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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!

how to

4 Easy Red, White and Blue Party Foods

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Easy red, white and blue party foods seem like they’d be a dime a dozen, don’t they? The 4th of July is a major American holiday, and we also have things like Memorial Day and Veterans Day where we abandon all meaning and focus on burgers and other foods that have nothing to do with combat.  Okay, so we don’t all abandon the meaning – I personally live with a Marine who did three tours in Iraq, so our family does some actual memorializing on those other days. But no one knows anyone from the Revolutionary War, so if you want to focus on easy red, white and blue party foods instead of that guy who killed the other guy with a musket, no one’s going to judge you. Yet, it feels like our guests really will judge us for not having food shaped like an American flag, doesn’t it?

I’m positive this whole nonsense with color coordinated food became a thing because of Pinterest. As much as I think it’s nonsense, though, I kind of love it. It’s festive, right? But here’s my problem. I think my definition of easy is different than other people’s. I need a dish that’s going to be ready to go in five minutes. Earlier today I read an article that was supposed to be “last-minute” 4th of July ideas. Then it had Rice Krispie Treats prepared with Popsicle sticks dunked in frosting and sprinkled. What?! That’s not last minute.  And what’s the deal with dipping ice cream sandwiches in sprinkles? Seriously, who leaves ice cream sandwiches sitting out? Ug. This is why I have to post these obvious easy red, white and blue party foods ideas – so we busy hostesses can participate without getting carried away.

Ice Cream Cups with Red and Blue Fruit

Pro-tip: Ignore what I’m writing and use patriotic sprinkles on everything instead.

This is my take on all the colorful 4th of July desserts I could find on Pinterest. I don’t disagree the other ones aren’t easy; it’s more that they’re time consuming. Do you know what I’m going to be doing the week before the 4th of July this year? Giving birth. So I feel like there’s a good chance I’m not going to want to hang out in the kitchen. But my family will probably wind up over here since it’s easier than me packing up the kids and dogs and going there, so I’ll attempt to have some sort of sustenance. The gist of this idea is to skip skewering and lining up anything. I admire people who have the patience to put strawberries and marshmallows on fifteen different sticks, or alternate rows of pretzels and cherries to make an American flag. But I’m not that person.

Do you actually need directions for this, friends? I feel like you don’t, but here’s what you’re going to do:

1. Go to the store.
2. Buy vanilla ice cream cups and frozen red and blue fruits (like cherries, blueberries, etc.)
3. Take everything home.
4. Don’t let the ice cream melt.
5. When it’s time, take the tops off the cups and sprinkle with berries. Or, put the berries in a bowl and let everyone else do that, those lazy bums.

See?  I knew you didn’t need instructions. If you want, you could completely skip berries and do red and blue M&Ms. Or get any flavor ice cream with said M&Ms, as they make this lovely patriotic bag that you won’t have to sort through and comes with white ones. To each their own, I say.

Red, White and Blue Cupcakes

Could you put this in the shape of a flag? Sure. But I swear you don’t have to.

Do you want to make a glorious multi-colored, multi-layered cake? Well, then, go nuts my friend. You won’t find the directions here, but you can send me pictures in the comments and try to make your case as to why it’s faster than making regular cupcakes with different colored frosting. I will admit, this is not a last-minute idea. You need about an hour to make and frost cupcakes, right? I’m honestly asking,  I haven’t made them in one day in a long time. Even if they’re out of the box, which mine are, they have to cook and cool. I’m going to skip the sarcastic instructions this time, but as always, you have a couple of ways to do this.

The first method is to use some food coloring in a white frosting (bought or homemade frosting- no one cares), or separately buy red, white, and blue frosting.  The second method is to frost them all one color and use red, white, and/or blue paper wrappers. I either go with white frosting and red and blue wrappers, or white frosting with patriotic wrappers like this (I also use these for the Patriots at football parties – not a fan, I just love theme food for football). If you want to skip the wrappers all together, use a white cake mix. Now, if you want to tell me these aren’t ridiculously easy red, white and blue party foods, may I also suggest, once again, ignoring what I say and using patriotic sprinkles?

Cheesecake Dip with Strawberries & Blueberries

easy red, white and blue party foods
I always enjoy a halfway healthy plate.

There really aren’t a lot of naturally blue foods, are there? There’s more red, but nothing as vibrant as the strawberry. That’s probably why every red, white and blue food on Pinterest includes the two of them. Some are really lovely, like these white chocolate frosted strawberries with blue sprinkles.  But, come on. If I don’t have time to line up things in a flag formation, I don’t have time to dip all those strawberries. I don’t feel like stuffing them with cheesecake dip either, but… Cheesecake dip is actually really quick to make. Too quick, honestly, it’s probably responsible for a lot of unnecessary weight gain. So why not use it?

