Simple Decorating Tips For a Vintage 4th of July  

Posted by Heidi in

I felt a vague sense of dissatisfaction when I opened my (one and only) box of 4th of July decor this year. (Compare this to my 4 Easter boxes, 12 Halloween boxes and 24 boxes of Christmas decor.) (Or don't, as I am sure you have far better things to do.) We almost always celebrate the 4th with family but this year we will be fending for ourselves. I realized that not only my decor was insufficient but all that fun stuff one uses to serve a festive meal was sadly lacking.

So is our budget.

I cudgeled my brain, pored over magazine photos (I especially love Victoria and Romantic Homes)and haunted the thrift stores for fetching, festive, frugal finds. I also came to a number of realizations, ones I am going to share with you. (Those of you who have already come to these conclusions can avert their eyes.)

If you hunt around your house for any and all things red, white or blue or that shouts "1776" or even old (or vintage) and gather them in one place, you have the makings for a very simple and free-free-free 4th of July decor. For example, the white and red baseball basking in the azure blue of the lobelia: add a cheapie flag (most likely already in your collection or 3 for $1 just about anywhere in the U.S. of A.) and it screams "July 4th". (I would have preferred a red croquet ball with white stripes but I didn't have one.)

You might already use a lot of red or white or blue in your everyday decor. Perhaps you once spent a great deal of time making crafty things out of fabric in just the right colors. Gather what you have in one place and you can make a very simple (and inexpensive) statement.



Check your garden for flowers that lend themselves to the color scheme.


If the simple look is one you're after, you needn't dye everything in a bath of red, white and blue. A touch here and there (along with a black piece that bespeaks Paul Revere) will do.



Don't fret if your red white or blue item is not American, or even English (it is the Mother Country, after all). This delightful cup and saucer says ooh la la Paris (as it was made and purchased in France, only, sadly, not by moi) but its dark blue and gold combined with the Colonial costumes (they call it "Georgian" in England--in France they call it ooh la la fashion of the past) (or so I assume) (never a safe thing to do) has Patriotic written all over it.



Check dollar stores and other discount party stores (don't forget thrift stores--last week I walked out of our local thrift store with a flag pillow in the shape of a star, a blue scarf covered with stars, a burlap flag that I made into a pillow and an Old Navy 4th of July kit full of rw&b crepe paper, stickers and other goodies, all for $4.32!) for items that will fit the theme. Star cookie cutters can be silver, plates can be plain white--they don't have to be fancy to look festive. Candy in the right colors are a fun way to decorate, too (if anyone finds red white and blue M&M's, pls.give me a holler!)



Think ahead and buy things on sale this year for next year. If you were really lucky, you did that last year and paid one cool buck for a $10 box of red white and blue paper lanterns (see above) WITH light cord which are now hanging in your yard. (Not that I'm bragging, or anything.)
However, nothing says Holiday like abundance. If you truly want to make a statement, the more, the better. Splurge and buy TWO packages of 3 flags for a dollar and wantonly display them all in one place. (Oh, the gluttony!)

When I pulled out my antique red and white china (Red Vista by Mason's) I realized that I could use my real silver forks, knives and spoons with it. I splurged and bought blue plastic cups at the dollar store (you might already have some) and filled a white classical looking vase with the fireworks we bought for the big night (though I use the term "fireworks" loosely. We are not allowed to have them in this neck of the woods so they are only dressed up versions of those New Year's champagne bottles filled with confetti and streamers). Decorating with food is also always a very good idea. Pictured is my gluten free yellow cake with strawberries, copious amounts of strawberry glaze and whipped cream. Yum!




One can never have too many pictures of Strawberry Shortcake, thus, therefore, and because . . .



