Penny-pinching Picnic Pretties (Perfect Patriotic Party Partners!)

As I promised on Facebook over the weekend, I’d like to introduce my friend Amy Moorman. She is head of the decorating committee at my church and I secretly suspect she could build a space shuttle out of cardboard and tape. Perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration, but she is one talented gal. If anyone can create something Pinterest-worthy from next-to-nothing, it’s Amy for sure!

Meet my very talented friend Amy. | A Chat Over Coffee

Meet my very talented friend Amy. | A Chat Over Coffee

Our church family enjoyed a big Memorial Day picnic over the weekend, and Amy outdid herself by setting the stage with patriotic picnic flair, turning a shelter at a nearby park into a fun and festive celebration station. Amy has a knack for doing big things on a small budget, and she gave me permission to share her wonderful ideas. Even if you’re planning a party for 15 instead of 150, Amy’s tricks can help make your party POP! And if you’re planning a birthday, wedding shower, or other get-together that might not call for a patriotic theme, simply using different colors, like soft pastels or bright primaries, will transform this picnic plan perfectly.

Amy's Penny-pinching Picnic Pretties at A Chat Over Coffee

Amy’s Penny-pinching Picnic Pretties at A Chat Over Coffee

Amy set the stage by covering the picnic tables with disposable table covering printed in a red & white gingham pattern.

The picnic tables were covered with gingham printed coverings and adorned with flowers. | A Chat Over Coffee

The picnic tables were covered with gingham printed coverings and adorned with flowers. | A Chat Over Coffee

She added centerpieces of white & pale yellow flowers and greenery…

Amy used pinwheels and gingham bandanas to add summery style to the centerpieces. | A Chat Over Coffee

Amy used pinwheels and gingham bandanas to add summery style to the centerpieces. | A Chat Over Coffee

…then added summer flair with hand-made paper pinwheels and cute little fabric bandanas that she cut from gingham fabric using pinking shears.

Make decorative pinwheels from heavy colored paper, dollar store pencils, and push pins. A Chat Over Coffee

Make decorative pinwheels from heavy colored paper, dollar store pencils, and push pins. A Chat Over Coffee

The simple, inexpensive garland added huge visual impact in a large picnic shelter. (And contrary to how it may look in the picture, she is standing on a small step ladder, not the table!)

Amy's clever garland made a huge visual impact at the picnic. | A Chat Over Coffee

Amy’s clever garland made a huge visual impact at the picnic. | A Chat Over Coffee

Amy made each “flag” of the garland from three sheets of 8 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ paper. She used a die cut machine (a large punch would also work) to punch stars in 2/3 of the sheets. Then she sandwiched a sheet of plain paper between two punched pages so the color would show through.

Amy is so talented that she can turn paper and kitchen twine into an amazing patriotic garland! | A Chat Over Coffee

Amy is so talented that she can turn paper and kitchen twine into an amazing patriotic garland! | A Chat Over Coffee

She punched a single small hole in the center of the top of each stack of three sheets and tied them with kitchen twine, leaving enough twine on each “flag” to tie the flags to the main strand of the garland. I thought this was a very clever way to turn affordable supplies into a stunning decoration.

Amy carried the patriotic picnic theme to the buffet line with a cute basket and flatware canisters. | A Chat Over Coffee

Amy carried the patriotic picnic theme to the buffet line with a cute basket and flatware canisters. | A Chat Over Coffee

Even the table set up for the pitch-in buffet was decorated. Amy draped a picnic basket with gingham fabric and added a line of rope around the open top.

Here's a close up of the mini picnic garland. | A Chat Over Coffee

Here’s a close up of the mini picnic garland. | A Chat Over Coffee

She used white spring clothes pins to clip on the letters P-I-C-N-I-C, which she had stenciled on white paper, trimmed, and mounted on red paper. The picnic basket held the plates so they were ready to be filled with yummy picnic food supplied by the church members.

These flatware canisters are adorable as well as practical. | A Chat Over Coffee

These flatware canisters are adorable as well as practical. | A Chat Over Coffee

Flatware was stashed nearby in new 1 quart paint cans! Amy purchased the clean, empty paint cans and wrapped them in burlap and ribbon. Decorating paint can flatware holders would be a great way to use up fabric remnants, then after the party the cans could be “undecorated” and used for their intended purpose. Amy does a lot of painting around the church and is known for her ability to mix colors, so I strongly suspect the flatware canisters will become paint cans again in the future!

What's a picnic without plenty of watermelon? | A Chat Over Coffee

What’s a picnic without plenty of watermelon? | A Chat Over Coffee

The desserts were set on a separate table. Of course we had plenty of fresh watermelon! My friend Sara also found cute red, white, and blue decorated cupcakes at a local bakery. While I appreciate the talent of professional cake decorators and the convenience of simply picking things up at the bakery, if I have the time I do like to make and decorate cupcakes myself. (I didn’t have the time before this picnic, so I’m glad Sara brought these patriotic cupcakes for us. I love cupcakes!)

My friend Sara found the cute cupcakes at a local bakery but they would be easy to make. | A Chat Over Coffee

My friend Sara found the cute cupcakes at a local bakery but they would be easy to make. | A Chat Over Coffee

If you’d like to decorate similar cupcakes yourself you will need a decorating bag to hold the icing (regular or disposable), a coupler, a large star tip, colored sprinkles (or colored vanilla sugar), and whatever trinket (these rings light up) you’d like to add to the top. The initial outlay for the decorating supplies is easily recovered after a couple of parties where you make the cupcakes instead of buying them.

If you don’t know how to assemble a decorating bag with icing, there are tons of videos on YouTube. The effect on these cupcakes was made by setting up the bag with a large star tip and simply piping on the frosting in a spiral. The tip does all of the work to make the rosette pattern. The all you have to do is add a few sprinkles or some colored sugar and top with a ring or other trinket.

I’d like to thank Amy for allowing me to share her great ideas with all of you. If you have questions for her, please leave them in the comments so I can pass them along and get back to you with her answers.

Amy's Penny-pinching Picnic Pretties at A Chat Over Coffee

Amy’s Penny-pinching Picnic Pretties at A Chat Over Coffee

Update: This post was shared at The Art of Home-Making Mondays #107 and Happiness is Homemade #123.

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One response to “Penny-pinching Picnic Pretties (Perfect Patriotic Party Partners!)

  1. Pingback: I Can’t Wait to Tell You… | A Chat Over Coffee·

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