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Every other week, Anna Hezel talks about the innovations, decorations, and other quiet touches that make a party memorable.
Today: A guide to throwing the perfect outdoor Labor Day party
Labor Day is one of those elusive holidays without any particular traditions, foods, or celebrations attached to it. And yet, Americans unanimously recognize it as the summer's last hurrah -- the last big opportunity to wear summer whites, build a smoky fire in the grill, and drink icy cocktails as the sun sets.
Whether you're spending the holiday at the beach or in a tiny Brooklyn back yard like me, don't miss the chance to have one more outdoor party before the chilly reality of autumn hits. Fill your yard with pretty paper lanterns, and roll out the last of August's watermelons, zucchini, and fresh herbs.
Start the evening with some Boozy Watermelon Rosemary Lemonade and Homemade Potato Chips. You can make the lemonade a few days before the party and stash it in the refrigerator so that it's chilled and ready to go when your guests arrive. The best thing about these potato chips? You can make them in the microwave if you have a phobia of frying.
Match up Suzanne Goin's indulgent Grilled Pork Burgers with some colorful and original sides like Zucchini with Basil, Mint, and Honey and a Watermelon and Goat Cheese Salad with a Verbena Infused Vinaigrette. And for dessert, a deep, dark Brooklyn Blackout Semifreddo Cake.
These paper lanterns are as simple as choosing some paper that you like, and it's a piece of cake to make a bunch in one go. Line your picnic table with these, scatter them around the garden, or use a little bit of wire to hang them from trees.
- A big sheet or roll of some pretty patterned paper, preferably with a geometric pattern or Moroccan design (I got mine from Paper Presentation)
- Some very small and very transparent plastic cups
- Some scotch tape
1. About four or five inches up from the edge of the paper, find the place where the pattern begins to repeat itself, and cut along this break in the pattern. If you're using a paper with a flowery or non-geometric pattern, you can simply cut in a straight line.
2. You should have a long strip of paper with one straight edge and one irregular edge. If you'd like, cut out a row of the pattern, where light will be able to shine through. For my lanterns, I cut out a whole row of these 12-sided geometric shapes that were formed by the pattern's red lines.
3. Cut your strip of paper so that it is just long enough to wrap around one of your plastic cups with about half of an inch overlapping. Tape one end to the plastic cup, and wrap the strip of paper around the cup, taping the other end down firmly. Place a tealight inside the cup, and your lantern is ready to shine.