How to Throw a Lovely Garden Party on Labor Day

Celebrate Labor Day and say farewell to the summer that was by throwing a pleasant garden party for friends and family. Here are a few tips on how to throw a quaint and marvelous get-together right in your own outdoor space:

A Lovely Location for a Party
Photo by Devonshire via flickr. CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0.

1. Send out Invitations

Make sure to send out personal invitations to friends and family. Almost everyone makes plan for the Labor Day weekend, so it’ll be great if you get confirmations early on. Don’t forget to attract them with delicious dishes and good company.

2. Organize a Great Menu

Juicy and Tangy Ribs
Photo by stevendpolo via flickr. CC BY 2.0.

Food is the star of any gathering, so prepare something truly sumptuous and filling. For starters, prepare this delicious and refreshing watermelon feta salad with mint from The Shiksa in the Kitchen. For the main entrée, go for something smoky and delectable. Fire up the grill and prepare this mouthwatering sweet and tangy barbecue ribs from A Sweet Pea Chef. Everyone will go back for seconds with this juicy and irresistible entrée.

A Yummy Turkey Burger
Photo by isab3l via flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

For a different spin on the classic American burger, try these Hawaiian turkey burgers from Taste of Home. As a side dish, prepare this hefty serving of potato and cheese puree from The Galley Gourmet.

Delcious Sangrias
Photo by divya_ via flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.

For drinks, these classic sangrias from Smitten Kitchen will perfectly complement the amazing food.

3. Prepare a Charming Dining Space

Set up a couple of tables and comfortable chairs. Make sure to place mats for a more elegant and sophisticated look. For the food, it might be better to prepare a buffet table. This will make it easier for the host to distribute the food and drinks. Make sure to serve a wide selection of drinks, including beer and wine for the adults, and different kinds of sodas and juice boxes for the kids.

A Great Buffet Table
Photo by Cambridge Brewing Co. via flickr. CC-BY-ND-2.0.

At the same time, the guests can easily stand up and enjoy seconds to their heart’s desire. Also, hire someone to put up a tent for the occasion. This might come in handy if it becomes too hot or if it starts to rain.

4. Prepare Games for Children

Some of the kids might get bored while the adults immerse themselves in their lively and engaging conversations. To avoid this, prepare a couple of board games that will occupy their time. Classic ones like Monopoly, Clue, Scrabble, and Sorry are surefire hits. For something a little more challenging, set up a Ping Pong table or volleyball net so that your kids can play a match or two. This is also a great way for the kids to make friends.

5. Enjoy the Company of Friends

After all the preparations have been made, it’s time to sit back and relax. Introduce people to one another. Spark up interesting conversations. Relive the fun memories of summer. Just enjoy! At the end of the day, it’s all about good people coming together.

Throw a wonderful garden party to cap off the summer and celebrate Labor Day with these tips from Tree Classics.

Tree Classics Christmas in July: Host a Milk and Cookies Party in 2 Easy Steps!

In our fifth and final installment of Tree Classics Christmas in July, we give you two easy steps (plus lots of quick tips!) for hosting an amazing milk and cookies party to keep the yuletide spirit alive. You don’t have to wait for Santa to come down the chimney just to enjoy these oven-fresh delights. Gather friends and family this summer for one unforgettable holiday!

Tree Classics Christmas Tree Cookies
Photo from The Tedster via flickr. CC BY 2.0

 

Step 1: Bake the Cookies with Your Friends and Family

Let’s face it. It’s more fun to bake when you have friends and family helping you out in the kitchen. It’s also the perfect excuse to try out a tiny pinch of your favorite mouthwatering cookie dough!

Line up the ingredients for your selection of baked goodies and give each baker a corner in your work station. Whip up a batch of the classic chocolate chip cookies using red and green candy morsels or, for the more advanced bakers, a batch of stained glass sugar cookies with a colorful Jolly Rancher center.

QUICK TIP: Don’t forget the cookie cutters and stamps! Make your guests feel right at home by letting them take part in baking goodies with sweet and thoughtful holiday greetings they can exchange with one another.

Another great thing about cookie parties is that everyone can garnish their cookies their own way. For Christmas in July, have red, green, and yellow candy sprinkles, gumdrops, and crushed candy canes ready for your happy helpers to lavish on their baked goodies.

 

Step 2: Serve Up Ice Cold Milk

While waiting for your cookies to bake, you can start serving ice cold milk to your kitchen helpers! Kick off your summer Christmas party with various flavors of milk, such as chocolate and strawberry, and for the figure- and health-conscious, a serving of low-fat and lactose-free milk from your very own milk bar.

