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Gazette Premium Content Declare your independence from the same ol' same ol' for Fourth of July festivities

by JESSICA Allison jessica.allison@gazette.com - Published: June 29, 2013

Fourth of July. It's the one day of the year that patriotism begs for a party.

And to make it memorable, you may think you have to spend oodles at the party store. Not so, local decorators said. And they pass on some decorating tips that are sure to leave an impression.

For starters, make sure you keep those pesky bugs away. Rather than subjecting your guests to bug spray, invest in some citronella candles. Crate & Barrel offers blue and white candles to keep consistent with your patriotic theme. Fire bans permitting, you can also add OFF!/BiteFighter torch fuel to tiki lamps to keep your entire backyard bug-free.

If you don't want to use candles but like the effect, try DIY table decorations with LED candles, said Donna Vessey, CEO of Donna Vessey Events.

"We take red, white and blue sand and put them in clear jars and alternate the sand, and we set the LED candles inside of that," she said.

Using mason jars can add a homespun touch.

If you have a big enough backyard, hang some lanterns.

"We use red, white and blue light bulbs," said Vessey, who added that she puts them inside inexpensive paper lanterns to kick up the effect.

If you can't find colored lanterns, colored bulbs will still add to your patriotic theme.

What about bunting? Vessey said that it can be hung on porches, fences and staircases. You can put it just about anywhere, she said.

Many party supply stores, including Party City, carry pre-made Fourth of July bunting. If you want to go the DIY-route, all you need is appropriately colored fabric and some red, white or blue string. For the idyllic bunting look, attach one end to any fence or bannister, then drape the fabric and secure it with string every 24 inches. Fan the material out as you go.

Anne Kaskewicz, an event planner for the Colorado Springs-based Magical Productions, recommends a simple DIY project for patriotic centerpieces: Put flags inside glass jars with decorative rock.

The materials, she said, are available at Michaels or Hobby Lobby.

Hobby Lobby, for instance, carries decorative glass stones in a navy, red and turquoise mixes, all with white glass stones. For an even more homespun feel, use empty mason jars.

Kaskewicz also recommends adding music to the party. But if you go with patriotic tunes, she advises, stick with them.

Finally, Vessey recommends sending your guests off with something to remember your party by. At her parties, she uses printed copies of the Constitution.

"We roll them up and put red, white and blue ribbon around them and put them at your plate," she said.

TIPS FROM HGTV

- An area that many people often overlook at summer parties is the entryway. But it's the first thing guests see when they arrive, and it sets the tone for the party. Place Tiki Brand Fire Sculptures on each side of your entryway to give your party added ambience and make your guests feel extra special when they arrive.

- Use nontraditional colors to give your backyard a more authentic feel. Instead of red, white and blue for the Fourth of July, consider a combination of navy or turquoise as your shade of blue, with white and hot pink accents. Maybe a navy-striped tablecloth with pink plates and turquoise chairs. I love having pieces that are functional and beautiful to enhance an event like the new blue Glowing Torch. It is a great way to add even more color and ambience to a party.

- Set up your backyard with designated areas for specific tasks. Have one area designated for serving food, one for lounging or dining, an area for drinks or a self-serve bar and an area for games if that suits your event. This setup will keep your guests moving through the yard and prevent any congestion in a specific location.

- Ice down your drinks in a wheelbarrow. Place the wheelbarrow next to a fence post or tree and simply install a bottle opener nearby. Set out a bucket or glass jar for guests to deposit their bottle caps. This adds an inexpensive and memorable element to your party.

Kellie Clements, "Design Star"

TIPS FROM HGTV

- An area that many people often overlook at summer parties is the entryway. But it's the first thing guests see when they arrive, and it sets the tone for the party. Place Tiki Brand Fire Sculptures on each side of your entryway to give your party added ambience and make your guests feel extra special when they arrive.

- Use nontraditional colors to give your backyard a more authentic feel. Instead of red, white and blue for the Fourth of July, consider a combination of navy or turquoise as your shade of blue, with white and hot pink accents. Maybe a navy-striped tablecloth with pink plates and turquoise chairs. I love having pieces that are functional and beautiful to enhance an event like the new blue Glowing Torch. It is a great way to add even more color and ambience to a party.

- Set up your backyard with designated areas for specific tasks. Have one area designated for serving food, one for lounging or dining, an area for drinks or a self-serve bar and an area for games if that suits your event. This setup will keep your guests moving through the yard and prevent any congestion in a specific location.

- Ice down your drinks in a wheelbarrow. Place the wheelbarrow next to a fence post or tree and simply install a bottle opener nearby. Set out a bucket or glass jar for guests to deposit their bottle caps. This adds an inexpensive and memorable element to your party.

Kellie Clements, "Design Star"

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