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.