Lots of plans were canceled, changed or postponed this year... Halloween at Blackband Design was not one of them! We had another great team costume party at the office and found some extra fun to celebrate in this crazy year of 2020. Check out our characters in action on IGTV and have a very happy Halloween!!
WENDY: FLAMENCO DANCER
CANCELED PLANS: FAMILY VACATION IN SPAIN
"SPAIN TRIP WAS CANCELED, SANGRIA WAS NOT"
GREG: DOCTOR B
CANCELED PLANS: NON-ESSENTIAL DOCTOR VISITS
"WASH YOUR HANDS, KEEP SIX FEET APART, WEAR A MASK"
MARY: RAIDER NATION FAN
CANCELED PLANS: NFL STADIUM EXPERIENCE
"CAN I GET A HAIL MARY?"
ASHLEY P: VACATIONER
CANCELED PLANS: TROPICAL VACATION
"VACATION IS ALL I EVER WANTED"
RACHEL: DISNEY ANNUAL PASS HOLDER
CANCELED PLANS: DISNEYLAND
"TOO MANY BLACKOUTS"
KATE: CORONA BRIDE
CANCELED PLANS: ORIGINAL WEDDING PLANS
"LOVE IS NOT CANCELED"
KENDALL: QUARANTINE BEAUTY QUEEN
CANCELED PLANS: HAIR SALON APPOINTMENTS
"FROM CUTE TO QUARANTINE"
MEGAN: OLYMPIC SWIMMER
CANCELED PLANS: SUMMER OLYMPICS 2020
"...JUST KEEP SWIMMING..."
JILLIAN: RODEO QUEEN
CANCELED PLANS: RODEO
"THIS AIN'T MY FIRST RODEO AND I SURE HOPE IT AIN'T MY LAST"
KIM: FLIGHT ATTENDANT
CANCELED PLANS: FLIGHTS
"PLEASE KEEP YOUR SEATBELTS FASTENED, IT'S BEEN A BUMPY YEAR"
NICOLE: COACHELLA ENTHUSIAST
CANCELED PLANS: COACHELLA MUSIC FESTIVAL
ASHLEY T: COSTA RICA TOURISTA
CANCELED PLANS: COSTA RICA VACATION
TRACY: MET GALA SOCIALITE
CANCELED PLANS: RED CARPET APPEARANCES
"LIGHTS, CAMERA, ZOOM"
SIERRA: MLB STADIUM VENDOR
CANCELED PLANS: MLB STADIUM EXPERIENCE
"SAFE AT HOME... BASE"
CANCELED PLANS: ZOO DAY
"LIONS AND TIGERS AND BEERS, OH MY"
EMMY: THE BACHELORETTE
CANCELED PLANS: THE BACHELORETTE, SEASON 16
"THE MOST DRAMATIC SEASON YET"
RACHELLE: CORE POWER YOGA INSTRUCTOR
CANCELED PLANS: YOGA STUDIO CLASSES
"NAMA-STAY AT HOME"
CANCELED PLANS: GRADUATION CEREMONIES
"NOT A LOT OF POMP IN THIS CIRCUMSTANCE"
MICHAEL: CONCERT GOING COWBOY
CANCELED PLANS: STAGECOACH MUSIC FESTIVAL
Thanks for following along! We hope you have a happy and safe Halloween and find joy to celebrate everyday!
With good weather comes endless opportunities for outdoor gatherings and that's something we like to take advantage of! Here in Southern California, we're blessed with beautiful weather most of the year, so our home designs give special attention to making exterior living and dining spaces useful for entertaining through all the seasons.
The Italian term "al fresco" simply translates to "in the fresh air" and instantly elevates your outdoor dining description ("al fresco dining" and "dining alfresco" are both correct ways to use the phrase). The party-planning tips we've gathered below prove just how simple it is to host your next dinner party outside. Whether you're getting the gang together to celebrate a holiday or simply to enjoy the fresh air with good food and friends, we've collected the tips to boost your hosting confidence in the great outdoors!
