Great Expectations & Sweet Celebrations Challenges: Guest Judges’ Picks

Announcing the Guest Judge prizes from our Great Expectations Baby Shower Invitation Challenge and Sweet Celebrations Quickfire Kids’ Birthday Party Invitation Challenge!

Great Expectations Baby Shower Invitation Challenge

We were thrilled to partner with the talented ladies from 100 Layer Cakelet, a creative collaboration between friends and fellow designers Jillian Clark, Amanda Dawbarn, and Kristina Meltzer. Their wedding blog, 100 LayerCake, launched in 2009. 100 Layer Cakelet, their family blog and newest addition to the brand, is the natural next step, for readers who want a space that can inspire their lives after the last bits of wedding confetti have been combed from their hair.

They selected “Bright Confetti Pop” by Ashley Little of Little Print Design. They “loved the simplicity and the fun modern design and that it’s totally appropriate for a boy or girl (or surprise!) shower.” 100 Layer Cakelet announced their selection via Instagram to share this great design with their followers in addition!

Congratulations, Ashley!

Bright Confetti Pop” by Little Print Design

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Halloween Party Idea: Kittens and Candy

My four-year-old was bawling in the Halloween section of Target the other day—not because I wouldn’t buy candy but because the talking skull was terrifying (don’t get me started on the witches being sold at Costco!). With him in mind, I’ve kept these Halloween party ideas super kid-friendly by focusing on the fun stuff around Halloween, like kittens and candy. Here’s how to throw a similar low-key, not-spooky Halloween bash.

kid's halloween partyhalloween party ideas

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Second Live Art Night Draws Full House at Minted Local

On September 22, we hosted the second Live Art Night at Minted Local, drawing more than 130 people for an evening of Bay Area artists painting, drawing, and talking with guests. The popular monthly event featured Minted Artists Madeline Trait, Sylvie Lee, and Jenny Partrite, in addition to local artist Michael McConnell.

Pictured above, top row, from left: Bay Area artist Michael McConnell and Minted Artist Madeline Trait; bottom row, from left: Minted Artists Sylvie Lee and Jenny Partrite.

Live Art Night sign and art by Minted Jenny Partrite

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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.


thanksgiving flowers for minted by kelli hallThis 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 hallBoxes 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 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.

• 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 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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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