Here’s a really easy recipe. Then get out your serving platter, put a bowl of cheesecake dip in the middle, and set up your strawberries and blueberries as you see fit. Feeling crazy? Give it some sprinkles, why not. I think by this point you can see what the real point of this article is, right? If you want to make easy red, white and blue party foods, all you really have to do is make sure people can see all three colors at the same time. Sure, you can make them fancier if you want to. And one day, when your children are grown, maybe you will.

Red, White and Blue Pitchers

Easy Red, White and Blue Party Foods
I honestly don’t know where to put the sprinkles here. My world view is ruined.

Okay, so drinks may or may not count as easy red, white and blue party foods, but they’e still festive. Have you seen the patriotic drinks floating around online? They look cool, right? Well, they are. But there’s also a little problem with them that make serving them kind of pointless. The first couple of people to see it will get the full effect. Everyone else is going to see two colors, a purple blob, or somewhere in between. Of course, that’s if you put it in a pitcher. If you put it in individual servings, well, you’ve just signed yourself up for individual servings. Did you have any plans to enjoy your party, or were you cool with being a bartender all day?

My solution to this is 110% cheating. Just put the three different drinks in three different pitchers. Or, only serve one red drink and one blue drink, but use pitchers with white lids. You can even include a sign telling people how to make their own patriotic drink if you want to use ingredients in a recipe like this. Personally, I can live without Hawaiian punch, so I always use cranberry juice. There’s a bonus if you try it this way: your red drink can become vodka cranberries, if you don’t have sneaky kids running around. If you have no kids at all, you could go straight up alcoholic and mix a red cocktail, a blue cocktail, and a clear one. Fun!

Now go out and make some easy red, white and blue party foods!

Food Trivia to Share atEaster Dinner

Trivia You Can Share When Hosting Easter Dinner

Hosting Easter dinner this year? Kudos to you! I’m sticking to a fun Easter brunch, but you dinner-hosters have my admiration. Do you have the whole family coming over? A bunch of friends? No one? Those are all fine choices, although I personally like the idea of someone hosting a fabulous Easter dinner and then refusing to invite anyone to it. If I wasn’t married…

Anyway, I’m not here to give you a whole bunch of tips on what to wear and how to decorate, although if you needed to know that I’d say clothes and minimally. Instead, I thought I’d provide you with a little information about food. Were you aware that Easter is a religious holiday? I bet you were! According to Gallup’s last Easter poll, about 60% of people in the US go to church on Easter. I will vouch for this. I used to live two streets away from a church, yet somehow on Easter my whole street would be filled with the cars of lost souls who forgot how to park at a church since they only attended once a year. Religious holidays come with all kinds of traditions and meanings, so if you’re going to be hosting Easter dinner, you might as well know what tradition you’re following.

Hosting Easter Dinner with Lamb

traditional Easter lamb

If you are serving lamb this meal, you’re serving the most Christian of all the traditional Easter foods. If there was meat at the Last Supper, this was it. It’s weirdly also the most Jewish of all the traditional foods, because it’s usually part of Passover. What I’m saying is, lamb at Easter dinner is a religious thing. Not religious? That’s okay. It’s still delicious. Personally, if I was cooking Easter dinner this year, I’d be going with lamb. My son is too young to care what he eats, so I might as well enjoy this tasty meat while I have the opportunity. Never cooked it? I suggest something like this basic rosemary recipe. It’s pretty common to season your lamb with rosemary, so you might as well start with the basics.

Why You’re Serving Ham

Americans ham Easter dinner

Eating ham this Easter? Oh hey! You must be American! If I’m not mistaken, Easter has something to do with Jesus, and that guy was a Jew. I bet he wasn’t eating ham.  So how did it get involved in all this mess? Basically, it’s just what was around. Easter takes place in the spring, and back before globalization and climate change, you couldn’t get everything fresh every time of year. Germans started serving ham because they could slaughter pigs in the winter and then keep it until spring. This spread throughout northern Europe, and they brought pigs over to the Americas, and we’ve been obsessed with pork ever since. If you’re going to cook one yourself, I say something simple like this would be fine. More time to work on your sides!

What’s the Deal with the Eggs

My sister is always curious about this one. I guess she forgets every year, because I have told her repeatedly. A long time ago, Christianity was not the dominant religion, so Easter wouldn’t have been a huge deal to everyone. But, that doesn’t mean non-Christians didn’t have their own religions. They did – and a lot of them celebrated spring. Once Christianity started growing, traditions started getting combined. There was one goddess of rebirth who had a symbol of a rabbit laying eggs. Her name? Eostre. So, Eostre became Easter, and now we’re stuck with this random goddess in the middle of a Christian holiday. Fascinating, right?

Alright! Now you’re pumped full of information about Easter. It doesn’t matter what kind of tradition you follow. Have a barbecue, skip Easter altogether, eat your lamb and ham and eggs, or cook up some dish that your family has passed down forever. What does matter is that you have fun and know more about the meal than everyone else.  🙂 Get out there, play smarty-pants and answer any food-related questions that come up while you’re hosting Easter dinner.

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!