3 Easy Party Appetizer Ideas

Easy party appetizersMy philosophy when it comes to planning a menu for a party is pretty much this: what will taste delicious and be really easy to throw together. I don't like spending a whole party in the kitchen by myself. No thank you.

If I'm preparing for a dinner party with multiple courses, then I do anticipate more prep work. But for our housewarming party, I had decided to just serve small, bite-sized items. And if folks ended up staying later, we could always order pizza. :)

Anyway, I thought I'd share three appetizers I served in case any of you have a party coming up that you'd want some ideas for.

Ricotta and blueberry toastsFirst up, I "made" these blueberry ricotta toasts. They are topped with honey and a little salt + pepper. I like to serve them with a fragrant herb on the serving board since they don't have a strong aroma. I used basil (because I already had some), but rosemary or sage would be a good option as well.

Super easy appetizer ideasI toasted the bread the day before the party and stored it in a gallon-sized ziplock bag. Then about forty-five minutes before guests arrived, I spread on the ricotta and topped with blueberries and honey. Easy.

If I had been ambitious, I could have made my own ricotta. But... I was not that week. :)

Watermelon and feta skewersSecond, I made watermelon and feta skewers. I can't remember where I first had this combination together. I feel like it was at someone's wedding reception. Hmm. I don't remember. But the juicy, sweet watermelon goes great with sharp feta. I don't have a photo of the table, but I served this along side a balsamic vinegar reduction guests could drizzle or dip with. But these are great without that too.

Watermelon and feta skewers The only trick to preparing these is to cut the watermelon into cubes about the same size as your feta cubes. This makes for a pretty presentation. Also, remember to buy a seedless watermelon to save your guests some trouble. :)

Cheesy tomato tartsThese mini cheddar tomato tarts were the most difficult item on the menu, but they were also my favorite. They sort of taste like pizza, so of course I loved them. :)

You simply cut out small circles (or hearts) of puff pastry with a cookie cutter. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle on a little white cheddar cheese (shredded), then top with a tomato slice. Bake at 325°F for 20-25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown and look crispy. Top with a little basil leaf (or just chopped basil) just before serving. 

Easy tomato basil tartsI made my tarts earlier in the day and just rewarmed them in the oven before guests arrived. 

Now I want pizza. 

Thanks for letting me share! If you have any easy party recipes you're known for making, tell us. xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman, Photography: Janae Hardy. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions. 

Gold Leaf Brooches for Fall

DIY Gold Leaf Brooches I love a good pun, but not as much as I love a beautiful brooch! They're such a simple way to add personality to an outfit and look especially nice pinned onto a jacket lapel. I didn't have anything autumnal in my brooch collection though, so I thought I'd make some gold leaves to celebrate fall's arrival. These little guys are so easy to make, that you could easily make a bunch to string on a garland, to use as necklace pendants, or to create magnets! You can make your brooches any color, but I love the look of gold leaf, and like I said— I can't resist a good pun. Gold leaves!

DIY Gold Leaf BroochesSupplies:
-polymer clay in color of your choice (I used white because I already had some, but you could save yourself a step by getting clay in a color you want to show through the gold.)
-gold leaf sheets, sizing, and a sealant (only use water-based sizing and sealant)
-brooch pins
-permanent adhesive
-paint for background color (optional)

-silicone mold (I used this one.)
-paint brush

DIY Gold Leaf BroochesStep One: Warm the clay in your hands for a couple of minutes to make it easier to work with. Then pack it into the sections of the mold. You can use less clay for thinner brooches.

Step Two: Push the brooch pins into the clay to make indents. Then bake for the recommended time on the clay packaging. I baked mine at 270°F for 30 minutes (15 minutes for every 1/4" thickness of clay). Allow to cool before removing from the mold. Pull off the pins and set aside for later.

DIY Gold Leaf BroochesStep Three: If you aren't using colored clay, you'll probably want to paint the leaves with the color you would like to show through the gold leaf finish. It took 2-3 coats to cover my clay.

Step Four: Brush a light coat of sizing onto the painted leaves to prepare for the gold leaf sheets. If you have a gold leaf kit, it will come with sizing. I've seen people use Mod Podge for this too. Gold leaf sizing takes about 20 minutes to set up.

DIY Gold Leaf BroochesStep Five: Apply little pieces of the gold leaf sheets to the prepared leaves. It can be a bit tricky to get the paper into the crevices of the leaves, so I used a little paint brush to help push the gold leaf into those tight spots.

