Posts tagged entertain
8 Easy Steps For a Romantic Summer Gathering

Would you like 8 tips for hosting an easy little party at home this summer? Hello everyone! This is Anke, I'm on decor8 once monthly with my entertaining column and today I have a very romantic tabletop story for you. But first, how are you? Did summer arrive where you live? Here in Germany it has, and the blooming flowers overwhelm as does the lush green everywhere. I also love the long, light evenings -- they are definitely more than welcome.


Today I have a romantic, floral tabletop story to inspire you for a summer gathering at your home indoors or out on the terrace. Let's follow nature as a good example and not hold back on color and light! This is more or less the motto for all of my columns, but this time each year I sorta flip out even more with pastels such as pink and peach when decorating. And I know you are out there, pastel-lovers!

1// CHOOSE YOUR FLOWER.  The peony is probably my favorite flower. What is yours? I can't pass by them when I spot the splendid bunches at the flower shops and the weekly markets in town. For this story, I've let them team up with sumptuous field-grown roses. Together peonies and roses are masterpieces made by nature, don't you think?  Select your flowers or greenery for the party and let them guide your theme. This can be your first choice of inspiration or something you do in the middle or end of your shopping. In this story, the flowers inspired everything else. Some people begin with the food they will serve or the pattern on their dinnerware. It's up to you.


2// MAKE SOMETHING. Guests love it when a little attention to detail is on display. I never tire of admiring the tender blossoms of roses, they are tissue paper look-a-likes - so poetic and delicate! This association between petal and paper gave me the idea to fold small blooms out of heart-shaped paper I bought from an online shop. Moreover I "filled" some flowers with pale pink, fringed paper centers by cutting off a narrow stripe of paper, then cut-in with very little distance on the long side and rolled it up. Easy, I promise! I scattered a few on my tabletop and others became part of the decoration on each plate as you will see later on...


3// ADD A GARLAND.  Nothing says party time quite like a garland (or you may call it bunting?). One more detail made of silk paper I chose was the garland you see in the background. Garlands are such a perfect adornment for a summer celebration. They make everything festive. You can buy them pre-made or make your own. You can also embellish pre-made garlands by adding balloons and ribbons for a little personalization.


4// DRESS THE TABLE.  A  simple tablecloth and napkins made of white linen were added along with very plain white tableware. I placed arrangements in simple glass canning jars and a single large glass vase to keep it light and bright. I didn't add ribbons or anything else, I figured the roses were enough and I didn't want the theme to get too girly. I liked the simple glass because it reflects natural light so well and visually the flowers become the focus, not the vessels.


5// MAKE PLACE CARDS.  Instead of traditional place cards I tied tiny golden frames onto napkins using jute cord and embellished each one with a paper blossom. I printed out the little tags on my computer using a favorite font.


6// HAVE A SIGNATURE PARTY DRINK.  I offered Rosé Secco poured into simple glasses filled with ice cubes, peach slices and fresh mint. Every gathering, no matter how simple, needs a signature drink - alcoholic or not. What do you like to serve? Gin tonic with slices or cucumber and mint are nice for summertime, too. "Cheers to summer!"


7// ADD SIMPLE PARTY DECORATION. A small party can still feel festive! If you have an extra 30 minutes, print out some words in color and frame them for your wall in the space. If you are good at hand lettering, use your favorite color marker or paint and paint some words - Happy Birthday, Welcome Summer, It's a Boy!, or anything else that fits your theme.


8// PLAN YOUR PARTY MENU. What will you serve? Food is key to making a party (or breaking it!). For this little gathering, serve a roasted chicken dish with roasted veggies or maybe some pasta or a salad dish -- something very summery and fresh. You can also opt for a simple spread, like a cheese and meat board with fresh bread and toppings, buffet style. Another idea is for a casual afternoon cake and coffee party only without cake and no coffee - go very light. You could plan this for after work on a Friday with the girls before a long weekend or on a Sunday afternoon. For my setting, I served one of my favorite summer desserts which is oven roasted peaches with Greek yoghurt, topped with crushed Cantuccini (Biscotti), pistachios and fresh mint. So simple and so good! Drizzled honey on top is also a good idea with some orange zests. My kids prefer vanilla ice cream, it's your choice.

I'd like to wish all of you many beautiful, sunny, memorable and relaxed summer moments (filled with a party or two) in the upcoming weeks!

If you have some nice parties this summer and want to share them with decor8 readers, post your tabletop on Instagram and use hashtags #decor8 #decorateforaparty so we can see what you've done. We'd love to see and if we have some nice submissions, we can feature our favorites on decor8!

I'm looking forward to returning with my late summer column after I return from our summer vacation, so expect to see me here again in early August with another tabletop idea for end of summer. - Anke.

