy, and just begs to be the star of the show at the party. So, shower the mama-to-be with a jungle-themed celebration with darling decorations, freshly cut palm leaves, and plenty of tropical touches. Keep reading for our party-throwing tips…

jungle baby shower for minted by kelli hallrebecca turner jungle fun print table linen for jungle baby showerRebecca Turner’s “Jungle Fun“ fabric inspired the whole shower vibe.

jungle baby shower for minted styled by kelli hall

1. Set the tone with a bold print.
This table is deceptively simple to pull together: All you need are simple dishware paired with fresh-cut palms. This lets the tablecloth be the real star, acting as a focal point and infusing the tabletop with playful energy. I especially love how this print feels like a storybook narrative is unfolding across the table. And the beauty of using a strong statement print as the focal point on the table is it becomes a jumping-off point for all other party elements.

wildflower journal j.bartyn for minted

In addition to the table linen, I used details like this custom baby journal (above) to incorporate other patterns with a similar jungle vibe, like the winding vines and green palm prints on the cover.

hibiscus fizz cocktail jungle baby shower by kelli hall for minted

2. Serve tropical-themed nibbles.
The party menu doesn’t have to be complicated; simple tropical-inspired flavors will create the right vibe. Think: coconut-lime chicken salad, tropical fruit skewers, or prosciutto crostini. For drinks, I served up this recipe for hibiscus soda (with a couple of minor tweaks—I went lighter on the hibiscus tea and swapped the raspberries for hibiscus flowers).

jungle baby shower for mintedI love how the linear pattern on the baby shower invitation feels like a stylized palm illustration.

baby tiger stationery by rebecca turner for minted

3. Get creative with gifts.
What’s a baby shower without a few presents for the mom-to-be? One of my favorite ideas: Gifting the guest of honor with coordinating stationery that she can use once the little one arrives (made extra-special by printing the new baby’s name up top!). Another idea: A custom baby book for her to record special events from baby’s first year.

gold jungle animal place card holdersGold elephants and tigers make the perfect place card holders.

jungle print baby shower for mintedThese “Sprinkled Love” place cards complement the linen’s navy-blue snake illustrations.

Click through for more tips on throwing a jungle-themed baby shower

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How To: Host the Prettiest Spring Brunch

Spring is in the air! My favorite way to celebrate the season? By hosting a brunch for friends, with a pretty palette inspired by glowy honey golds and delicate spring blossoms. Want to host your own spring-inspired fête? Keep reading for my tips on welcoming the season with a simple, freshly styled table.


spring pollen and rose quartz inspired brunch table by kelli hall

1. Set the tone with table linens.
A striped table linen offers the perfect graphic counterpoint to feminine blooms—after all, it’s about simplicity and balance. I like a linen with an asymmetrical, relaxed drape. To be completely honest, this tablecloth had a raw edge, which I don’t mind at all: I simply trimmed some yardage from one of my favorite patterned fabrics and tossed it on the table. Add cloth napkins with painted cherry blossoms and you’ve got a fresh, pretty table.

spring pollen and rose quartz inspired brunch table by kelli hall, copper piping place card holder

2. Add simple (and cheap!) table accessories.
Place cards can work for even the smallest of gatherings and add a special touch to a relaxed table. The key is easy presentation: Here, I repurposed simple copper pipe caps to hold a each place card (check back later this week for the copper place-card holder DIY). As for the napkins? I threaded the cloth napkins through a gold-toned purse ring. Napkin rings feel fresh again and these purse findings make the perfect linen bundle (and cost less than a dollar per ring!). Unsure if gold and copper can play well together? Of course they can—mixed metallics make for an decidedly informal feel.

spring pollen and rose quartz inspired brunch table by kelli hall

3. Choose double-duty menu items.
To save both time and money, think about how your food can double as decor. Jewel-like honey pots, ruby-hued grapefruit slices, and soft meringue icing on a cake all taste as delicious as they look.

spring pollen and rose quartz inspired brunch table by kelli hallRuby-hued grapefruit adds a pop of color to the table.

spring pollen and rose quartz inspired brunch table by kelli hallHoney jar favors will give your spring table a soft, amber glow.

Click through for more tips on hosting a spring brunch

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DIY: Herb-Infused Honey Favors

If you’re hosting a party or gathering this spring—afternoon brunch, Easter luncheon, or even a wedding!—then consider giving guests jars of herb-infused honey as a take-home favor. The idea was inspired by a spring brunch I recently styled that featured the colors and textures of pollen and rose quartz, and these DIY honey jars were the perfect complement to the party. Your guests will be delighted by the fresh, bright notes of the herb-infused honey. Not to mention the fact that they look downright beautiful on the table.


Click through for the step-by-step instructions

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Cute Valentine’s Day Sweets For Kids

This Valentine’s Day, add a little treat to your child’s classroom valentines—these creative (and super easy!) ideas turn a simple card into an oh-so-sweet token of affection.

Superhero Valentines
A cute tag-shaped valentine turns a lollipop into a caped crusader!

