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.


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

thanksgiving table top by kelli hall

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 hall Boxes and stickers make pretty takeaways for leftovers.

Keep reading for more fall decorating inspiration


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.


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

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.


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 hall Peppermint candy ribbons double as a clever place-card holder.

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

• 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.

Berry & Woodlands
Peppermint & Gingerbread
Coastal Freeze

evergreen inspired holiday tabletop for minted by kelli hall Add 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 hall Give 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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My Heart in San Francisco: Special Prize Winners

Announcing the special prizes for our My Heart in San Francisco Quickfire Design Challenge! In support of our first-ever Minted retail store located in Union Square in San Francisco, CA, we looked to our talented Minted community, for unique art and designs that bring a piece of California, and especially the San Francisco Bay area, to life. The best designs showcased local spirit that both tourists and residents alike can take home and treasure. We were blown away with what you dreamed up for this challenge. Congratulations to all the winners!

For the best Art Print design
Pacific Coast Highway by Denise Wong

For the best Customizable Photo Art Print
that features a San Francisco theme

Golden Grizzly by 2birdstone

For the best fabric design that features a San Francisco theme
San Francisco Toile by Surface Love

For the most innovative and original designthat best captures
the spirit of San Francisco, the Bay area or California in general

Flower Power by Baumbirdy

For the design that best features a well known San Francisco or
California icon in a different and innovative manner

Hop On! by Paul Berthelot

Click through for more special prize winners

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Recipe: Banoffee Pie

When my husband and I were first married, I found an intriguing recipe in the back of a cooking magazine for something called “banoffee” pie. It started with a regular pastry crust filled with toffee (caramelized sweetened condensed milk, essentially dulce de leche), topped with banana slices and whipped cream. Good, right? I made it and we liked it well enough, but I didn’t make it again in the ensuing dozen years. For some reason, though, banoffee pie has been on my mind so much lately and I started wondering how I could make the recipe unforgettable—a dessert that I’d want to make again and again.

Banoffee Pie

When I started doing a little digging, I learned that there are a couple of different ways you can go about banoffee pie. You can use a pastry crust like I did, or you can use a crust made of crushed cookies or graham crackers. Hmmmmmm. I also found lots of different recipes for the toffee layer. The one I ended up trying combined sweetened condensed milk with butter and brown sugar. Not only did it take less time to prepare than the other method, but also butter and brown sugar, c’mon! It took me a couple of delicious tries to get the recipe just right, but the end result is definitely a dessert worth remembering!

Click through for the ingredients and instructions


How to Overcome a Total Creative Void

Written by Amy Fontes

In my dreams, I am a designer with never-ending creativity and one who has the artistic chops to whip out amazing designs one after another. In reality, I am a mom to two active elementary-age kids, a wife to a busy surgeon who works long hours and weekends, and a daughter to a terminally ill mother.

And while I mark down “graphic designer” as my occupation, in any given day I could be handling the management of my husband’s practice, running soccer practice for my son, discussing medical options with my mom, or just plain doing the things to keep our lives going. Nothing that is really unique or different from others, but things that have me wearing many hats with limited time for design.

So as much as I love design, truth be told, the creative process is often a struggle, and inspiration doesn’t always come easily for me. Sure, ideas would pop into my head here and there and was enough to keep me designing, but for all of 2015, I found myself in a complete and total creative void. The stress of life became so great that, in short, all creativity and inspiration just stopped.

While I was happy to focus on my helping my family, I was quietly growing more and more frustrated during this creative void because, in a way, design had been my therapy. This was the one thing that was mine and mine alone. I needed it. It was my place where I could escape for a while, forget about everything, and hopefully create something that brought me (and others) happiness. It was my balance. But the more I forced creativity, the larger the void seemed. I had to figure this out.

How To Move Forward

The first thing I did was walk away from design. It might seem counterintuitive, but I was putting so much pressure on myself to “be creative and produce” that it only made things worse. I turned off my computer, stopped participating in challenges, tucked away my pens and sketch pads. I stopped “pinning,” swiping, scrolling, and following blogs and just left design behind. I needed to wipe my mind clean from what I thought I should be designing or what I thought would be the next big design trend.

Above the Las Vegas desert on one of my hikes


How To: Get Great Family Photos (for Your Holiday Cards!)