(Photography, Styling, Text: Anke Illner. Editing: Holly Becker)

Decorate With A Tabletop Rod + Clamp

I have a very clever party decoration to share with you today, but first... Hello everyone it's Anke! Peony season is here and is one of the most beautiful times of the year, don't you think? In Germany it's one of our biggest and most celebrated flower seasons (here they are called Pfingstrose with the various shades of pink being the most popular variety found in every flower kiosk for very little money). As long as there are fresh, fragrant peonies in the flower shops, gardens and at the farmers' markets, they'll be in my house too! The same holds true for rhubarb, which is also in season at the moment. Yum!


When decorating with peonies, my table setting almost always becomes a romantic one in soft colors. Who is playing the leading role in the following picture series is clear -- Miss Peony! For my tabletop, I chose four different types of peonies in shades of white and pale pink, some with yellow inside. I'm not sure of the name of this particular one, but if you have time maybe you can help me. Also, there is a list here for identifying the various peonies in English.


As an additional eye-catcher, I ordered a white painted "Tafelklem" (*Dutch for "table clamp") online at Deens – and oh my! How great is this idea? Holly has one of them too, she found the idea first inside of a very famous Dutch design magazine called VTWonen and vowed she had to have one but hasn't used hers yet.


Is this something that is available in your country? What would you add to yours? I wonder if you can buy clamps and DIY something like this? Hmmmm. Thankfully, Deens ships to Germany so I ordered mine from their site. There are so many creative ways to use this, it's definitely one of my favorite discoveries when it comes to tabletop decoration.


Using the table clamp for the first time, I printed some peony images and floral patterns on heavy paper to hang the prints in the rack afterwards (mainly using the napkin pattern by photocopying it). This tiny picture gallery has been joined by a small hanging glass vase with a big peony blossom and some more attached with white raffia at one end of the pole.


Speaking of pattern, you see one of my favorites on this table. It is called "flora dusty green" from the gorgeous Danish home brand, Bungalow. I made four napkins by sewing them out of two block-printed kitchen towels. The leaves could almost pass as peony leaves, right?


What else? Yes – a sweet rhubarb dish for the guests invited! For my June table (aka my family and neighbors after the shooting) I made "Coconut Cheesecake in a jar". I crumbled coconut rusk/ zwieback, mixed it with melted butter and pressed it into small heatproof preserving jars. I filled in with a cheesecake mixture of your choice (maybe use a little coconut syrup?) and baked according to the recipe (mine went into the oven for 20 minutes/ 180° top and bottom heat). Nigella Lawson's Rhubarb & Ginger Compote (from the book Simply Nigella) was my choice of topping together with some zwieback crumble and fresh mint! Bon appétit! :)


I wish you beautiful, warm and colorful first days of summer and I am already looking forward to see you again in July here on decor8! - Anke

(Photography, Text and Styling: Anke Illner - table clamp photos from VTWonen and Deens)

Decorate With Spring Green + White Luncheon With Friends

April is here! Hello dear decor8 readers, this is Anke with some fresh tabletop ideas for you today. I am already dreaming of relaxing on a green summer meadow which is why I've decided to create a green garland for my table theme this month. Everything else was inspired by my garland which was made using several branches of my all-time favorite eucalyptus and shepherd's purse along with white wax flowers and tender pink flowering boronia anemonifolia (called "Duftsternchen" here in Germany).


But first things first – I wove a long braid out of raffia which served as a basis. Next, I attached the shorter branches and flowers in small bundles, overlapping them as I secured to the raffia with wire. I suggest choosing flowers that can do without water for a few hours, otherwise your garland may look wilted once guests arrive! This is one reason why I use and suggest eucalyptus as a base. In the image above I have shown it on my wall but you can also lay it down the center of your table as you can see below.


I've used large, flat bowls from Bloomingvilles'Nordic Sand series because I love their surface, rustic look and organic shape. In my opinion, they are just perfect to beautifully present food especially pasta but also lush green salads! Just in time for spring, I served a lukewarm pasta salad made using chopped smoked salmon, green peas, sliced baby pickles, chopped apple, sour cream dressing and a lot of dill! This delicious recipe comes from Living at Home magazine. Just my taste!


As a Welcome to my guests (and to the brand new month of April) I placed small printed, green marbled cards on everyone's plate. Tender patterned napkins (from Anthropologie) took my garland theme up a notch and the trendy brass cutlery added a little glamour to the decoration.


