Add creative decorations to your 4th of July picnic and save money w/ these easy do-it-yourself projects

July 4th is the perfect day for an outdoor get-together, but the cost of food, drinks, and entertainment adds up quickly. Save a few dollars, help the environment, and create a new space by DIYing some of your outdoor decor with both new and re-purposed items.

Reclaimed wood is perfect for DIY projects. Bold, vintage-style statement pieces can pull together a patio, back yard, or front porch. If you have some old 2x4s, fence pickets, or palettes, creating a wooden American flag-inspired piece like this one is easy and cheap. At $59, the 4.5 star Dewalt D26451 3-Amp orbital sander will allow you to quickly prep the wood for paint and assembly.

If you want something with a smidge more tech for your Independence Day event, grab some empty wine bottles, red, white, and blue paint, and a few strings of battery-powered LED lights. A set of three 3.5ft strands of white micro LED lights runs for $8 shipped on Amazon. Remove the label and paint the outside of the bottle with some stars and stripes. Drill a hole in the bottom of the bottle and insert the LEDs. One Amazon reviewer recommends this 2-piece diamond hole saw core drill set ($4 + shipping) specifically for drilling holes in wine bottles.

A durable blanket is great for a BBQ on the lawn or a party on the beach. To make the blanket grab an old blanket or some fabric and a needle and thread/sewing machine. No sewing experience? Grab an iron and buy a roll of Stitch Witchery ($4). When heat is applied the webbing will fuse the fabric together, eliminating the need for a needle and thread.

But wait! Before you sew the blanket into a tote, stitch some oilcloth or ripstop to the back to waterproof it! This will help to prevent wet grass from soaking through and sand from getting stuck in the fabric. You can find some patriotic choices from Oilcloth Addicts, an Etsy store rated 5 out of 5 stars. They are currently running a sale for 15% off a purchase of $100+. Two of the more patriotic prints include red and white stripes and blue and red stars, both listed at $3.98 per 1/2 yard.

Sidewalk chalk is a great way to keep kids (and some adults) occupied during 4th of July festivities. Homemade chalk is surprisingly easy to make. All you need is Plaster of Paris, powdered tempera paint, and a flexible mold. The ratio is about 1 cup Plaster of Paris to ¾ cup water. Toss in as much dye as you want, fill the mold, and tap it a few times to get out any bubbles. Once it dries, pop out the chalk and use the tray for Americana ice cubes! This star-shaped silicone mold by Wilton has 4.5 out of 5 stars with 444 reviews and ships for $11.

Looking for something a little different? Check out these silicone ice tray molds for after the 4th:

Ahh, the mason jar. Yea, it might be a little played out (okay, definitely played out), but it has been a staple in American households since the late 19th century. Also, they make exceptional drinking vessels. For this mason jar DIY, choose a jar that is around a pint. These light blue 16oz Ball mason jars from Target are rated 4.6 out of 5 stars. A six-pack of these beauties costs $9.89, and REDCard holders get free shipping and 5% off. Grab a drill or a hole punch, rubber grommets, and some Americana straws ($4 + shipping for 25 on Etsy).

Although they may be a little overdone, mason jars are functional and make excellent adult sippy cups. If you’re looking to make some quick and easy frozen drinks, the Margaritaville Bahamas Frozen Concoction Maker is rated 4.7 out of 5 stars and currently goes for $160.


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