How to Throw the Ultimate Back-to-School Bash

Belgard Aug 13

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August is upon us once more. For many of us, that means the kids are heading back to school. Doesn’t it seem like June was just kicking off a season of family adventure? Time flies when you’re having fun in the sun!

After months of warm weather and long summer nights, why not take one more chance to celebrate the season and send the kids off in style? Just because school is starting, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the last of summer. Make August your time to throw the ultimate back-to-school bash!

A lot goes into planning a party, but thankfully, we’ve got all you need to make the process easy, quick, and fun! Check out these five steps and have the best back-to-school party on the block.

1. Center on summer

When planning your back-to-school bash, make sure you channel the season. Summer might not be over, but for the kids, heading back to school pretty much marks the end of summer fun. So, make this no ordinary outdoor party… you’re celebrating the end of summer, the kids starting another year of school, and all of the wonderful fun you’ve had together these past few months.

Emphasize the best parts of the season, like the warm weather, long nights and of course, the perfect time to be outside. You know what that means…. get outdoors! Put your yard to use and center the party around your landscape’s best features—whether that be the pool, the patio, or the yard. There’s no better way to say goodbye to summer than making it the focal point of your party. Get everyone out of the house and enjoy the sun!

2. Choose your theme

Every great party starts with a great theme, and back-to-school parties are no different. In order to make decorating easy, choose a theme and stick to it.

Do you want to have a barbeque? Grab some checkered tablecloths and mason jars. Or maybe you’d rather pretend you’re at the beach and have a luau around the pool. In that case, think Hawaii– leis, tiki torches, the whole deal. Don’t really feel like going all out on decorations? No problem! Check out our tips for lighting up your hardscape for an easy way to add some flair to your backyard!

3. Make a menu

It isn’t a party until you break out the food and drinks, so take time developing your menu. Highlight your family’s summer favorites: BBQ chicken, burgers, fruit salad, and more. There’s no need to hide inside while everyone else is enjoying the sun… put your grill to use and cook outdoors with your family and friends!

Make sure you consult the kids about kid-friendly options—it is their last hurrah, after all. Get them involved and come up with “kid-cook” options that they can prepare too. And of course, don’t forget dessert. Need some inspiration? Check out our Salted Caramel Ice Cream recipe, or whip up some s’mores!

4. Plan activities

One of the best parts of summer is the endless list of outdoor activities you can do. Plan some fun summer games for your back-to-school bash. Want to get an expert’s opinion? Ask the kids! They are the masters of fun.

In the mean time, here are a few suggestions for you: If you’re having a pool party, enjoy a game of Marco Polo or set up water races. Winners get a prize, like a piece of candy! If a luau strikes your fancy, do the limbo or have a hula contest. Cornhole (bag toss) is great for barbeques, and water balloons are guaranteed fun for any theme. Be creative, and remember, get outside!

5. Have a blast

Planning and hosting a party can be overwhelming. Make sure to take a deep breath and enjoy your time with your family and friends. After all, that’s what this celebration is all about!

Remember that going back to school marks a big time for the kids. New teachers, new classmates and new subjects can be a lot of exciting changes all at once! So soak in the sun, reminisce with them about your favorite summer memories, and cherish your time together. Summer only comes once a year, and this is it for the kids. Send them off with a bang, and get ready for the fun the school year brings!

What to Know About Lighting Up Your Hardscape

Your patio looks great. Your furniture is spiffy and your outdoor cushions compliment each other. Your garden has grown into a green goddess of gardening perfection.

The only thing missing? The lights!

Belgard Light Post

What good is your outdoor paradise if you can’t enjoy it on a beautiful summer night? With so many big features to focus on—brick layout, grill options, fireplace structure—many outdoor enthusiasts forget that lighting is a key feature in creating the ultimate backyard living experience.

Why are lights so important? Well, besides making sure you don’t trip on your way to your Belgard Brick Oven, lighting can enhance your hardscape. It’s all about what you’re in the mood to do. Do you want to show off your perfectly pruned garden? Are you having an evening soiree with friends and family?

Don’t worry. Whatever your desire, we’ve got all you need to know about setting the mood in your hardscape.

If you’re in the mood to… Highlight Your Garden

Just because it’s dark outside, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show off your garden! Canopy lights are a perfect way to illuminate your plants and flowers once the sun goes down. These lights sit on an 18-24 inch post and can add a decorative element to your garden. Use low voltage lights, which are easy to install. You can even bury the cable beneath the dirt! Don’t want to deal with cables? Use solar lights!

