I recently hosted a farewell party for friends who are off to enjoy a sabbatical year in Spain. To make sure they had a big dose of the USA before they left, we had an All-American BBQ with lots of red, white and blue…which was a great warm-up for July 4th!
Here are some food, beverage and decorating ideas to steal for YOUR patriotic party:
Cherries that Pack a Punch
I found this idea on Pinterest and it was a hit! Even better, it was super easy to make: empty the juice from a jar of maraschino cherries and replace it with vanilla vodka and let sit for 24-48 hours. Remove the cherries, gently pat them dry and dip into melted white chocolate and blue sanding sugar. Don’t they remind you of the Pepsi logo? Once you remove the cherries from the jar, I found the remaining maraschino cherry-infused vanilla vodka made for a yummy grown-up Shirley Temple.
Not Your Kid’s J-E-L-L-O
Jell-O shots are typically found at college parties, but these were just too cute to resist. Each layer is made with the appropriately colored Jello-O and a clear spirit. You can find a full tutorial here. Two things to keep in mind:
–Leave enough time to make these! Since the colored layers are “stacked”, you’ll need to make the first layer and let it set for 60-90 minutes; then the second layer… I found the longer I let each layer set in the frig, the firmer they were.
Say it with a B A N N E R
I’ve recently become a fan of banners as a way to reinforce the party theme—and to fill up a large space! To highlight the banner & to add some additional color, I hung a paper foil garland above it. (If your banner is visible from both sides, don’t forget to decorate the front and the back!)
(Why does the banner say ‘Adios Ragaglis’? The party was a send-off for the Ragagli family who is headed to Spain.)
Small Touches Make a Big Impact
Once in a while, I head to the local dollar store to see what I can find. I hit the jackpot and found lots of patriotic items for—wait for it!—a dollar! Actually, I purchased several American flags that cost $1.99 each. The material was very thin, but it was perfect for decorating. I stocked up on red, white and blue pinwheels, ribbons and beads and used them to embellish existing plants and other items I had in the yard. As always, the key is restraint or you run the risk of looking like a parade float! 🙂
I Love Letters
Yep, more letters! This time they were plain wooden ones that I spray painted and trimmed with washi tape. I had a driftwood wreath that I decorated with a variety of stars from the dollar store. I attached everything with ribbon or wire, so I could reuse the wreath.
It’s Hard to Find Blue Flowers
I think every party needs some flowers, so I set out in search of them. Red roses, white spider mums…no problem! Blue hydrangeas? Criminy! They were hard to find…and died the very next day!
Other Party Learnings…
Gin Trumps Arnold Palmer with Attitude
I used to think Sweet Tea Vodka with Lemonade was a perfect summer cocktail. No more! My guests passed it over in favor of gin muddled with basil, mint and cucumber and topped with Lemon Pelligrino. Go figure!
It is Better to Do Five Things Well than Ten that are Half Done
You know when you’re getting ready for a party and you desperately need a few extra hours? That was me for this party! When the guests of honor arrived, I was frazzled. I can list all the reasons why I wasn’t ready, but no matter. It was a good reminder that I would’ve been better off doing fewer things and having everything ready when the guests arrived.
Get the Kids Involved
Whenever we entertain, I always like to involve the kids so they have some skin in the game. My daughter mixed up some chalk paint and decorated the sidewalk leading up to our front door.
Let’s hear it for the red, white and blue! Here’s hoping your July 4th party is as much fun as this one was!