1. THE BASICS: WHO / WHAT / WHEN / WHERE / WHY
First, let's nail down the basics. The who, what, when, where and why will help you establish the general plan for your party and determine the logistics to keep in mind.
WHO: How many people will you be hosting? Make your guest list and send out those invites!
WHAT: What are you hosting? A backyard barbecue, summer soiree, friendsgiving festivities? What you want the gathering to be can help you narrow down the decisions you'll be making along the way.
WHEN: Pick a date and a time with the weather in mind! Daytime vs. evening and warm weather vs. cold can determine some of the practical things you'll need for a comfortable time together.
WHERE: Choose a location and note what it has and what it doesn't have, yet. Are you hosting at your home where you have many necessities on hand or at a public place where you'll need to bring everything? Will seating be at a traditional table and chairs, or is it a BYOB towel situation on the beach?
WHY: Are you celebrating a special occasion or finding any reason to get the gals together? Either way, keep the purpose in mind to create the experience you desire through all the little details.
2. WHICH COMES FIRST: MENU OR THEME?
Fixing a delicious (and doable) menu is an important element to your dinner party's success! The food isn't just about the taste, but it's about creating the whole experience. Your choice in food may influence a theme for the gathering (pasta dish = whimsical Italian dinner under the moonlight) or your theme may determine the natural dishes to serve (Cinco de Mayo = taco party). A "theme" can be as obvious or as subtle as you desire, but thinking through these connections can amplify your guests' experience.
Preparing food and serving it at the appropriate temperature is not an easy feat, especially while hosting a party! Plan ahead and recruit more hands to help to eliminate the stress and maximize your own enjoyment. Remember, catering is also an option!
3. MAKE IT PRETTY: CENTERPIECES + DECOR
With all your guests gathered around the table, the centerpiece is the work of art between you all. You can go big and elaborate for a fancy soiree, or keep it simple for a smaller crowd. No matter how grand you're going, layering is always key!
As we say in our interior design tips, layering textures, shapes, sizes, and colors adds so much dimension to your space (or in this case, your table). Start with height in the center, then work your way down as you move outward. Some common objects to use in your centerpieces are bottles, vases, florals and greenery (many of which can be collected from around your house or clipped in your yard). Even family-style dishes can be included in your arrangement to complement the decor and bring your guests together.
Beyond the table's focal point, it's great to add touches of decor throughout the general area to keep the ambiance alive from every angle. Sprucing up your serving space and beverage station with hints from your centerpiece style can add cohesiveness to the entire setting. These details can create perfect photo ops for your guests to have fun and capture the memories!
4. NO LONGER A CHORE: SETTING THE TABLE
Unique table settings can also add formality and fun to your event. Switching up the flatware, dishes, drinkware and napkins from your everyday use makes your guests feel extra special and can contribute to the decor.
A semi-formal place setting will take your table a step up from your daily dinners. A standard semi-formal place setting includes: a dinner plate and smaller salad plate in the center, a dinner fork and smaller salad fork on the left, a knife and spoon on the right, and a water glass and wine glass above your flatware on the right. Napkins and name cards can be displayed in a variety of ways on or around the plates -- let your creativity lead the way!
Even if you're working with what you've got, setting the table can be just enough to make your guests feel special!
NICE + SIMPLE
A LITTLE SOMETHING SPECIAL
5. FAKE IT IF YOU DIDN'T MAKE IT: SERVING AESTHETICS
Whether you've been slaving over the stove for hours or picked up goods from the store just in the nick of time, how you present your food can make a huge difference in your dinner party appearance! Ditch the packaging of any store-bought foods and display the treats in bowls or on platters. This simple hack immediately elevates your offerings to feel specially prepared for your guests.
