Gather your friends and use these patriotic decorating, entertaining, and recipe ideas for this year's 4th of July celebration. From festive star banners and refreshing watermelon coolers to raveworthy party favors and more, your 4th of July party is bound to be summer's biggest shindig.View Slideshow
Get ready for fall with our fresh ideas for decorating with gourds and pumpkins. Use them to add autumn elegance to your home -- inside and out.
Little gourds can do great things. Try creating these table weights from mini-gourds to hold the tablecloth in place at an outdoor dinner party. Measure the tabletop and add enough for a 6-inch drop of yardage on all sides plus a 1-inch hem. Hem with fusible tape and an iron. To make the corner flaps, notch a 5-inch square from each corner and hem using fusible tape. Add grommets with a kit from a crafts or fabrics store.
Add a thoughtful touch to a fall dinner with custom-made place cards. Using your computer, create business-card-size tags with simple imagery and fanciful lettering. Print and attach to a small gourd with a pushpin. Guests will appreciate the personalized touch.
Get five great ideas for using pumpkins to decorate your home. Learn how to make the adorable decorations.
Gather gourds in cylindrical vases to bring autumn to a tabletop or mantel. Use containers of different sizes to stack gourds in varying amounts. To give each display a vibrant touch, add a length of fresh pumpkin vine from the garden, pulling the vine out at the root and rinsing off the dirt. Place it in the vase with a bit of water.
Stack squatty gourds among your favorite white china. Dishes with ridges complement the natural elements in the display. Mixing and matching is in and is a great way to use your collectibles.
Fashion a family of friendly critters to nestle on a fence post or railing. Use small pumpkins and gourds for bodies and attach sunflower seeds, feathers, and nuts with hot glue to make facial features.
Craft a set of candleholders from gourds by simply cutting off the tops and hollowing out the centers. For an easy autumn display, arrange them in a metal tray filled with green hedge apples.
Put an old wheelbarrow to use by filling it with an assortment of pumpkins, gourds, and squash. Use black acrylic paint or a permanent marker to decorate one of the pumpkins with a welcoming message.
Turn white gourds into miniature sculptures by displaying them on small pedestals cut from old table legs and balusters (available at salvage yards).
Weathered terra-cotta pots give this simple display a boost. Set pumpkins in or atop them, and pair them with an explosion of rich burgundy dahlias accented with pumpkin leaves.
Fill an assortment of glasses with water and float mini pumpkin gourds inside. A Teddy Bear sunflower set in a shallow dipping bowl makes a frilly dinner accent.
Hook a swan gourd over a balcony rail to create a hanging vase. Cut a 1- to 2-inch hole near the neck of the gourd, remove a bit of the pith, and insert mums, black-eyed Susans, and a length of Virginia creeper.
Create this beautiful floral display using yellow and orange mums. Cut the heads from the flowers and hot-glue them all over the pumpkins. Display on tabletops or in small footed urns.
Illuminate a fall night with candleholders fit for the season. Carve a small hole in the top of a miniature pumpkin -- wide enough to hold a votive candle and deep enough so the candle can be nestled in securely. For a rustic look, display the pumpkin inside a wire jar holder as shown here.
Transform gourds into planters for the fall season. Simply hollow out the gourds and tuck in the root balls of ornamental grasses or sedge (a perennial herb). Draw jack-o'-lantern faces onto the gourds with paint pens for a Halloween-theme arrangement.
For this autumn wreath, first tap small nails into the surface of miniature gourds and pumpkins to break the surface. Carefully poke sturdy toothpicks into the holes. Coat the protruding end of the toothpick with hot glue and immediately stick into a straw wreath form. Once the wreath is as completely covered with pumpkins and gourds as possible, hot-glue silk leaves around the wreath to fill in the gaps.
Display petite gourds-turned-treasures in a decorative apothecary jar. Garnet-hue leaves and a dried hydrangea benefit from the same prescription.
Create a vase with a gourd that stands upright. Slice off the stem and use a long slender knife to widen the opening if necessary. Add a handful of bright mums.
Create a stunning contemporary centerpiece by arranging four gourds and six large chrysanthemum blossoms symmetrically in a flat bowl or tray.
Dress up a simple pumpkin with a carved design, such as birds or leaves. Simply trace your design on the pumpkin and gouge out the pumpkin skin within the outline. Nestle the pumpkin inside a lush wreath of fall blooms.
Spray-paint a mix of small gourds shimmery gold, and stack them on a glass cake plate to create an elegant display.
Take a gourd to the next level with a skin-deep cut in the shape of a leaf. Simply trace a sugar maple leaf (or other found-on-the-ground variety) with a permanent pen. Cut lightly around the outline with a knife, being sure not to cut all the way through the gourd. A simple scraping tool (such as an inexpensive clayworkers' ribbon tool) will help you trim out the shape.
Editor's Tip: When buying a gourd, pick one in a shape and color that you like. More often than not, the color of the flesh will be different enough from the color of the skin to create a nice contrast.