That's what happens when the month before is Junuary. Even in the Northwest, leaden skies and persistent drizzle do not evoke thoughts of fireworks, picnics and parades. It's coming, though, so you might as well embrace it.
We put together a few suggestions for a last-minute party, ideas that won't cost a lot, but will set the mood. After all.
Not everyone has a "Fourth of July" box in the mudroom, but just about everyone has the makings of one. Look around the house for red, white and blue stuff: bowls, pitchers, platters.
Consider anything decorated with stars or stripes. Wandering beyond red, white and blue, gold stars are perfect.
Think about repurposing items from other holidays. Christmas red is not so different from Independence red. Maybe you have some glasses with those gold stars or some twinkly white lights. It's not the time for Christmas plaid, but a solid red tablecloth would work.
Don't forget your cache of candles. A few red tapers or a cluster of white votives will make it feel like a holiday.
When you run to the store for hot dogs and buns, pick up a fat bunch of white flowers, any kind. Stick them in a glittery red Valentine's vase and you have an instant centerpiece.
I borrowed my sister's wonderful secondhand-store find: She bought an old, not vintage, quilt with a Fourth of July motif for a few dollars. She throws it on the table, inside or outside, adds big white serving dishes and a few items from her Fourth of July stash, and it's an instant party.
Speaking of Fourth of July stashes, you can visit your favorite dollar store and still keep costs low. An inexpensive plastic chip-and-dip platter will last a few years when it is only used once a year. They usually have cute paper napkins, too, for every occasion.
Here are some more ideas:
1. A bright red faux vintage cooler would make a great ice bucket for a big gathering or a handy drink chiller at a small one.
2. If you have a big galvanized tub for ice and drinks, throw a red and white checked towel over the side.
3. Tie your white plastic "silverware" with red ribbons or wrap your red plasticware in white napkins and tie with blue ribbon.
4. Pull the white picnic plates from your set of white, blue and green ones.
5. We brought out red and white star-shaped Christmas napkin rings and stuffed plain white cloth napkins in the red ones and blue cloth napkins in the white ones. Fancy!
6. Use plastic cups for kids, but don't be afraid to trot out the set of red-striped glasses for the adults. What are you saving them for?
7. Don't stick slavishly to navy blue. A cream-colored pitcher with pale blue stripes looks positively Constitutional when paired with some red Christmas candles and an American flag.
8. Not everyone will have a vintage marshamallow tin, but its red, white and blue scheme makes it a welcome decoration.
9. Pull out your old baskets and line them with red dishtowels or napkins.
10. Don't forget to fly your American flag.
--Melanie Munk, Herald features editor
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