This trick can be used for beverages, too. Fill pitchers with the drinks you're serving so guests can help themselves to what they assume is your creation, even though it might have been poured out of a bottle! When it comes to red wine, a decanter adds sophistication while allowing the wine to breathe. Lastly, water carafes are a simple upgrade for the table that offer easy refills without having to visit the refrigerator inside.
BONUS TIP: Save and up-cycle pretty glass bottles to use as water carafes. Gerard Bertrand's Cote de Roses rosé comes in a beautiful 1.5L glass bottle with a rose detail on the bottle. Enjoy the rosé, soak off the labels and you've got yourself a pretty carafe for your next party.
EXTRA BONUS TIP: You can never have enough ice! Since you'll be serving more guests than your household usually accommodates, start stashing ice from your ice machine a few days in advance or stock up on bags from the store. Keep it all in the freezer until your party is just about ready, then toss the packaging and add the ice to the tub or bucket at your beverage station to make a one-stop-shop for your guests to refill their drinks.
6. DAY TO NIGHT: SHADE + LIGHTING
The weather and natural light may not be in your control, but you can definitely plan ahead to prepare your space for enjoyable conditions. Luckily rain isn't a concern for most hosting an outdoor get together (at least not in Southern California) since the al fresco entertaining typically follows a warm weather trend, but you may still want some overhead cover to protect guests (and food) from harsh sunshine. Umbrellas can be a practical addition to your decor that create the shade you need while keeping an open air environment.
For an evening party that continues after sundown, you'll want to make sure you have adequate lighting to keep your guests around a little longer. Lanterns and candles double as decor and are a great temporary option if your yard isn't wired for spotlights. Bistro lights can be strung over your table if there are trees, fences or rooflines around to support the strands. All of these lighting options offer enough light to see while boosting the intimate ambiance of your setting.
BONUS TIP: Choose your candle scent (or lack there of) carefully. You don't want the fragrance to clash with your guests' tastebuds.
7. SET THE TONE: PICKING YOUR PARTY PLAYLIST
Is it even a party without a playlist?! Turn on the tunes to set the tone for your gathering and guests will feed off of what they hear. Mellow music fills your conversations with serene background melodies, while familiar soundtracks can rowdy up your guests to let loose a little. We compiled our favorite dinner music picks in a playlist on Spotify so the work is already done for you!
Playing the music that matches the cuisine you're having is also a great (+ easy way) to transport your guests to a destination and create the full experience. It's amazing how much a culture's style of music can make you believe you're there!
PRESS PLAY: BLACKBAND'S BACKYARD DINNER PARTY PLAYLIST
8. SHOO FLY: BUG-REPELLENT SOLUTIONS
Outdoor dinner parties are great for gathering good friends, but there are a few "friends" that are not invited... sorry bugs! Keep the mosquitoes away with scents that they can't stand. Herb and citronella aromas are two that fight off the bugs without wiping out the humans -- most guests will even enjoy these scented touches! Incorporate small potted herbs in your centerpiece or use sprigs to garnish your table setting and dishes for just enough fragrance to do the job. Burning citronella candles is a common hack for disguising bug repellent in decorative vessels that can be a part of your decor scheme. For a more natural solution, citronella essential oil can be used on your skin, diffused into the air or diluted in a spray.
BONUS TIP: Peppermint oil can fend off spiders! Spray it around the perimeter of your party to keep the creepy crawlies away.
9. PERSONALIZE IT: STATIONARY + SIGNAGE
Making your guests truly feel welcomed and celebrated is all in the details. Before friends even show up to your party, an invitation can set the tone for the festivities' theme and formality. While printed stationary and snail mail tug at our heart strings, they aren't always necessary for a backyard shindig. Sending out an e-vite or texting a graphic to your guest list can be just the ticket to build excitement for the coming event.
