There’s nothing that evokes “Summer” more than a fabulous July Fourth party. A sunny setting with smokey wafts of hotdogs and hamburgers on the BBQ, tables with endless family favorites, and plenty of festive cocktails to get the party going create a pretty perfect day for any born and bred American!
That being said, sometimes the casual backyard BBQ needs a bit of an upgrade…am I right?! I’ve come up with five simple ways to take your party up a notch, without creating more work or taking away from the good old American essence that we love about Independence Day. My favorite part? It’s a great setup for any summer BBQ or holiday, full of fun takes on staple menu items and plenty of red, white and blue inspiration to set the stage for a perfect Summer celebration. So…who’s ready to bring a little flair to your next summer shindig?
1. Take the standard “red, white & blue” and turn it on it’s head a little! Instead of going with expected July Fourth party decor and solid tables cloths or napkins, add some punch with a red toile tablecloth for some casual elegance. I added several large ginger jars with a variety of white flowers down the center of the table to incorporate the blue and white with a little drama and some sophistication. Summer strawberries in white ceramic berry baskets and big compotes incorporated iconic summer elements and a pop of red! Balance out the upgraded decor with a casual menu so your guests still feel like they can relax for the perfect summer holiday!
2. Plan your menu to include the grill and a variety of cold or room temp summer salads and desserts. This tactic allows all the salads to be made ahead and refrigerated in their serving bowls, so all you have to do is pull them out, garnish and serve! Everyone can get started with hearty salads as the grilled items are finishing up! This Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad from Barefoot Contessa is always a go-to favorite for my summer parties. I love good salads like this because they are easy to make ahead, delicious, and gourmet…perfect to kick that BBQ up a notch! It’s also great to have a variety of side salads for your vegetarian or vegan friends who may not eat the grilled goodies. Room temp pies, cookies and other goodies like make ahead summer trifles keep things simple and easy for guests (and you!). Expert tip: Visit your local bakery for the best pies and cakes and simply garnish with red and blue berries and pretty green mint to save you time! Place all around the buffet to add to the “All American” feel.
3. Reinvent your staple American menu items with a fun, unexpected presentation. I took the hotdog and miniaturized it for a fun little bite that excites guests and is easy to pick up and eat while mingling. If you can’t find mini brioche buns like the ones shown, just take regular sized dogs and buns and slice them into thirds. Display side by side down a long platter with perfectly placed mustard or ketchup for a simple, yet chic July 4th presentation. I’ve used the same presentation for mini lobster rolls and mini burgers! Get creative!
4. Keep florals simple by staying seasonal and grouping one color or type together (and do flowers the day before the party!). Summer is perfect for easy flower arranging – there are amazing varieties in season. There is nothing that says quintessential summer party more than white peonies packed together or white or blue hydrangea heads in a simple, pretty vase. Both are full flowers, so all you have to do is cut and put in the vase – voila! No real arranging necessary. For a very pretty, super chic table arrangement, take 3 vases (I like glass cubes or low cylinders) and simply put all of one variety in each (all in the same color family – i.e. one low vase with white peonies, one medium vase with white hydrangea, and a third taller vase with a third white variety). Group the three vases together in the center of the table to create the illusion of one full arrangement with varying height, texture and variety. So easy, so chic and minimal skill and effort needed!
5. Take advantage of fun, festive disposables – it’s a BBQ after all! There’s something about casual holidays and events (July 4th, Memorial Day, Superbowl, etc) that require a little laid-back touches to keep the essence of what makes it fun! No one wants to go to a Superbowl party and eat foie gras….everyone secretly looks forward to the good old American junk food that makes the Superbowl the Superbowl. That being said, for certain occasions, keep the casual elements like paper plates and cups to make people feel relaxed and like you haven’t overdone things too much. Source some fun paper products that don’t look tacky and throw in some festive paper straws and napkins – not only will the disposables make your life easier and let you enjoy the party and the events after, but will all the great options out there, they can be very cute additions to the right type of party (i.e. Superbowl, kids parties, boat cruises or pool parties). Tie a festive linen around a recycle bin that’s convenient for your guests to dispose of paper and plastic products. It hides a possible eye soar and encourages your guests to clean up after themselves so you aren’t running around picking up during the party!
Have a safe, festive and happy Fourth!!