Finally, a promise – no more eucalyptus when I see you again in May! Instead, I'll develop a tabletop theme focusing on color and lush blooms. I'm looking forward to this already! I'll meet you back here with that column on May 2 so stay tuned.  Have a beautiful and hopefully sunny month of April everyone! Love - Anke

(Photography, Styling: Anke Illner. Editor: Holly Becker)

Easter Sunday Tabletop Decorating Ideas

Hello and happy Monday dear readers! This is Anke with some March-inspired ideas for your coffee table, Easter gathering or any upcoming celebration with family and friends. This year still seems so very young to me – but Easter holidays are already in sight. Easter is a big deal in Germany and aside from its traditional meaning, it also makes us feel excited because when Easter comes we know that SPRING is in sight, which is so exciting, isn't it?



Easter lends a pretty good reason to set a Spring-like table in tender colors. And speaking of color, did you read that rose quartz is one of the two Pantone colors of the year for 2016? Their website said something rather interesting about their reasoning behind their pastel color choices, "As consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent." I have to agree, rose is such a serene color and perfect for the spring tabletop. Leave your stress and worry behind, sit down, relax and enjoy... In fact, I did not hesitate to use rose quartz in my Easter tabletop shown below. I hope that it inspires you to try a little rose quartz at home, too.

As you notice in my columns each month, I always decorate this little corner in my dining room near the pocket doors where the bench is. I like to make that corner fit the decor I have on the table for a cohesive look. For this look, I've styled some pretty flowers, hard-boiled eggs and a simple handmade wreath on the wall. The giant pleated vase was given to me by a dear friend to use for this setting, my ultimate favorite --  such an eye catcher, don't you think? It was on the table when guests arrived, but to make room for serving, I moved it over to the bench as decor. I created a loose arrangement of ranunculus, tulips, pussy willow, white anemones, wax flowers, eucalyptus and catkin branches.


While creating this look, I discovered that wax flower is a dream candidate when it comes to crafting with flowers. The fine branches are very flexible and the flowers durable. You will find them in white and pink and in my opinion, nothing is easier than making tiny wreaths out of wax flowers! I've even used them to embellish the breakfast eggs on each guests' plate.


As Easter breakfast may be more opulent than usual I thought Raspberry-Cream and Almond Sponge Cake might be a good idea! On top you see fresh raspberries and sugar-coated nougat eggs. This candy is very popular in Germany at Easter, they are called Möveneier (seagull eggs) and I love their speckled surface. The plates are simple white ceramic, topped with speckled gray plates from House Doctor to mimic the speckled chocolate egss on the table. For an simple, quick and classy Easter decoration I placed some edible white eggs over a simple white linen tablecloth. The eggs are hard-boiled and I cleaned the shell with pure household vinegar.


How will you spend your Easter holidays, dear readers? I'm afraid I will be away from home working, but hey – I had some Easter spirit already when decorating this table for decor8, right? ;) Have a beautiful month of March and I will see you again on April 4th with another entertaining at home idea for your tabletop! - Anke

(Photography, Styling and Text: Anke Illner. Editor: Holly Becker)

Spring Entertaining Ideas

Hello dear blog readers, this is Anke with my monthly tabletop column for decor8. How are you? I hope 2016 started off well for all of you! Are you enjoying wintertime or longing for spring like I am? At our home, it has been the same process as years past. I cannot replace the glitzy Christmas decorations with plain elements and early bloomers quick enough. So, here are some spring tabletop ideas for you!


My table is set in bright colors with white tulips, hyacinths, and snowdrops. Light-colored wood, glassware, and straight, clean shapes give your table decoration a modern, Scandinavian look. The great thing is that one doesn’t have to spend much money on it! Jam and preserving jars in different sizes will act perfectly as flower vases, and there is good news for those who like the tablecloth. It's from IKEA from their 365+ collection.


I chose small enamel cups to plant the snowdrops. Look for similar vintage ones at the flea market. Enamelware from Falcon would be just as beautiful, as would their mugs or mini tumblers.


Of course I had to put something playful on the wall again. Keeping up with the latest trend I went with a pennant wall hanging. There is special t-shirt transfer paper that allows you to print text or an image of your choice and iron it onto fabric. Check your local craft store - just ask one of the employees for fabric transfer paper. Easy-peasy! For the next step I cut the fabric to size, created a fold at the top and stitched, then folded in the bottom edges and ironed it, then sewed the hem at the short end of the pennant. To finish this DIY, just thread a wooden stick or even a cooking spoon through the hole you've created. Add baking string to the top to hang.


The small culinary delight on each guest's plate was juicy lemon-rosemary-cake. If you like the combination of fruity cake and sweet garden herbs you should definitely have a look at the Lemon & Thyme Syrup Cake from Holly's new columnist Emma. I will be giving it a try soon, that's for sure!


I wish you all a beautiful month of February! I am looking forward to meeting you here again on decor8 at the beginning of March! - Anke

(Photography, Styling, Text: Anke Illner. Editor: Jessica Senti)