When your guests do arrive, a welcome sign can offer a warm first impression and direct them to the party. Name cards, printed menus, drink menu signs and other festive signage throughout your party can emphasize your theme and answer your guests' common questions. Signs revealing where the bathrooms are located allow guests to slip away without any embarrassment of asking and directs them to the specific bathroom you want them to use (aka not your personal space, if you have the option).
10. PARTY TIME: RELAX + ENJOY
You've put in the work, now it's time for you to sit back and enjoy! Pour yourself a drink, indulge in the spread you prepared and soak in that precious time with friends. As the night goes on, take advantage of your guests offering a hand to handle any last minute prep or problem-solving so all can get back to the party without missing a beat. Hosts and hostesses with the mostest can still have help!
BONUS TIP: Having a batch of drinks ready for the first guests before they arrive can buy you some time for final prep. Guests can help themselves as soon as they're ready and you won't feel like you're holding up the bar.
EXPLORE MORE AL FRESCO DINING INSPIRATION ON OUR PINTEREST BOARD
Have other party-planning tips to add? We're all ears! Share your go-to hosting hacks in the comments below and we'll give them a try at our next party!!
CREDITS: BLACKBAND DESIGN // BRANDON ARCHITECTS // PATTERSON CUSTOM HOMES // RYAN GARVIN PHOTOGRAPHY // SINCLAIR ASSOCIATES ARCHITECTS // GRAYSTONE CUSTOM BUILDERS // TEALE ARCHITECTURE // MIKEN CONSTRUCTION // WOLF DESIGN STUDIO // CORR CONTEMPORARY HOMES // TESSA NEUSTADT PHOTOGRAPHY // LIDO HOUSE HOTEL // RDO DEVELOPMENT // MATT WHITE CUSTOM HOMES
Wendy Blackband is a lover of books -- reading, collecting, styling, discussing, you name it. In the midst of a busy, working-mom schedule, she finds reading to be her refuel. An escape from the to-do lists and an opportunity to get lost in a story that holds no responsibility over her (oh, the freedom!!).
Growing up in a family of readers, it’s been natural for Wendy to carry on the tradition. From her great grandparents reading by candlelight with a box of chocolates to her mother’s esteemed home library that she visits any chance she gets, books are in her blood. In Wendy’s newly renovated Balboa Island home, several areas were designed with books in mind. We haven’t had a chance to photograph the home just yet (post-quarantine we are on it!) but we’ve collected some of our favorite inspiring home library set ups here.
In the chance that you too are a reader looking for your next adventure (from the comfort of your coziest reading chair), we've linked Wendy's all-time favorite reads, and a few of her mom's favorites too. It's a family affair over here... join the club!!
Nowadays, Wendy’s book club is a source of joy. For years a group of her girlfriends have been reading books and meeting to chat, host, cook and enjoy time together (virtually, as of late). They are currently reading A Room with a View by E. M. Forster — a romantic novel that takes place in Italy and England. The Blackband family postponed their Spring Break trip to England (to visit Greg's side of the family) and Ireland (to adventure) in the escalation of travel restrictions due to the virus, so this book has been Wendy's source of wanderlust from home.
WENDY'S TOP TWELVE FAVORITE BOOKS
MOTHER KNOWS BEST
A few favorite's from Wendy's mother, Judith Corona -- an avid reader and design lecturer at UCLA.
We would love to hear about the books you've enjoyed and appreciate any recommendations for our team to read! What books should we add to our shelves?? We just might feature it next!
We’re in week three of working from home (along with the rest of the world) and we are happy to report we’ve found many positives in these new “office” dynamics. There are of course some challenges that have come with this new territory, but we’ve rounded up ways we’re adjusting to them and focusing on the good! Read on for our team’s tried and true tips for a happy home and productive work environment.
COOKING, BAKING + EATING IN
Greg and Wendy are loving the extra time together as a family preparing and enjoying meals with their busy teens, Cooper and Piper. At the beginning of quarantine, they listed all the groceries they had in the house and created a menu for the next two weeks using those ingredients. The result: minimal trips to the store, maximum creativity in the kitchen – our minimal // maximum approach in action!
