I want you to let the ballyhoo boys loose, plan a celebration, and declare a holiday.
From no-fuss seafood boils and monochromatic color palettes to gilded soirées that celebrate America’s golden days, this year’s Independence Day party trends are fun, fresh, and, yes, revolutionary. Pour yourself a Firecracker Spritz, and drink in these July 4th party tips from 10 of America’s most celebrated event designers.
Photo: David Stark Design
David Stark, David Stark Design, New York:
Who says July 4th decor has to be red, white, and blue, all at once?! Don’t be afraid to cut the traditional, multi-hued color scheme down to a monochrome. Textured white-on-white fabrics, like hand-made canvas cloth, look refined. I also love using red gingham for July 4th parties. Give this classic design an updated, fresh, and fashionable feeling by mixing together different scales of the pattern—from the delicate, tiny plaids you might find on a shirt to oversized, beefy ones.
Photo: David Stark Design
David Pressman, David Pressman Events, Los Angeles:
In spite of my having lived in Southern California for quite some time, I’m an East Coast kid at heart. So to me, July 4th is about watching a small-town parade, having ice cream, eating seafood, and watching fireworks. It’s not a time for complicated recipes or anything too fancy. I like to serve a red-, white-, and blue-themed menu, which includes steamed—not broiled, baked, or grilled—lobster, which I’ll have flown in from back East. I’ll fill a big old pot with a few inches of water, some salt, diced Vidalia onions, and white wine. (The wine is to help the lobsters enjoy their transition.) I’ll offer freshly shucked oysters, scallops, and grilled veggies, along with bowls of chilled watermelon and blueberries, and plenty of non-alcoholic and spiked drinks. For dessert, I’ll serve ice cream and cherry, peach, and blueberry pies. I also like making the dessert course mobile so we can walk to a great spot where fireworks can be enjoyed because fireworks are the perfect way to cap off any July 4th celebration.
Photo: Van Wyck & Van Wyck
Bronson Van Wyck, Van Wyck & Van Wyck, New York:
Nothing says summer and July 4th entertaining like fried chicken. I like to think that Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin indulged in some after drafting the Declaration of Independence. For pops of red, serve it with an heirloom tomato salad, cubes of juicy watermelon mixed with herbs and feta cheese, and pickled peaches. Wash it all down with spicy margaritas garnished with red serrano peppers. If it’s a big party, fill up the back of a pickup truck or tractor with ice and nestle in your favorite local beer and some rosé. I love to throw down an old red French ticking fabric and blue terracotta plates. My mom has an old collection of blue pottery, and it’s always fun to bring it out at this time of the year.
Photo: DeJuan Stroud, Inc.
DeJuan Stroud, DeJuan Stroud, Inc., New York:
Because July 4th parties are generally held outside, I like to set up an al fresco drinks cart or bar so guests can grab a beverage whenever they need hydration. Virgin and spiked teas, as well as herb-flavored juices, are always a hit, but make sure to offer classic lemonade too—what’s more American? Drape your tables with blue and white gingham cloths or oilcloths, which come in so many fun colors and patterns, and add centerpieces of bold red zinnias or geranium plants. I shy away from using little American flags, stars, and bunting, and prefer instead to go bold with the colors of the flag.
Photo: Kim Starr Wise Floral Events
Kim Starr Wise, Kim Starr Wise Floral Events, New Orleans:
I love a traditional red, white, and blue color scheme…but with a twist. I’ll set a long farm table with a crisp white Swiss-dot linen fabric and add a variety of vintage milk-glass containers filled with red garden roses, anemones, ranunculus, dahlias, zinnias, and geranium. For a touch of whimsy, I like incorporating red fruit—cherries, strawberries, and raspberries—into the arrangements. I’ll take French-blue patterned napkins and tie them with a thin navy ribbon and add dark blue and frosted votive candles to the table. I like to keep the china simple and understated to highlight the flowers and fabrics.
Photo: Legendary Events
Tony Conway, Legendary Events, Atlanta:
I love to celebrate Independence Day with a casual outdoor soirée. Start with a fun invitation, like a pair of flip-flops (paper or real), with the party information screened on them. For the decor, red, white, and blue Gerbera daisies are a great choice, not just because of their patriotic colors, but also because they hold up extremely well in the heat. When your guests arrive, set the party tone immediately by offering them some refreshing ice-cold water infused with strawberries and basil. Serve it in all-American Mason jars, topped with an elegant straw to match the decor.
Rebecca Miller Revel of MartiniBird, San Francisco:
Fourth of July parties are great because you can find amazing produce wherever you are. I like to serve barbecued meats, popovers, corn on the cob, and salad, along with a variety of sauces, salsas, and butters. A spicy peach salsa works well as a dip or fish topping, while sweet and savory butters add interest to the corn and popovers. My favorite thing to whip up is a pesto-chimichurri sauce, which includes parsley, arugula, cilantro, mint, jalapeno, olive oil, capers, maple syrup, garlic, and olive oil. It can go on anything! I’ll also muddle peaches and basil and make a rosé sangria. To create a gorgeous table, I’ll fill my table with linens and tabletop items from Casa de Perrin, La Tavola, Glassybaby, and Theoni.
Photo: Latrobe’s on Royal
Rylan Domingue, Latrobe’s on Royal, New Orleans:
The key to hosting a memorable Independence Day party is anticipating the wants and needs of your guests. Here in New Orleans, July 4th is guaranteed to be sultry, so keeping guests comfortable will be the priority. Offering guests parasols is a fun and functional way to create shade where it may not exist. We also suggest creating a “hydration station” where guests can grab a glass of filtered water “spiked” with frozen blueberries or strawberries and spray themselves with a cooling peppermint or lavender body spray. Sno-balls are a fun, all-American treat that will both cool your guests and add a touch of whimsy. Bring in a local sno-ball shop that caters off-site events, and they’ll provide all the necessities, including colorful syrups. For an adult-friendly version, spike them with your favorite spirit.
Stephen Sonnier, Dunn and Sonnier Antiques & Flowers LLC, New Orleans:
We usually boil crabs for the 4th of July holiday. The bright red of the crabs is perfect for adding a natural and patriotic pop of color. I’ll place them in a large bowl on the table, which I’ll decorate with a classic white cloth, crisp blue napkins, and red zinnias in jars or old ironstone pitchers.
Barbara Hamilton, Ociana, Washington, DC & Miami:
From simple outdoor barbecues to an all-out bash, anything goes when hosting an Independence Day party, including glitz and sparkle. Gold touches, like a pretty blue fabric with gold stars, are a great way to add glitz—you want your guests to feel like they’re part of a great celebration. You can also decorate a ceiling or trellis by adding candlelight with glass stars. Fill the stars with blue, red or gold iridescent stones and add tea lights.
Looking for some music to add patriotic pomp to your Independence Day party? Download our July 4th playlist, The Uncle Sam Jam, a collection of patriotic anthems and oldies-but-goodies that bring back memories of growing up in the U.S.A.
And here are a few more story topics we think you’ll enjoy:
Hostess gifts for Fourth of July parties
A sommelier picks the best summer wines
Fun and refreshing summer cocktails
Please remember our troops this Independence Day. Visit this site to choose members of the military to whom you can send letters of support and packages.
July 4th Party Trends
Welcome Photo and Quote Mashup
Welcome Photo: Cyd Charisse
Welcome Quote: Mr. Smith goes to Washington, 1939