• “Superhero Cape” classroom valentine cards
• Jawbreaker lollipops (any standard-size lollipop will work)

Thread a wrapped lollipop through the card’s pre-punched hole so that it looks like a superhero cape. (If the lollipop stick is smaller, tie the card to the stick with a piece of thin ribbon.)

Minted Classroom Valentines

Tic-Tac-Toe Valentines
Turn your classroom valentines into an interactive game of tic tac toe!

• “Shiny Love” foil classroom valentine cards
• Tic Tac Toe card backer (select the “tic tac toe” backer option after adding the valentines to your Minted shopping cart)
• Your favorite small candies in two colors
• Glassine bags
• Custom stickers

After adding your favorite Minted classroom valentines to your shopping cart, select our “Tic Tac Toe” backer to be printed on the back. Package the double-sided card and a handful of candy to play with in a glassine bag and seal it closed with a sticker.

Minted Classroom Valentines


More Valentine’s Day Ideas:
DIY: Valentine’s Day Doggie Bandana
• How To: Throw a Cookie-Decorating Party for Valentine’s Day
• DIY: No-Sew Valentine Treat Bags

More from Minted:
• Valentine’s Day Cards
• Classroom Valentines
• Valentine’s Day Stickers & Accessories

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DIY: Valentine’s Day Dog Bandana

Valentine’s Day isn’t just for humans! Show your favorite furry friend some love with this adorable doggie bandana (since some of us—me included!—have four-legged soul mates). And this gift is as simple as it is cute: You’ll be turning a rolled-up dinner napkin into a posh pup accessory.

Click through for the simple step-by-step instructions

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How to: Host a Sweet Cookie-Decorating Party

Want a surefire way to delight a group of kids this Valentine’s Day? Encourage them to play with their food! We dreamed up this bold and bright cookie-decorating party with a sweet modern theme; recreate it at home this Valentine’s Day by following our steps below.


Step 1: Invite Your Guests
Set the tone for your cookie-decorating party with a bold and bright invitation. Think: modern typography, graphic lines, and loads of saturated color. We adore this “In Love” invitation by Kim Dietrich Elam.

Step 2: Pre-Bake the Cookies
Store-bought dough is perfect for this (that’s what we used), but if you’d like to make your own dough from scratch, we love this sugar-cookie recipe from Julep contributor Melissa Bahen of Lulu the Baker. Pre-bake the cookies ahead of time for your party; estimate three to six cookies for each child to decorate (you’ll pack up the extras for them to enjoy later).

Condiment squeeze bottles are much easier for kids to use
(and are way less messy!) than icing piping bags.

Step 3: Prep the Cookie Decorations
Here’s what you’ll need:
• Royal icing and condiment bottles
We made ours using this royal-icing recipe; add flavors and colors to the icing to your liking, then pour the icing into squeeze bottles and label each with a flavor sticker.
• Sprinkles/candy/other cookie embellishments and paint palette trays
Plastic paint palettes are a clever way to neatly corral all your cookie embellishments in one place.

Tip: If you have young kids, you can pre-frost the cookies by flooding them with a layer of royal icing (above) and allowing them to set in advance. The kids can then use the icing bottles to “glue” on cookie decorations like sprinkles and candy.

Letter-shaped cookie cutters will help the little decorators find their seat.

Step 4: Set Up
Before everyone arrives:
• Cover your tabletop with a playful table linen that complements the overall party vibe. We used “Golden Triangle” by Cindy Lackey. Alternatively, you could cut rectangles of wrapping paper to make placemats (so easy to clean up, too!).
• Stack the pre-baked cookies on a tray in the center of the table.
• Set out individual cookie-decorating embellishments at each place setting (the paint palettes also work perfectly for mixing icing and sprinkles!)
• Set out a cookie cutter in each child’s initial. They make the perfect place marker and take-home gift for future baking adventures.

Click through to read the rest of our cookie-decorating party ideas

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Shakespeare-Inspired Spell Favors

“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble…”

Conjuring up a spooky Halloween dinner? Just add these Shakespeare “spell” favors inspired by lines from Macbeth. We took basic Halloween sweets and gave them a frightening twist with simple packaging and a printable label. Offer them up as macabre party treats straight out of Macbeth’s Act Four.

shakespeare inspired halloween favors

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How To: Pack a Picnic Basket Like a Pro

Once upon a time we owned a pricey picnic basket, but after an evening of bocce (and vodka!) on the beach, it ended up either lost or stolen (we’re still not sure what happened). Now, I’m all about simplicity when it comes to picnics—an easy, affordable basket I can quickly fill with boxed sandwiches and some basic outdoor-eating staples. Want to make your own portable spread? Take a peek at my tips on packing the perfect basket for your alfresco meals this summer.


Keep reading for my best picnic-packing tips

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Recipe: Red, White, and Blueberry Pavlovas

Summer celebrations call for simple treats with minimal assembly. To make the most of berry season, I’m whipping up these red, white, and blueberry pavlovas—they’re miniature, light, and bite-sized. Bonus: They’re the perfect color scheme for celebrating the Fourth.

summer berry pavlova by kelli hall
summer berry pavlova by kelli hall

Click through for this easy summer recipe…

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