As summer rolls in, so do opportunities to celebrate. As early as spring, many families start cooking up plans for Christmas in July. Also, there are several nationalistic holidays lined up: Independence Day and Memorial weekend. For the latter two, we usually deck our homes in patriotic decorations in red, white, and blue, or stars and stripes.

We use these colors and symbols of national pride in other occasions throughout the year. They’ve become the go-to color palette, just like black and orange for Halloween or red and green for Christmas. Learn interesting facts and what these patriotic hues represent. Also, get inspired with Americana-themed home decorating ideas, food, and activities.

The Origin and Meaning of Patriotic Decorations

Red, white, and blue ornaments as patriotic decorations

Here are some fascinating facts on patriotic decorations:

Red, White, and Blue: The Colors of America

In 1776, the United States of America became an independent nation. The Continental Congress back then tasked a committee to create the Great Seal, using three colors to represent the values of the Land of the Free.

The colors were also used in the creation of the national flag. They have been reinterpreted over the years, but these are the official meanings of each hue, according to

  • Red for hardiness and valor 
  • White for purity and innocence 
  • Blue for vigilance, perseverance, and justice

Bright Stars, Bold Stripes: Patriotic Patterns

The stars and stripes of the American flag have a significant meaning related to the geography of the U.S. There are 50 stars, which stand for the country’s states, and 13 red-and-white stripes to represent the colonies. 

The star long has been a symbol of the heavens, of the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; while the stripes have been symbolical of the rays of light emanating from the sun.

Source: 1951 Flag Day speech of House Representative Gerald R. Ford, Jr. from the Ford Library Museum

Other Symbols of American Pride

Besides the usual colors and patterns, other symbols are used to represent American patriotism, such as:

  • Liberty Bell
  • U.S. flag
  • Bald eagle
  • National anthem
  • Uncle Sam
  • The Statue of Liberty
Bold stripes and bright stars as patriotic symbols of the US

Pair decorations inspired by these symbols with your red, white, and blue color scheme. 

What Are the Patriotic Holidays?

Do you know when the following federal or state holidays and national observances are celebrated? Test your knowledge below. Click the question to reveal the answer.

This was when the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence, which marked the official separation of the U.S. colonies from Great Britain.

Memorial Day decorations in a cemetery for veterans

This is when we honor the military men and women who passed on in service of our country.

Uniform tags of the US Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Army

This is the day we show our gratitude and respect for ALL former U.S. military personnel—past and present.

Flag of the United States of America displayed in front of a home

This commemorates the day when Congress approved the American flag design in 1777. It’s a legal holiday only in Pennsylvania, home to the first U.S. flag maker Betsy Ross.

This was originally dedicated to honoring the first president of the U.S., George Washington. Now, it celebrates every POTUS, past and present.

This is the day we recognize the social and economic achievements of workers nationwide.

How many answers did you get right?

If you want more reasons to display your patriotic decorations, here are more annual celebrations to choose from:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Third Monday of January
  • Lincoln’s Birthday – February 12
  • Armed Forces Day – Third Saturday of May
  • Patriot Day (9/11 Commemoration) – September 11
  • Constitution Day – September 17
  • Columbus Day – Second Monday in October
  • Election Day – Tuesday after the first Monday in November
  • Bill of Rights Day – December 15 Unique Patriotic Decoration Ideas

Are you preparing for your 4th of July, Memorial Day, or Veterans Day celebrations? We’ve got tons of fun and colorful ideas for you. Aside from home accents you can buy or DIY, why not repurpose your Christmas decorations? Here’s how:

How to Decorate a Patriotic Christmas Tree

Set up the Stars and Stripes Tree in your living room. Let it represent the flag. Use a few ornaments to complete the look for easy decorating. This gives you more time to dress up the rest of your home.

Stars and Stripes Christmas tree decorated with patriotic decorations
Photo and décor by Sknight from Clarksville, TN

If you own several Treetopia colorful trees of the same shape, why not interchange sections to create a unique centerpiece? For instance, combine the blue and red Christmas trees of the Treetopia Basics line, which have the same profile. Then, decorate it with white star ornaments.

Another option is to decorate your tree—whatever its color—with patriotic hues and patterns. Ornaments in vivid colors will pop against neutral-tones like a silver Christmas tree. Some ideas for your ornaments: mini Liberty Bells, a tree garland with U.S. flag cutouts, and a Statue of Liberty tree topper. 

Photo of a nautical-themed white Christmas tree as a 4th of July decoration idea
Photo and décor by Jennifer Perkins

Celebrating a vet in the family who served in the marines? Consider a nautical theme like this Independence Day tree by craft maven Jennifer Perkins. Alternatives are mini airplanes for pilots, tool ornaments for Labor Day, and others, depending on the occasion.

How to Decorate a Patriotic Wreath or Garland

Tie ribbons, flowers, or mini flags on a white wreath or garland. Dress up white foliage with red and blue lights. Make wreaths and garlands a part of your wall, shelf, or table display.  

Another idea is to hang red, blue, and white wreaths in a row on your wall. To go with these, wrap garlands in the same color scheme around your staircase banister.

How to Make Patriotic Wall Décor

How to make patriotic wall decor with fabric banners

Decorate your accent wall with the patriotic color scheme and pattern. Create a garland using red stars on a blue and white ribbon, or craft fans from patterned sheets of paper. Consider statement art prints, such as a classic Uncle Sam illustration or a World War-themed poster. You can also hang smaller flags on the wall to make a bold statement.

