Red-and white-striped party tub

Fill your drinking tub with cool and refreshing festive beverages. (Erik M. Lunsford/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT)

A Fourth of July party can be a casual affair. In fact, it's a time to serve a fabulous meal without the fuss of china, elaborate recipes and elegant linens. It's the holiday to bring the fun outside with barbecues, picnics and games.

You can set the patriotic mood with a little planning and a lot of red, white and blue. From crafts to mouth-watering desserts, we gathered our best ideas to celebrate America's birthday. Our decorations are fun, reasonably priced and add sparkle to the occasion.

STAR-SPANGLED STRAWBERRY TREE

Materials
1 (8-by-4-by-2-inch) florist Styrofoam block
1 garden container or bucket to hold topiary (we found this one at a local craft store for $15.99)
3 (5/16-by-18-inch) wooden dowel rods
1 (5-inch) florist Styrofoam sphere
1 package of mini craft wooden picks
About 1 quart fresh strawberries
Spool of blue sheer craft ribbon
Red, white and blue filler. We used garland ($4.99 for 5 feet) at Hobby Lobby.

Directions
1. Cut Styrofoam block to fit inside container.
2. Press three dowels into the center of foam in container.
3. Press Styrofoam sphere on top of the dowels (about 21/2 inches deep).
4. Press strawberries onto wooden picks. Then place pick into sphere. Continue until entire sphere is covered, placing
strawberries close enough together to hide foam.
5. Wrap dowels in ribbon to hide them.