When evening falls, one feels the need to be outside. Light up the darkness with more paper lanterns (plain white ones are cheapest and can be painted by the kiddios with water colors) which can be obtained much more cheaply than 3 for $10 if you shop ahead of time online. (You can use a string of white Christmas lights.) The one below is a Bethany Lowe design (I adore her stuff) that I bought at--are you ready?--the thrift store for next to nothing. Love it!



Bunting, like the one in the arch, is an absolute must and quite reasonably priced if you look hard enough.



My big splurge this year ($13) was fabric to slipcover my usual rose-strewn pillows in patriotic themes. It took less than an hour to make three pillow covers and I feel that they go a very long way towards making things festive in a Patriotic way. However you celebrate the 4th this year, I hope that it is fun, festive, yummy and safe!

This entry was posted on Monday, June 28, 2010 at Monday, June 28, 2010 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

19 wise, witty and wonderful comments

Love it! So cute. In our old house, my kitchen was an Americana theme so my 4th of July decorations were always out. Loved it!

June 28, 2010 at 7:21 PM

Splendid. I'm feeling more patriotic by the minute.

June 28, 2010 at 7:35 PM

You have 100% more patriotic items than I do.

It's lovely, Heidi!

June 28, 2010 at 7:46 PM

Beyond adorable! And so classy too. I love that you only spent that much and yet your photos look like they belong on the cover of a glossy mag. Really cool!

June 28, 2010 at 9:08 PM

Me all sorts of likey.

And this was just plain fun to read. And look at.

I love your frugality and creativity.

June 28, 2010 at 9:20 PM

I love it. I used to decorate. Then child number 3 was born and that was the end of that.

Someday, someday.

June 28, 2010 at 9:30 PM

I guess it's time to go down to ye olde storage room and see what I have... I have a vague recollection that I grabbed a few clearance items last year...

I actually had my living decorated all red/white/blue for awhile so you'd think I had LOTS of stuff for the holiday... unfortunately I think a large portion of it got donated to a local school... going in to their front office kind of makes me want to pop a bag of popcorn and relax with a good book on my couch.

June 28, 2010 at 9:30 PM

I love this post! You're quite a remarkable decorator. I think I have a USA wooden flag for my door but that's it. Guess I better start looking for something better. :)

June 29, 2010 at 6:53 AM

You are really good at this! And not everyone has such a lovely garden to draw from, so you are doubly amazing!

June 29, 2010 at 7:00 AM

Lovely! And I am deeply smitten by your china...swoon!

June 29, 2010 at 9:00 AM

You're wasting your time. Just stick a lit sparkler in a cupcake and call it a day.

June 29, 2010 at 11:57 AM

You should have your very own magazine!

ps I am glad you resisted the urge to throw in British stuff. That just wouldn't have worked.

June 29, 2010 at 5:08 PM

I will really MISS the 4th of July in USA this year
Canada celebrates the 1st...it is our independence day from England
IT IS TOTALLY NOTHING LIKE THE CELEBRATION OF THE 4TH
I have to admit, Canada does not compare to the patriotism of USA
I think I will always have a big love for America
really cute decorations

June 29, 2010 at 8:11 PM

You're brilliant! I might just go decorate. . .maybe!

June 30, 2010 at 5:15 PM

Oh that is just fantastic. It almost makes me want to go through the effort of pulling out decorations. :)

June 30, 2010 at 11:28 PM

You've done a fantastic job! But I would expect no less from you. :)

Does it make you feel any better that I don't have a single 4th of July box? I probably should start collecting things. Halloween currently takes up the most boxes in my attic.

June 30, 2010 at 11:44 PM

Heidi! How marvelous. I've been in the dumps all week over the fact that I did not pack my July 4th decorations for our first American holiday in England. Your ideas are exactly what I needed. I'm heading to the "99 Pence" store this minute! :)

July 2, 2010 at 5:14 AM

You make me feel like such a failure! I only have Christmas decorations. That is it!

July 4, 2010 at 3:11 PM

You are so freaking cool!

July 5, 2010 at 9:11 PM

Post a Comment