Fun July 4th Dessert: Berry Flag Tart

The star of your patriotic menu will be this flag-shape dessert featuring bright red raspberries, tart blueberries, and dough cut in stripes and star shapes. Despite the masterpiece finish, it's actually quite simple to make.

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Easy 4th of July Decorations

Decorate your home in the spirit of Independence Day with our red, white, and blue 4th of July decorations. From flags to fireworks, these easy decorations cover every July 4th theme you can think of -- and they're cute to boot.

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Our Favorite July 4th Recipes

Take the guesswork out of creating a delicious spread of 4th of July food. Our July 4th entrees (hot dogs! ribs!), drinks (punch! sangria!), side dishes (fruit and pasta salads!), and desserts (mmm, pie) make organizing a patriotic potluck a breeze.

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Festive July 4th Desserts

Celebrate Independence Day with these festive 4th of July desserts! With star-shape scones and piecrusts, tempting tarts, colorful shakes, and fresh berries, these recipes for 4th of July desserts are sure to stand out at your patriotic celebration.

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Easy 4th of July Party Ideas

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.

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4th of July Cake Recipes

Headed to a 4th of July potluck? Cakes are a dreamy way to end the day (well, that and fireworks), and our collection of berry-topped cakes, lush chocolate cakes, swirled sprinkle cakes, and layered red velvet cakes are worth their own oohs and aahs.

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Coconut Cream Island Punch

Make our DIY party cocktail -- that includes just a few tasty ingredients -- for an adults-only drink everyone can agree on. Cut-up star fruit provides a gorgeous base inside your drink pitcher.

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Popular in Holidays

Halloween Pumpkin-Carving Basics

Take Halloween pumpkin carving to a new level this year with our tips, tricks, and tools. Learn techniques to carve, sculpt, and decorate your jack-o'-lanterns.


    Everything in this slideshow

    • Prep Your Pumpkin

      Display the best jack-o'-lanterns in the neighborhood this year. Start by clicking through this slideshow to see easy-to-master pumpkin carving techniques, followed by the tools you'll need for the techniques.

      Before you get carried away cutting, take care to prepare your pumpkin. Start with a room-temperature pumpkin. Draw a circle around the stem and cut around it to create a pumpkin lid. Next, dig in and scoop out the pulp and seeds with a large spoon. Then scrape the inner walls of the pumpkin until they are no more than 1-inch thick, which will make carving easier.

      Next: Tools to Use

    • Precarving Prep: Tools

      Use a keyhole saw (bottom tool in photo) to cut around the pumpkin stem. The long blade smoothly saws through the tough pumpkin. Clay modeling tools (top and middle) are great for whittling down the inside walls. They work like a potato peeler, but the flexible wires contour to the concave interior of the pumpkin. Find the saw at a home improvement store and the clay modeling tools at an art store.

    • Plan It Out

      Working with a pattern? Scale it to fit the size of your pumpkin by using a photocopier to enlarge or shrink the design. Tape or pin the pattern on the pumpkin in the desired spot, then use a tracing wheel, awl, or pin to transfer the pattern.

      Next: Tools to Use

    • Plan It Out: Tools

      A tracing tool (top) is equipped with a spiked wheel and works like a pizza cutter. The spikes will make gouges in the pumpkin skin, creating the design. Awls or ceramic tools also work well for transferring a design, especially on smaller details. Gently push the point of the tool into the surface to outline the design. Be careful not to poke through the wall of the pumpkin and keep the holes about 1/8 inch apart.

    • Video: How to Carve a Pumpkin

      Learn the best way to carve a pumpkin with these easy tips.

    • Shape Cutouts

      Shape cutouts are a jack-o'-lantern trademark. Step up the basic technique and carve out spiders, ghosts, and other Halloween emblems. For precise cutouts, place the pumpkin in your lap, using one hand to anchor it and the other to carve. The trick is to go slow and use gentle pressure while cutting.

