Interior Design

13 Easy & Elevated Decorating Ideas for Your 4th of July

Because throwing a festive party doesn't have to be exhausting.

June 25, 2021
Photo by Mark Weinberg

When you think of Fourth of July decor, don’t let your mind go straight to plastic tablecloths, paper plates, and mini American flags. Of course, we hang Old Glory with pride, but we also like to find ways to create a festive ambiance without the kitsch or the waste.

Instead of highly themed accessories that you’ll only use once—or at the very least, once a year—look for timeless tabletop and patio finds in red, white, and blue (but not necessarily all three together) that can be used throughout the season.

From tabletop accessories to party-ready design accents, here are our favorite Fourth of July decorating finds and ideas:

Set the table

1. A tablecloth to set the scene

Your dining table is often the largest surface in your outdoor entertaining space, so a tablecloth is an impactful piece of your decor. Stick to patterns with only two of the three patriotic colors (red and white or blue and white), so you can use it long after the holiday has passed. We especially love classic stripes, windowpane designs, and Buffalo checks.

2. Fun & festive napkins

To make your table setting more dynamic, mix and match your napkins to the tablecloth. For example, if you opted for a blue and white checked cloth, you could layer on solid red napkins or dainty red and white floral ones.

3. A cute caddy for utensils

If you’re hosting a buffet instead of a sit-down meal, a caddy filled with utensils rolled up in napkins can do double-duty as decor.

Light it Right

4. Illumination you can take anywhere

Forget the camping lanterns you remember from the past, today’s rechargeable lights are more than just a practical necessity—they add style to the table. The warm glow of the orb can illuminate even the furthest corners of the yard.

5. String lighting for ambiance

Anyone who has dined at a café patio knows the power of string lights to transform a space. The glowing strands create a “ceiling” over your outdoor dining room and offer soft, mellow light.

6. Colorful candlelight

Electric lamps are great for creating foundational light for your fête, but layering in real candles will add sparkle to your lighting scheme. Mix red, white, and blue tapers and your table will look instantly festive.

Add some life

7. Flowers & a killer vase

An arrangement of fresh flowers (try The Bouqs or Terrain to have them delivered) is the go-to table decor for a reason: It’s naturally gorgeous. For the Fourth, look for blossoms in the patriotic palette, but keep it natural (no blue-dyed carnations, pretty please); instead opt for blue hydrangeas or bachelor button, red-hued sunflowers or dahlias, and anything with white petals, including a big, luscious bunch of baby’s breath.

8. A fab fruit bowl

As an alternative to the usual bouquet, consider displaying a bowl of fruit as a centerpiece. Look for a sculptural, footed bowl and fill it with seasonal fruit like strawberries, peaches, or apricots.

9. Potted plants for extra credit

Your patio will thank you if you bring home a few potted plants to enhance your Fourth of July celebration. A charming red or white geranium potted in a terracotta pot subtly continues the Fourth of July color scheme.

Turn practical pieces into decorative touches

10. Pretty paper fans

Keep guests cool with folding paper fans that they can take home as a party favor. To make them part of your decor, display them in a bucket or lay them out unfurled on the dining table for extra visual punch.

11. Scented citronella coils

Keep the mosquitoes at bay with these quirky, eye-catching mosquito coils. Hang a few for wide-ranging protection; the repeating shapes will add to the festive mood.

Don’t forget the fun!

12. Beautiful bunting

Garlands are an easy way to dress up the vertical space of your patio. Etsy is a great source for all sorts of bunting, including tissue paper tassels, pom-pom strands, and charming handmade fabric banners.

13. Retro honeycomb

Summon the spirit of an old-school parade with honeycomb paper fans and balls. These inexpensive decorations have a big visual impact, but fold down flat for easy storage until next year’s celebration.

What are your go-to decorations for the Fourth of July? Let us know in the comments!

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Laura Fenton

Written by: Laura Fenton

Laura Fenton is the No Space Too Small columnist at Food52. The author of The Little Book of Living Small, she covers home, design, and sustainability. Laura lives in Jackson Heights, Queens in a 690-square foot apartment with her husband and son. You can follow her on Instagram @laura.alice.fenton.