NEW YORK — Fireworks. Hot dogs. Small town parades and melting ice cream.

NEW YORK — Fireworks. Hot dogs. Small town parades and melting ice cream.

The Fourth of July is right around the corner. And that means barbecues, picnics and parties with a patriotic theme.

Whether you're planning a fancy party at your home or a picnic at the park to watch the fireworks, experts Anna Post from the Emily Post Institute, Seattle style expert Kelley Moore and Julie Fitzgerald from the Entertaining Co. in Chicago offer up party tips to make your holiday sparkle.

First, decide whether you want to organize your party around an event — such as a town parade or fireworks. (Fireworks are banned inside Ashland city limits. State-approved fireworks are permitted in most other Rogue Valley cities this time of year.)

From there, chose decor. Want to make it a little fancier this year? Use red-and-white cloth liners for tables, and put the condiments in bowls instead of leaving them in their containers, Post suggests.

For a bohemian look, tie-dye an inexpensive white sheet with red dye. Decorate with white dishes, brass lanterns and red jeweled votive candles along with artifacts from your travels to other countries.

If you're looking to go as low-key as possible, you can cut flowers from a garden and use them as centerpieces and set out recycled paper plates and paper napkins with a red-white-and-blue theme. Supply one thing, such as hamburgers or hot dogs, and suggest guests bring complementary dishes.

You're on your way, and here are some more tips organized by the colors of the holiday.

RED:

Pick one drink and make it the signature drink of the day, Post suggests. Red and white sangria is an inexpensive and festive drink idea, says Fitzgerald.

For the kids table, Moore, who has a new Web show on entertaining, suggests painting wide red stripes on an inexpensive white linen. For a centerpiece, place arrangements of red licorice, Red Hots and red lollipops on the table. Place a red and white popcorn bag at each place setting so after the party each child can fill bags from the centerpiece.

And be sure to provide sunscreen for guests so they don't get burned.

WHITE

If you can't buy fireworks, buy bubbles for the kids, sparklers and string up lights.

"It's not the same, but it's better than nothing," Post says.

Set up games for adults and kids to play, like croquet, Bocce or potato sack races.

BLUE

Be it the blues, pop, or John Philip Sousa marches, music is important. Don't blare it too loud, and be sure to create mixes and playlists beforehand. Use a theme for the playlist but toss in some hip hits to keep the party moving.

Bake a box cake and decorate it with strawberries, blueberries and white frosting. It's blueberry season, so you can use blueberries as a centerpiece and a snack: place them in bowls on the table for eating.

GREEN

"July Fourth doesn't always have to be red, white and blue," says Post, who recently authored "Emily Post's Great Get-Togethers: Casual Gatherings and Elegant Parties at Home" with her sister Lizzie. "You can celebrate the country and the fact that we are becoming more and more ecologically conscious."

Designate a place to put the trash, and if you recycle, set up a station where guests can separate paper and plastic. If you're outside at the beach or at a park, find the public trash and be sure everyone knows where it is.

Moore suggest buying miniature U.S. flags and placing them in pots in center of your table, and donating them to a local cemetery or nursing home after the party.

"Being 'green' also means to repurpose," she says. "This is a way to repurpose and give back to others at the same time."