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Celebrating the Fourth ?in style

The Fourth of July always reminds me of a small neighborhood parade I used to hear about, in which the kids decorated their bikes and wagons.

Why should kids have all the fun? As I flip through current magazines and other decorating resources, I see many ideas for adding Fourth of July touches to your home and festivities.

While you can go out and buy patriotic-theme items, you'll find you also may have things around the house that can be easily incorporated into your decor. Think about items such as white lanterns, blue vases, red napkins, plaid kitchen linens and star-shaped anything. These are the types of things you see on tabletop settings and elsewhere.

Here are just a few ideas I came across. You still have a few days to plan – perhaps buy a new American flag and brackets for your house – and even get the kids involved in a project or two.

*Pick up some red, white and blue flowers to create casual arrangements. One simple combination: red gerber daisies, white daisies and blue delphinium. Arrange in glass canning jars, rinsed-out tin cans or cobalt blue vases. So festive with red-and-white checked tablecloths or white tablecloths with checked or solid napkins. Or place potted red geraniums in any blue and white ceramic planter or other container you have around the house. Have a collection of blue bottles? Put them on display with stems of red and white flowers.

*Put red, white and blue bandannas to work at backyard barbecues and picnics. They're inexpensive and can be used as napkins, basket liners, even table runners. I have even seen them fashioned into seat covers for cushions.

*An idea from Good Housekeeping: Add red, white and blue ribbon to the outsides of white paper lantern covers and hang them from tree branches. You can use double-sided tape to affix the ribbon.

*Let kids have some fun decorating star-shaped cookies.

*This idea from Better Homes and Gardens: "Add some patriotism to your porch by putting red, white, blue pinwheels into rustic buckets and watering cans filled with sand."

*Own a Radio Flyer or other red wagon? Work it into the setting by using it to hold supplies, tote beverages or even to display pots of flowers.

*What's a Fourth of July picnic without a red, white and blue dessert? Keep it fruity with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and, of course, whipped cream and/or vanilla ice cream.

*This from Disney's Glue or tape narrow strips of white poster board into the shape of a napkin ring, attach individually wrapped red and white peppermint candies and use it to hold a blue napkin wrapped around eating utensils.

Hmmm. Decorating a bike might be easier.