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There’s nothing more American than throwing a Fourth of July backyard barbecue. A summer afternoon gathering with friends and family is a great way to celebrate our country’s independence and the freedom we hold dear. It’s a day to have fun – not stress over details!
Enjoy your Fourth of July party by keeping it simple. Here are eight tips for making the most of this patriotic day.
1. Focus on fun not fuss. Choose foods that are easy to prepare, cook and serve. Traditional barbecue fare such as burgers (psst … get the premade patties) and hot dogs seem almost effortless when prepared on the grill. Or prepare foods like ribs or chicken the day before and finish them on the grill. Add simple side dishes like pasta or potato salad, fruit and veggie trays, chips, cookies and brownies, and you’re ready for a crowd.
2. Or make it simpler. While you can provide all of the food, consider throwing a potluck and asking guests to bring a dish to pass. You’ll spread the responsibility and cost, and guests can show off their favorite dishes. Or call the caterer or grab your favorite takeout, like fried chicken or subs. While food is an important part of the day, the emphasis should be on fun.
3. Don’t forget drinks. Provide coolers with a variety of beverages so guests can help themselves. Set out pitcher of lemonade, water, and have plenty of cups. Have Sharpie markers on hand so your friends can write their names on their glasses; this will keep everyone’s drinks straight and eliminate unnecessary waste. Another option is to ask guests to BYOB!
4. Get plenty of seating. Encourage your guests to linger outside by putting out plenty of chairs. Stackable chairs are a great option for events like this. Or ask guests to bring their own. You can also set out blankets and tablecloths that will invite people to sit on the lawn.
5. Decorate! Fourth of July parties have a super easy theme: anything red, white and blue or stars and stripes will turn your back yard from a nature retreat into a patriotic hot spot. Use colorful tablecloths. Hang a flag or swag from the deck. Or string red, white and blue lights from the trees.
6. Plan activities. While gathering with friends is fun, think ahead and plan activities and games to keep kids and adults busy. Play American history trivia or charades. Put out bottles of bubbles or get a beanbag toss game. Set up croquet, or rent a karaoke machine.
7. Think about the weather. July is hot, so you’ll want to provide shade or other ways for guests to cool off. Use a big umbrella over dining tables. Plan your event around the best time of day for your yard and the sun. Or include wet ways for your friends to chill, such as sprinklers, squirt guns or misters. When the sun goes down, it can get chilly. If your party is at night, consider getting a firepit that will take the crisp out of the night, or set out blankets and sweaters.
8. Fireworks! The Fourth of July is time to celebrate America with fanfare, and that means fireworks. If it’s legal in your area, consider purchasing small fireworks to shoot off at dusk. This is an adults-only activity, and you’ll want to follow directions as well as your city ordinance. Or visit a nearby park for your city’s professional display. Here’s a website where you can search for fireworks displays in Michigan.
Dads come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. Some Dads love golf, while others prefer spending their afternoon by the pool. Some Dads are climbing the corporate ladder, while others are happy taking a walk with their four-legged friend.
Sunday, June 18th is Father’s Day, and Art Van Furniture wants to help you celebrate your unique Dad. Take a look at these gift ideas that are sure to fit him to a T.
Does your Dad love to soak up the sun? Whether he’s poolside, camping or tailgating on the weekend, this fun 60-quart cooler will keep his favorite beverages cold and ready. Available in a variety of colors, the cool design features a built-in bottle opener and a convenient cap catcher, keeping the area tidy. And the casters let the party roll wherever he goes.
Armchair Quarterback Dad
Complete Dad’s man cave with the beautiful brown Avatar Leather Recliner and Ottoman. Perfect for binge watching his favorite series or taking in the game, the design features plush padding and a sleek exposed metal base. The durable leather upholstery is easy to clean, and you’ll love that it ships for free.
Whether he works from his convenient home office, a comfy cubicle or a corner office with a view, Dad will love the Zline Hayes Oversized Executive Chair. The memory foam contoured seat is super comfortable, and the waterfall edge provides enhanced leg circulation. Wheel casters let Dad move around easily, and it ships for free!
If your dog is truly Dad’s best friend, he’ll appreciate this stylish new Lounge Bed. Designed like a sofa, the bed lets your pup sleep in comfort. The bolstered side and center pillow unzip for easy cleaning, and the black and white buffalo plaid will look great in Dad’s rec room. Available in a variety of sizes, it ships for free.
Every Dad becomes an iron chef when he gets behind the flames of a grill. Help him kick it up a notch with the Himalayan Square Salt Plate. Made from natural salt crystals hand-mined from the Himalayan Mountains, this plate allows Dad to cook, cut and display his grilled masterpiece. The rock can be placed directly on the grill or stovetop, adding flavor to the meal. This great item ships for free.