      Next: Tools to Use

    • Shape Cutouts: Tools

      For basic carving, use a crafts tool (top) with a long blade. When carving more intricate details, rely on a fine-tooth saw (middle and bottom) for an accurate cut. Hold the saw in your hand like a pencil. Saw around the design using an in-and-out motion, keeping the saw perpendicular to the pumpkin. For best results, start in the center and work outward on larger designs.

    • Polka-Dot Pumpkin

      Grab a melon baller from your kitchen utility drawer and start scooping. Use the tool to create rounded depressions in the pumpkin skin. A light inside the pumpkin will gently illuminate the scooped out areas.

      Next: Tool to Use

    • Polka-Dot Pumpkin: Tool

      Gently press the edge of the melon baller into the skin, just breaking the surface, to create a circle. Then press the baller into the circle to scoop out the pulp. Look for a melon baller with two ends to create two different-size circles.

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      More Polka-Dot Fun

      Look in your kitchen utility drawer again and dig out an apple corer. The rounded end of the tool can be used to cut out perfectly shaped circles for eyes or spotted designs like the one shown here. Simply push the sharp end of the corer all the way through the pumpkin wall. Because the holes go all the way through, the light that shines through will be more dramatic than in the melon-baller design.

      Next: Tools to Use

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      More Polka-Dot Fun: Tools

      An apple corer works well for making holes in a pumpkin because it often has a gripper handle, making it easier to push through the pumpkin skin. A pottery tool (available at art stores) can craft smaller holes. The scooped end helps create a circular shape.

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      Surface Carving

      Gouges, used in wood carving, also are perfect for pumpkins. Press the edge of the gouge gently into the skin and guide it along a design. The final result is a reversed relief effect. A light inside the pumpkin will gently illuminate the gouged areas.

      Next: Tools to Use

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      Surface Carving: Tools

      Vary your carving widths with different-size gouges. Simply unscrew one gouge from the handle and put in another, or buy a set of gouges that have their own handles. Pick up gouges at an art or woodworking store.

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      Surface Carving, Take 2

      For a bigger and bolder design, such as this diamond pattern, use the widest gouge you can find. Digging deeper into the pumpkin will allow more light to shine through, as will creating a bigger pattern.

      Next: Tools to Use

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      Surface Carving, Take 2: Tools

      You can gouge out larger areas with a smaller gouge head, but using a wider one is more efficient because you can take off more pumpkin skin at a time.

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      Cookie Cutter Designs

      Designed to turn ordinary dough into fun shapes, cookie cutters also can add a unique look to a basic pumpkin. Look at garage sales and specialty kitchen stores for sturdy cookie cutters.

      Next: Tools to Use

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      Cookie Cutter Designs: Tools

      Cookie cutters can help speed up carving time because they eliminate time-consuming sawing. To create a design, position the sharp edge of the cookie cutter on the pumpkin. Use a hammer or mallet to carefully pound it into the pumpkin. Tap the edges evenly to create a precise cut, and keep pounding until the cookie cutter is completely through the pumpkin wall.

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      Drilling for Pumpkins

      A power drill is another quick and easy way to make perfectly round holes in a pumpkin. Drill holes along the pumpkin veins (or make your own design). Another idea? Put a string of Christmas lights inside the pumpkin and poke the bulbs through the holes.

      Next: Tools to Use

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      Drilling for Pumpkins: Tools

      Equip yourself with a basic power drill and drill bits in various sizes. Each drill bit will produce a different-size hole.

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      Next Slideshow Creative Pumpkin-Carving Ideas and Patterns

      Creative Pumpkin-Carving Ideas and Patterns

      Carve distinct character into this year's jack-o'-lanterns with these creative pumpkin-carving patterns. Our free patterns, designs, and instructions will turn your plain pumpkin into a memorable Halloween piece of art. Get started on your pumpkin carving today!
      Begin Slideshow »



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