Mary is giving her collection of pretty cookbooks some love and trying out new recipes for her family. The Mexican Chicken Soup has become a household staple and the Trapani Pesto is a fresh alternative to jarred pasta sauce – both from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street cookbook.
The sizzling sounds of homemade soup on the stove are keeping Sierra humming through her workday and looking forward to a savory dinner (and hot and ready lunch leftovers). We’re more of a use-what-you’ve-got, no-recipe type, but we swear by everything Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest whips up so we recommend browsing her soup archives if you’re in need of inspiration!
Ashley T. is enjoying the company of Miss Mittens the cat in her home office set up. There’s no fear of making a mistake on CAD when the cat is watching over her every move!
Megan has happily swapped a morning commute to the office for extra fetch time with Dude the Doodle. He just doesn’t quite understand what she is doing on the computer all day when he is clearly so ready to keep playing!
Ziggy found a home just in time to keep foster mom Emmy in good quarantined company! Emmy rescued this cute pup from Los Angeles Harbor Animal Shelter and there are so many more to adopt if you’re in need of a buddy in these socially distant times. Check out OC resources here.
Nicole is always stocked up with Essential Oils for every occasion that keep her feeling her best! Check out her tips and tricks for how you can make homemade cleaning products with your oils – a perfect (and natural) alternative to the sold out store options!
Katie discovered a simple, feel good recipe inspired by Starbucks’ secret menu drink, the ”medicine ball” (hot tea with steamed lemonade). Her #stayhome version is packed with immunity-boosting power of Emergen-C to #stayhealthy. All you need: 1 pack of Emergen-C (raspberry is her favorite), juice from half a lemon, a spoonful of honey and a mugful of hot water.
Romantic reads in the sunshine are keeping Kendall happy at home. She’s currently flipping the pages of love story Sweet Salt Air and just finished Robyn Carr’s Virgin River Series – the book behind the new series you’ve probably seen on Netflix.
FRESH AIR + FRESH FRUITS
Kim brews her coffee to-go for a quiet walk though the neighborhood before she starts her day of work. Maintaining a routine and getting outside (alone and protected) are keys to keeping her productivity flowing.
Rylee’s go-to afternoon snack is a fresh clementine that she enjoys in the sunshine on her balcony. Some Vitamin D with a side of Vitamin C!
Tracy is finding home to be a productive place to work and loves hearing her family’s voices nearby. Nature walks together have been a great time for them to release some energy and connect with each other.
WINING (NOT WHINING)
Wineries may be closed but that didn’t stop Jill + her fiancé from a little weekend “getaway.” She made an “at home wine tour” guide around their home to sample bottles from different regions in each room. We saved her brilliant idea to Pinterest!
Ashley P. looks forward to her post-work happy hours with a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Does it count as drinking alone if we’re on Zoom?
There may be some baby whines from Rachel’s sweet new niece Charley Ann but we’re sure not complaining about having this cute face to awe over. Welcome to this crazy, wonderful world baby girl!
What’s keeping you sane in this quarantined life we’re all living?
Let us know if you give any of these a try!
We've rounded up a list of small businesses and favorite brands our team is supporting in these challenging times. Now more than ever, our community needs each other so we hope you'll join the movement to #payitforward with us and make this world the happy place that it is meant to be!
P.S. This post is in no way sponsored or commissioned, just companies our team genuinely cares about and thinks you might love, too!
THE ECOLOGY CENTER | SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO
FARM SHARE boxes full of 9 produce staples for the family
Check in on Instagram for when sales go live
10% donated to those in need
CROCKER'S | BALBOA ISLAND
A Blackband family favorite for take-out desserts
JAN’S HEALTH BAR | CDM | COSTA MESA | HUNTINGTON BEACH | LAGUNA BEACH
Spend $40 save $10 through 3.31.20
Curbside pickup at all locations
CRAFT HOUSE | DANA POINT
Curbside pick up + delivery with daily menu updates on Instagram
Now offering a roll of TP with every order! Ha!