Music Loving Dad
Headphones and ear buds are nice, but they can get in the way if Dad is trying to nap. With wireless SleepPhones, he doesn’t have to worry about getting tangled up in cords. The hypoallergenic fabric headband has removable speakers that let Dad listen to his favorite tunes or podcasts. Available in a variety of colors, SleepPhones are machine washable and they ship for free.
If you’re really stumped, let Dad pick out what he wants with an Art Van Furniture Gift Card. Available in denominations from $25-$500, he’ll enjoy spending it in any of our 100+ Midwest showrooms.
Mother’s Day is the time to treat Mom like a queen, and every queen needs her throne. Pamper mom by giving her the best seat in the house. From trendy to modern farmhouse and everything in between, there’s a look to match mom’s personal style.
Garden Mom will beam at the colorful Lola Flower Armless Chair that features pink, green and teal. The whimsical design will add a layer of pattern to her bedroom or family room, brightening up the space like a summer bouquet.
Elegant Mom will adore the Bliss Swoop Arm Chair dressed in grey and white. The curved lines are modern and sophisticated, and the floral pattern is soft and feminine.
Classic Mom will enjoy the Hannah Flannel Accent Chair with its wingback style. The soft upholstery will pamper her and the button tufting adds a contemporary twist.
Modern Farmhouse Mom will fall in love with the Autumn Accent Chair. Contrasting patterns in soft colors look fresh and interesting, while the nailhead trim adds a contemporary detail.
Trendy Mom will fall for the Flynn Velvet Chair in striking navy. The sleek modern lines are fashion forward while the rich blue color is current and fresh.
They say kids are a reflection of their parents, so why not celebrate Mother’s Day this year by reflecting her good taste with a stylish mirror? Here are three options that Mom would love to hang in her bedroom, foyer or family room:
The Pierre Gold Round Wall Mirror will add an Art Deco inspiration to Mom’s room, with geometric shapes that are attractive and modern. The gold trim is on trend, adding a touch of warmth to Mom’s décor.
The Moroccan-inspired Vishnu Mirror resembles the roof of a temple, adding a lightly exotic air to Mom’s room. The black frame is dramatic, making it the perfect piece for a foyer or powder room.
Let the sun shine on Mom with the Mikah Gold Sunburst Mirror. A classic piece, the bold frame and round mirror will instantly brighten up Mom’s space, making her smile every time she sees it.
Looking for more Mother’s Day ideas? Check out our complete gift guide by clicking here.
Bringing mom flowers on Mother’s Day is a great way to show her you love her, but unfortunately even the most beautiful bouquets fade with time. Why not give mom blooms that will last forever? These three works of art feature different styles of floral design, with one sure to fit Mom’s décor. Which one will she love?
The Blossom Painting features stunning hand embellished detailing on gallery wrapped canvas and a beautifully crafted frame. It’s made using an ecofriendly process and materials, and would be a great complement to a modern or casual style room.
The Tree Blossom Acrylic Painting features hand touched embellished petals made of newsprint on gallery wrapped canvas. The vibrant blue serves as a beautiful backdrop for the white petals, making it a great choice for an urban or traditional style room.
The Poppy Acrylic Painting features hand touched detailing on a gallery wrapped canvas. The bright blue flowers are whimsical and fresh, making it a great addition to a contemporary or casual style room.
Looking for more Mother’s Day ideas? Check out our complete gift guide by clicking here.
Spring is filled with reasons to celebrate. From Easter to Passover and Mother’s Day, make it special by setting a table that welcomes friends and family. Here are five tips for creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Photo credit: Meaningful Spaces/Pinterest
1. Choose your style. Before you start setting your table, consider your décor and design goals. Do you want your table to effortlessly reflect your design point of view or are you creating a special mood to reflect the season? This will help you choose the right pieces.
2. Select your dinnerware. Classic white is always in style and can be easily updated with colorful accessories. Or, mix and match to create a unique setting. If your plates are patterned, pair them with solid colored glasses and cutlery. Popular seasonal motifs include botanicals, flowers, butterflies and birds.
Photo credit: From The Woman Cave/Pinterest
3. Add colorful fabric. A spring table should be lit up with color of the season. Choose a bright tablecloth, runner, napkins or placemats. Or embrace pastels, with colors like pink, yellow, sky blue or mint green. If the fabrics on your table are bright, create balance by using neutral plates. Or if your dinnerware is the star of the show, keep your fabrics muted.
4. Consider your centerpiece. Spring is the perfect time to indulge in fresh flowers. Choose colors and shapes that complement your décor. You can also create individual bouquets at each place setting by choosing something small but meaningful. Get creative with containers, using a variety of vases, cups, mason jars or glasses.
Photo credit: Preppy Empty Nester/Pinterest
5. Finally, accessorize. A dining table proves several opportunities to add your special touch. Include candles, napkin rings, place cards and utensils. Be sure to create depth and dimension by taking advantage of pedestals, pillars and trays.
The most important thing is to make your guests feel welcome in the way only you can do. Whatever you choose will reflect your personality and style.
