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How to Make Easy 4th of July Table Decorations

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First, let me say if you want really easy 4th of July table decorations, go buy out the Dollar Store’s patriotic section. It’s there, trust me.  I do acknowledge that pre-made things already exist. But, like I talked about last week with simple red, white and blue foods, sometimes you want to participate in all the crafting fun the world has to offer. In this case, we’re going to go red, white and blue again, but instead of using twenty-five million tiny American flags, we’re going to look at the fastest ways to get junk on your table and make people think you’re creative.

The first rule of easy 4th of July table decorations is to keep it really simple. Why are you decorating your table at all? Probably because it’s going to have food on it, right? That, or you’ll be eating on it. Either way, if you cover the entire thing with decorations, you’re going to run out of room. I love looking at those beautiful tables from professional party planners, but they’re always so crowded. We don’t need a whole garden or miniature Revolutionary Battle field to feel festive. The second rule? Don’t stress too much. My Easter brunch table took me literally five minutes, without thinking, and it got lots of compliments. Sometimes I think busy people get graded on a curve, and I am totally okay with that.

Ideas for Easy 4th of July Table Decorations

The Tablecloth

Real frenzied hostesses don’t care about smoothing it out. 🙂

I’m not really a fan of the flag tablecloths, if I’m being honest. Too busy. You can probably find really nice reusable ones with less busy patterns, and maybe I’ll add that to my future goals, but right now my toddler likes to sit on the table and make a mess after everyone leaves. I’d rather throw said mess away. So, to start your easy 4th of July table decorations, you might as well start with some plastic tablecloths. That’s right, plural. Instead of picking one color and running with it, grab yourself one red, one white, and one blue. This will add a little patriotic splash without going overboard, and then you can use only one color of plates and silverware (or all patriotic ones) without feeling like you’re missing something.

The only issue here might be positioning. In theory, you should be fine to spread the three colors out evenly. That’s the easiest way, of course, and it’ll give you a nice balanced look. But, it is going to look a little like France’s flag if you go with blue, white, red. Okay, not a little. It’s going to look exactly like France’s flag. If your friends no nothing about foreign countries, that won’t matter. If they’re the type to call you out on it, you can point out France was our ally during the Revolutionary War. Or, you could simply put the colors in a different order. You can see from the picture that I did the red and white horizontally and the blue vertically. It took zero extra work. If you’re worried about overhang, just don’t unfold them all the way. Even easier.

Flowers

Fanciest flower arrangement ever, probably.

If I had time and energy, I would scour supermarket flowers until I found red, white and blue bouquets. That might be easy when it’s actually the 4th of July, I don’t know. I’ve never tried it before. I can tell you it’s definitely not easy in the beginning of June. You don’t necessarily need to get only red, white and blue. I mean, you can get a few different bouquets and pull out the ones you want, or just use colors that are close. Red is going to be easy. It’s the other two that are the problem.  There are probably plenty of blue and white flowers at a florist, but I can’t be bothered to go to a florist.

Luckily, there is always another option for flowers. That is, of course, fake flowers. Fake, fake, fake. I don’t even try looking for ones that seem realistic. They’re easy 4th of July tablecloth decorations, not your wedding centerpieces. You can buy a set of white, a set of blue, and a set of red, or you can find those specially made patriotic bunches. Then stuff them in a vase. You don’t need anything in the vase, even if it’s clear glass. But, if you’re scared of people seeing the fake stems, I’ve got one more idea for you.

Red, White and Blue Anything

No need to buy frosted glass vases when you have a paper bag to the rescue!

Great idea, am I right?  You can go to the dollar store and buy some of those balloon weights. They’re fancy. You can get yourself a cupcake stand and put the patriotic cupcakes you made in there, then stand it up like the beautiful centerpiece it deserves to be. Got some red, white and blue socks lying around? Get really crazy (and a little unsanitary) and throw those on there too. Who cares? What’s really important is what food you’re putting on the table, not what you’re decorating it with.