Tree Classics Variants
Photo from Joe Shlabotnik via flickr. CC BY 2.0

 

QUICK TIP: Instead of using the usual pitcher and glass, fill old-fashioned bottles to add a vintage feel to your summer Christmas party. These wonderful glass bottles can be used later on as a quaint flower vase or container for your trinkets. You can also fill the bottles three hours before the celebration and place them in the chiller. When it’s time for the party, you’ll have your cool drink ready to be paired with your oven-fresh cookies!

 

For friends and family who can’t get enough of those delicious cookies, you can give them extra treats packed in these lovely antique-styled French canning jars. They make classy take-home gifts and nifty containers for other baking ingredients.

 

Tree Classics’ Recommended Treats:

1. Classic Cookie Recipes

A Christmas milk and cookies party in the middle of summer should serve fun and unique treats. This New York Times favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and these colorful Oreo cookie pops are sure to make your celebration all the more special.

Tree Classics Chocolate Chip Cookies
Photo from arnold | inuyaki via flickr. CC BY 2.0

 

2. Healthy Cookie Recipes

Health-conscious guests need not worry about the fare as you can also serve flourless and sugar-free peanut butter cookies and whole grain low-sugar chocolate cookies with pecans from Kalyn’s Kitchen.

Tree Classics Peanut Butter Cookies
Photo from Maggie Hoffman via flickr. CC BY 2.0

Have a merry and memorable Christmas in July with a fun and simple two-step milk and cookies party!

Celebrating with Tree Classics: 12 Ways to Christmas in July

If you’re eager to celebrate the holiday season with the exuberance of summer, then you’ll love our ideas for Christmas in July! What better way to cherish all the wonderful memories with friends and family than with a get-together that also lets you soak up the sun. Get ready for some midyear cheer. Fluff your Christmas tree, serve up some eggnog, and kick-start the merrymaking with Tree Classics’ 12 ways to Christmas in July!

12 Ways to Christmas in July

Fantastic July 4 Fireworks Displays

 

It’s almost the Fourth of July! Time once again to take out those sparklers, light up the warm summer sky, and commemorate American Independence. If you’re looking for a good old fashioned fireworks display, check out Tree Classics’ list of the top pyrotechnics shows across the country and the best vantage points to watch them from.

1. Macy’s Fireworks Spectacular – New York City, New York

The most popular fireworks extravaganza in the country, the Macy’s Fireworks Spectacular over the Hudson River began in 1976. Since then, it has become part of New York City’s Independence Day tradition. This 26-minute show attracts an average of two million spectators every year.

If you’re planning on heading to the Big Apple to watch this spectacle, get on board the Independence Day Family Cruise. You can enjoy a fabulous dinner with loved ones while marveling at the breathtaking view from the Hudson.

2. Kaboom Town – Addison, Texas

What this Texan town lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in its stunning fireworks show. Highly regarded by the American Pyrotechnics Association, Addison’s 30-minute Kaboom Town spectacle is watched by 500,000 gazers annually.

Avid fans of Kaboom Town watch the fireworks show from one of the 170 restaurants found in and around town. If you don’t want to get caught in the huge crowds, you can view the whole event from Cantino Laredo. Try out their amazing Mexican delicacies for a full experience. 

3. Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular – Boston, Massachusetts

Residents of this great New England city are no strangers to festive fireworks displays. For over 40 years, Bostonians have kept this Fourth of July celebration running. People line up along the Charles River on picnic blankets to witness the pyrotechnics show while the famed Boston Pops Orchestra performs Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

For an intimate celebration with the family, you can set up camp at the Larz Anderson Park down at 23 Newton Street in Brookline. Aside from being a great vantage point for the 21-minute extravaganza, this open area also has room for games and other activities.

4. Go 4th on the River – New Orleans, Louisiana

While the entire show lasts for only 13 minutes, watching the beautiful reflection of the fireworks on the Mississippi River is what sets the Go 4th on the River celebration apart from all the others. Some 200,000 people crowd the Big Easy every year to witness this grand Fourth of July spectacle.

Check out the view of the evening sky from the deck of the Hard Rock Café in New Orleans’ French Quarter. You can also soak up the local jazz scene after the pyrotechnics show.

Wherever you choose to commemorate Independence Day, whichever spectacle you decide to watch, the most important thing is to celebrate the true meaning of this holiday. The Fourth of July is about being able to savor the joys of fun and freedom!

