Ah, the Fourth of July. It's the holiday that never fails to excite with its festive decor and mouthwatering summer treats — unless, of course, classic turns to cliché. While red, white and blue is always charming, certain décor and party tricks can get old, fast (we're looking at you, bunting).
To help you avoid Fourth of July déjà vu, home goods mogul and hosting mastermind spilled five ridiculously easy secrets for an unforgettable, unique party. The best thing about these tips? You can do them the week of — or even the day of — your event. Talk about entertaining made easy.
Read on to discover the easy tips that turn a party from same-old to show-stopping.
1. Trade fireworks for confetti balloons
If your state has consumer fireworks restrictions or completely bans them (ahem: Delaware, Massachusetts and New Jersey), or you simply don't have an outdoor space appropriate for party poppers and Roman candles, fill balloons with red, white and blue confetti instead.
"Confetti-filled balloons are a fun alternative to fireworks," says Stewart. "Satisfyingly loud and sparkly, they can be set off by kids indoors. To make, pull a balloon over a funnel, pour in the confetti until the balloon is a quart full and inflate with a hand pump."
Psst, Stewart's secret for extra crackly balloon fireworks: an extra sharp pencil. (This also sounds like incredibly therapeutic stress relief.)
2. Hit the farmer's market
When it comes to cocktails, repeat after us (and Stewart): Don't. Take. Shortcuts. The first step? Don't rely on liquor or juice itself to infuse the cocktails with summery flavor. Instead, hit the supermarket or farmer's market for fresh fruit.
"I don't recall where I first tasted a cherry mojito, but wow, it's one of the best drinks for summer," says Stewart. "Try to get the biggest, best Bing cherries available. I serve a big batch from a punch bowl or glass cylinder container."
Stewart suggests ladling a mixture over ice and topping with sparkling mineral water.
Another crucial tip: Invest in the ingredients you'll be using in the cocktails. This is no time to not-so-slyly opt for pre-made mixtures and hope nobody notices (they probably will).
3. Prepping meat goes a long way
Juicy ribs complete any Fourth of July party in a classic, all-American way. But as hungry as you may be, resist the temptation to toss them straight onto the grill.
"The real secret to very tender, tasty ribs is to cook them in water for at least an hour before they are blasted in barbecue sauce and grilled," says Stewart.
4. Make Your Guests Feel Special With A Personal Nameplate
A name plate as simple as a patriotic star tied around a napkin (bonus points if you use red or blue string!) boosts both your party's style and functionality.
"While not required for an intimate family gathering, assigned seating helps any large dinner party run more smoothly," says Stewart. "Plus, place cards can serve as a pretty table decoration."
Pretty, purposeful and patriotic, in this case. It's a Fourth of July decor trifecta.
5. Transition Into Evening With Hanging Lights
Hanging lanterns or other lighting can instantly create a cozy, intimate atmosphere party as the festivities transition from an afternoon lunch to an evening soirée.
"When you want to illuminate a setting and create a distinctive mood, lighting is one of the easiest (and least-expensive) ways to cast an enchanting spell on any outdoor space," says Stewart.
Before your party, set aside a few lights or lanterns to hang and illuminate as the sun sets. It's a surefire way to have glowing festivities throughout the evening.
Scroll on for more Fourth of July party inspiration from Martha Stewart. Just be prepared to flaunt the title of "Hostess with the Mostess" all year long.