Varying the heights of your table display will add depth and variety to your arrangement. Photo: Christopher Lowell.
Looking for a unique take-home gift for your Independence Day party guests? Try filling white bags with fresh cherries and tying the top of the bag with a patriotic ribbon. Guests will enjoy the fresh snack while remembering your amazing holiday party.
Fabulous Fourth of July Decor
Designers share their secrets for unique Independence Day decorating ideas.
- by Trisha McBride Ferguson
Summer brings with it many opportunities for decorating and entertaining, including everyone’s favorite July holiday: Independence Day. We asked three top designers—Sandra Espinet, Christopher Lowell and Kathy Peterson—for their favorite Fourth of July décor tips, and their ideas are as fresh and inspiring as expected.
Set the Tone
From a formal affair in the dining room to an outdoor gathering on your patio, your décor choices help set the tone of your event. “As an expat living in Mexico, this is an important group holiday,” explains Sandra Espinet, a Los Cabos-based interior designer. “For me, it has to be an outdoor celebration. I prefer casual holidays because people are more open and comfortable and things can be fun—and I like daytime parties!”
This is certainly the one holiday where you can’t have too much red, white or blue. From table linens and floral arrangements to a strawberry and blueberry dessert—your color scheme is pretty much a given. “Colors are an important part of any party,” adds Espinet, who favors blue and white china on top of red chargers with white tablecloths and linens.
Whether you host your event outside or in, the center of most every party is the food table. Spending the majority of your time and budget decorating this area will earn you maximum returns. Here are some colorful ideas to get your guests talking about your tables.
- Scintillating Centerpieces: “One of my top design secrets for creating a stunning tablescape is to grab several square clear glass containers of identical height and fill them with themed items to create a "hedge" down the center of your table,” says author and design guru Christopher Lowell. “For Fourth of July, fill the containers with clear and transparent blue glass stones and add small American flags or red carnations for a red, white and blue bang! For those of you over-achievers, take tall glass cylinders and fill them up with red apples, adding white carnations and wrap each container with a thick blue ribbon.”
- Custom Creations:If you want to ensure your party has an entirely unique look, get creative. “I love making my own tablecloths for a custom look,” says outdoor furnishings and design expert Kathy Peterson, who reaches 15 to 30 million households each week through her national TV series Town & Country Crafts with Kathy Peterson. If you sew, try layering two solid tablecloths, like red and white or white and blue, and mixing in one print—perhaps a bold stripe or star print, suggests Peterson. Handmade place cards crafted from red paper and white ink also add a custom touch, says Peterson. She completes the look by adding white bags filled with fresh cherries for guests to enjoy.
- Festive Florals: When it comes to decorating, fresh flowers are an easy way to bring in vibrant color. “For a striking centerpiece, purchase or create an arrangement of all red flowers in a white or white and blue vessel,” suggests Espinet. Peterson also likes using red flowers, and suggests displaying them using an odd number (3, 5 or 7) of white teacups and saucers, filling them with red flowers and lining them down the center of the table.
- Neat Napkins: “For napkins, I like using red or blue hand towels instead of cloth or paper napkins; then neatly roll and secure with white or patriotic ribbon,” says Peterson. For a casual look, she suggests using oversized navy blue bandannas placed on point for placemats, and smaller red bandannas as napkins. Another idea to dress up a plain napkin is to print a small picture of a flag, wrap it around the napkin like a band and seal it with tape, suggests Espinet.
- Vary the Heights:Varying the heights of your table display will add depth and variety to your arrangement. “For a more tantalizing presentation, use lifts and levels of varying heights to display your dishes,” says Lowell. “Everything from tin flower pots turned upside down to glass cylinders topped with platters or plates can easily be combined with a little hot glue to create an oh-so-clever spread that will have your guests wondering: ‘Why didn't I think of that?’”
The Fourth of July offers the most dramatic lighting ever: sparklers. Espinet recommends placing sparklers strategically around the party area, as well as bringing out a dessert decorated with lit sparklers at dusk.
Twinkling white lights are another unique light source that can be used to create amazing tablescapes. Peterson employs twinkling white lights to create a one-of-a-kind, two-tiered display using wine glasses and a sturdy glass table top. “The twinkle lights shine beautifully under this display and will be the talk of the party—especially at night.”