5 Amazing Gift Ideas for Foodie Friends

It’s time to wow your foodie friends with a delicious goodie basket bursting with the flavors of summer! Tree Classics recommends these sweet and savory homemade treats that are sure to uplift spirits and excite your gourmand buddies:

1. Homemade Limoncello and Frozen Bellini

Gift a friend hosting a party with homemade gourmet drinks, such as limoncello or frozen bellini. Crisp and fragrant, limoncello is an iconic drink from the Italian coast. This lemon liqueur is appreciated by gourmands amid the sweltering summer heat. The frozen bellini, on the other hand, blends champagne with peach or passion fruit nectar and grenadine. Served with a fine meal of roast and veggies, the intense citrusy flavors of these drinks give you the perfect summer blend.

2. Baked Goodies

A tea party gives your foodie friends the perfect opportunity to sample some of your heavenly cakes and cookies! A box of freshly baked goodies is a great gift for those who appreciate the unique combination of bittersweet tea and light and fluffy treats.

Whip up buttery delights such as sugar cookies or an assortment of miniature berry tarts. Present these homemade specialties in a gorgeous tin can or papier-mâché box. Tie a bright yellow or pink ribbon and decorate with a pretty label.

Tree Classics Baked Goodies
By studiocherie / flickr

3. Chutneys

Little jars of fruit chutney make a nice homemade gift that brings the fresh taste of summer into your chowhound friends’ kitchens. What’s great is that these flavors last beyond the season. Chutneys are one of the easiest preserves to make. Ripe nectarines and peaches are a wonderful accompaniment to grilled chicken or pork, as well as an excellent garnish in your sandwich or salad.

Package your homemade concoction in a decorative glass bottle, which your friend can later reuse as a cute shelf display. Don’t forget to use ribbons and labels to embellish the jar. You can also add a “best by” date or a list of the ingredients.

4. Cheeses

It’s not a secret that the best summer cheeses can make outdoor barbecues and picnics a gourmet experience. Surprise your foodie friends by gifting them premium cheese that you yourself have made. You can make something from scratch, such as queso blanco, yogurt cheese, and ricotta cheese, or pair the cheese you already have with a few gourmet herbs like basil and mint.

Wrap hard aged cheese in a beautiful cheese cloth or place freshly made soft potted cheese in a fancy jar.

5. Spice Mixes

A jar of spice mixes can be one of the most thoughtful gifts you can ever give a foodie friend. Quality spice blends are not only very easy to make but are also a lot healthier than store-bought versions, which may contain some chemical additives. From pesto to taco and cajun seasonings, you can conveniently create your own blend for making even plain meat and vegetables exciting.

Pack your spice mixes in a pretty mason jar, and include a set of colorful, decorative measuring spoons for a creative touch.

The great thing about these food gifts is that they are almost always eagerly consumed within days of being received. And with the right packaging, you will not only wow your friends with your fine culinary taste but also with your creativity!

Have a Fun Summer Potluck with the Neighbors

As the summer sunshine becomes too hard to resist, people are becoming more eager to get out of the house and mingle with each other. You, too, can take advantage of the fine weather to make new friends: spearhead a summer potluck! A neighborhood get-together gives you the chance to cultivate good relations with the members of your community. Here are four easy steps:


Tropical Patio by Milford Appliances Clarke

1. Gather Your Neighbors

A little morning chit-chat while you walk the dog or bring in the paper will do wonders when you are trying to get your neighbors on board. The best approach would be to hold a small afternoon tea at your porch or in your kitchen so you can begin asking them specific details, such as what day of the week they would be available for the event. In the process, you might even be able to learn a little more about them: what work do they do, or what recreational activities would they be interested in.

2. Plan the Menu as a Group

And since this is a potluck, you can take comfort in the fact that you do not have to prepare all the dishes. But as the party host, your job is to provide the venue, invite the people, and make sure everything goes according to plan. So how exactly does menu preparation foster good will among neighbors?

They begin to understand each other’s taste preferences. Not everyone may agree on the same choices. But the beauty of a potluck is that it allows everyone to contribute to the group what they themselves enjoy – from the food to the activities – while being able to take part in a community affair.

Create a general guide to give your guests more freedom to pitch ideas. Divide the menu into segments: 1) main dish 2) sides 3) beverage and 4) dessert.

If there are neighbors who would rather not cook up a dish, give them the chance to contribute by decorating the venue, organizing games, or coming up with party favors.

3. Don’t Forget to Have Fun

At the event, remember to relax and chat with your neighbors. Since summer potlucks are more of a collaborative effort, people are more laid-back than they would be at dinner or cocktail parties. No more fussing over dessert running out or having to wear fancy outfits (unless, of course, party guests are required to wear a costume!). By the time everyone has gotten a plate full of heartwarming treats, guests will begin chatting away. And once their tummies are happy, they will be ready to take part in all the festivities.

