Sunday, April 11, 2010

4th of July Party on a Budget

4th of July Party on a Budget

Star-studded Table
You don’t have to purchase expensive table decorations to make a festive table.

Tablecloth: Buy red or blue plastic or vinyl tablecloths and 4th of July stickers. Place the stickers on the tablecloth.
Centerpieces: Purchase small clay pots, blue and red acrylic paint, and small American flags at the craft store. Paint the pots red and blue. When dry, turn them upside down and stick the flags in the hole. This not only makes a beautiful table, it give keeps the tablecloth from blowing away on a windy July day. This is a great kids project.
Dinnerware: Purchase red and blue paper plates and alternate them in a basket. Buy red, white and blue plastic ware and put in a clear plastic cup with a festive napkin. When your guests come to the table, they only have to pick up the cup and plate. Keep a permanent marker handy to write names on the plastic cups to keep track of their drinks.
Sweet Surprise: Put clear bowls filled with red, white and blue bubble gum balls around the table for added fun.

Simple Finger Foods
Create a table of finger foods for people to come and grab in between games and activities.

Star Sandwiches: Make star-shaped sandwiches by cutting stars using a large star cookie cutter. Fill sandwiches with strawberry jelly and cream cheese for a red ribbon delight.
Fruit Fun Skewers: Using bamboo sticks slide fresh strawberries, marshmallow, and watermelon squares to create a red and white enjoyment.
Veggie Platter: Cut the top and clean the seeds out of a red bell pepper. Fill the pepper with your favorite veggie dip. Layer cut-up vegetables on a platter. On a hot day, sprinkle top of veggies with crushed ice.
Red, White and Blue Fruit Salad: Mix cut-up strawberries, blueberries, mini marshmallows with sour cream and coconut for a scrumptious salad. Spoon in plastic cups for a quick grab off the table. Make the night before and store in the refrigerator for a better tasting salad.
Chips and Salsa: Make a nacho platter with chips, salsa and sour cream.
Hot Dog Bar: Create a grab-and-go hot dog bar by putting ketchup, mustard, relish and crushed onions in squeeze bottles. Keep the buns moist in a covered container until the hot dogs are ready off the grill.
Chicken Kabobs: Grill pieces of marinated chicken, cherry tomatoes and pineapple chunks for a quick bite between tug-o-war.
Star-shaped Cookies: Using a large star cookie cutter to make sugar cookies, decorate with store-bought frosting and red and blue sprinkles. You can make these days ahead and store in airtight container or freeze in a storage bag.

Wild and Wacky Games
Outdoors games create the wonderful memories of the day. Enjoy family fun with these simple and affordable games.

Water Balloon Toss: Fill red, white and blue water balloons with water. Store in a bucket filled with water before the game. Have teams of two stands face-to-face and toss the balloon to each other. Those who did not drop the balloon take a step back. Each team keeps stepping back until only one team is left.
Patriotic Yo-Yo’s: Fill red, white and blue water balloons with water. Tie a heavy-duty rubber band to the ends. The balloons will become a fun yo-yo for the kids.

Blue Bubblegum Blowing Contest: Purchase Blueberry bubblegum and give each participant a chance to prove they can blow the biggest bubble.
Pillowcase Races: Using your pillowcases, have each person jump in their pillowcases to the finish line. Use detergent to get any grass stains out.
Red and Blue Plate Toss: Purchase a hula-hoop and red and blue paper plates. Have participants see how many paper plates they can toss into the hula-hoop circle.
Watermelon Eating Contest: Cut large wedges of seedless watermelon. See who can eat the watermelon the fastest.

Baking Summer Tips and Tricks:

Baking in the summer months can be challenging. With the humidity and heat most of us experience there are ways to make baking possible.

Bake at night. It is cooler at night and the house can handle a little extra heat.
Prepare frosting and decorate baked cakes in the early morning or evening to avoid heat-related decorating dilemmas.
Always refrigerate your cakes after they are completed. This will firm the frosting and decoration before setting it on the table. Do not freeze the cake.
Place your decorated cake in a cool area. If you have to place the cake outside, make sure it is in a shaded area with a cool breeze. Frosting is made of shortening or butter and it will melt easily if in direct sunlight or warm areas.
If you are going to be outside in the heat, keep the cake in a cool area until the cake cutting happens. Bring the cake out right before the cake cutting.
If traveling with the cake, place the cake in an air-conditioned car away from direct sunlight. Most back seats of cars have tinted windows to protect from the heat of the sun. Do not put the cake in a trunk of a car as it will not receive the cool air of the air-conditioner.

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