4th of July is a major holiday in our home. Maybe it’s because my husband, Mark used to have his federal pyro-license and he would work at professional firework shows. But mainly I believe it’s because of family and of course solid planning for the entire day that our group has grown to over 65 people!
Since I’ve been planning our July Fourth events for so many years, I thought it might be time to share some great tips with you so you too can start a fun tradition and not leave it to the last-minute.
When should you start your planning? While we start planning in January, I would recommend you start putting together your 4th of July party planning ideas about six weeks ahead of the date.
July 4th is all about barbeques, picnics, fireworks and fun, but how do you make sure everyone from your youngest to oldest guest has a blast? For me it is all about focusing on three areas of throwing a party: food, decorating and activities.
FOOD AND DRINKS
My motto for July 4th food is keeping it simple. For a potluck I tell everyone to make food that is “Easy To Eat” so we get a broader spectrum of dishes, but enough to share with a large crowd. Two of my crowd favorite finger foods are Sliders and Deviled Eggs, perfect for snacking on during the day. I also tell everyone if you are meat eaters to bring something to grill, as the grill will be on for everyone to use, this then allows others to help as someone will step up to be the Grill Master. For dessert I usually do this as I know the final count, so show your spirit for the day with either Strawberry Shortcake with blueberries to have the whole color spectrum or even just berries (strawberries, blueberries and raspberries) with whip cream or vanilla ice cream. Also, a must is watermelon wedges for the kids and my daughter-in-law.
I’m not much into decorating as I believe in keeping it uncomplicated, but if you are, Pinterest is your friend. Here are some quick and easy ways (as well as budget friendly) to decorate for the 4th. First, it’s pretty easy since the theme is red, white and blue. Use red tablecloths with white napkins and blue plates (or any combo of the three) and your table is automatically festive. Stop by the local grocery store and pick up a couple of bunches of festive flowers and break them up to place on the tables. And don’t forget to pick up enough small U.S.A flags to hand out to everyone, but before that they can be used as decorations on the tables.
July 4th is all about family, friends and fun so make sure you have activities planned that promote all three! I always plan too many activities, as you just don’t know what the crowd is going to feel like, so back-up activities are a must. Bring in a family member to help plan activities that way someone else can take over or suggest something while you are enjoying a drink and talking with friends.
Here are a couple of great activities that are good to have in your back pocket for back-up. Three legged races and watermelon seed spitting contests are quick and easy activities that get everyone involved. IF it’s going to be a hot day enroll the young adults to fill red, white and blue balloons to cool everyone down in the afternoon sun.
While hanging out, eating, chatting, and watching the fireworks will be enough entertainment for most parties, sometimes you want to do a bit more to keep everyone entertained. Plan to have some lawn games, like croquet, horseshoes, or a cornhole game to help keep the people busy till the fireworks begin. Our boys’ favorite activity is darts, just buy a cheap dart game and attach it somewhere in the shade, guaranteed to entertain them for hours. Don’t forget board games and a good old fashion deck of cards. We also like to plan a craft of some type, telling people in advance that we will be hosting a ‘Patriotic Hat’ contest and they can bring their own hat already completed or make one, then take a group photo and have someone judge.
As evening descends it becomes all about fireworks at our party, I always have sparklers and glow sticks for everyone and then we have them light all the sparklers just before the show as a way to kick off the evening fireworks.
I would love to hear what your plans are for this year, so make a quick comment below.
One last thing, music! You don’t need anything too loud, but it’s fun to pick out selections with a U.S.A./Patriotic theme to match you’re party’s purpose. It brings everybody together and makes the whole event a ton of fun! A few good song ideas for a 4th of July party playlist are:
- American Woman – Lenny Kravitz
- American Girl – Tom Petty
- America – Simon and Garfunkel
- Party in the U.S.A. – Miley Cyrus
- Living In America – James Brown
- O.C.K in the U.S.A. – John Mellencamp
- In America – Charlie Daniels Band
- Born In The U.S.A. – Bruce Springsteen
- Surfin’ Usa – Beach Boys
- God Bless The U.S.A. – Lee Greenwood