Holiday Party Inspiration: Christmastime in the City

I love Bing Crosby’s “Silver Bells”—the song never fails to get me in a holiday mood. The tune also got me dreaming of a “Christmastime in the city”-themed holiday gathering, complete with all of the sights and sounds of a bustling city in the wintertime. I love the way the city sparkles in the winter, with glints of silvery chrome, glistening pavement, and even the swirling rivulets of melting show. To create an urban, wintry party look, I paired cement-gray–toned neutrals with accents of deep cranberry and bright ruby, and added a small dose of playful touches (like “naughty” and “nice” place cards) to complement the polished vibe.



“Naughty” and “nice” place cards create a playful dinner-party vibe; we used pieces of obsidian and selenite as place card holders.

Want to pull together your own city-inspired soirée? Check out my tips below

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Horror Movie-Inspired Cocktails: The Drowned Rat

The final installment in our series of horror movie-inspired Halloween cocktails: The Drowned Rat. Inspired by the classic 1971 horror flick Willard, this fiendish cocktail is a fitting tribute to the furry stars of the film, resembling a rat that encounters a grisly end at the bottom of a cup of sewer sludge. But this macabre trick is an actual treat—the libation features hints of chocolate and creamy stout beer. And the rat tail? A simple roasted beet.


More Horror Movie-Inspired Cocktails:
• The Spider Bite (inspired by Arachnophobia)
The Eel Charmer (inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) 


drowned rat halloween cocktail by kelli hall for minted, guiness float with roasted beet rat tail
roasted beet rat tail garnish for halloween cocktailRoasted beet tails make the perfect rat-rump garnish.

drowned rat halloween cocktail by kelli hall for minted, guiness float with roasted beet rat tail

Click through for the recipe for The Drowned Rat

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Horror Movie-Inspired Cocktails: The Spider Bite

Next up in our horror movie-inspired series of Halloween cocktails: The Spider Bite. It’s an Arachnophobia-themed libation that’s a fitting homage to the deadly arachnid nest in the film. In the spirit of the film, the drink is infested with an oozing overflow of gelatinous spider eggs, threatening to burst open and release a torrent of tiny hatchlings. But don’t let its sinister look fool you—this cocktail is actually silk sweet and full of rich coffee flavors (the spider eggs are simply tapioca pearls with flecks of vanilla bean!).


More Horror Movie-Inspired Cocktails:
• The Spider Bite (inspired by Arachnophobia)
The Eel Charmer (inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) 


halloween horror inspired cocktails by kelli hall: Spider bite black russian with tapioca pearl spider sac garnish
A shallow glass like a coupe will help the “spider eggs” float to the top when filled with ice.

halloween horror inspired cocktails by kelli hall: Spider bite black russian with tapioca pearl spider sac garnishTapioca pearls with flecks of vanilla bean shine like spider sacs, ready to hatch.

Click through for the recipe for The Spider Bite cocktail

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Horror Movie-Inspired Cocktails: The Eel Charmer

Taking cues from my favorite classic horror movies, I’ve whipped up three Halloween concoctions that are guaranteed to make your skin crawl. First up, an homage to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in the form of a life-giving citrus elixir: The Eel Charmer. The recipe includes a hefty dose of zingy orange and a potent shot of bourbon to invigorate—all in the spirit of De Niro’s life-giving eel bath from the 1994 film.

eel charmer frankenstien-inspired halloween cocktail by kelli halleel charmer frankenstien-inspired halloween cocktail by kelli halleel charmer frankenstien-inspired halloween cocktail by kelli hallAn orange peel eel is surprisingly simple to pull off.

Keep reading for the recipe for The Eel Charmer

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Holiday Decorating Inspiration: Into the Woods

Now that it’s officially fall, I’ve been dreaming up all things autumnal. This tabletop look features deep berry and bordeaux tones mixed with woodsy details like faux bois and dappled doe fur. Add to the mix different textures like faux burnout velvet and seasonal fruits and berries and you’ve got yourself an earthy, autumnal spread that’s perfect for this year’s Thanksgiving feast or your next dinner party.


FOR MORE HOLIDAY DECORATING INSPIRATION:

thanksgiving flowers for minted by kelli hallThis deep berry-toned centerpiece includes dahlias and kangaroo paw.

thanksgiving table top by kelli hall

IT’S ALL IN THE MIX
Fall is all about warmth—translate that coziness to your dinner table by mixing and matching different patterns. Aim to combine pieces that create richly layered colors, depths, and feel. I chose a berry shade of the “Soft Florals” fabric to evoke the feeling of a carpet of fallen leaves, then complemented it with a trompe l’oeil doe print. I like to experiment with the vibe by tossing the fabrics on the table for a layered effect and then stripping them away if it starts to look too busy. And, speaking of busy: To balance some of the jewel-like colors, I’ve paired them with a neutral, gravelly grey. I’ve also kept the menus and place cards relatively simple to act as a bold counterpoint to the energy of the patterned fabrics.

thanksgiving linen A simple folded linen for the bread bowl.

thanksgiving take home boxes by kelli hallBoxes and stickers make pretty takeaways for leftovers.