For the record, I don’t actually recommend socks as your easy 4th of July table decorations. I’m going with paper bags, no joke. They’re the kind I’m sure less busy people turn into luminaries or something, but they’ll just be hanging out on my table… with vases of fake flowers in them. Simple, right? It hides the fakeness of the stems while adding a little festiveness. You could also put the bags by themselves, or line them up. I tried all those ideas, but you are going to have to excuse my photography this week. I’m getting ready for maternity leave, so I’m extra swamped right now. I had about five minutes to get good shots, and it turns out I couldn’t do it. But hey, I could get the stuff on the table, so now you know they really are easy 4th of July table decorations.

Final Thoughts

You can wave your flag inside if you want – but please don’t serve food on it.

I know I’m a very busy person, but even if you’re not, don’t feel like you have to design a party people will talk about for years. Let’s face it, the only way you’re going to pull that off is if someone accidentally sets himself on fire. While that is pretty common, it shouldn’t be our goal. Out of my 31 4th of July holidays, I can only remember the decor from one of them, and that is because it was the first time I hosted the barbecue myself.  That doesn’t mean it’s not fun to make a party look good. It just means you don’t have to stress about it. And finally, if you only have time for one decoration, skip the whole table and wave your American flag. Yes, of course they’re available on Amazon.  Plus, it comes with a bonus: You can use it all year!

5 Tips for an Awesome Easter Brunch

5 Tips for an Awesome Easter Brunch

Making an awesome Easter brunch honestly isn’t that difficult, because even a regular brunch is awesome. I’ve talked about the basics before, and we’re going to stick with that outline, but add a theme. Easter’s kind of a strange holiday to figure out, isn’t it? Not the religious part – that part’s pretty easy. But the rest of it is just weird. We’ve got a giant bunny who for some reason delivers eggs. Who knows who he’s stealing all those eggs from, because I went to a biology class one time and I’m pretty positive rabbits don’t lay eggs.

Anyway, that’s not even what I’m talking about. I mostly mean it’s a Christmas-like holiday, but people don’t make it a travel priority if family isn’t close. Sometimes it coincides with spring break, other times it doesn’t. I didn’t do anything for Easter for many years because I didn’t have anyone to do it with. Now I’m close to my family again, and I have my own family to entertain, so I can make my own traditions. Brunch is definitely going to be one of them, whether I ever get around to making an Easter basket filled with bizarre bunny eggs or not. So, without further adieu, here are my 5 tips for an awesome Easter brunch.

1. Find a cool centerpiece – But don’t overdo it.

I’m not a super fan of cheesy decorations, but unless you’re going straight up Christian traditional only, Easter seems like a good time to be a little silly. Like I said, it involves an egg-laying bunny. I’ve seen many cool centerpieces online over the years. One simple one I like is just carrots in a vase, but you can get much crazier than that if you have time, especially if you already own a bunch of Easter decorations. Here’s another idea, and another. All fun, none too difficult. I moved a couple of weeks ago, and I’m very excited to have my dining room table out of storage, so I’ve already practiced my own. Let me know what you think, so if it’s terrible I have time to find something else!

Step 1: Buy junk at store. Step 2: Put junk in vases.

 

So, cool centerpieces are a must. But that doesn’t mean you should go crazy with the decorations. This is the Frenzied Hostess you guys, not the I Have So Much Time I’ll Knit Placemats for Every Attendee Hostess. If you’ve got that nice Easter wreath, I’m sure that’s already up, right? Or a few little decorations the kids put up, they’re fine too. That doesn’t mean you have to spend an extra hour or two of your precious time getting ready for one meal. Set the table, have a little fun with it, and let your awesome Easter brunch menu be the shining star.

2. Have an awesome Easter brunch menu.

Ha, bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you? You can serve one thing for brunch. You can do potluck. Or, you can knock it out of the park, and have your fruits, your sweets, your eggs, and your meats covered. Okay, skip the meat if you’re vegetarian. And the eggs if you’re a vegan. And the food if you’re a zombie. Don’t want to leave any eating plan out now. But the point is, have a few dishes that provide different tastes, and don’t skip the dessert, even if you are a zombie.  That doesn’t mean you need four complete dishes that will each take all day. It just means variety is the key.

