Your long weekend entertaining just got cooler with these eco-friendly products, recipes, and party tips.

What better way to get into the end-of-the-summer spirit than with entertaining tips straight from our nation’s capital? Mekdim Yemane, director of sales and marketing at The Melrose Hotel in Washington, D.C., showcases her entertaining with colorful décor ideas and playful American pastimes, while Executive Chef Nate Lindsay of the hotel’s Jardenea restaurant dishes on a mouth-watering salad and a frosty cocktail to refresh your guests’ palates. Pair these with an eco-friendly tablescape and you’ve got yourself a party.

Play some outdoor games

For outdoor soirées, encourage guests to mingle by scattering large floor cushions on the lawn. Keep with the patriotic theme and buy ones with festive prints, such as bold nautical stripes and playful red polka dots. Another idea: Celebrate America’s favorite leisure activities by filling large containers with decorative green grass and laying sports equipment on top that guests can actually play with, like baseballs and bats, footballs, and red and blue croquet balls.

Labor Day Decorations

Start with a colorful runner and build a charming centerpiece by alternating between bowls filled with red peonies floating in water and ice bowls filled with upright red, white, and blue ice pops and pinwheels. Then, create easy place settings by writing each guest’s name on paper cones and filling them with Cracker Jacks. To make your own paper holders, cut a decorative piece of card stock or other sturdy paper to measure 7.5-by-11 inches. Simply twist each into a cone shape and use double-stick tape to hold the shape together.

Themed drinks and cocktails

For an elegant touch, fill the punch bowl with fruit-filled ice and ice rings. Try using blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, rose petals, and edible white flowers to stay with the red, white, and blue theme. Use a bundt pan to make thicker ice rings that won’t melt as quickly in the hot sun.


Blue Harvest Cocktail

  • 2 oz. American Harvest vodka
  • ½ oz. Organic Blue Curacao
  • ½ oz. white cranberry juice
  • 1 lime
  • Hint of agave nectar
  • 1 raspberry
  • 1 American flag toothpick
  • Red sugar sprinkles
Squeeze half of the lime into a shaker and add vodka, Blue Curacao, and white cranberry juice. Fill the shaker halfway with ice and shake for 10 to15 seconds. Rim a chilled highball glass with red sugar. Cut a wedge out of the other half of the lime and dip it in agave nectar. Garnish the glass with the American flag toothpick, lime wedge, and raspberry.

Avocado and Blue Lump Crab Tian – yields 4 servings

Avocado and Blue Lump Crab Tian
  • 2 Hass avocados
  • ½ lb. lump crabmeat, picked through
  • 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ lb. field greens
  • ½ red pepper, diced small
  • ½ yellow pepper, diced small
  • 16 grape tomatoes
  • 4 oz. A L’Olivier truffle vinaigrette
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
In a small mixing bowl, combine the peppers, mayo, lemon juice, cilantro, 1 oz. of truffle vinaigrette, and crab meat. Lightly toss to combine, then season with salt and pepper. Split both avocados in half and remove the pits. Carefully peel off the skin and slice into thin, lengthwise pieces and fan out. Place a spoonful of crab mix into the center of each avocado half. Add salad greens, tomatoes, peppers, and dressing.

1. Rwanda Basket 12-inch New Spirit Fruit Bowl Handcrafted by Rwandan women artisans, this basket is naturally dyed sisal coil sewn over bundled sweet grass ($40).

2. Sailboat Bottle Caddy Made from recycled steel and copper, this whimsical piece holds a wine bottle horizontally on deck ($82).

3. Paradise Linen Table Runner in Spice/Cherry This hand-printed and -sewn, preshrunk Italian linen is made with eco-friendly, water-based inks ($70).

Editorial Note: This article originally appeared in the June/July 2013 edition of Ocean Home magazine.

Image Credits: Scott Schuman.