DIY: Candy Cane-inspired Holiday Table

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

A simple red and white candy cane inspired this fabulously festive (and fun) holiday table! It checks all the boxes…inspirational (yes), attainable (YES, anyone can do it) and affordable (yes, minimal dollars spent).

Here’s How You Can Do It!
Step 1: Make a Tablecloth (create a woven ribbon “tablecloth”)
Lengths of inexpensive holiday ribbon were cut to run the length of the table and taped securely under the edge. My table was white so I love the idea of using the white as part of the pattern, so I left space between the ribbons. Then going the width of the table more of the same ribbon was cut as well as widths of a coordinating bandana ribbon. Then the ribbon was woven (under and over/alternating) into the already taped ribbon. Once each piece has been woven, adhere under the edge with tape.
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Step 2: Make a Centerpiece (we made “kissing balls” out of starlight mints). I hot glued starlight mints onto a varying sizes of styrofoam balls that had been painted with red craft paint (optional). You could also use other soft candy and pin the candy to the styrofoam ball with long straight pins.  Soooo much fun drama. The balls were placed on old milk glass as holders for elevation and some just on the table.
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Step 3: Set the table.
Since the woven ribbon tablecloth and centerpieces are so over-the-top, I wanted to keep the place setting fairly neutral. I used hand thrown white dinner plates, simple white-handled flatware, clear tall cut-glass water glasses and pink champagne glasses. To bring the bandana ribbon into the rest of the setting, I used a ric-rack trimmed red bandana from the Yum Yum Smile Shop as each napkin. For the name card, I wrote my guests name on white paper cut into a tree shape and tied it onto a peppermint stick with red and white baker’s twine.
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Finally, add a little extra candy cane flare with candy canes as glass “garnishes”.
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DIY: BIG WOW Handmade Holiday Garland on a Budget

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey
Location: The Paxton House

Need a show stopping garland for your staircase bannister? I did this recently for a holiday launch party for my Yum Yum Smile Shop culinary salon line at The Paxton House in Thomasville, GA. Decorating is easy when you start with a beautiful place like The Paxton House –an historic inn that is modern and colorful and cool like its owners Carol and Charlie. The goal was to create a big WOW when guests arrived that was inspirational, attainable and affordable (the three most important things when I set out to design an event). I used solid colored wrapping paper and stuck with pink ribbon to coordinate with the Yum Yum Smile Shop feel, but you could use anything! I’d love this in paper of big buffalo plaid checks or vintage holiday papers or fancy metallic papers. Your imagination is the most important thing you’ll need, the rest is easy. Here’s how I did it.

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What you need: 
Yardage of ribbon for bannister wrap and packages (I used two different colors of satin ribbon, but you could use all the same color)
Empty Cardboard Boxes (varying in size), The lighter the box the better!
Wrapping Paper
Fresh Greenery with long branches, I gathered various kinds of greens from the garden. (you could use artificial…but why?) (PS, you’ll need a lot)
Scissors
Tape

What to do:
1. At the top of your bannister, tie one end of a roll of satin ribbon and working your way down the steps, TIGHTLY wrap the ribbon around the bannister. Tie it securely at the bottom of the bannister.
Note: I used satin ribbon so I wouldn’t harm the historic staircase in any way. If you wrap the ribbon tight enough around the bannister, it will stay secure enough to hold the weight of the boxes and greens very easily.
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2. Determine how many packages you’ll need for the size of your bannister and based on the size of your boxes. Wrap your packages and tie each with a satin ribbon that has been tightly crossed in the back and brought to the top to tie in a bow. You’ll need the ribbon secure to the package when attaching to the bannister.
3. Cut one 18″ piece of ribbon for each package you wrap. (you may need more for larger boxes, but wait until you get that far)
4. Working from the top and smallest to largest box, use the extra piece of ribbon you cut and thread it through the cross of ribbons on the bottom of the package. Then, thread it through the ribbon you have tightly wrapped around the bannister. Wrap it around the bannister and tie it off in a tight bow to hold the package in place (make sure to tie them off going different directions, they will naturally fall into place). You may see this ribbon, so make it pretty!
5. Continue tying packages onto the bannister (leaving a few inches in between and increasing the spacing as you move down the bannister).
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6. Thread your greens through the ribbon wrapped around the bannister in between the packages. Trim any long branches so they don’t stick out. Also, add a few greens to the top of your packages, it will look like the greens are growing all over the gifts! Make sure to go down the steps and look at the greens from all angles. Fill in any holes you see with greenery.
7. As a bonus (which I didn’t have time to do for this event). I would love to see a stack of packages at the bottom of the steps (on the bannister side).
8. Not only was this a gorgeous and inspiring focal decoration, it served as a great “backdrop” for party pics from the event! Here’s my hostess Carol Whitney in her pink velvet blazer. The coolest innkeeper in all the land.
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DIY: Blueberry Baseball Centerpiece

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey
Location: The Loft at Straton Hall Events