Shockingly, I will have a little spare time this Easter because it coincides with the end of tax season. I will be as stressed as possible on Good Friday, but by Easter everything should be handled. Don’t worry, you still have until that Tuesday to file your taxes. Just don’t ask me to do it. I need a break. Anyway, since I have more time than usual I can actually focus on making something nice. But, I know that’s not the case for everyone, so to help you out I’m including three different cohesive menus. We’ve got the traditional, the fancy, and the fun. All of them have options for make-ahead on at least one dish. Still need help? You can always count on Martha Stewart.

Awesome Easter Brunch Menus

The Traditional

Biscuits with Jelly
Deviled Eggs
Ham
Hot Cross Buns or Pound Cake

Time Savers & Alternatives

You don’t have to hand make the biscuits, friends. Or the jelly. Just buy these things. Deviled eggs can be made the day before, morning of, whatever. They will be smelly either way, right? The hot cross buns can be done the day before in two different ways. One, you can cook them and warm them up on Easter. Two, you can make the dough, refrigerate it, and cook them the day of. I actually think this menu is the least time-consuming, even if you do have to use your oven a lot. But, if you really are in a pinch, combine your meat and egg dishes and have a ham scramble.

The Fancy

Fresh Fruit
Cheese and spinach quiche
Smoked salmon bagels or chicken salad croissants
Crepes

Time Savers and Alternatives

No time for quiche? Just do a casserole. Less fancy, same taste. Although, you can technically make quiche ahead if you want. Just form it and freeze it sometime before Easter and you’re good to go. Smoked salmon bagels are quite easy even though they look fancy, but I know not everyone’s a fan. If you prefer to do chicken salad instead, you’re in luck. That can be done the day before as well, and you have my permission to buy the croissants. Crepes sound complicated, but honestly, they’re pancakes, and no one needs to make pancakes in advance. You can skip fresh fruit altogether if you do a fruit filling with your crepes, and you can do the filling in advance. Extra time? Fancy up the fruit and put it in individual serving containers.

The Fun

Fruit kebabs or fun shaped fruit platter
Eggs in a hole
French toast sausage roll ups
Monkey Bread or Dirt Cake

Time Savers and Alternatives

First thing’s first:  If you’re a Pinterest user, look up “Easter fruit” to see what I’m talking about with that. Next thing: If you’re out of time, scrap the fruit platters and put it in a bowl! Eggs in a hole are pretty easy to do if you bake them. You can cut out the bread the night before. If your kids don’t like those, just scramble something up. Both monkey bread and dirt cake can be done in advance, but they’re also both super easy so you might not have to. The worst here is the french toast sausage roll ups, so if you’re really short and time but determined to do this, why not buy prepared pancakes and roll them around the sausage instead? It’s close enough.

3. Don’t forget about the drinks – alcoholic or not.

Do people usually drink on Easter? I don’t even know. I won’t be, but I’m knocked up, so I don’t count. My family members aren’t huge drinkers either, so I don’t think I’m going to be in a rush to buy a bunch of liquor. But, if you are, no judgment from me. My only concern is that you serve something nice. Now, I don’t like to invite people over for events and expect them to bring food, unless we specifically decided a potluck would be fun, but I do think it’s perfectly reasonable to have them bring drinks. It takes no effort to buy a carton of orange juice. Slightly more to buy a bottle of champagne if your ID doesn’t easily slide out of your wallet, but still, nothing too taxing. So don’t feel bad about assigning people drinks if you want.

Having other people bring them, doing it yourself, alcoholic, non-alcoholic, none of these things are terribly important. What is important is that the drinks are special. Sure, you can serve plain orange juice and milk. But what’s awesome about that? You don’t have to do anything complicated, but adding a little splash of color or something will certainly make for a more entertaining meal. Here’s a few alcoholic beverages that look exciting, and here’s a few that you could make for the kids. Serve one one fancy drink to go with your regular choices, and your guests will be dazzled. Or they’ll yawn, and get kicked off the guest list for next year’s awesome Easter brunch.

