Revolutionize your table in seconds with colorful handkerchiefs. Buy red and blue bandanas at your local crafts store; layer them to create a festive placemat or roll them up, wrap with twine and use as napkins.
Delight your guests with this striking focal piece. You will need two dozen red, two dozen white and one dozen blue carnations purchased from your local florist and an old wooden soda crate or similar container. More details on this project. 
For an outdoor or lakeside cottage centerpiece, place red, blue and silver (or white) oil lanterns on a red-and-white runner, then weave a rope around them. Add clear Mason jars filled with red flowers at each place setting for an extra punch of color.
Refreshing drinks, cool treats and buckets of inspiration set the stage for the Fourth.
Towel off For a simple twist on bunting, hang graphic tea towels in front of a buffet. Buy festive patterned linens or decorate your own. 
Glass art Nail a row of mod, test tube-inspired wall vases to hold single blooms, leaves or flags. (Holes in the test tubes make it a cinch). $3, cb2.com 
For a pop of backyard Americana, drill drainage holes in an antique pail or box, then plant it with red, white and blue flowers. We chose PanAmerican Seed's lobelia 'Starship Scarlet', dianthus 'Dash White' and delphinium 'Diamonds Blue,' but you can declare creative independence and mix your own patriotic combo.
Fourth of July fireworks inspire cheerful decorating ideas in this festive room. Start with round paper lanterns; draw firework showers with markers on 12-inch white lanterns. Get patterns and instructions below.
Click ahead for more ideas from this room as well as other red, white and blue decorating ideas.
Paper rockets take off from a shiny sand-filled bucket. To make a rocket, roll scrapbooking paper into a tube; secure with glue. For the nose cone, cut a slit to the center of a paper circle; overlap and glue ends to form a cone. Glue a ribbon strip inside the rocket to resemble a fuse, and glue a long dowel inside the tube.
Fire up chair backs with cloth-napkin covers. Fold a napkin in half; iron to crease. Cut four pieces of ribbon; glue one inside each napkin corner. Tie to close. Hot-glue red cording to spell 4th. Cording scraps become firework bursts.
Paper fans help guests keep cool on summer days. Insert sturdy straws or dowels between the ends of opened mini decorative paper fans (available at party supply stores; look for fans that are intended to hang by a string from the ceiling). Glue a circle of firework-patterned paper to the center.
For a festive party favor, lay sparkler boxes on white napkins and tie with DIY napkin holders. Attach one end of a 12-inch piece of grosgrain ribbon to the flat side of a D-ring (available at crafts stores); glue to secure. Loop around napkin and sparklers to finish.
To call attention to drinks and snacks, print a label and glue it to holiday-theme paper cut in a rocket shape. Attach to a straw.
Tables shining with sparklers. Pinwheels whirling the colors of our flag. These patriotic touches are just what an all-American party needs.
Vintage tins filled with colorful blooms lend more red, white and blue color to the decor.
Add color to your porch, deck or picnic table with these pinwheel creations. Create pinwheels from heavy wrapping paper, scrapbook paper, or a malleable card stock (search online for "how to make pinwheels" if you need step-by-step instructions). Attach pinwheels to dowels and place in a vintage watering can, bucket, or vase filled with sand.
Capture the nostalgia of summertime with an eye-catching tabletop display that combines weathered croquet balls and baseballs. You can place colorful balls in a bowl for a simple look, or nestle them in wheatgrass (left) for a playful centerpiece.
For the wheatgrass display, cover the bottom of a bucket, basket or wood bin with a plastic sheet and fill with crumpled newspaper as a base. Then add a layer of fresh wheatgrass (with roots attached; trays of wheatgrass are available at grocery or pet stores). Cut to fit your container; the grass should stay fresh five or six days. Arrange baseballs and red, white and blue croquet balls on top. To finish, stick several small U.S. flags (4x6 inches) into the grass.
Deep blue vases or glasses and red flowers set the scene for a vibrant table, complemented by a blue tablecloth—and a red raspberry tart.
An All-American Fourth of July mealneeds a tabletop to match.
Fashion easy place mats out of burlap fabric—or vintage farm grain bags, as we did. Using fabric glue, attach a denim pocket (cut from worn-out jeans) to each place mat to hold a bandana napkin and utensils. To emphasize the color scheme, stencil a bright red star on each pocket. Mix and match red, white and blue dishware. In honor of the date, display metal 4 house numbers inside vases filled with holiday-color candies. Insert classic sparklers or berry skewers decorated with colorful ribbon "flags."
For table decorations or place settings, fill galvanized buckets with fresh strawberries and add colorful stick-on labels.
For year-round color, paint your picnic table white with a couple of blue planks. Add festive July 4 touches with potted flowers such as the gerbera daisies shown here and an assortment of blue napkins.
Inexpensive purchased patriotic pinwheels add motion and color to an arrangement of white flowers.
Wrap up grilled hot dogs (or sandwiches) with white sandwich paper, then secure with American-flag toothpicks. If you can't find toothpick flags in a store, make your own by printing small flags and attaching to toothpicks.
Transform basic table settings into holiday decor by sandwiching paper stars between white dinner plates and clear-glass salad plates (left). Dress up a stemmed glass with a flag-inspired hair band around the base.
These techniques easily translate to decorating for other seasons. Just substitute floral images for a Mother's Day brunch or snowflake motifs for a winter celebration.
Tie up terry-cloth hand towels with red and blue shoelaces (left). No worries about messy picnic food when guests use these oversize napkins.
Try the same idea for a tailgate party! Just use shoelaces in your team colors.
Create home decor or party favors by suspending plastic flags in matted frames (left), gluing only the top edges so the flags appear to float in the frames. If you're using the pictures as party favors, write the party date near the mat's edge.
Set your table with a cover of banners--one in stars and the other in stripes—laid in perpendicular rows across the table. Plan the layout so the banners create a place mat for each guest.
Greet friends and neighbors with a wreath (left) created from flags, a ribbon-wrapped foam circle and a three-dimensional paper star. Snip through the ribbon to slide the flags into the foam form, then hang the star in the center.
Decorate your sashes with star-spangled banners (left). Cut V -shape plastic pennants apart; use a pushpin to hang one in each window. A bonus: They look good from inside and out.
Hot-glue glow-in-the-dark stars to flip-flops (left) as a fun surprise for your guests when it's time to head outside for fireworks. Add a little suspense by staying mum when partygoers ask about the baskets of sandals sitting by the door.
Assemble an inexpensive red-white-and-blue table setting (left) by starting with mismatched flea-market dishes. Top them with a blue napkin tied with a patriotic ribbon. For the star, use snips to cut the shape from tin (available at crafts stores) and then add a punched pattern by tapping a nail lightly with a mallet.
Your porch or dining nook can be the setting for an all-out patriotic display (left). Look for finds such as tin stars, striped taper candles and starry fabric for a table runner and pillows.
Give a room a touch of Americana (left) with a Folk-Art Old Glory sign made from an antique door panel, a super-soft handwoven rug and patriotic keepsake boxes.
Convert a plastic tub (left) into beverage central and set it in a convenient spot where guests can grab their favorite flavors. Slide patriotic towels through the tub handles. For other holidays, vary the theme of the towels to make a quick seasonal change-up.
Votive candles make a simple and elegant centerpiece (left). Group white candles on a red or blue plate, or set out several plates with red, white or blue candles on each.