Families are making last-minute preparations this morning for Independence Day - a time families gather for picnics, fireworks and the celebration of America's birthday.
Looking for ideas on how to make your home sparkle during the Fourth of July? Here are some ideas to make this holiday and future Independence Days more festive, without breaking the bank.
Valerie Steil, president of Marc T. Nielsen Interiors in Valparaiso, said one of the easiest ways to decorate for the Fourth is to integrate the colors red, white and blue into decorations.
"Use red geraniums down the center of the table on a navy blue runner," she suggested.
Cloth napkins with stars or striped patterns are perfect for the Fourth, or try solid red, white or blue napkins that can be used year-round.
"Simple white or red dishes work beautifully, and food looks great on them," Steil said.
Real plates and flatware are always better than paper or plastic when possible.
"White Corningware, which is less breakable, is great," she said. "Avoid plates decorated with busy holiday designs. A large central star on a plate would be fabulous."
Around the house
Having guests this year? Don't forget to decorate throughout house.
In the restroom, look for hand towels with stars or striped patterns.
Elsewhere, simple secondary touches such as gold braiding or tassels will catch the eye of guests. Blue vases and glassware with red flowers, such as peonies, look beautiful as well.
If you enjoy crafts, head to the craft store and buy plain wooden letters and red, white and blue acrylic paint. Mix and match stars and stripes and solid colors to decorate the "USA" letters.
And don't forget lots of red, white and blue elsewhere. Anything from wine charms to candle holders can display patriotic colors - even yourself.
"Dress yourselves in red, white and blue. Jeans work great," Steil said. "Cowboy boots and hats are very American. You are part of the decorations, and will help set the tone."
Using food is another easy way to add a splash of color to table settings or your family meal on the Fourth.
Alternate strawberries, raspberries or blueberries on a fruit pizza (recipe here: http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/philadelphia-fruit-pizza-57079.aspx).
Turn summer drinks into colorful additions by picking berry-flavored cocktails that are red in color. Add Pop Rocks to the glass rims for a fun addition (recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/red-white-and-blue-cocktails-recipe/index.html).
Keep snacks out as well, such as red licorice or red, white and blue candy in a dish - a subtle, but patriotic touch to the day's festivities.
Hang bunting above doors or on railings for decoration, and use festive lanterns to illuminate your gathering as it heads into the evening hours.
To beat the heat, make sure you have plenty of water on hand. Take water bottles and wrap red and white striped fabric around them for a patriotic touch.
Using white chair or table covers? Add flair by tying red, white and blue ribbons around the chair or table's legs to secure the covers.
"When it's all set up, play the National Anthem," Steil said. "Don't forget the music."