A Patriotic Picnic Challenge!

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I not only love to decorate, but also entertain on a budget.    So, I decided to challenge myself to see if I could purchase everything I needed to create a Patriotic Table-scape AND a picnic for 4, including drinks and dessert for…. are you ready… only $25!!!!

Decorations first!  I knew if I could find a source for inexpensive table linens, napkins, plates, cups, plastic silverware and decorations, this “dinner impossible” mission would be half-way there.  No problem – I purchased 98% of the items, that make up this table-scape, at the Dollar Tree, for a  total cost of only $10.00!!

All I had to add in was a cake plate, 2 candle sconces (to use in between) and a plain, white plate to create the centerpiece tower

and bring out my apothecary beverage dispenser (filled with fresh strawberries, water & ice).

Here’s what I purchased:

  • 1 White tablecloth (3/4th used for picnic table; 1/4th used for drink table)
  • 1 Pkg. Red plastic Plates
  • 1 Pkg. White Plastic Silverware
  • 1 Pkg. Red Plastic Cups
  • 2 Pkgs. coordinated napkins
  • 1 Patriotic Bunting Banner (cut apart & split between both tables edges & surfaces)
  • 1 Pkg. American Mini Flags
  • 1 pkg Pipe Cleaners
  • 1 Blue metallic mylar weight with star sprays

To create the centerpiece details, cut a 3″ star out of cardboard, coat in Elmer’s glue and red glitter and place it on a wooden (kabob) skewer.  To create the shooting sparkler look with the pipe cleaners, simply wind each one (individually) around a 1/2″ pen or marker & slide off.  Use hot glue to attach the end of these and the flags into the Blue Mylar weight. 

NEXT, The Food!  I knew that keeping the menu simple, but traditional, would help with my limited budget.  But, I also wanted to be just as creative with the food as I was with the decorations.  Starting with the burgers, I found these very cool disposable, aluminum, star-shaped, baking trays –   As you can see, their intended use is to bake star-shaped cupcakes, but I knew they would also work to make small, star-shaped burgers.  Because the burgers would be baking in their own juices, I purchased a very lean ground beef and added 1/4 of a yellow onion, and a small amount of Montreal Steak Seasoning and Italian Dressing Mix. 

For each star burger, I used 2 aluminum trays and coated them with an Olive Oil spray before adding an apx. 2″ ball of the beef mixture, which I spread into the star container, from the center out.   Next, I placed them on a cookie sheet (with sides), to which I added a little water and baked them in a 350-degree oven for apx. 15-20 minutes.  

Mixing 2 different beans, crispy bacon, BBQ sauce and brown sugar made for a yummy baked bean recipe. 

A healthy salad rounded out my main menu.  

For the beverage, I added a small container of strawberries to icy water… simple, refreshing and low cal!   Finally, I used my smallest star cookie cutter to cut star shapes from 1/2″ slices of watermelon, used a plastic star frosting tip (inserted into a cut corner of a plastic baggy) to add lite cool whip and then topped it off with a single blueberry.  [HINT:  place watermelon stars on a paper towel, after cutting, to absorb excess water until ready to serve]   Last, but not least, I coated strawberries with a small amount of white chocolate and rolled them in blue and red Pop Rocks (candy).  If you’ve never eaten Pop Rocks, they snap, crackle & pop (just like fireworks!) in your mouth, so I thought they would be a fun surprise for my guests and fit my patriotic theme perfectly!  As you can see,  my multi-level centerpiece was the perfect serving tray for both of my fruity, patriotic desserts!  I made that by combining a single cake plate with another square, white plate and I used 2 candle holders I had in between to create a multi-level serving dish.  (HINT: use a low melt hot glue gun to securely attach the risers, cake plate & square plate to each other and thereby, avoid any tipping mishaps).

So, I did it!  I stayed within my $25 budget for a Patriotic Picnic.  I’m sure you can do the same.  Enjoy your celebration!!!!

Enjoy the Creativity!


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Natalie Cardinal
    Jun 07, 2012 @ 02:38:22

    LOVE the Pop Rock idea. Looking forward to makeing some for the 4th of July. Thanks for sharing



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