Step Six: Use a soft cloth to rub and burnish the gold leaf, making it nice and smooth. Rub a bit harder at the corners to remove the gold leaf and expose the color underneath. If you need to add more gold leaf in some spots, just repeat steps 4-6 on those areas.

DIY Gold Leaf BroochesStep Seven: Seal the leaves with a water-based varnish. You could use the sealant that comes with a gold leaf kit, but I've discovered it doesn't hold up well to water like a good varnish does. So I used this Minwax brand water-based Polycrylic spray.

Step Eight: Use a permanent glue to affix the brooch pins in the indents you made before baking.

DIY Gold Leaf BroochesImportant Tip: Be sure to only use polymer-safe paint, sizing, and sealer on your leaves, or the polymer will degrade over time and turn into a gooey mess. I've learned that spray paint, nail polish, and oil-based paints are a no-no. Now I use water-based paints and a durable water-based varnish to seal my polymer creations.

DIY Gold Leaf BroochesDIY Gold Leaf BroochesDon't they look pretty? I think I might make some more using a light-weight polymer clay to create a cute little garland for my dining room. But for now I'm loving the little nod to fall on my vintage sweater cape.

Need a fun idea for displaying your brooches when they're not pinned to your lapel? Check out this quick and easy jewelry display idea! -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella and Valentine of the Signature Collection.

Our Housewarming Door Menu DIY (Template Included!)

Make your own paper door for a party invite or menu (click through for template)            I don't think it's a secret, but we love the bright teal front door at our studio house. We show it all the time in pictures because we think it's just so darn cute. The door really makes our studio stand out from the other buildings on the block, so it's become a bit of a signature for our office. Since we were planning on (finally!) having our housewarming party, I was trying to think of a cute invitation or menu idea for the event. Sarah had an amazing thought to use the front door as the inspiration. Bingo!

Since it was a little late at that point to send out invites for the party (we had already invited all the guests at that point), I decided to make it the menu for the party instead. But it would also be an adorable invitation for any house party. If you have a signature door too, you can choose the color of your own door, or you can just make it a color that coordinates with your party scheme. Either way is fine!

Make your own paper door for a party invite or menu (click through for template)
-door template (right click and select download)
-three different shades of cardstock in the same color family (a light, medium, and dark shade)
-X-Acto knife or scissors
-cutting mat
-metal ruler
-rubber cement
-enamel dot or button for the door knob 

Make your own paper door for a party invite or menu (click through for template)  Ok, so the first thing you'll want to do is cut out your shapes from the template in order to build your door. I just laid the template over the right shade of paper (the template tells you which shape and how many pieces to cut of each color), and used an X-Acto knife to cut through the shape onto the paper below. Make sure you have a cutting mat underneath to protect your table or surface. Once you have the correct amount of pieces cut, you can move on to assembling them together.

Make your own paper door for a party invite or menu (click through for template)   To create your 3D door panels, take your larger light tone door panels and brush a layer of rubber cement on the top. Brush more glue on the bottom of the smaller medium tone rectangles and the dark tone "L" shaped cutouts. Attach the darker "L" shape to the bottom right corner of the panel and place the medium tone rectangle right up against the darker "L" shape.  Rub off any excess rubber cement and repeat the process with your two smaller square panels at the top of the door. Once your panels are put together, glue them onto the door with more rubber cement.

Make your own paper door for a party invite or menu (click through for template)    For the door knob, you can really use anything you want (like a button or a paper circle), but we had these enamel dots, and I thought they would be really cute.

Make your own paper door for a party invite or menu (click through for template)     Once you are done, you can either handwrite your menu or invitation information on the back of the door. (You know we love handwriting!) Or you can print your type, cut it to size, and then glue it on the back. You may have to trim the medium tone cardstock to 8.5" x 11" first (if it isn't already that size) so it will fit in your printer, but as long as you keep your type within the size of the door, you should be fine. Or, if you want to look extra professional, you can do the printing part first, then cut your door to size around the type and create the door on the other side of the paper. For a different look, you could also cut your door slab to be the same height as the template but twice as wide. Then you can fold it in half like a tall card with the information inside. It's up to you!

Make your own paper door for a party invite or menu (click through for template)           Make your own paper door for a party invite or menu (click through for template)         Make your own paper door for a party invite or menu (click through for template)          No matter what color or format you choose, this little paper door will impress your guests and get them excited for either your upcoming party or your delicious menu. I mean, how cute would this be for a Christmas party invite if you added a green paper wreath to the door? So cute.

I think that's what I always appreciate about good parties—it's the little details that aren't necessarily expensive, but show that the host put some thought into it to make fun little details for the night. Happy crafting! xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman, Photography: Janae Hardy and Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

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