4. Use the good dishes. Make someone else clean them.

Hey, you’re doing all this work to make sure everyone has an awesome Easter brunch! Why should you have to cook and clean? I never use my good dishes. Literally, I mean never. They’re still in packaging. So this year I’m pulling out all the stops and embracing the terror that is allowing other people to use my nice things. (I’m just kidding you guys. If I trust you enough to have you for a meal, I trust you enough to hold a plate like a normal human being.) If you have your own nice dishes, might as well use them for this special occasion too, right? Even though paper plates would be so much less of a hassle…

But, here’s the thing about not having potlucks. It means the people you invited didn’t cook, they didn’t set out the beautiful centerpiece you found, and they aren’t going to be stuck with a pile of dishes. So it’s not so terrible to ask for a little help. Now, I wouldn’t ask my friends to clean up after themselves if it was a dinner party, but for Easter it’s my family. My husband and mom will probably do the dishes without being asked anyway, but if your family isn’t that way, perhaps you could print this Slate article and leave it strategically on your table before the meal starts. That will show them how to be a good guest. Trust me, if you can get someone to help you clean up, it will be a much more awesome Easter brunch for you.

5. Hide an egg, kids or not.

What’s more Easter-y than hiding some eggs? If you have kids attending, go throw them all over your yard. Seriously, just toss them around. It’ll take two minutes, your yard will look extremely festive, and it will entertain them while the grown-ups sip on whatever fancy drink you concocted and you finish the dish that inevitably took too long. Tell them they’re missing one if they find all the eggs too fast. There are other Easter games, I’m sure, but I don’t remember them. An Easter egg hunt is just so simple, why bother with other things? Of course, if it’s cold you’ll have to hide them inside, so make your boundaries VERY clear for those little weirdos.

No kids coming to your brunch? So what? Hide a “golden” egg somewhere and give the guests a prize. You don’t have to play a serious game of hide-and-seek with the egg. It can be a raffle, or one of those gold star on the chair sort of prize giveaways. It just adds a little bit of fun to have a prize at the end. Admit it, you hate those cheesy office Christmas parties, but you love it when they give out the prizes. Same idea. If your guests are drinking, I say hide it good and see what happens. It might be hilarious for everyone. Well, that’s my thoughts on having an awesome Easter brunch. Stay tuned – next week we need to talk about Easter dinner!

CASTLE

Plastic Tablecloth Decorations Vs. Streamers

There are some amazing plastic tablecloth decorations out there. Seriously, look at this and this. Who has time to come up with this stuff? Not me! But, I don’t really have time for anything (starting a blog may have been a terrible idea), so maybe I don’t count. Anyway, I know I’ve mentioned this once or twice, but I’m not really a fan of decorating for parties. That’s a terrible thing for a hostess to say, isn’t it? Yet I say it all the time. I decided maybe I need to stop all those traditional decorating ideas, like using streamers at all, ever, and switch it up a little. Honestly, I don’t have time for the fancy stuff, so my mind turned to plastic tablecloth decorations. I could probably do something with those, right?

Well, if you looked at those amazing decorations I pointed out, you might as well just use streamers. It would take just as long to rip up a whole bunch of paper and tape it to your wall as it would to make those tablecloth things. I don’t want to have to cut and snip and tie and then still tape things. I want something that takes twenty seconds and miraculously looks cute. Impossible? Probably. I decided to test out three different types of decorations using both plastic tablecloths and streamers to see which one was more time consuming, which one was more frustrating, and how much I’d need of each.

Plastic Tablecloth Decorations vs. Streamers

Round #1: Photo Backdrop

 

Plastic Tablecloth

Need: 1 tablecloth
Time to Complete in Real Time: 5 minutes
How Long it Felt: 5 minutes
Toddler Interference: Minimal
Frustration Level: Low
Overall Look: Eh. I could probably smooth it out add some other decorations, but it takes up a good amount of space so you could have multiple people there.

Streamers

Need: At least one roll, but probably two.
Time to Complete in Real Time: 10 minutes
How Long it Felt: 8 days
Toddler Interference: Moderate
Frustration Level: High
Overall Look: I only made it through one roll before giving it up. I would definitely want a second roll to both make it wider and help fill in any gaps. The tape is ugly too, so a balloon row on top or something is probably necessary.