It’s that time of year again—time to start thinking about family photos to grace this year’s holiday card. So whether you’re hiring a professional photographer or staging your own portrait session, these expert tips from talented San Francisco-based family photographers Katie Rain and Sarah Sloboda will ensure that you nail that picture-perfect shot.

How to Get Great Family Photos for Your Holiday Cards Photo: Katie Rain Photography

Reserve a session with your favorite local photographer as soon as you can. “October and November are always the busiest months of the year,” says San Francisco-based photographer Katie Rain. “Reach out early to ensure you get a session on the calendar.” Some photographers also offer shorter “mini” portrait sessions, so sign up for photographers’ mailing lists to hear about the offerings before everyone else does.

First, think about when you’d like to send out your holiday cards, suggests photographer Sarah Sloboda, who is also based in San Francisco. Right after Thanksgiving? Just as long as it’s before New Year’s? “Figure out the date you need to send them by, subtract a couple days for safety, and then subtract your card company’s turnaround and shipping times,” Sarah says. (Turnaround times can be found on the card company’s website.) Then, mark that day on your calendar with a big X—that’s your drop-dead date for placing your holiday-card order.

How to Get Great Family Photos for Your Holiday Cards Photo: Sarah Sloboda

Most photographers will suggest some local photo-shoot locations, but you can also think of your portrait session as an opportunity to do something fun as a family. Visit that new art museum that opened recently and check out some exhibits together. Or, if your family loves the water, you could head to the local pier, beach, or aquarium. “My job is to help clients think in reverse—memories are something we look back on, but when planning a photo session, you want to look forward,” says Sarah. “What would be a special experience for you and your family? Documenting those moments will bring back more memories than just standing somewhere posing.”

How to Get Great Family Photos for Your Holiday Cards Photo: Katie Rain Photography

Avoid taking photos at noon, when the sunlight is at its harshest. Instead, schedule your portrait session for late-morning, which is the ideal time for kids of all ages. “It’s when they’re most awake and their energy is still fresh,” says Sarah. However, if you’re going the DIY route and taking your own portraits with a camera and tripod, Katie Rain suggests timing it for “golden hour” —about an hour before sunset—when the sunlight is soft and most flattering.

How to Get Great Family Photos for Your Holiday Cards Photo: Sarah Sloboda

“A photo shoot is a time for relaxed discipline and healthy bribes,” says Sarah Sloboda. Entice your kids with a reward after the photo shoot if they have fun and participate and pay attention. And during the session, remind them of the bribe. It helps if you keep everything positive—threats and discipline can really make a child stew, and then natural smiles will be hard to come by. A great photographer will develop their own rapport with your child, so encourage them to interact with them directly. Often children want to please strangers that they like, so if you refrain from too much reprimanding and give them space to listen to the photographer’s suggestions, they’ll often listen to them better than their parents (sorry, but it’s true!).

More from Katie Rain & Sarah Sloboda:
Katie Rain’s Portfolio
Katie Rain’s Instagram
Sarah Sloboda’s Portfolio
Sarah Sloboda’s Instagram 

More from Minted:
Holiday Photo Cards
2016 Top-Voted Holiday Cards
Foil-Pressed Holiday Cards

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DIY: Rope Trivet

Written by Sara Albers and Melissa Fenlon of  alice & lois

Summer may be over but we’re officially saying hello to fall entertaining. Who doesn’t love fresh-baked muffins and mugs of hot tea with girlfriends or a homemade-soup-and-cornbread dinner with family? Our latest DIY project, an easy-to-make rope trivet, is the perfect accompaniment to those lovely fall gatherings—it’s a simple craft that’s both function and design-friendly (we love a good double-duty DIY!).

Make this simple DIY rope coil trivet.

Click through for the full how-to instructions….


DIY: Stork Labels for a Baby Shower

Written by Kathleen Ballos of  Snowdrop & Co

I’m all about taking a store-bought item and DIY-ing it into a totally new project. That’s exactly what I did with today’s DIY stork labels: I found these adorable stork cake toppers at the cake-decorating store and fell in love. Aren’t they cute? But instead of using them to top a cake, I bought a bunch and styled this flock of storks as food and drink labels for a baby shower. I love the playful touch they add to the table!

DIY Baby Shower Food Labels | Minted DIY Baby Shower Food Labels | Minted

Click through for the step-by-step instructions … 

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