This Fourth of July, we’re staying close to home and keeping the gatherings small. So we’ve gone through our favorite cookbooks and come up with some simple table settings and menu ideas for an elegant but laid-back al fresco celebration.
Furnishings and upholstery featured in this story are available at Summer Classics Home stores.
Serve a Festive Spread
A bountiful charcuterie board makes for a chic, casual meal. To set up a backyard picnic with the creature comforts of home, move outdoor rugs to the lawn and toss outdoor pillows around a low table. In the scene above, we love how a variety of all-weather textiles in assorted patterns and muted tones combine in an understated nod to red, white, and blue.
For menu inspiration, we turned to Ronda Carman’s Entertaining at Home: Inspirations from Celebrated Hosts (Rizzoli 2019), which offers a trove of road-tested entertaining ideas, including Caroline Harper Knapp’s advice on pulling together the perfect charcuterie board. Caroline, who writes the popular lifestyle blog House of Harper, creates veritable feasts of gourmet cured meats, nuts, olives, fresh vegetables, cheese, cheese straws, crackers, and dried and fresh fruit. Find a list of her favorite charcuterie board items and go-to online sources for specialty foods in the link below.
Set a Patriotic Scene
- Use throw pillows and flowers to transform your everyday look. Neutral and blue-and-white color schemes are classic choices for porches and patios year round. Come Independence Day, add a pop of red with a few extra all-weather pillows in complementary patterns or simply accent your existing pieces with a vase of red blooms.
- Keep the flowers simple. Zinnias from your garden will do the trick, and don’t be afraid to mix other cheerful colors with patriotic red. For a touch of blue, add summer-blooming bachelor buttons or hydrangeas.
- Strawberries and blueberries are another natural way to bring red and blue to your table. They’re also refreshing and delicious on a hot day, whether served alongside a cheese board or for dessert with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or pound cake.
- For tableware, summery pastels paired with woven table accents and pottery serving pieces lend an Americana feel.
More Fourth of July Menu Ideas
It’s all about the three S‘s—simple, summery, and sophisticated—so we gathered a few light bites that you can mix and match. Most of these recipes can be partially or fully prepared in advance, making it easy to pull everything together on the day of. Whichever recipes you choose, end your Fourth of July celebration with the menu equivalent of a fireworks grande finale, Butterscotch Banana Pudding.
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Butterscotch Banana Pudding from California Cooking and Southern Style by Frances Schultz (Skyhorse, 2019). “To streamline, skip the meringue and top with whipped cream, which is sublime as is,” writes Frances of this sweet American classic. Stay tuned for more from Frances, Flower's new contributing editor, in our upcoming July/August issue.
Bel-Air Onion Puffs from The Art of the Host by Alex Hitz (Rizzoli New York, 2019). “This is my go-to recipe for an elegant and deceptively easy hors d’oeuvre. It’s impressive and delicious, and people will think you spent a lot of time making it—wink, wink!” — Alice Doyle, Editorial Director, Flower magazine
Mini Grilled Cheddar and Goat Cheese Sandwiches from The Art of the Host by Alex Hitz (Rizzoli New York, 2019). White cheddar and goat cheese elevate traditional grilled cheese to celebration status. We love how Alex serves his with easy-to-carry shooters of carrot and ginger soup. For a cool summertime pairing, we opted for gazpacho (featured in the next slide).
Easy Spicy Gazpacho from Entertaining at Home: Inspirations from Celebrated Hosts by Ronda Carman (Rizzoli New York, 2019). What better way to highlight the glory of summer tomatoes grown in your garden or purchased from a local farm? The unassuming soup originated in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia. When Dallas interior designer Cathy Kincaid entertains at home, she whips up her Texas-inspired rendition.
Grilled Chicken & Shrimp Kabobs from California Cooking and Southern Style by Frances Schultz (Skyhorse, 2019). Fire up the grill, or use the broiler if you prefer, for these sure-to-please kabobs. The recipe includes an easy and versatile lemon yogurt vinaigrette that serves as the perfect dipping sauce. Eat them off the skewer for a casual app, no plate required. Or, serve them over a salad for a light meal.
Cantaloupe Sorbet. James Beard Award–winning chef and restauranteur Frank Stitt put Birmingham, Alabama, on the culinary map more than 30 years ago with Highlands Bar and Grill. This simple refreshing dessert, which he first shared with Flower a few years back, makes local in-season melon the star.
By Terri Robertson and Alice Welsh Doyle
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Beat the heat with Flower‘s collection of recipes for spirited concoctions and alcohol-free sippers. Plus, learn how to make pretty floral ice cubes. Get recipes.