AVILA’S EL RANCHITO | ORANGE COUNTY
Family style meals to-go + curbside pick up
Details may vary per location
BAYSIDE RESTAURANT | NEWPORT BEACH
Family-owned + family favorite
Purchase gift cards now, enjoy fine dining later
THE COFFEE IMPORTERS | DANA POINT
Fresh coffee, raw juice, healthy meals + tasty treats
Curbside pick up daily
NOSOTROS TEQUILA | LOCAL GROCERY STORES | ONLINE ORDER DELIVERY
Small-batch high-quality tequila
Supporting bartenders who are out of work in the lockdown
SEJUICED | CDM
Smoothie + juice bar
Call your order in for curbside pick up or place your order on DOORDASH
LA REPUBLICA COFFEE | ONLINE ORDER DELIVERY
"The coffee of the future"
Also available on Amazon
BLESSED BOOCH KOMBUCHA | LOCAL RETAILERS | FARMERS MARKETS
Small-batch, farm-to-bottle kombucha
Stay in touch on Instagram for their latest shop options
PORTOLA COFFEE ROASTERS | ORANGE COUNTY
Take out + delivery options vary per location
20% off website orders with code ENJOYATHOME
SLIGHTLY CHOPPY | NEWPORT BEACH | ONLINE
Hand-stitched surf pendants for all the local spots
MOLLY WOOD GARDEN | COSTA MESA
Pretty plants + one-of-a-kind finds to add some extra joy to your home
Schedule a shopping appointment to keep your social distance
ETOILE ON 17TH | COSTA MESA
Women's fashion, fitness wear + goodies
25% off loungewear + the cutest customized bunny baskets for Easter
Virtual + personalized shopping options available -- DM or call for details
SOHP SOAP | ONLINE
This new soap company launched just in time!
We haven't tried it yet but looks like fun for kids with a toy hidden inside
BOTANICAL FRAGRANCES | NEWPORT BEACH | ONLINE
Not exactly a cleanser, but Wendy's best stress reliever!
Rub it on your neck + shoulders before bed for total bliss
The Lavender + Juniper is Wendy's favorite
COCOKIND | ONLINE
Clean + conscious skin care products
10% off for supporting small business
Who are you showing some extra love to in these challenging times?
List them in the comments and we'll keep this love going around!
It was an ICONIC Halloween at Blackband Design celebrating talented, empowering + history-making women. Here's to girl power + a happy Halloween to all!
P.S. We do have one iconic man on our team whose doppelgänger actually spurred this whole idea... Scroll through to find him!
That's a wrap... now accepting all suggestions for next year's theme in the comments!!
Here we go again… another fun Halloween Costume Party at Blackband Design! This year we got our dancin’ queens on in ABBA-inspired outfits + a whole bunch of glitter! We hope everyone’s having a happy Halloween!!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN!! – The Blackband Team
Mother’s Day has snuck up quickly (yet again!) but there’s still time to show mom how much you care with a homemade meal and that coveted quality time. We’ve gathered tasty, simple and pretty breakfast ideas to brighten mom’s morning and start Mother’s Day off with a treat!
NEWSFLASH!! Watercolors totally work to decorate eggs! Who knew?! Maybe this isn’t actually new information to the world, but we tried it for the first time and we may never go back to dunking in dyes. With watercolors, we were able to create many more looks with much less mess — what’s not to love! (Post-Easter update: colors do smear once eggs are refrigerated again so this is more of a day-of tablescape decoration / activity.) We looked to our projects for inspiration on stylish patterns to cover our eggs with, and thanks to some awesome fabric and art influence, we brought fun and new Easter egg designs to the table! Happy Easter!!