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nautical backyard bash

Jen Carver of Banner Events threw A Nautical Backyard Bash for her “Carver Crew” with casual + cool party ideas and lots of cute pictures of the kids! Trendy blue mason jars, red lantern centerpieces, star spangled treats, burlap runners, scalloped popcorn boxes, red fishing nets… there are seriously so many fun details to point out! (Check out this post for more nautical + patriotic ideas!)

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Crab cake pops displayed in an American flag box + red star cookies
  • Burlap runners, red lanterns, galvanized tin buckets of treats and star spangled decorations!
  • Anchor and Ship Wheel garland & red, white and blue gum ball tubes
  • “Ahoy” backdrop with a pennant flag banner and star studded balloons

4th of july outfits

nautical anchor plate

crab lollipops

nautical dessert table

nautical july 4th party

patriotic gum ball tubes

july 4th


nautical party ideas

nautical hair bows

nautical bash

patriotic party

red star cookies

nautical party drinks


family party

PARTY DETAILS, as told by Jen

Ahoy there! Jen Carver of Banner Events here to share a party theme perfect “from sea to shining sea”.  We invited our family & a couple of friends to join our “Carver Crew” for a sailin’ good time at a nautical inspired 4th of July party! Living near the Pacific Ocean, I have always had an obsession for all things nautical, & when Maureen of Anders Ruff Custom Designs introduced me to their festive Nautical 4th of July invitation and coordinating printable collection, I couldn’t wait to style an event around their designs.

Because nautical parties are a popular party trend right now and can be adapted for just about any season & any occasion– weddings, bon voyage parties, birthdays, retirement celebrations, baby showers  & so on- finding fun props, décor & coordinating treats was a breeze.  I hope you will enjoy our land & sea adventure, beautifully captured by photographer, Rochelle Pettingill.

Design Inspiration & Color Palette:

I long for the day when I can visit the beautiful coastal New England towns, famous for their gorgeous harbors and quaint living.  I wanted the overall design & décor of our event to celebrate & mimic what you’d find in a New England ocean front vacation home, but with a patriotic twist- nautical flags, wooden ships, lanterns, anchors, life preservers, rope handled baskets, shells, metal pails, glass bottles, buoys, wooden crates & fish nets. Much of the design inspiration and color palette of cherry red, white and various shades of blue came from Ander’s Ruff’s nautical printables themselves, but my styling was also inspired by some of the colorful nautical products I already had around my house & some fun products sent from companies I was privileged to work with for this event.

The Dessert Table:

If you have been following my party styling for a while, you know by now that one of my favorite parts of any event is coming up with the concept for the dessert table.  It’s probably related to my own sweet tooth, but I love making the dessert table a focal point of my events.  One of the ways I like to achieve this is by creating interest with my dessert table backdrop.  Having a center statement piece that captures the attention of party goers is a must in my styling.

For this event, I was fortunate to work with the amazing Lauren of Ten23Designs.  Lauren is one of those people that can take a design concept straight from my head and make it a reality. (That is such a gift!)  I commissioned her to custom craft several laser cut wood designs, including the large AHOY letters and the wood garland on the front of my table (anchors, paddles, captain’s wheels).  They came ready to paint (no sanding needed) and were so easy to transform into something impressive.  Using coordinating colors of DecoArt acrylic paints, I was quickly able to assemble these design elements for my table and backdrop.  I also used the DecoArt paint on the boat shelf that housed my cupcakes so everything would coordinate.  Paint is a simple, inexpensive way to quickly transform things you already have at home to perfectly match your current party color palette.

To add some color and interest, I printed, cut & strung two sets of Anders Ruff’s nautical pennant flags (included in their printable package) onto some twine and criss-crossed them on my bead board background.  (TIP:  You can purchase 8′ x 4′ bead board from Home Depot inexpensively and reuse it time and again.  They will even cut it down to size for you.  Mine was cut down to 6′ x 4′.)  I hung the AHOY signs with some fishing line that I taped to the back of my bead board.  Our backdrop was flanked on each side with festive star balloons from Party On! Designs.

Displaying the variety of delicious desserts was paramount, but a close second, was displaying them creatively with our theme in mind. One of my favorite “go to”sources for party décor and inspiration is Oriental Trading Company.  Not only are their prices fantastic, but they offer such a broad range of products to fit a variety of party themes.  When their patriotic catalog arrived in the mail and included some fun nautical items, I was so excited!   I knew their products were a perfect fit for our event!  You’ll notice I used many of their signature party basics throughout my styling,  in addition to some of their nautical themed offerings.

