I really and truly love entertaining. Every year I host for the same occasions, one of which is July 4th. Weeks before the holiday I begin scouring the internet for new ideas. I do my best not to repeat decor. It's a game I play with myself - can you decorate without reusing old stuff?
This year all of my inspiration came from a particular set of paper straws I found in the Oriental Trading Company catalog. I built the entire tablescape around those straws, focusing on the classic red, white and blue color combination.
Before taking food and drinks outside into the backyard I piled all of the cups and bottle openers into this metal drink caddy I found at Pottery Barn a few summers ago. I love the chalkboard on the front. You can change the phrase for any occasion.
And here are the straws that started it all! How fun are these? They look just like Uncle Sam's signature hat.
In the center of the table I placed a vase with white roses. I've said this many times before, but the quickest way to add major punch to any party is fresh flowers. They are easy to get and inexpensive. I find the best, highest quality selection is at Trader Joe's.
I found this beautiful blue vase during the Watertown town-wide yard sale. Just $2 dollars!
The flowers also add a beautiful, fresh scent to the space.
For all my soirees I try to serve food on paper plates or plastic plates. It just makes clean up so much easier. For this year's 4th of July BBQ I kept it simple. Sold blue plates and blue and white striped napkins.
I love the way the blue and white stripes look against the red and white stripes of the tablecloth.
To encourage people to get into the holiday spirit I provided sunglasses with a stars and stripes pattern. Like the straws, I also found these in the Oriental Trading Company catalog.
In addition to being fun to wear, these proved to be tremendously helpful in keeping grill and fire pit smoke out of one's eyes.
On the sideboard in the dining room I put down a red, white and blue runner (a gift from my mom) and arranged two vases of red roses.
I am so used to red roses paired with gold decor from my awards show parties, it was fun to mix up the color scheme. These blooms are from Star Market on Mt. Auburn Street and though their flower selection is usually pitiful, I lucked out.
Though I don't cook, I did find a cool red, white and blue food idea on Pinterest. You add blueberries, blackberries and strawberries to your ice cube tray to create red, white and blue ice cubes!
I put a ton of fruit into every cube. Guests put them into water, lemonade, ice tea and even rosé.
The outcome was so yummy that I think I may start making these every week.
I was excited to surprise my guests with the fruit ice cubes but also with a new kind of snack food I just discovered a few weeks prior. Jamie Mammano, chef and owner of the Columbus Hospitality Group, has a tortilla chip company, Mi Niña, named after his daughter. His wife grew up in Mexico and he makes the chips from his mother-in-law's tortilla recipe. As the bag states, they are "just a better chip."
The chips are made right here in Massachusetts and you can find them at Whole Foods, Roche Brothers, Star Market and Wegman's.
I paired chef Jamie's tortilla chips with guacamole, a perfect backyard snack.
I am very lucky that my friends and family all offered to bring things for dinner. The chips and guacamole were later joined on the table by veggies and dip, The Pioneer Woman's hot corn dip, fruit salad, pasta salad, burgers, veggie burgers and piñata cookies (cookies with a candy surprise inside).
Once the sun went down, we had a fire pit, lit and played with four boxes of sparklers and listened to the sound of fireworks going off around the neighborhood. It was a delicious and relaxing evening.
Happy birthday, America!