4. Give a Little Extra Treat

The best way to make friends with neighbors is to express some thoughtfulness. While others may volunteer to bring party favors, you can prepare your own set of giveaways. It can be anything from a souvenir photo of you and your guest to baskets of homemade treats. If you can, give it a personalized touch. Note the person’s favorites, such as sweets or trinkets, early on and hand them something they would truly appreciate and remember your summer potluck by.

Cultivating good relations with your neighbors through a summer potluck is a fun task in itself. At the end of all the festivities, the best part about fostering camaraderie with them would have to be witnessing your friendship grow.

3 Heartwarming Ways to Celebrate Fathers’ Day

Remember when your dad first took you out to the lake to fish? When he took you to your very first ball game? Or when he taught you how to ride your bike without training wheels? These were the good old days when it didn’t matter if you didn’t catch a fish, your team lost, or you fell from your bike more times than you could count. Spending time with your dad was all that mattered.

This year, it’s your turn to let Dad know how much he means to you. Tree Classics looks back at timeless father-and-child activities that you can still enjoy as you celebrate Fathers’ Day.

Father and Child
Image by Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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4 Year Round Christmas Blogs for the Christmas Enthusiasts

Christmas All Year? Check Out These Christmas Blogs

Wish Christmas could be a year-round thing? Wish granted. These four Christmas-themed blogs keep the holiday alive from December to December, so you don’t ever have to say goodbye to your favorite holiday. From crafts and treats to gorgeous Christmas pics, you’ll find everything you need to keep the season close to your heart.

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Joy to the Tree: Meet the Winners of our Photo Contest

Tree Classics Joy to the Tree Photo Contest

Celebrate once more the joy of decorating your Christmas tree and take inspiration from the winners of our Tree Classics Joy to the Tree Photo Contest.

Before you put away your Christmas décor and store your beloved tree back into the box this spring, take one more look back at the holiday’s most memorable trees from the winners of our Tree Classics Joy to the Tree Photo Contest.

On our Facebook page, Tree Classics proudly shared with everyone the Christmas tree masterpieces that showcased family tradition as well as cherished memories of the past season. The winners of the contest captured on camera the delight that only a Tree Classics Christmas tree can bring.

Love for Tree Classics

“The tree surpassed my expectations,” says Christine Young, this year’s top winner. The photo of her 12-foot fir garnered 39 votes from Facebook fans.

Christine was amazed at how her holiday centerpiece turned out. “I absolutely love our new tree this year.” The stunner was “the fullest, [most] beautiful, most lifelike tree” she had ever seen.

But Christine wasn’t the only one expressing love for her evergreen. Mindy Johnston, whose entry garnered 20 votes, shared her passion for decorating this classic work of art.

Mindy dedicated her Michigan Pine masterpiece to “Marine” who was home for Christmas for the first time in three years. A classic example of how a Tree Classics Christmas tree brings the family together.

A Different Kind of Ornament

Tree Classics Christmas trees have sturdy branches that can easily hold your Christmas tree decorations firmly in place. Diane Auger, whose entry bagged 13 votes, says her Scarlet Fir was “just the right size.”

Diane needed an evergreen that could house about 340 of her ornaments. Each detail added to the uniqueness of her Christmas tree, thus every ornament had to be tucked safely between the branches in order to bring out the vibrancy of the evergreen. Diane’s Tree Classics stunner delivered on its promise.

While traditional holiday trimmings may add character to a tree, a different kind of ornament took center stage in Lori Magelky’s entry.

“Just lights, no ornaments,” Lori says of Our Christmas tree, whose photo garnered eight votes. “We learned last year, after our cat climbed the tree, that we shouldn’t put ornaments,” Lori adds.

What makes this winning entry extra special?

The only ornament it did have: “The cat who likes to sleep in the branches.”

Each winner will receive a Sedona Fir Christmas Wreath. Tree Classics thanks everyone who participated in the Joy to the Tree Photo Contest.

Holiday Fun Facts for Kids

© Grant Cochrane / 123RF.COM

© Grant Cochrane / 123RF.COM

 

Do the corners of your rooms look bare without your artificial Christmas trees? Are you missing the aroma of freshly baked cookies and bayberry candles? If you miss the fun holiday spirit and just can’t wait for Christmas to roll around again, take advantage of all the fun holidays that roll around the rest of the year.

Whether you want to keep the kids entertained with timely tidbits or just brighten up your little corner in the office, these fun facts about our most popular holidays will put you in the mood to decorate and maybe even bake a batch of homemade cookies!

Valentine’s Day

Heart-shaped sugar cookies with white icing and pink sprinkles are edibles hugs—delicious!

Be careful if you eat an apple on Valentine’s Day. There’s an old myth that says if you eat an apple on Valentine’s Day, you will have as many children as the number of seeds you find inside. The average is about three, but some varieties have up to 12 seeds.

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