Fun Serving Ideas for a 4th of July Picnic

Deli Style
These crafty serving ideas will help you host a fabulous, patriotic picnic or a 4th of July potluck. We've looked to the trends: Mason jars, paper projects, and flag motifs to help inspire a red, white, and blue holiday feast.

Mason Jar Desserts

Need cute serving suggestions for ice cream, pudding, trifle, or other messy desserts? Look no further than individual Mason jars. Add an extra dose of patriotism by decorating wooden serving utensils with 4th-of-July-themed stamps. 

Watermelon Pops

Say goodbye to sticky fingers when you serve watermelon slices on popsicle sticks. This clever picnic serving idea is super simple—just cut watermelon into triangular slices and stick a heavy-duty popsicle stick into the rind. 

Fruity Centerpiece

Let stunning centerpieces work double duty as patriotic serving trays. Simply place Fourth of July floral arrangements on picnic serving trays, then fill in the gaps with fresh fruit. 

Decorative Utensil Jars

Don't bother setting silverware—guests can grab what they need from these adorable, no-fuss serving buckets. Simply decorate containers, like empty oatmeal canisters, by wrapping them with festive paper and securing with tape. Add an adhesive chalkboard label to send a fun message.

Fruit Salad Sailboat

A simple sail is all you need to transform a watermelon fruit salad into a seaworthy centerpiece. Cut a triangle from ticking fabric and fold it in half over a dowel. Hot-glue the fabric along the dowel to secure and along the loose edges for a stiff sail.

Mason Jar Drinks

There's something classic about Mason jars, and they're great vessels for 4th of July drinks. Shop antique stores for vintage versions, or look for Mason jars with handles, lids, and straws online, which makes them perfect for portable picnicking.

Lantern-Covered Vases

Deck the table with sprightly flower arrangements dressed in red, white, and blue. Slide tricolor paper lanterns over a vase or glass for a simple, fresh centerpiece.

Sparkling Place Setting

Encourage guests to get in the spirit with decorative place settings made from boxes of sparklers. For an easy, DIY napkin ring, glue the end of a 12-inch grosgrain ribbon to the flat side of a D-ring. Wrap the ribbon around a napkin and the sparklers, and loop it through the D-ring to secure.

Patriotic Snack Station

An arrangement of classic snacks is a great way to keep guests happy until the 4th of July picnic begins. We love the bright colors and nostalgic feel of licorice, pretzels, and boxed caramel popcorn. Set snacks in serving buckets or Mason jars for easy access. 

Stamped Napkin Ties

Salute Old Glory with star-studded napkin rings. Stamp "USA" into metal tags using a steel stamp set. Thread star-pattern ribbon through the tags and wrap around striped napkins. For no-sew napkins, cut cotton ticking in 16-inch squares; fray the edges by pulling on the threads. You also can roll silverware into the napkins for guests to grab as they head through the buffet line.

Temporary Glass Labels

Turn plain drinking glasses into patriotic ones—temporarily—for the holiday. Using pinking shears, cut bands of red-and-white plaid oilcloth to fit around the glasses. Sew or glue a white oilcloth rectangle to the center of the band, then adhere the ends of the band together so it fits around a glass. (The band should easily slip over the narrower bottom of a glass and slide upward until it stays snugly in place.) Provide permanent markers for guests to write their names on the rectangles so they'll know exactly which glass is theirs.

Stylish Snack Table

Serving trays for parties can get unsightly, fast. Ditch the food packages and line pretty galvanized pails with napkins to serve picnic staples, such as potato chips or buns. A label makes refills a cinch.

Roll and Wrap Place Setting

Make picnic prep a breeze with an all-in-one utensil holder and place mat. Fold the long end of a dish towel up until it becomes the size of a place mat. Stitch or hot-glue the outer edges together. Insert utensils into the pocket, roll up, and tie with a separate ribbon.

Fair-Style Berry Cones

Use food to decorate the picnic table. Form sturdy waxed paper into cones, securing with transparent tape. Fill each cone with blue or red berries to create a sweet treat and pretty picnic serving idea all in one.

Patriotic Buckets

Display famous words from the Declaration of Independence on galvanized tubs. Coat serving buckets with white metal primer. Then paint each tub a different shade of blue. (Buy deep blue exterior paint and dilute with white exterior paint to get the two lighter hues). Use letter stickers to spell "life," "liberty," and "happiness" on the tubs. Fill with ice to hold drinks or frozen treats, or use without ice to hold sparklers for some 4th of July fun.

Red, White, and Blue Table

Mix and match assorted paper goods to create decorative place settings. Don't worry if the blues and reds don't match perfectly—together they'll create a cohesive look suitable for any patriotic holiday.

Shoelace Napkin Ties

Eating saucy sandwiches and dripping ice cream treats is all part of a great 4th of July picnic. So let your guests enjoy the messy fare by using inexpensive white dish towels as oversize napkins. Roll the towels and fasten with checkered shoelaces for a pop of color.

Potluck Recipe Swap

If you're hosting a potluck, ask guests to bring their signature dishes and send the recipes to you ahead of time. Print the recipes on white and blue paper, roll the pages together, and tie with red ribbon. Make enough recipe scrolls to send home with your guests.

Deli-Style Sandwiches

For a fun presentation, preassemble hot dogs or burgers with buns wrapped in waxed paper. Secure the wrap with an American flag toothpick. For extra oomph, place the wrapped meals on decorative trays. 

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