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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!

move in a hurry

The Best Ways to Move Houses in a Frenzy

Are you looking for the best ways to move in a frenzy? Not the best ways to have people tell you, “Wow, you’re an amazing packer!” I can’t help with that, because that’s not my goal. I move all the time and I just want to survive it. Okay, not ALL the time. It’s been eight months since my last move. Before that I did stay in a house for a record two years. That’s totally normal for a non-military family right? I’ve moved across the country, across town, and literally across the street. Sometimes I have lots of time to prepare, others I have zero. This time around I have about three weeks to move to a new neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean it’s not chaotic. I’m pregnant, my husband works ten hour days and has class on the weekends, and my toddler and dogs won’t do heavy lifting.

So, what’s a frenzied hostess to do? Get help? Of course not. That would cost money. Although I’ll be honest with you, if you’re moving across the country and not across the city, the help is totally worth it. You’re going to have to get a truck anyway, unless you don’t own anything or don’t want to take it with you. Use the good moving service packers. You won’t regret it. If you are moving across the city, though, I have seen what those movers do and I’ve tried a variety of things myself, so I have some ideas on the best ways to move on your own. Since I can’t currently host anything, I thought I’d go a little off topic and share.

Best Ways to Move in 7 Days or More

Packing for a move in a frenzy
Here go the bar supplies – very important. Notice the paper and plastic wrapping. Very professional.

Use Suitcases for Non-Glass

Does that sound like weird advice? It probably does, but let me explain. Boxes are fun and all, but they’re a lot of work to tape up, they can still break, plus if you do too good a job and bother to label them, you may never open them again. I like to fill up my suitcases with things, then unpack immediately at the new house, then bring the suitcases back and do it again. No, it’s actually not that much work. Yes, I do make more trips. But here’s another bonus – suitcases roll. I’m short, so even when I’m not pregnant carrying big square boxes around is quite irritating. Only having to lift a suitcase in and out of the car, or upstairs, makes moving much easier. Coolers and other empty trunk-like items also work.

Legitimately how I drove with my mugs and champagne glasses. Please excuse the messy car, we’re moving!
Everything survived, no need to worry. Proof of life shot glasses.

Use Lots of Paper or Plastic Bags for Glass

I always have too many plastic bags, which you may have noticed in this post. So when I move they come in handy. I put one bag in a glass, then wrap with a second bag, and that’s that. Do they survive the move, you ask? Yes. Most of my glasses even survived a cross-country move this way, in a box not marked fragile. I didn’t try that on purpose. When I packed I was putting things temporarily in storage and didn’t realize my life on the west coast was coming to an end.  The paper thing is probably safer – it’s what the real movers do – but I don’t usually have paper on hand. The point is, make sure there are fluffy things surrounding your glasses. Unfortunately, there is no cheat code for this, unless you want to bring them one by one. I’ve done that too.

Break Up the Big Stuff

Do you need that end table right now? Can you dismantle your desk or move the guest bedroom before you have to move your own room? This is kind of a necessity for me right now, since I’m handling the bulk of the move and I’m not allowed to lift anything too heavy. I have to rely on different people to help me whenever they’re available, not whenever I am. This is how my three week move that seems like plenty of time has actually become time crunched. But, it’s okay, because I can live with a half-house. For example, we got help with our formal dining table last week, but the kitchen table is staying until the final day. We have room to eat either way.

Best Ways to Move in Less than 7 Days

Fit Your Clothes Everywhere

Okay, so I actually do this every time, regardless of how long my move lasts. Who wants to pack up clothes? Do people actually take them off the hanger? I have used those crazy boxes they have for wardrobes on longer moves, but when you have no time, just keep them on the hangers they’re already on and toss them on top of whatever else you’re toting. They don’t take up much space, they’re light, and it is so nice to simply put them back on the shelves like they always existed in the new closet and nowhere else. The best ways to move do not include wasting time on clothes – ever.

Get Small Boxes & a Dolly

This may seem counter-intuitive, but look at the boxes I posted directly above this. Those were all fragile glass, and they were heavy. I couldn’t have lifted them on my own even if I wasn’t pregnant. It was fine for this move since we do have three weeks, but if I was doing a short-time move, these boxes would have slowed me down. I would have had to find someone else to carry them, when I could have broken them down into multiple boxes and known for sure I could carry them myself. Packing sucks, and when you’re in a hurry I know you want to throw everything into one box and go, but don’t do it. Use lots of little boxes and find a dolly to make transportation easy. Or, the very least, top one layer of books with one layer of pillows. Then you can halfway carry it.

Don’t Make a Donate Pile at the Old House

Moving so much is really awesome for one reason – my house is very light on useless crap. We donate a lot of things every time we move, as well as throw things away. But, when you’re really short on time, if you don’t already have the donate pile ready to go, do it at the new house. Perhaps you think you won’t donate it if you take it to the new house, but I’d be more concerned about time. Even big items of trash require special trips to the dump, and the less time you have in one house, the less special trips you can make. Yes, it’s extra work when you’re moving in, but time is of the essence to make sure you get everything packed. Leave the boxes of useless stuff somewhere you can’t avoid and you’ll make it to Goodwill eventually.

So there you have it. Those are my best ways to move in a frenzy. I am not concerned with perfect packing. Glasses will break if you get too crazy, yes, but you can throw all your shoes in one box without worrying about placement and I swear they will survive. Most stuff will, honestly, if you’re not going far. Don’t forget to shove strange shaped things into the floor of your car either. My bread maker never gets in a box, but it always finds its way somehow. Same goes for my guitar, my golf clubs, and even my plants. If I can move mostly by myself with a toddler and two dogs constantly at my feet, you can do it too! Good luck!