Contemporary Fiction Author, Infrequent Blogger & Retired Clown

Stars, Stripes and Tablecloths

Do me a favor.

Blink real quick.

Just once, go ahead, blink.

How fast that? A second? Half a second?

I feel like that’s how quickly the first half of 2012 went by. Seriously! I swear it was just January and I was sweating in the garage putting up Christmas decorations and now it’s July and I’m sweating in the garage getting out some 4th of July decorations.

In my family, after Christmas and Thanksgiving the most important holiday of the year is July 4th. When I was a kid, we used to go up to my family’s little lake cottage in Alabama and cram a dozen people, a couple boxes of fireworks and enough food to feed an army into a tiny house with one bathroom and no central air.

And God, it was fun.

This year my family is going for something more low key. Something about the holiday falling mid-week just makes it difficult to get up the energy for a big shindig.

But make no mistake, we won’t miss an opportunity for some good barbecue and watermelon. That would be truly un-American.

In preparation for our casual gathering, I decided to go with a pretty low key table setting using a few things I already had around the house — a blue indoor/outdoor table cloth from Target, collection of mason jars (including the redneck wine glasses I gave my parents for Christmas) and a kids’ bucket with shovel I picked up at Michael’s for $1, filled with Impatiens from Wal-Mart.

I folded my table cloth to make a runner (a new favorite trick of mine to convince myself that I don’t need that beautiful NEW table runner at Target…ah the land of temptation that is Tar-jay!) and added some red glass beads (Dollar Tree) and simple white tea lights I had on hand to make the centerpiece.

But the flowers weren’t getting any sun and after a day, they had drooped and dropped a few petals so I moved them outside by the front door to welcome visitors and instead turned to my trusty glass snifter (best, most versatile decorating piece ever) and filled with with a few apples for an alternate all-American centerpiece. (Find your own snifter like mine on Etsy or check out this vintage Italian glass blue one I covet like whoa…)

Because we were planning a messy menu with some finger-licking-good ribs, I decided to unfold the table cloth (since it’s indoor/outdoor it’s super easy to clean!) and skip the paper napkins (too thin) and fancy cloth napkins (too formal) and use washcloths instead.

I had a few red ones and a few red and tan plaid ones that made for the perfect accent and were MUCH better for cleaning up the barbecue mess. Plus they went straight in the washer after dinner with the rest of the week’s dirty towels. Perfect!

Instead of napkin rings I cut rope and tied it around the silverware (thank you, Southern Living, for this tip!) to pull the whole thing together.

When the food was ready, everything came together for the perfect meal.

How did you celebrate the 4th? Did you have a special table setting or was it more of a paper plates and napkins affair? (Those are the best kind!)

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