The Social Event of the Cul-de-sac

If you’d like to take your outdoor soiree in a little more refined direction, a good old fashioned garden party fits the bill. Your first order of business will be reassuring your husband he doesn’t have to wear knickers or drink tea with his pinky up. A “garden” party is simply a more stylish affair than a traditional backyard barbecue.

A proper garden party is always held entirely in the open air with plenty of seating options. Roll out a couple of inexpensive carpet remnants as a way to define a space and as an alternative to blankets which can easily bunch and look messy. Don’t forget to throw around comfort elements like variously-sized pillows for lazy-afternoon lounging.

It is however customary to have a tent or other covered area for the food and refreshments. Serve light tapas alongside an assortment of cheeses (and we’re not talking cheddar) and lush, refreshing salads. For cooling off, keep a supply of citrus-infused water and fresh lemonade with sprigs of mint flowing to help quench parched throats—especially if you’re throwing an all day affair. You can even have a few varieties of wine on hand. Just make sure it complements the food you’re serving.

And while we’re on the topic of serving, no lady of the house would dream of using her best china at these at outdoor parties since they are sure to be broken. Depending on your guest list, we suggest either renting all the necessary glass, silver, and china from the caterer, or investing in durable (and still stylish) melamine plates and platters. For your libations, round up every Mason jar you can find and pick up some shatterproof stemless wine glasses.

And before you know it, all you’ll have left to do is practice your croquet swing and brush up on your bocce ball rules.

Block Party

Create a sense of community by throwing an outdoor party. Enjoyment is the key here, so let formality have the night off. In its place serve up a bounty of delicious fare mixed with the good company of your neighbors and friends.

Instead of the usual beer, burgers, and brats, try serving up mojitos, quesadillas, and tacos. Put out galvanized tubs filled with ice-cold bottles of Corona (don’t forget to keep bottle openers, towels, and lime wedges nearby). Or set up a self-serve margarita bar decked out with different colored sugars and a few recipe ideas for any guests that need a little inspiration. And just because this is a casual fiesta doesn’t mean you can forget your manners. So make sure you have at least one non-alcoholic option for your teetotaling amigos.

Your linens should reflect the fun, casual atmosphere of the event, so look for bold colors and strong patterns to deck out your dining area. When choosing glassware and serving pieces, pick something that echoes the party theme, but is also durable (think acrylic).

Finally, enrich the experience by stringing up some lights, turn up Los Lobos and go loco.

Fantastic food. Fabulous friends. We wouldn’t hammock it any other way.

The Future Takes Flight

In the movie The Devil Wears Prada, Anne Hathaway’s character “Andy” scoffs when Meryl Streep’s fashion tyrant persona, “Miranda Priestly” is trying to decide between two seemingly same-colored blue belts. While Andy naively refers to fashion as “stuff,” Miranda coolly informs her that the belts aren’t blue, turquoise, or even lapis, but rather cerulean, which were cornerstones of Oscar de la Renta and Yves Saint Laurent’s collections. Then this color du jour made its way down the fashion food chain until:

“…You no doubt fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs, and it’s sort of comical how you think you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry, when in fact, you’re wearing a sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room… from a pile of “stuff.”

Think that “stuff” was just made up for the movie? Think again.

Already world-renowned trend forecaster Li Edelkoort is predicting what we’ll be seeing in autumn/winter 2011-2012. Edelkoort announces the concepts, colors and materials which will be in fashion two or more years in advance because as she puts it, “there is no creation without advance knowledge, and without design, a product cannot exist.”

Twice a year, she and her finely-tuned team take this vision around the world, giving intuitive seminars that coincide with the coveted Trend Union forecasting book.

What does Edelkoort see on the trends horizon? Birds. According to her, our fine feathered friends of all varieties will permeate every area of our lives—they way we live, where we live, and how we dress— giving us the wings to experience a new road to colors, textures, and creativity.

So when you start seeing fowl influences migrating into your daily life, you’ll know it’s the “stuff” you heard about two years ago.

Fabric Face-Off!

Prints are a hot look for this spring and summer, and we love being on the cutting edge of fabulous fashion trends. That’s one reason we’re so smitten with the bold, bright pattern on the Paris Accent Chair from the eclectic and très chic Paris Flea Market Collection.

Paris Accent Chair

With such a fabulous fabric and shape, it’s no wonder you can find a similar look at Arhaus®. The big difference? Ours is about $500 less. That means you’ll have enough left over for a little summer shopping, too!

Travel the Fashion World with the Passport Collection

Featuring accent pieces with global design and worldly appeal, the Passport Collection is miles away from the expected. Natural materials like exotic wood, glass, stone, and metal add a down-to-Earth vibe to the fresh design, for flair that turns heads. With a stunning range of items in stores, the Passport Collection is like a treasure hunt for the style savvy.