When you have a box full of baseballs leftover from a previous event and your “Pork and Berries” dinner needs a centerpiece…you make blueberry baseballs! #homerun

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Blueberry Baseball
makes 1

What you need:
1 Baseball
Newspaper
Scissors
Blue, white, and black paint
Masking Tape
White glue
Water
Paintbrushes
Paper Towels
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What to do:
1. Mix equal parts white glue and water in a small bowl. While that mixes, cut the newspaper into half inch strips. Then, cut the strips into small 1-2 inch pieces. Use the masking tape to create a “lip” on one side of the blueberry…this will be the top of your blueberry. Paint the mixture onto the baseball, place one piece of newspaper on the baseball. Continue one by one until ball is completely covered. Allow to dry completely.
Pro Tip: We made a “stand” out of rolled up foil for the balls to dry on.
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2. Mix white, black and blue paint together to make a perfect blueberry color. Cover the entire baseball blueberry in the blue color. Allow the blueberry to dry completely. Save leftover paint, you’ll use it soon!
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3. Mix black paint with a slight amount of white paint. Using a thin brush, paint a primitive star in the lip at the top of your blueberry. Allow to dry.
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4. Add a bit more white to the saved blueberry blue paint mixture. Wet a paper towel and dip it into a slight bit of paint and pat the color all over the sides of the blueberry. Let dry overnight.
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Thats it! Gather some trimmings from your Blueberry Bush (or any tree outside), lay the branches down the center of your table. Add in your blueberry baseballs and fresh blueberries if you like.
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Raspberry Cherry Blossom Mousse

By Libbie Summers
Photography Assisted by David Dempsey

Even if it isn’t served in a hand-painted cherry blossom trifle dish, this gorgeously delicious mousse will wow any dinner guests. Creamy, rich in flavor and not-too-sweet it’s perfect for a spring brunch table.
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Raspberry Cherry Blossom Mousse
serves12-16

What you need:
4 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
4 tablespoons cold water
12 cups fresh raspberries, divided or two 10-ounce bags frozen raspberries, thawed
1 1/2 cups super fine sugar (pulse regular sugar in a food processor to make it fine)
2 teaspoons cherry extract
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 cups heavy whipping cream
Pink food coloring (optional)
Powdered sugar for dusting

What to do:
1. Bloom Gelatin: In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Make the Raspberry/Cherry Puree: In a blender, add 10 cups of the raspberries with 1 cup sugar.  Puree until smooth. Using a fine sieve, strain the puree into a bowl to remove the seeds (don’t worry some seeds will get through and that’s okay). In a microwave oven, melt the gelatin for 10 seconds on low power. Whisk the gelatin and cherry extract into the raspberry puree. Stir in pink food coloring if desired to enhance the color.

3. Whip Egg Whites: In a large pyrex bowl set over a pot of simmering water, whisk the egg whites with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until warm to the touch. Remove the bowl from the heat. Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat the whites at medium-high speed until stiff and glossy. Fold the egg whites into the raspberry cherry puree.

4. Whip Cream: In a standing mixer fitted with a whip attachment or using a hand mixer, add the heavy cream and beat until creamy. Add pink food coloring if desired to keep the dessert super pink. Continue to beat until firm.

5. Finish Mousse: Fold the whipped cream into the raspberry cherry mixture. Pour into a trifle dish or individual dishes and refrigerate overnight.

To Serve: Top with remaining fresh raspberries and dust with powdered sugar.

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Watch this beautiful Cherry Blossom-inspired Dessert Course come together!

DIY: Louis Ghost Chair Update

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

When your event needs a little more POP, here’s an easy and fun removable idea! For this application, I was hosting in intimate dinner party inspired by cherry blossoms. The environment was very organic and I thought I needed to add a bit of a modern twist. Boom. A simple chair decal on a white ghost chair brought it all home…and was so fun to do.
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What you need:
1 Plastic chair
Vinyl Sheets (Available at Michael’s Crafts. For this chair, I used one light pink, one bright pink and one copper)
1 piece thick card stock
Pen/Pencil/Marker
Scissors

What to do:
1. Make a Paper Flower Template: Depending on what your inspiration is for the chair (mine was cherry blossoms), Draw a simple outline of a flower, bud and leaf on the card stock and cut out. NOTE: for this application, I did two different sizes of the same flower. Flower were 2 to 2.5-inches in diameter.
2. Cut Out Flower Template: Cut out the flowers, buds and leaves from the card stock.
3. Cut Out Vinyl Flowers, Buds and Leaves: Working on the back side of the vinyl, use the paper templates to draw around onto the vinyl and cut out. Note: for this application, I did a full sheet of light pink flowers and a used the bright pink for buds and flowers. I didn’t cut leaves.)
4. Apply the Vinyl: Do a simple sketch on paper of the the design you want to start with. Beginning with the limbs, cut out strips (1/4-inch wide and various lengths), peel backing off and apply to the chair. Working one at a time, peel off backing from the vinyl flowers, buds and leaves.

Before and After!
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The whole process took me 1 hour and was the perfect modern touch the table needed.
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