If you’re in the mood to… Highlight Your Hardscape

Your garden isn’t the only thing that needs showing off! What about that great patio? For general landscape and hardscape lighting, spotlights can be very useful. Spotlights are used for a number of lighting techniques, including highlighting and uplighting. Highlighting is often used to illuminate trees by placing a spotlight near the base. Uplighting involves placing spotlights close to the base of a fixture (like a home or special hardscape feature) and creates a dramatic yet welcoming effect.

If you’re in the mood to… Light the Way

Lighting up your pathway is both a practical and aesthetic way to enhance your hardscape. The good news about path lighting? There are so many options. The bad news about path lighting? There are so many options! Perhaps you’d like to create a backyard beach paradise with tiki torches. Or maybe you’re more into the rustic, medieval look with lanterns. Or you love the traditional, tried and true canopy path lights. Whatever your style is, think about the mood you’re trying to create and use variety. For example, if your pathway is lined primarily with green, try using a bamboo path light to add some contrast. Avoid placing lights in a straight line or too close together. You wouldn’t want your path to look like a runway!

If you’re in the mood to… Have a Party

Who isn’t in the mood to have a party when the weather is warm? Don’t fret about complicated decorations – use lights instead! Lighting is an easy way to give your hardscape a festive atmosphere. Once again, it’s all about your mood. Use paper lanterns for a pop of color and a fun loving, youthful vibe. Or, have a southern soiree by placing candles or twinkling lights in mason jars for your backyard barbeque. Use your tiki torch path lights for a Luau! Want to take the romantic route? Candles are the way to go. Also, string lights can spruce up your hardscape, too. They come in several designs—butterflies, twinkling, standard Christmas style—and can be used for a variety of occasions.

If you’re in the mood to… Feel the Fire

We can’t talk about lighting without talking about fireplaces! What better way to light up the night than basking in the warm, natural glow of your fireplace? Fireplaces go with every occasion – pool parties, romantic dinners, family barbeques, or just relaxing and enjoying the outdoors! Cuddle up with your honey, tell ghost stories with the kids, and indulge in some s’mores, all the while taking in your landscape in the firelight. Don’t have a fireplace? See what we have to offer!

As you can see, lighting is all about your mood. What’s the occasion? The theme? The energy? Whatever you’re trying to accomplish with lighting decor, have fun when using this versatile method to set the mood in your landscape!

Have more hardscape lighting questions or suggestions? Share them in the comments! We’d love to chat about it with you.

How to Host a Great Easter Egg Hunt

Flowers are blooming, the trees are gearing up to provide us with shade and both spring and summer holidays are right around the corner. As you’re preparing for outdoor celebrations, don’t overlook Easter as a great opportunity to invite guests over for an afternoon Easter Egg hunt!

Here’s a tip: after you figure out how many little hunters you’ll have, multiply that number by ten or twelve. That will give the kids plenty of treats to feast upon as well as trinkets to play with (especially for those concerned about inadvertently creating a legion of sugar-crazed children, substitute small toys or coins for candy).

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Now for the actual hunt. Here are some fun alternatives to the traditional egg hunt:

Make it feel like a mission. Have each participating kid find one or two of each color egg and once they complete their mission, they can turn in their eggs to the host for a prize, like a sweet 401k (just kidding, go for something like a coloring book and some markers or crayons, or a fun game that they can play with their whole family).

Along with candy, trinkets and coins, feel free to put messages with something inspirational or kind written on them! If you want to tailor the notes to specific kids, assign each kid a specific color. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, use different colors of yarn for each kid to weave a treasure map around the yard. That way, they’ll get exactly what they’re meant to and each kid will feel as important as they truly are (and there won’t be any brawls over who found the egg first).

Who says kids get to have all of the fun? Have an adult team up with each kid (it can be a parent, aunt, uncle, cousin or older sibling) and search together. Hide some of the eggs in hard-to-reach places and when the little ones spot a bright color in a strange spot, their grownup sidekick can put the kid on their shoulders so they can reach it. Plus, they get to feel like they’re seven feet tall for a few seconds, which is nothing short of exhilarating.

Great news: you don’t have to break the bank to have a successful, thoroughly enjoyable hunt in your outdoor living space. When it comes to having fun, kids are certified professionals, and with fun adults to facilitate these kinds of adventures, they’re bound to have an unforgettable time.

