Pineapples are not only great to eat but even better as decor. Have a fear of homemade floral arrangements? Try a fresh pineapple; it makes an affordable and simple display that even a novice hostess can handle. When you are done using the pineapple for display, add them to your menu for another meal or add to the bar for a specialty cocktail. If you are up for it, find a unique way to cut them into fun shapes, and if you need a little help, this can be an activity to do with your guests.
Carving pumpkins is one of the most interactive Halloween activities, so throw your own party filled with delicious treats and whimsical decor. Korinne Seel of Swank Sweets set a playful spider web tablecloth as the backdrop and enhanced it with inexpensive paper Halloween fans. All the edibles are from the local supermarket and customized with party printables by Anders Ruff Custom Designs. Set the pumpkins on cake stands to make them the focal point of the table.
HGTV Smart Home 2019 is located in Dallas, Texas: a city bursting with activities for the whole family, like Klyde Warren Park. Klyde Warren Park is a hugely popular central-Dallas spot, great for family entertainment. It generally has something going on—from morning yoga and public exercise to evening concerts and films—and it’s all free. Children’s Park is a dedicated play space, with playgrounds, fountains and more. For example, there’s Tuesday morning storytime and Imagination Playground where kids can build together using enormous foam blocks. With a couple of onsite cafes and daily food truck offerings, you have plans through afternoon naptime.
HGTV Smart Home 2019 is located in Dallas, Texas: a city bursting with activities for the whole family, like the Dallas Museum of Art. The Dallas Museum of Art has something for every young art lover. Older kids will enjoy the museum’s Contemporary and American Art permanent collections, with cool pieces by Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg and Gerald Murphy, among many others. Check the website for current temporary exhibitions. Those individuals who get testy slow-walking galleries (e.g., kids 8 and younger) have their own retreat areas in Arturo’s Nest and the Young Learners Gallery in the Center for Creative Connections.
HGTV fan Katie Watson came up with a fun and creative way for children to count down the 25 days of Christmas. Using simple square envelopes with string closures, she adorned each one with different holiday-inspired themes, patterns and colors. Inside each envelope Katie placed a coupon for each child that can be redeemed for something special at home, such as a cup of hot chocolate, a piece of Christmas candy or Mom reading a bedtime story. Strung up the banister with colorful foam balls, the advent banner is not only a fun family activity but an original piece of holiday decor, too.
Bee balm (Monarda didyma) is a buffet of color and activity in the garden, beckoning all kinds of pollinators, including hummingbirds, butterflies and bumblebees. This bloomer kicks off the flower show in midsummer, ultimately sending up multiple flowers from a single stem. It makes a great addition to a bouquet, lasting a week or more in a vase. Bee balm comes in a host of colors, including pink, lavender, purple and red shades. Choose varieties that have good powdery mildew resistance. Look for varieties from short to this average size ‘Raspberry Wine’ bee balm, which grows 36 to 48 inches tall by 18 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
HGTV Smart Home 2019 is located in Dallas, Texas: a city bursting with activities for the whole family, like the Dallas World Aquarium. With its monkeys and chameleons, flamingos and penguins—even ocelots, for cryin’ out loud—the Dallas World Aquarium isn’t your typical hometown aquarium (well, unless you live in Dallas). Check out the rainforest exhibit for beautiful birds and unusual sloths. The 20,000-gallon cenote exhibit walks you through the shark habitat, and South Africa is cool for its penguins. With a conservation focus, the aquarium has several endangered animals such as the Antillean manatee. Check out the website or call ahead to plan your visit around scheduled animal feedings and talks.
For a family with three boys under the age of 12, a sprawling family center that opens out to the backyard was just the ticket. “An open-plan living made sense to them as they really wanted a room that would be the "heart" of the home and where they could all gather together and interact with each other, even if they are doing different activities,” says designer Nelly Reffet of Twinkle & Whistle Interior Design. To give the space an inviting feel, Reffet took care with her choices of color and material. “One of the possible downsides of open-plan living, especially in contemporary homes, is that the room may feel a little cold and impersonal,” she says. “Using ‘warm’ or earthy materials and/or colors, as well as a mix of textures is a great way to balance this, and to create a more lived-in space.”
For summer bloom, turn to native, easy-care shrub sweetspire. Scarlet Beauty sweetspire (Itea virginica ‘Morton’) unfurls long white flower clusters mid-June to early July, flooding summer days and nights with luxurious fragrance. Blossoms buzz with pollinator activity, including bees, butterflies and beneficial insects. This is a must-have plant for wildlife gardens. The fall color season unfolds slowly with leaves in shades of vibrant scarlet-reds and deep oranges that hit their peak in early November. Plants thrive in sun to shade, tolerate moist soil and grow 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9. Good to know: If pruning is needed, do so immediately after flowering, before blossom buds form on mature stems. In early spring, remove any stems that fail to leaf out.
This gumball party wouldn't be vintage-inspired without some soda. "I used Mason jars with stamped lids for drinking glasses," says Kara Allen. "The straws were made out of paper—a perfect vintage-inspired touch." To add to the theme, Kara made "gumball" ice cubes by freezing red punch in a ball-shaped ice tray found at a bargain price online. Aside from the decor, Kara suggests including a theme-oriented activity for guests. "I thought that ribbon wands would be so fun for little guests to play with and they were also easy to make," she says. She attached colorful polka-dot ribbons to the tops of painted wooden dowel rods and placed them in a large mason jar filled with gumballs to fit in with the theme. Photo by Lyndsey Fagerlund Imagery
One of Atlanta's charms is the incredible diversity of its neighborhoods. The same holds true for the suburbs and exurb communities that surround this booming Southern metropolis. From Alpharetta north of the city to Serenbe south of Atlanta, there are a remarkable variety of experiences to have, from suburban to rural to everything in between. Visitors looking for a little respite from a city-center experience but the experiential pleasures of a dense, busy hub of restaurants, shops and a new hotel can stay in the 86-acre Avalon community in Alpharetta, a relatively new 86-acre development that functions as a self-contained city 30 miles north of Midtown Atlanta. Use it as your home base as you venture out each day to activities or events in the city, or use it as a good launching point for exploring the Georgia or North Carolina mountains if a jaunt into the beautiful regional landscape is more your speed.
A pastoral, new urbanist deveiopment described as a "wellness community," where sustainability is a focus, Serenbe is about 40 minutes from Atlanta but a world apart in attitude. An array of beautifully built single-family homes make Serenbe a home for many, but it's also a great rustic tourism destination with an onsite Inn at Serenbe and plenty of farm, nature and cultural activities to keep visitors busy. The 40,000-acre bucolic planned community is home to farm-to-table restaurants like The Hil, The Farmhouse at Serenbe and The Blue-Eyed Daisy as well as a growing roster of smaller spots and cute retail offerings. The arts are a big part of the community, so see if your visit coincides with special Art Over Dinner al fresco meals with local creatives and check out the Serenbe Playhouse's schedule. This vanguard theater group has garnered national recognition for staging immersive theatrical experiences and fun, creative spins on the classics that often use the woodsy surroundings and outbuildings of Serenbe as stage sets.