It's the frills that signal to guests that they're in for a great time. To pull it together in a memorable way, poke around town for some ready-to-hang touches.
A trip to ethnic markets and out-of-the way gift shops for unique table decor and party favors will kick the good times up a notch and make for a merry family outing in itself. While you're out, look for unexpected treasures at art supply stores and charity shops.
Pinatas are often used to celebrate birthdays, so why not pick one in red, white, and blue for the country's birthday? Besides, once kids spot a pinata, they'll know they're in for a good time.
Of course, you could let fruit-filled summer recipes play out the red, white, and blue theme. Feel free to spin any idea your own way. Can't find pinatas? Try whirligigs or pinwheels from a garden supply or party supply store.
If you love the patriotic gist of the Double-Berry Cooler but forgot to plan ahead, remember -- the fruits show off just as colorfully if you serve them as toppings for a simple ice cream sundae.
Make it fun. Make it yours.
Snap up some votives and trays in Fourth of July hues. By day, they'll add color to the table; later on, they'll keep the night sparkling after the fireworks are over.
Add flair with Chinese-style lanterns in varying shapes and sizes. Hang them from your balcony, around your deck, or in front-yard trees to let everyone know "The fun's right here!"
Whip up an extra-large batch of this spirited dual-purpose dip and sauce. Try it one day with chips, veggies, and chicken; the next day, spoon it generously over grilled pork.
Hello gorgeous! This tall beauty is the best kind of summertime dessert -- light, sweet, tart, and refreshing.
Say it with food! For an easy way to show your true colors, layer sorbet and ice cream for patriotic stripes, and dot with blueberries.
Continued on page 4: 4. Give a Gift