Our dessert display included scalloped navy treat boxes from Oriental Trading with vinyl accents from Ten23Designs.  We filled ours with butter & caramel popcorn and accessorized them with cute glittered swizzle sticks from Party On! Designs topped off with printable flags from the nautical printable package. Who doesn’t love popcorn, right?

Delicious cupcakes made by Designs by SK were adorned with adorable custom fondant nautical flag toppers by the talented 4 Kids Cakes.  I loved displaying them in striped cupcake wrappers from Pick Your Plum on the shelves of our wooden boat.

One of my personal dessert favorites is pie.  Aren’t these mini pies cute?  We spruced up these peach, cherry, apple & blueberry pies with some more party flags attached to wooden toothpicks.  What’s more “American” than pie?

Speaking of pie, my very favorite pie is this strawberry tart made especially by my mom.  (It’s more of a sugar cookie crust vs. the traditional pastry crust.)  Isn’t it cute with its little nautical flags?

Rice Krispy treats are another dessert staple that is so easy to embellish with something like these festive sparkle sticks by Made by a Princess.  They are no fuss, and kids love them!

If you love macarons, like I do, then red, white and blue macarons (made by 4 Kids Cakes) are a must!  Christina never spares on the details, and her added star accents and shimmer were a hit!  We added a few other store bought cookie options displayed on classic white trays.

In addition to baked goods, candy & sweets are always a party favorite. We added some cute crab suckers from Oriental Trading to our table & some cute treat boxes filled with some salt water taffy . (Tip:  Need custom treat boxes? We repurposed fry boxes from Party On! Designs, added some cute nautical labels & made paper rosettes from some great sturdy textured card stock from American Crafts. You will also see these same boxes used as chip containers on our food table!  Double threat! )

The kids loved our firecracker gum ball favor tubes too.  (Thank you for the inspiration Giggles Galore.) These were a quick DIY, with gum balls & favor tubes from Katarina’s Paperie, 4th of July ribbon from Ribbon Revelry & some red, white & blue sparkle garland from Party City. A few cuts with the scissors & a couple of dabs of hot glue and our firecracker gum balls were ready to party!

The Food & Beverage Tables:

Unfortunately, man cannot live by dessert alone (I may have to “test” this…), so we also set up colorful nautical themed food and beverage tables.

I spruced up our beverage table with a printable nautical banner.  The addition of a red fish net from Oriental Trading Company, some DIY wood stands for displaying different beverages & dressing up the various bottles of soda & water with printable beverage wraps from Anders Ruff easily transformed our beverage area for thirsty sailors.

Adding different layers to our food table allowed us to accommodate all of the different sides, salads and condiments that go along with a great BBQ!  We used more of our DIY wooden stands to house rope handled baskets filled to the brim with individual chip containers & buns.  Our galvanized 3 tiered stand from Pick Your Plum reminded me of the crow’s nest on a ship and was perfect for displaying a beautiful variety of summer salads.  We loved displaying our baked beans in individual lidded cups with twine and circle toppers.  Functional can still be festive!

The Dining Tables:

We lucked out with the perfect summer day for our party and were fortunate to be able to set-up outdoors.  (Rain isn’t uncommon in Seattle on the 4th.)   Tables were dressed with beautiful tablecloths from Wholesale Event Solutions, rustic remnants of burlap, and blue mason jars filled with vibrant red & white flowers.

I wanted each table setting to be colorful and fun.  I paired red placemats with colorful layered partyware from Oriental Trading Company and red patriotic napkins from Petite Party Studio. Gorgeous farm stand milk bottles from Red Hill General Store were adorned with beverage wraps and accented with a cute striped party straw (Petite Party Studio) and printable party flag.  Mini treat cups (Petite Party Studio) filled with colorful gummy treats & taffy sat at each place to hold off each guests sweet tooth.  Each place setting was flanked on the right by an embellished set of sparklers and on the left with a tin pail (Oriental Trading Company) filled to the brim with snaps, treats, and wooden utensils (Katarina’s Paperie). The pails were decorated with cute printable labels & tags, a wood anchor (Ten23Designs) and topped off with coordinating ribbon and jute from American Crafts!

Even our patio set & umbrella got a little makeover with these darling red and white lanterns from Katarina’s Paperie.  It’s all in the details!


The adults and kids enjoyed participating in water balloons, lawn games, a bike parade & the traditional S’mores roast to end the night!  We loved having these S’mores kits already assembled for our party.  Anders Ruff’s S’mores labels were the perfect touch!

A big thank you to Great Stitch and Make it Mine Couture for the custom 4th of July shirts, Cupcake Wishes & Birthday Dreams for the pom pom sparkler wands & Designs by SK for the coordinating hair bows!

I absolute adore the wonderful companies who contributed to our nautical celebration & hope you will refer to the vendor list often for your upcoming party needs!

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