 

Contractor’s Corner: 2013 Hardscape North America

Contractors play a pivotal role in helping homeowners bring their outdoor living visions to life. Each month, we’ll offer a Contractor’s Corner post to share tips to help our contractor partners offer even more to homeowners and their landscapes.


We’re gearing up for the 2013 Hardscape North America (HNA) show October 23 through 25 in Louisville, Ky.

Join us at the booth #1216 and see the winning designs of the 2013 Belgard HNA Design Challenge contest.

This year’s nationwide design challenge drew innovative entries from all over the country. We selected four winners with the best design that utilized Belgard products in the following categories: Patio, Outdoor Kitchen, Driveway, and Pool Deck.

Did your design win? Find out at HNA and see how Belgard converted the 2-D entries into 3-D video presentations using the Belgard Design Studio, which contractors can access to bring outdoor space renderings to life for their customers.

Find out more about Belgard Design Studio at the Belgard booth or by visiting http://belgarddesignstudio.com.

Sunset Celebration Weekend Preview

We’re are so excited to be participating again in Sunset Celebration Weekend, a weekend event presented by Sunset magazine celebrating the best in gardening, decorating and cooking.

The Belgard booth #319 is located between the Travel Stage and the Wine Seminars. Many Belgard products will be on display including more than a dozen styles of pavers and wall block along with a fire pit, a fireplace from the Belgard Elements Collection and a Chicago Brick Oven.

Local Belgard Authorized Contractor Black Diamond Paver Stones & Landscape will be on-site to help you start planning your outdoor living project with Belgard.

We’ll also be helping Sunset create a permanent display outside of the Sunset Home Reimagined, a celebration of iconic Sunset spaces from 1940-1980 created by a team of talented designers.

Plus, be sure to stop by our booth to find out how you can get $500 off a Chicago Brick oven. We can’t wait to see you there!

Contractor’s Corner: Belgard University

Contractors play a pivotal role in helping homeowners bring their outdoor living visions to life. Each month, we’ll offer a Contractor’s Corner post to share tips to help our contractor partners offer even more to homeowners and their landscapes.

Staying ahead of the learning curve is essential to growing your business and Belgard University offers contractors an opportunity to expand their hardscape knowledge with both classroom and hands-on industry training.

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Benefits include:
• Learn about innovative new products
• Earn industry certification
• Network with other industry professionals
• Participate in hands-on demonstrations
• Get insider tips on installation and industry trends
• Learn about business and marketing programs to help you succeed

New this year, a number of Belgard University events will feature Design Workshops hosted by industry leading expert and television personality Haig Seferian. Presentation topics include Design Principles and Elements, Form Composition, “Do’s and Don’ts,” and the “Golden Rules of Landscape Design.” Gain a thorough understanding of the design process and put those skills to work by creating individual designs while working directly with Haig and Belgard reps.

Registration is open for Belgard University events across the country:

Belgard University – Phoenix, AZ
Date: February 19, 2013
Venue: The Waterfront
5350 South Lakeshore Drive
Tempe, AZ 85283

Belgard University – Las Vegas, NV
Date: February 21, 2013
Venue: University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
8050 Paradise Road, Suite 105
Las Vegas, NV 89123

Belgard University – Southern California
Date: February 26, 2013
Venue: Sierra an Oldcastle Company
10714 Poplar Avenue
Fontana, CA 92337

Belgard University – Northern California
Date: February 28, 2013
Venue: Sierra an Oldcastle Company
4202 Gibraltar CT
Stockton, CA 95206

Belgard University – Overland Park, KS
Date: March 5, 2013
Venue: The Ritz Charles
9000 West 137th Street
Overland Park, KS 66221

Belgard University – Cleveland, OH
Date: March 14, 2013
Venue: Cuyahoga Community College
TBD
Cleveland, OH 44115

Belgard University – Addison, IL
Date: March 21, 2013
Venue: Medinah Banquets
550 N. Shriners Drive
Addison, IL 60101

Belgard University – Chaska, MN
Date: March 26, 2013
Venue: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Drive
Chaska, MN 55318

Belgard University – Menomonee Falls, WI
Date: March 28, 2013
Venue: Wacker Nueson
N92 W15000 Anthony Avenue
Menomonee Falls, WI 53051

Visit BelgardUniversity.com for more information.