A Patriotic Pergola Picnic!

This post is all about the ol’ Red, White and Blue and with July 4th around the corner, I hope it inspires you with its patriotic spirit… enjoy!

Feel free to click on any photo for a larger view and if you have any questions (or comments… I “heart” those! 🙂 ), please feel free to share them.

During the year, so many celebrations and holidays call for a “Patriotic” theme (Military Homecoming, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day… even the Olympics!), so here’s some creative ideas to inspire you when it’s time to wave your own flag…  on a budget, as usual! 😉

The FOOD!  Keeping it light…

For your celebration, you might want to consider challenging yourself to come up with a slightly healthier menu, starting with a lighter hotdog.  Then, some unique twists on old favorites like corn on the cob.  I call this recipe “Crunchy Corn on the Cob”.  Instead of rolling it in butter,  sprinkle it with crushed blue corn chips (blue) and a touch of chunky sea salt (white) and paprika (red).  Do this right after the corn leaves the pan, using the hot water (instead of butter) to help the crushed chips stick to the corn.  You won’t believe how incredibly tasty this is and how well the two flavors & textures go together!  Accenting the corn with the flavor of fresh cilantro was yummy too!   And check out how cute Patriotic Skewers work as holders for the corn.

Create a “bite-size” salad with Caprese’ Skewers.  Add another “patriotic twist” with a single blueberry at the end of the fresh basil leaf, mozzarella ball and cherry tomato lineup.  Place the ingredients on Patriotic Pinwheel Skewers (Pier One) for some patriotic pizzazz!  Finally, drizzle a Balsamic Glaze and sprinkle fresh herbs to keep taste high and calories low.

The dessert’s main ingredient is an old family recipe – Amoretto Fruit Cream.  It’s very similar to the one featured court-side at England’s famous Wimbledon Tennis matches, which take place around the U.S.A.’s Independence Day.  So, why not let the fruit cream pull double-duty for you by having a Wimbledon party & serving strawberries & cream?  Check out the RECIPE section of my blog for the super, simple details and directions.  You’ll never serve the old marshmallow-y stuff again! LOL   To drive your theme home even more, add the unexpected – a little, sugary sweet in the center.  I used a patriotic flag cupcake accent (found in the boxed cake section of most grocery chains) and served it all over a slice of Angel Food Loaf Cake (check the bakery dept. of your local grocery store).  

The BEVERAGES!

Keep things simple & low-cal by serving water and iced tea.  I found cute patriotic straws (also at Pier 1) and created a hole in the center of a strawberry, to push a straw through, for another decorative touch.  To add some patriotic flair to a dispenser of iced tea, use a shape mold to create “star” ice cubes, in red and blue [note:  juices melt, so if you’re going to use them in clear water, stick to 1 color because mixing colors can give it a murky look].  You’ll find this star mold at most craft stores.  I used a 50% off coupon so my cost was only $5.00.  And since I LOVE two-fers, wouldn’t this be perfect to use during Christmas too?  🙂

PARTY FAVORS!  

A party favor is extra fun & easy when you follow the lead of a theme (enlarge photo to see note card).  The note card sets up the idea behind this favor: “SNAP”  represents small fireworks, “CRACKLE” – is represented by 2 different kinds of sparklers and “POP” – a blue, over-sized blow pop.  Also, knowing how hot it can be, at outdoor parties, a hand “FAN” is a great item to include for your guest’s (individual) comfort.  To create one, cut out the flat, center circle of a sturdy, patriotic theme, paper plate.  When done, glue a wooden tongue depressor to the back.  P.S.  Don’t throw away the leftover paper plate’s outer ring… I have a fun idea for that too!

All of these goodies fit perfectly into a tall, plastic, patriotic container (Wal-Mart Party Dept. – 97 cents) and there’s no need to fill it all the way – just pop a small, red potato in the bottom of each to weight it down.   Wrap the finished favor in clear plastic, add a bow and the “theme” note card (click HERE for a printable version of the theme note card I created for mine).  For apx. $3.00 each, you have a festive party favor that’s not only colorful, but also completely “interactive”!

Time to DECORATE!

Check party stores and the Dollar Tree for inexpensive decorations.  I found these paper lanterns and pinwheels at PARTY CITY, for $14 (total).  For the price, they really add a punch of color to a picnic setting.  Be sure to check out my up-cycled thrift store chandelier idea because it looks great in this setting!

Consider a 2nd (side) table to hold and display your dessert, drinks, plastic-ware, etc.  This is also a great place to use your party favors to help you decorate (double-duty!)  More decorating ideas:  a rustic Uncle Sam (made from a fence post) and flag.  The flag is made by wrapping a large piece of foam core board with inexpensive muslin fabric, which is pulled to the back and stapled in place.  For the stripes, untwist lengths of red “twist paper ribbon”.  To create the star, glue white buttons onto a piece of dark blue construction paper.  Once everything is glued into place and dry, spray paint a light coat of “Wood Tone” by Design Master (a thinned-down brown paint), over the entire project, to give it an aged look.

Utilize cake plates, everyday plates and vases from around the house to create varying height on your table… a great technique that caterers use.  It creates visual interest and saves space!

Check discount stores for inexpensive tablecloths.  I found these at Big Lots ($3.25).  The color POP is fantastic and they coordinated perfectly with my hanging decorations.

And doesn’t it seem like every patriotic table-scape you come across features a geranium?  I love how they look also, but they have gotten expensive, so check out all of the other red, summer, flowering plants in the garden shop.  I found this Lantana for 1/3 the cost!

As promised… the reason you saved the outer rings of the paper plates is because nothing goes to waste in The Seasonal Home!  Overlap the ends and staple or tape it back together, to create a circle/ring.  It makes a fun, patriotic hat.

Imagine some of your party-goers wearing these hats while holding their sparklers… turning themselves into the famous MISS LIBERTY herself!

Enjoy the Creativity!

Eileen

http://www.TheSeasonalHome.com


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Spring Table Scape

Spring is the perfect time to sneak in a relaxing, lunch with friends.  Even if it’s main purpose is a planning meeting, it can still feel special if you pull out your pretty dishes & serve something easy and yummy.  So today, I did just that… pulled out my light blue glassware and made some of my favorite recipes – Fruited Chicken Salad, which is a great Spring, Easter or Summer meal (I just added the “how to” to my RECIPE section) and for dessert, I used my old 10-minute (from start to finish) standard…. Oatmeal Fudgies…. and added some Six-lets candy in the center as they were cooling to create little chocolate bird nests (Fudgies recipe also in RECIPE section of this blog). 

Two things to remember –

  • If you have a pretty tablecloth that doesn’t cover your table, turn it so it lays in a diamond shape in the center of the table.  Everyone will think you did it on purpose and
  • Don’t forget to add a sprig of fresh mint to each glass of iced tea… it tastes SO refreshing and mint is very good for you!

Enjoy the Creativity!

Eileen