Make Your 4th of July Party Sparkle

The  4th of July is the perfect  excuse for an outdoor party. Even with the Texas heat approaching 100 degrees, we love a cookout, a picnic or any other reason to enjoy a meal in the open air. All you need are  just a few extra touches to make your  4th of July or any summer party a special occasion. With a little outdoor lighting, a nice table setting and a couple of cool beverages, your party will sparkle.   So fired up the grill  and prepare yourself for a great summer party!

Cool Beverages for a Hot Summer’s Day

Iced Tea-Southern-Style

Nothing tastes better on a hot Texas summer’s day than a nice cold glass of  iced tea. In the South, we prefer our tea sweet. So why not make a big pitcher of southern-style sweet tea. Brew black tea (I recommend Starbuck’s Awake Tea). Combine the warm tea with cane sugar or simple syrup to taste. Add ice to the cooled tea. Garnish with mint leaves or lemon slices. Add a little variety to your iced tea by using fruit flavored or herbal teas, like this recipe from Real Simple Magazine:

Ingredients

8 cups boiling water

8 tea bags

2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

1/3 cup honey

Directions

Pour 8 cups of boiling water into a heat-resistant pitcher. Add 8 tea bags and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove and discard the bags and allow the tea to cool to room temperature. Stir in the honey and ginger and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve over ice. Serves: 8

By Kate Merker and Sara Quessenberry, June 2007

Setting The Table Sets The Mood

A walk down the aisles of a store like Party City will provide all the inspiration you need to set a spectacular table for your 4th of July party. You will find not only an endless selection of decorations, but also disposable plates, napkins and utensils in every imaginable color. Fresh flowers are always a nice touch, even for an outdoor party. But there is no need for fancy vases or containers. Use glass soda bottles decorated with red, white and blue ribbon to display fresh flowers and herbs from your garden.

Partying After Dark

Your summer party doesn’t have to head indoors when the sun goes down. Hanging lanterns, electric  patio lights and torches provide light and citronella candles will help keep the mosquitos away. A West Virginia company called Bambeco makes solar-powered  handblown glass patio string lights that will turn your backyard into a wonderland. Even strings of white holiday lights, strung around tree trunks provide your backyard with a lovely glowing light.

The Perfect Ending

When I was a little girl, the best part of any family picnic was the homemade ice cream. It didn’t matter that we had to sit  for what seemed like hours,  turning the crank of the ice cream maker, because we knew all our hard work would be rewarded with the best tasting ice cream in the world. Fortunately, we are living in modern times and homemade ice cream is not hours away. Cuisinart has a line of electric ice cream makers that make ice creme in minutes and without the cranking.

You might also want to try making homemade popsicle-like frozen treats from fruit juice, coffee, lemonade or other beverages. Frozen treat makers can be found at  many grocery stores, as well as Target.

How do you make your summer parties sparkle?
Share your best party planning ideas and summer recipes.

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