How to Add Patriotic Decorations to a Living Room

Aside from walls, you can also hang crafts on your fireplace mantel or front porch. Complete the look with throw pillow covers or rugs in the iconic hues and patterns.

how to add patriotic decorations to a living room in a stylish way

Complete your displays with vintage items that scream Americana. Scout stores or garage sales for enamelware you can display or use as containers in the kitchen. Another idea is to arrange antique ceramic décor like bald eagle or Liberty figurines on shelves along with your planters.

How to Add Patriotic Outdoor Décor

how to add patriotic outdoor decor with US flag-inspired buntings

Hang up buntings of the Old Glory on your front porch and add red, white, and blue accents in your outdoor entertainment area. Give windows and patio tables a burst of patriotic color with flowers like geraniums and hydrangeas. Use metal buckets or ceramic pots with stars or stripe patterns as planters. Another idea is to tie red ribbons around white vases and fill them with flowers. Why not hang rustic watering cans on the porch, too.

How to Celebrate Patriotic Holidays with Food

How to celebrate patriotic holidays like Fourth of July with food

Extend the patriotic motif to your dining table with themed tableware. Whether plastic or ceramic, go for those that come in flag-inspired colors or patterns. Set these on top of placemats in a contrasting color. Use a vintage tablecloth or a simple piece of white linen with red and blue table runners. Place mini flags in tiny glasses beside each plate and tie table napkins with colored ribbons.

Savory Red, White, and Blue or Patriotic Party Food Ideas

For your party food, consider savory dishes that are perfect for a hot summer day. Most people default to barbecues. If you’re one of them, add a variety of appetizers, starters, and side dishes to make the meal more inviting. Here are a few ideas:

1. Whip Up a Salad or Snack Tray

Serve up a refreshing mix of strawberries, blueberries, and feta cheese. Becky of The Cookie Rookie used a mason jar for this salad. Add greens like lettuce to this patriotic palette. Toss it with salt, pepper, and poppy seed dressing. If you’re not serving it right away, pour the dressing in the jar or bowl first so the salad doesn’t get soggy.

No cooking necessary—just look for fresh blueberries, strawberries, and cherries. Place them on a rectangular tray with a star-shaped bowl for the blueberries. Alternate rows of the red fruits with white chocolate-coated pretzels to represent the stripes of the flag just like Diary of a Debutante

2. Spice Up Your BBQ Chicken

Satisfy different taste preferences by marinating chicken in various sauces before barbecuing. Some can be sweet and savory while others have a spicy kick. Don’t forget to prepare side dishes that complement these flavors. Maria of In Honor of Design combined Italian seasoning and basil with butter and barbecue sauce for this juicy recipe.

3. Let Freedom Ring with a DIY Hot Dog Station

Guests will have fun putting their yummy sandwiches together. Chanel of Camille Styles says that when it come to topping selections, “The more, the merrier.” So, pull out all the stops! Chop some onions, bring out a jar of relish, and roast peppers. If you want to stick to the palette, you can dye mayonnaise blue with food coloring. Then, combine it with ketchup or chili (red) and cottage cheese (white) on your hot dogs. 

4. Say, “U.S. Yay!” with Red, White, and Blue Desserts

This treat by Two Sisters is perfect for summer. Make chocolate-covered banana popsicles and coat them in red, white, and blue candy sprinkles. Drizzle them with melted candy in the same colors. 

If you’re into baking, there are so many ways to recreate the star-spangled banner! Check out this idea from Tastemade. Aside from your usual ingredients, use food coloring, fruits or berries, syrups, and candy sprinkles. Look for a fitting cake platter for your tasty version of Old Glory, too. 

5. Don’t Forget the Sweet Summer Drinks!

Iced Eggnog Latte

Serve an iced version of eggnog. This frosty treat by Table for Two retains the comforting flavors of the traditional drink and gets an extra kick from espresso shots. Add a dusting of nutmeg on top before serving. 

Cucumber Peppermint Tea

Enjoy the refreshing flavor of peppermint tea with tangy lime or lemon. Add cucumbers for freshness, just like in this refreshment by Brooklyn Farm Girl. For grown-up parties, prepare a big batch and add a splash of gin to each glass for a tempting cocktail. Served in a tall tumbler and garnished with mint leaves, this light potion looks just as good as it tastes.

Watermelon Basilito

Sweet and succulent, watermelon makes an excellent base for many kinds of mixed drinks. This rum-infused cocktail by My Gourmet Collection is one of them. Crushed basil not only adds a bright, clean flavor. It also has natural cooling properties that enhance the soothing effect of this concoction. The alcohol is optional, so even kids can enjoy this sunny season sipper.

Other Fun Ways to Celebrate 4th of July and Other Patriotic Holidays at Home

Dog on a sofa with a patriotic hat

One way to break the ice during a party is to play a game. Test everyone’s knowledge of the country by having a USA-Themed Quiz Night. Prepare related questions—from history tidbits to pop culture references. This could be a great way to celebrate the holidays together or apart, as virtual parties are also becoming a trend. Check out the video by The Trivia Channel on YouTube below for ideas on the questions you can ask:

Looking for more low-key ways to celebrate? How about a movie marathon of America’s greatest films? Now is a great time to revisit classics like Casablanca (1942) and Rocky (1976), to name a few. Of course, there’s nothing like a string of war or political movies to get you in the patriotic spirit. Air Force One (1997), Act of Valor (2012), and Olympus Has Fallen (2013) are some examples. Here’s a movie round-up by GameSpot Universe for your viewing pleasure:

Try any of these decorating and party ideas for your celebrations. Share the tips with friends and family who are gearing up for the patriotic holidays, too. May red, white, and blue continue to inspire you!

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