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Fun, festive ideas for a Fourth of July picnic

Paper cones filled with blue or red berries

Paper cones filled with blue or red berries create a sweet treat and dazzling display all in one. Credit: Helen Norman/TNS/Helen Norman/TNS

Whether you're having a socially distanced al fresco picnic or a backyard barbecue for your family, these crafty serving suggestions will make it fabulous.

Mason jar drinks

There's something classic about Mason jars, and they're great vessels for Fourth of July drinks. Shop antique stores for vintage versions, or look online for Mason jars with handles, lids and straws, which makes them perfect for portable picnicking.

Decorative utensil jars

Don't bother setting the table — guests can grab what they need from no-fuss utensil jars. Simply decorate containers such as empty oatmeal canisters or coffee canisters by wrapping them with festive paper and securing with tape. Add an adhesive chalkboard label to send a fun message.

Fruit salad sailboat

A simple sail is all you need to transform a watermelon fruit salad into a seaworthy centerpiece. Cut a triangle from ticking fabric and fold it in half over a dowel. Hot-glue the fabric along the dowel to secure and along the loose edges for a stiff sail.

Sparkling place setting

Encourage guests to get in the spirit by setting each place with a box of sparklers. For an easy DIY napkin ring, glue the end of a 12-inch grosgrain ribbon to the flat side of a D-ring. Wrap the ribbon around a napkin and the sparklers, and loop it through the D-ring to secure.

Patriotic snack station

An arrangement of classic snacks is a great way to keep guests happy until the Fourth of July picnic begins. The bright colors and nostalgic feel of licorice, pretzels and boxed caramel popcorn lend a festive baseball-game accent to the party.

Temporary glass labels

Turn plain drinking glasses into patriotic ones — temporarily — for the holiday. Using pinking shears, cut bands of red-and-white plaid oilcloth to fit around the glasses. Sew or glue a white oilcloth rectangle to the center of the band, then adhere the ends of the band together so it fits around a glass. (The band should easily slip over the narrower bottom of a glass and slide upward until it stays snugly in place.) Provide permanent markers for guests to write their names on the rectangles so they'll know exactly which glass is theirs.

Stylish snack table

Ditch the food packages and line galvanized pails with napkins to serve picnic staples, such as potato chips or buns. A label makes refills a cinch.

Roll-it-up place setting

Make picnic prep a breeze with an all-in-one utensil holder and place mat. Fold the long end of a dish towel up until it becomes the size of a place mat. Stitch or hot-glue the outer edges together. Insert utensils into the pocket, roll up, and tie with a separate ribbon.

Fair-style berry cones

Use food to decorate the picnic table. Form sturdy wax paper into cones, securing with transparent tape. Fill each cone with blue or red berries to create a sweet treat and dazzling display all in one.

Patriotic buckets

Display famous words from the Declaration of Independence on galvanized tubs. Coat three tubs with white metal primer. Then paint each tub a different shade of blue. (Buy deep blue exterior paint and dilute with white exterior paint to get the two lighter hues). Use letter stickers to spell "life," "liberty" and "happiness" on the tubs. Fill with ice to hold drinks or frozen treats, or use without ice to hold sparklers for some Fourth of July fun.

Red, white and blue table

Mix and match assorted paper goods to create a patriotic table setting. Don't worry if the blues and reds don't match perfectly; together they'll create a cohesive look suitable for any patriotic holiday.

Shoelace napkin ties

Eating saucy sandwiches and dripping ice cream treats is all part of a great Fourth of July picnic. So, let your guests enjoy the messy fare by using inexpensive white dish towels as oversize napkins. Roll the towels and fasten with checkered shoelaces for a pop of color.

Deli-style sandwiches

For a fun presentation, preassemble hot dogs or burgers with buns wrapped in wax paper. Secure the wrap with an American flag toothpick.

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