Styling a Chic July 4th Bar Cart

Fourth of July is right around the corner, and what’s a summer holiday without some celebratory cocktails? If you’re inviting friends over post-parade or pre-fireworks, you’ll want to ensure that you’re ready to entertain by decking out your bar cart for the festivities. Feeling daunted? Don’t sweat it—you can easily create a super cute, patriotic-looking setup without breaking the bank or spending too much time styling everything. You’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for red, white, and blue decorations, tableware, and sweets as you shop. Read on to see how I got my space ready for the Fourth in a snap!

Decorate Your Bar Cart:

I have a gold bar cart in my living room that’s perfect for a “make your own cocktail” setup whenever friends are coming over. I like to allow guests to serve themselves for a few reasons: I definitely don’t want to spend the entire evening pouring drinks when I could be chatting with friends, and I also think that a “help yourself” approach makes for a more relaxed, casual vibe. The Fourth is all about kicking back and embracing summertime, so chill is the name of the game here, too!  

To give my bar cart a little bit of an upgrade in honor of the holiday, I tied a red, white, and blue wreath that I purchased at TJMaxx to the front of the cart. On top, I added a wicker basket, also from TJMaxx. Wicker just screams summer, and I needed something to corral cups and small bowls (more on that in a second). I also added festive plates and napkins from TJMaxx and Marshalls, as well as a set of flag coasters from TJMaxx.

Serve Patriotic Bites: 

Even if you’re solely inviting friends over for drinks, you should always set out a few small things for guests to nibble on. And in this case, opting for red, white, and blue themed snacks is a no-brainer! At The Fresh Market, I found Fourth of July themed gummies aplenty, and I poured those into small bowls from TJMaxx and set them on my wicker tray. Note that simply taking snacks and candies out of their original plastic packaging can make a display so much more elevated. This took no time at all but makes all the difference aesthetically. At The Fresh Market, I also found red, white, and blue popcorn (yum!) and I set that out as well.  

Whip Up a Seasonal Cocktail:
When I think back on the July 4th celebrations of my childhood, I remember things like ice cream in the park and watermelon eating contests. To keep the watermelon theme going, I opted to serve watermelon margaritas using a pre-made mix that I found at TJMaxx (all you have to do is add your tequila of choice). I’m always a fan of delicious cocktails yet hate to purchase tons of different ingredients that I likely won’t use in my day-to-day life, so when I came across the mix, I was thrilled—and it tasted great, too. I grabbed $4 wine glasses from Marshall’s that are right on brand for the red, white, and blue theme but are of course subtle enough that they’ll come in handy for any occasion down the line. I was happy to find plastic wine glasses because they’re so nice for outdoor gatherings—no need to worry about glass breaking on the patio! 

Don’t Forget Fresh Flowers:
To take your bar cart to the next level, you’ll want to outfit it with a small vase, which makes for the perfect finishing touch. I found the cutest blue and white vase at Ross for under $5, and I stuck some white blooms from my local farmer’s market inside to finish off the patriotic look. I know that even when I’m not hosting, the vase will look adorable on my nightstand or coffee table. 

Keep This Key Tip in Mind: 

I’m all about pieces that look holiday-appropriate when styled with other items but also function wonderfully on their own year-round. As a small space dweller, I have to be judicious about what I bring into my apartment, and I’m not as inclined to buy items that I’ll only be able to have on display for a few days out of the year. In this case, I chose to stick to mostly red, white, and blue decorative items (rather than those that literally say, “Happy Fourth of July!”). Not only is this approach practical, but it will also ensure that your setup looks classy, not cheesy. Have fun with a wreath and tableware, but keep everything else fairly general. Now go ahead and get shopping—your July 4th guests will be delighted with what you put together! 

Sarah Lyon is a freelance writer and interior design enthusiast who currently lives in Washington, DC. Her work has appeared on websites including Apartment Therapy, Architectural Digest Clever, Lonny, and MyDomaine. Additionally, Sarah’s own spaces have appeared on Apartment Therapy, The Everygirl, Houzz, and Her Dupont Circle apartment was featured in both the spring 2019 print edition of Small Space Decorating and the January 2019 print edition of Washingtonian Magazine. Follow her on Instagram @sarahlyon9.