Millions of people turn their homes into Candyland for Christmas or a haunted house for Halloween.
But for some, like Petaluma’s Annalize Manning, there are other holidays on the calendar that shouldn’t be neglected when decorating.
Each summer, Manning gives Independence Day its due, infusing the spirit of 76 into her home and yard with a palette of reds, whites and blues and sparkling accents.
“It makes the house festive,” she said. “July 4th is our big summer party, and I’m running with it.”
She’s carrying on a tradition she inherited from her parents, who gave their all during the holidays. And July 4th was a favorite.
“When I was growing up, we had a pool. Summer things were a big deal. We used to have big neighborhood parties,” she said. “And my mother was very keen on decorating for the different holidays. She had plates and napkins of every imaginable color. Even before I was married, my mother provided me with china, glasses, bedclothes and napkin rings. She decorated for the holidays and I took it to the next level.”
The beauty of Independence Day is that it doesn’t stretch out over a whole month like Christmas or Halloween. It’s a day-long burst of Americana, with barbecues, a splash in the pool, maybe a round of cornholes, and plenty of time lounging in a lounge chair with a cold beer or sangria.
While there’s no need to make your home in Madison Square Garden look like a political convention, you can easily add a few touches to enhance the party atmosphere and remind everyone that it’s America’s birthday.
Manning always drapes classic bunting over her railing and porch window, and has fun with small details — pinwheels in planters; a welcome sign in red, white and blue; a wreath on the door adorned with red and white roses and accents of blue. None of this is overdone or garish. Indoors, she styles the dining table in Americana colors and tastefully dresses the mantle, filling urns on either side with red, white, and blue and a simple garland of stars.
She shops at Dollar Tree for great bargains and at Michael’s after-holiday sale for bigger pieces to hide away for next year.
It’s important to create a festive atmosphere for the Fourth in her front yard, she said, since her house is on a cul-de-sac and every Independence Day neighbors gather outside to celebrate together.
Simple and sustainable
Bay Area-based celebrity event designer Edward Perotti said he firmly believes in making do with what you have on hand by upcycling, recycling, and reusing.
For his own contribution to neighborhood festivals in his town of Pacifica, he built some cute little “fences” out of old fence boards. He will set them up to display hanging plastic bags of 4th of July cookies to visitors.
With the ongoing pandemic, he believes in exercising caution at group celebrations this summer.
“They’re a simple prop that I made that will have multiple uses,” he said of the fences. “I really believe that people don’t have to go out and buy new things every time they have a party or celebration.”
Perotti has led more than 2,000 events worldwide that have collectively cost more than $150 million to organize. He has designed soirees for entertainers such as Nick Jonas and Ariana Grande at landmarks such as the Louvre, the Palace of Versailles and the Great Wall of China.
But when it comes to decorating for oneself, Perotti takes a humble and massively reduced approach. He thinks it’s a fun challenge to look for quick, easy, and inexpensive ways to decorate and entertain.
One thing he will never do is use the American flag as a decoration. He finds some symbols too sacred for that. It’s better to evoke the ideas they represent, he said.
One of his favorite tricks is using fabric. Yards are marked by 4th of July themed bolts this week.
“Buy a few yards of material,” he said. “You don’t have to neaten the seams. It just has to be long enough to cover the table and you have a tablecloth that is truly one-of-a-kind.”
Perotti said flowers are an attractive and affordable way to decorate the Fourth of July.
“We have an abundance of white hydrangeas and blue irises that are perfect and affordable,” he said. Take a large vase, something you already have, and fill it with apples and cherries — think American apple pie and George Washington’s apocryphal cherry tree — and top it off with a single hydrangea, he suggested.
“It’s really easy and really easy,” he said. “And after that you will eat it so nothing is wasted.”