Want to dress apropos of the holiday, but don't want to look like Uncle Sam? Update the typical red, white and blue by wearing different shades of the traditional colors.
Mix it up by wearing turquoise instead of the typical flag blue -- combining turquoise with red has been hot everywhere this season. Don't feel like you have to wear all three colors. Red and white or blue and white has a fun nautical feel, and almost everyone has something along those lines already in the closet.
If you're going to be spending your holiday close to the pool, stay away from those long coverup dresses. Although they do shield you from the sun, they tend to get wet and dingy at the hemline and just wind up looking sad. Stick with a shorter or mid-length dress -- PacSun sells the Kirra Sunner dress for less than $30, and it has a simple silhouette that won't get in your way.
The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays, between the bright colors, yummy food and fun decorations. Although there will be plenty of barbeque and hot dogs at most patriotic parties, serving fresh fruit is a way to add a pop of color to your table without a using a bunch of bad-for-you food coloring.
Watermelon is a traditional summer favorite, but make it "Fourth-y" by getting a small star cookie cutter and punching out little watermelon stars to serve. Arrange them on a tray or toss the stars with fresh blueberries and grated coconut, and you have a beautiful patriotic fruit salad. If you have a more adventurous palate, I saw a great idea for combining sliced watermelon with bleu cheese. Be sure to keep the watermelon chunky, and crumble bleu cheese on top. Serve in paper cups -- all three patriotic colors, but with a more grown-up edge.
Travel Web sites typically push last-minute deals for holiday weekends, especially when the holiday falls on a Monday or Friday like this Fourth of July. Follow the sites on Twitter, like them on Facebook, check their Web sites -- who knows? You might be calling in to work for a longer vacation if you find a deal outrageous enough.
On Expedia.com, all hotel rates are 30 percent off if you book before July 4 and the trip falls before July 31. If you pay with your MasterCard, you can get a gas card worth up to $50 and free extras.
Priceline.com has a hotel deal for more than 50 percent off hotels in major cities such as Atlanta and San Francisco if you book between July 3-5.