The Winner: Plastic Tablecloth Decorations

Hands down, no questions on this one. I don’t have a lot of time. If I need a photo backdrop for something, I’m absolutely going this way. If you have help you can probably get yours up a lot smoother and even faster. By the way, the reason it even took five whole minutes was because it took me forever to get the tablecloth unfolded and I accidentally tacked it unevenly the first time. The streamers went faster than I thought they would, but I still had to deal with all that tape (I tacked the tablecloth) and ripping. Then it still didn’t look that nice. Tablecloths, 1, streamers, 0.

Round #2: Doorway Draping

 

Plastic Tablecloth

Need: 1-2 tablecloths depending on your doorway
Time to Complete in Real Time: 10 minutes
How Long it Felt: 5 hours
Toddler Interference: Minimal
Frustration Level: moderate
Overall Look: I’m not actually having a party, so I didn’t put a lot of effort into this, but the unevenness still bothered me. If you only have a small doorway, this would be an absolute cinch.

Streamers

Need: Depends on the size of your doorway, mine would be about 4
Time to Complete in Real Time: 40 minutes
How Long it Felt: ——-
Toddler Interference: Moderate
Frustration Level: Highest
Overall Look: Okay, I have to confess here. I couldn’t even make myself do this one. Don’t judge me. I’m seven months pregant, I don’t need to be climbing up and down chairs or stools or ladders or a party I’m not having. What I did instead was measure the photo backdrop space and my door opening to see how much I’d need, then figured out the time it’d take per roll. As you can see, my frustration level was off the roof, since I couldn’t be bothered to do it. Would I bother if I was actually throwing a party? Survey says: No.

The Winner: Plastic Tablecloth Decorations

I know it’s not the fanciest of decorations, and for some reason my Dollar Tree purchase makes me look like a Packers fan, but I kind of like this. It gives a little bit of a festive vibe and it really doesn’t require that much work, unless you’re a perfectionist. Perfectionists, you should probably find another blog. I can feel your stress looking at my pictures from here. Tablecloths, 2, streamers, 0.

Round #3: Ceiling Decor

Plastic Tablecloth

Need: 1 tablecloth (and one hula hoop)
Time to Complete in Real Time: 45 minutes
How Long it Felt: 300 years
Toddler Interference: Maximum
Frustration Level: high, but mostly from toddler, not tablecloth
Overall Look: Hahahaha, this would not be a feature at any party of mine. I went with the hula hoop idea instead of streaming from one side to the other because I didn’t have help. I’d have to say nothing is better than this though.

Streamers

Need: Minimum 1.5 rolls
Time to Complete in Real Time: 30 minutes
How Long it Felt: A week
Toddler Interference: Maximum
Frustration Level: Highest -both from the streamers and the toddler. Did you know toddlers like hula hoops? I started tying the streamers, but they kept ripping, so I moved to staples, which actually looked smoother and took less time.
Overall Look: Eh, I’d still probably skip it, but I could see someone with more time on their hands making something out of this. Oh, and I wouldn’t hang it on the chandelier I already have. I just didn’t have time to rig something else up.

The Winner: Streamers

I’m not positive I’d bother with this one. Well, that’s not accurate. I’m positive I wouldn’t bother with this one.  It was frustrating either way, my son just wanted to play with it, and in the end it didn’t look great. If I was basing this on traditional ceiling decorations, though, I still think streamers would win. They’re easier to twist up, you don’t have to worry about folding them or cutting them the right way, and the look is pretty much the same. Tablecloths, 2, streamers, 1.

Conclusion: Plastic Tablecloth Decorations Win

If I’m going to decorate, I want it to be as fast as possible so I don’t waste any time. For the most part, using plastic tablecloths was so much less work than putting up streamer after streamer after streamer. Oh, and if price is a consideration for you,  tablecloths are $1 at the dollar store and about $3.50 at Target. Getting them at the dollar store is obviously cheaper, but you can get more decorative ones at other stores. Two rolls of streamers are $1 at the dollar store and  between $1 and $3.50 for one roll at Target. I’m probably not going to start enjoying decorating, but at least now I know I have another option besides streamers. The next time you throw a party, think about that and spend more time enjoying and less time decorating!