Growing up, the Fourth of July was a big deal: Our town had a kids’ bike parade, and my dad and I spent days decking out my two-wheeler with flags sticking up from the handlebars and streamers threaded through the wheels.
While I still love the idea of a celebratory outdoor fete to kick off the summer, I have unfortunately outgrown that two-wheeler. Now, I like the idea of something a little subtler than red, white, and blue everything—and bonus points if it’s eco-friendly.
These simple patriotic decorations take only a few minutes to put together for a July fete, and many are reusable —no disposable flag napkins here. Pick one for an understated, sophisticated take on the Fourth, or choose a bunch of outdoor decorations for a blowout barbecue.
Here’s how to deck out your space in style:
1. Let flowers do the hard work.
Here’s an idea that can last all summer long. As a nature-inspired twist on Americana décor, fill your Fourth of July fete with bunches of white and blue flowers—tink delphinium or even delicate feverfew. They’ll look laid-back and summery with a nod to the colors of the day. Even better: Plant a few in pots, so they can adorn your porch, front steps, or window boxes long past Independence Day.
2. Mix and match linens.
There’s something nostalgic about the disposable red and white vinyl tablecloths of childhood barbecues. But for a 2019 celebration, opt for linens you can reuse all summer long. Mix and match patterns—stripes, ginghams, tiny florals—in red, white, and blue hues for maximum festivity. Or, go monochrome, and set tables in many hues of blue, like indigo, pale blue, and cornflower.
3. Hang lanterns.
Hang round, white paper lanterns for an instant party. They’re festive just the way they are, but if you want to go extra patriotic, splatter and stripe them with red or blue paint.
4. Upgrade streamers.
For a modern (and more lasting) take on streamers, make a DIY minimalist wall hanging. All you need is a wooden dowel, a length of string, and several spools of ribbon in colors and textures of your choice. Follow the detailed instructions for a muted, shades-of-white wall hanging from blogger Autumn Sorelle, or opt for shades of blue or red—or, all three, if you want to go all out. You can even hang it on your door in lieu of a wreath.
5. Offer up a throwback.
This idea doubles as décor and a party activity—or a favor for guests to take home. Stack a tiny box of matches atop a boxes of sparklers and tie with red, white, or blue ribbons. Then, place a bucket of them outside (or at each place setting), for lighting once the sun sets.
6. Take advantage of what’s in season.
The Fourth of July happens to coincide with some of the summer’s most delicious—and most patriotic-hued—produce. Slip skewers of blackberries and raspberries in cocktails. Arrange blueberries and strawberries atop a cake (flag design optional). Or, just set out heaping bowls of berries and whipped cream for an easy patriotic dessert.
7. Dress up glasses.
Help guests keep track of their drink by distributing patriotic stickers—flags, stars, fireworks—to stick on their glass. Bonus: It’ll make glassware look extra festive. (When the party’s over, use rubbing alcohol or a little Goo Gone to remove any sticky residue.)
8. Dip-dye flatware.
Forego plastic cutlery in favor of wooden flatware that’s easily customizable for the Fourth. Dip the handles into sample-sized cans of red, white, blue, and even gold or silver paint, varying how deeply you submerge each one, for a homemade color-block effect. (Note: Look for food-safe paint, if you can; otherwise, just be sure the paint is only on the handles. The paint means the cutlery can no longer be composted, but tell guests to remember which dip-dyed knife and fork is theirs to help cut down on waste. Or, use washi tape instead, and peel off before composting.)
9. Let the drinks double as décor.
A simple Fourth of July party idea: Knot red, white, and blue kerchiefs around beer bottles in lieu of koozies. If you want to go all out, print your own label with a cheeky Fourth of July-themed pun (“red, white, and brew”...?) and stick over the original wine and beer labels.
10. Tassels, tassels, tassels.
Upgrade this year’s bunting with a 2019 trend: tassels. In lieu of triangles, use thin strips of fabric or yarn to create red, white, or blue tassels, then string onto a long ribbon (alternating colors, or sticking to one hue for a minimalist look), and deck out your living room, porch, or party.
11. Opt for subtly starred-and-striped throws and blankets.
No party plans? Get your interiors ready for the Fourth with a few simple details like throws and pillows: think subtle blue stripes or pillows patterned with stars. They can easily be swapped out once the holiday has passed—or, if you stick to a simple palette, they’ll be summery enough to keep out all summer long.
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