Keep reading for more fall decorating inspiration

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Holiday Decorating Inspiration: Coastal Freeze

One of my favorite memories as a kid is standing on a beach around Christmastime, watching fat snowflakes float down from grey skies and dissolve on the sand. In fact, my favorite season at the beach has always been winter, with its misty greys and faded blues. Those moments inspired this winter-washed tabletop: Drawing from a frozen coastline, this look features a collection of blue hues and hints of copper iridescence for a bit of holiday shimmer.


FOR MORE HOLIDAY DECORATING INSPIRATION:

ocean-inspired holiday table for minted by kelli hall
shell salt cellars with edible fondant pearl for holiday tabletop. styled by kelli hall

A BLUE CHRISTMAS
No need to limit your Christmas palette to red and green; layer tones of washed blues and deep indigos for a decidedly wintery vibe. The key is mixing the blues in a range of tones to avoid over-matching. Think: slate, arctic blue, even ultramarine; the more subtly varied, the better. On the table, the striations in “Watercolor Ombre” create a perfectly windswept foundation and complement the repetitive wave-like designs in both napkin prints.

Keep reading for more of this coastal freeze-inspired holiday tabletop look

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Holiday Decorating Inspiration: Peppermint and Gingerbread

The holidays and peppermint pair together perfectly, don’t they? You’ll find the graphic red-and-white-striped candy everywhere come November and December. Add to the mix some gingerbread-inspired details—warm, kraft-paper textures, ice-cream cones turned into snow-dusted trees— and you’ve got yourself a wonderful modern-minimalist holiday celebration, like this sweet cookie-decorating party we dreamed up here.


FOR MORE HOLIDAY DECORATING INSPIRATION:

peppermint inspired holiday cookie table for minted by kelli hall

sugar-dusted raw ice cream cones as christmas trees for an edible centerpiece.Ice cream cones in various sizes become snow-dusted trees when turned upside-down and given a dusting of confectioner’s sugar.

peppermint inspired holiday cookie table for minted by kelli hall

peppermint inspired holiday cookie table for minted by kelli hall

peppermint inspired holiday cookie table for minted by kelli hallPeppermint candy ribbons double as a clever place-card holder.

peppermint inspired holiday cookie table for minted by kelli hallA forest of sugar-dusted ice-cream cone “trees” serves as a simple-yet-striking centerpiece for your dinner table.

IT’S ALL IN THE (EDIBLE!) DETAILS
• To make this ice-cream cone centerpiece, group sugar cones on a marble tray or platter (use different-sized ones for the most visual interest; I used large waffle cones, medium-size sugar cones, and small mini cones). Place them upside down and sift powdered sugar for a snowy effect. Arrange them in the middle of the table; or, for a bigger impact, make an entire sugar-cone forest!
• To make these peppermint place-card holder, take candy peppermint ribbons and split them into smaller segments. Insert a place card into one of the ribbon folds (see more photos and instructions here).
• Stick to edibles: Whenever possible, I like all tabletop details to be edible or functional, which helps keep the place setting streamlined (this is especially true for a sweets-themed table).

Keep reading for more peppermint- and gingerbread-themed decorating ideas

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Holiday Decorating Inspiration: Evergreen and Amber

For a rich, luxe look this holiday season, decorate your table with jewel-tone colors and lustrous fabrics like velvet. I turned to nature for this holiday look and was inspired by the deep evergreen hues of forest pines; the glowing amber accents you’ll see are a nod to the golden colors of petrified tree sap. Create visual interest by adding patterns to your holiday table—the prints will add energy and I love that the pattern I chose is also reminiscent of fallen fir needles. Lastly, don’t forget to add some shine: Gleaming metallic accents in copper and gold have a scintillating effect when set against deep evergreen and emerald tones.


FOR MORE HOLIDAY DECORATING INSPIRATION:
Berry & Woodlands
Peppermint & Gingerbread
Coastal Freeze


evergreen inspired holiday tabletop for minted by kelli hallAdd jewel-like pieces for added sparkle. I made these place-card holders using inexpensive druzy stones that I sliced with a Dremel blade.

evergreen inspired holiday tabletop for minted by kelli hallGive fresh pears a misting of (edible!) metallic color (they also double as take-home treats).

Click through for more evergreen and amber holiday-party inspiration

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Bluebird-Inspired Kids’ Birthday Party

Our little chickadee is turning one, so I’ve dreamed up a first-birthday party full of bold blue hues, soft pastels, and tiniest pinch of bird seed and lavender. Check out all of the details along with some tips on how to pull together for your own little chick…

blue bird first birthday for minted by kelli hall

blue bird first birthday for minted by kelli hallblue bird first birthday for minted by kelli hall

Click through for all of the bluebird birthday-party details

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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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