While President’s Day is over, we’re still celebrating with presidential trivia. Here are five fun facts about the White House from Legends of America to amuse you.
1. Theodore Roosevelt was the first president to call his residence in Washington, D.C. the “White House.” Prior to his term, it had been called the Executive Mansion or the President’s House.
2. Harry S. Truman’s mother, a Confederate sympathizer, refused to sleep in Lincoln’s bed during a White House visit.
3. Millard Fillmore installed the first bathtub and kitchen stove in the White House.
4. When Millard Fillmore moved into the White House, it didn’t have a Bible. He and his wife, Abigail, installed the first library.
5. During Woodrow Wilson’s presidency a flock of sheep was raised on the White House lawn. The wool was used to raise money for the Red Cross during World War.
Politics aside, to become president you have to be an extraordinary and driven person. These traits often manifest in some unusual hobbies, impressive accomplishments and surprising talents. Here are some fun facts about our Presidents from Legends of America to share with friends.
1. George Washington was the only American president to be unanimously elected.
2. John F. Kennedy was the first president to hold a press conference on television.
3. The 1800 race between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson was the only election to be decided by the House of Representatives because there was a tie in the Electoral College.
4. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1826. Not knowing that Thomas Jefferson has already passed John Adams was quoted as saying “Jefferson survives,” when he whispered his last words.
5. William McKinley was the first president to campaign by telephone.
President’s Day is the time to honor all U.S. presidents, past and present. It’s also a three-day weekend for many of the nation’s workers, and that has us celebrating the companies that make their products in America.
One of our favorite examples is L.J. Gascho. Renowned for its craftsmanship and quality, the Michigan-based furniture company makes some of the finest solid wood furniture in the world. Founder Lyle J. Gascho is a woodworker and fourth-generation chicken farmer who learned woodworking techniques from Amish and Mennonite craftsmen. With a passion for quality and detail, he started making furniture as a hobby.
Art Van Furniture’s relationship with L.J. Gascho happened by chance in 1989. An executive and buyer were dining at a Mid-Michigan restaurant when they noticed the beauty of table. After getting the craftsman’s name from the restaurant owner, the buyer contacted him and asked if he’d sell his pieces at our stores. That encounter helped turn Lyle’s hobby into a thriving business, and 25 years later 115 employees carry on his vision and mission: “produce high quality furniture that will become heirlooms to be passed on from generation to generation.”
A customer favorite, L.J. Gascho products are individually handcrafted. An assortment of in-stock pieces are available for immediate delivery, or you can place a custom order. Simply come into one of our showrooms, find your favorite piece, and select your wood, color and hardware. Your custom-made furnishing will be delivered in just weeks.
“We take pride in our work, and operate with honesty and integrity,” says Brandon Yowler, director of marketing for L.J. Gascho. “We’re not just making pieces of furniture, we’re making products that are part of people’s lives.”
Everything is hand-made using solid red oak and maple woods. Table slides are made with solid maple to add durability, and some are gear driven to make it easy for one person to operate. Pedestal feet include self-adjustable levelers. Round table rims and chair backs are made from solid woods and are steam bent.
The finishing process is also unique. Stains are hand rubbed to bring out the natural characteristics of the wood. The finish is done with Beshta-var, a catalyzed varnish that is resistant to substances including water, alcohol, warm dishes, and even nail polish remover. It is also resistant to marring and scratching.
The company is so remarkable that ABC World News featured Gascho’s Anniversary dining room table in its first-ever ‘Made in America’ special. The piece had been designed for Art Van Furniture stores to celebrate 25 years of working together.
With L.J. Gascho, you not only get a beautiful piece of furniture, you get a chance to make a family memory that can last forever.
“One of our customers had been diagnosed with cancer,” says Brandon. “He realized that life was short so he took his Gascho table, flipped it over and wrote a letter to his family. He shared seven things he had found to be true in life, and then he invited them to add their own wisdom and keep passing it on. Stories like that keep us going, and we’re proud to offer heirloom-quality furniture.”
Brandon says L.J. Gascho is committed to making products that are relevant for today’s consumers. The company continues to launch new collections with pieces that include dining sets, entertainment centers, beds, dressers, chests, nightstands, end tables, cocktail tables, china cabinets, sofa tables and vanities. The new collections feature the company’s solid-wood heirloom quality with looks that bridge traditional with more modern styling.
L.J. Gascho is a Made in America success story. Congratulations on a job well done!
Valentine’s Day and sweets go hand in hand. You could enjoy that heart-shaped box filled with truffles or you can score extra points by making a tasty dessert for your sweetheart. Here are two super easy ideas that are sure to impress:
Use a heart shaped cookie cutter to turn marshmallow treats into hearts, then embellish them with frosting, chocolate, peanut butter or candy.
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
These are super easy to make, but they look and taste so good. If you’ve never dipped strawberries before, here’s an easy recipe.