Having a bang-up Fourth of July party is a great American tradition. July 4, 1776, or Independence Day, is the day our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. We recognize the importance of this day with patriotic celebrations, and let's face it, lots of good ol' fashioned all-American eats! Here are a few ideas to help you with your Fourth of July party.
Pick A Theme & Location
Add a theme to your patriotic party and make it that much more fun and exciting. If you don't have the perfect location, make the most out of the one you have. Here are some easy tips and suggestions to spark your own great ideas.
Back Yard Barbecue: Barbecues are easy, tried and true, and everyone always loves the food. Just barbecue a full slab of meaty baby back ribs smothered in a tangy Southern Barbecue sauce. Strawberry shortcake made from sweet summer berries, angel food cake, whipped cream and a few blueberries on top (for red, white and blue) is both traditional and delicious. Set up an old-fashioned ice cream fountain and let your guests choose from a large variety of toppings. Add paper plates, napkins and festive streamers in patriotic colors. To keep everyone entertained, pull out the croquet set, ping pong and the lawn darts. Before sunset, arrange to transport everyone to a site to view the fireworks.
Picnic In The Park:Use red bandanas for place mats or napkins, or decorate the table tops with red gingham tablecloths and matching plates and napkins. Serve hot dogs and hamburgers but grill to order, letting your guests create their own custom dogs and burgers with condiments you might find on a restaurant menu, such as grilled onions, guacamole, different cheeses, sauteed mushrooms, bacon, pickles, thousand island dressing, salsas, and your secret barbecue sauce. Fill a wagon with ice and drinks. Decorate with inexpensive American flags and balloons in patriotic colors. Lay colorful beach blankets or towels on the ground for extra seating, or bring folding chairs. Set up a horseshoe set or, if there's a lawn, try tournament bocce, a fun challenging lawn game for two to eight players.
Clambake: This native American tradition of cooking lobsters, clams and other shellfish on the beach doesn't have to be limited to New England, or the beach for that matter. Try a backyard clambake, or if you're ambitious and have well organized help, go for it and construct a genuine-pit-in-the-sand clambake on a beach. The food is unforgettable, and you'll give your friends and family something to remember!
Try a Hawaiian Luau which is a relaxed and fun party. Greet your guests with leis, hang tropical fish from the ceiling and palm trees on the walls, or if outdoors, decorate with "Raffia-Look" Umbrella Covers. Have guests wear grass skirts and dance the limbo. Have hula contests and ground surfing contests. Serve grilled fish, roasted pork, salads, fresh fruit, and rice.
Beach Potluck: Organize your potluck menu and gather together all of your beach paraphernalia. Have your guests bring a favorite dish along with their bathing suits, towels, blankets, rafts, frisbees and don't forget the sunscreen. Make sure everyone has warm clothes when the sun sets so they can stay and watch the fireworks. Build a campfire in the sand (if they are allowed) and roast marshmallows or make smores as the sun sets.
Read our Outdoor Party Planning Tips.
Party invitations should be fun and help create the mood for your event. You can use the many assorted pre-packaged versions that match your tableware design, have Custom-Made ones, or simply make your own. Here are a few ideas to inspire:
- Buy small American flags and glue them to a piece of white card stock. Add some gummed stars and write your party details in red and blue.
- Create a firecracker shape from colorful tag board. Glue small pieces of curled ribbon to the ends. Write the party details on the cone of the firecracker using glitter glue. Mail in envelopes with star shaped confetti inside.
- If you're having a clambake, cut out a lobster shape from card stock and glue it on card stock with a contrasting color. Write your party details on the lobster. Enclose a lobster bib. Or, write the party details on the lobster bib and enclose in an envelope.
- For a personal touch, if you're having a barbecue, take a photograph of the chef, with apron and hat, holding an American flag next to the barbecue. Adhere this to the front of an invitation and write the party details inside.
- Get tableware in patriotic color combinations.
- Red-checkered table covers always look great, especially for the outdoors.
- Hang red, white and blue streamers from ceilings, doorways or, if outdoors, around a tree or under a patio cover or awning.
- Use American flags, both large and small. Small ones can be used as food picks or to decorate dips and cheese. Larger ones can be hung up.
- If outdoors in a public space such as a park, define 'your space' with decorations. Balloons with weights, or tied to tables or trees work great for this if it is not too windy.
- If you're using outdoor torches, wind red and white ribbon around the poles.
- Use patriotic table covers or solid-colored red, white or blue tablecovers
- If outdoors, use cintronella candles at dusk to help keep the critters away.
- Use honeycomb decorations at the serving table. Or tie colorful ribbon around serving utensils. Or both.
Tableware Buying Guide
Use the guide below to estimate the amount of supplies you need for your Fourth of July celebration. Don't get caught with short supply.
|Beverage Napkins ||2-3/person |
|Lunch/Dinner Napkins ||1/person (sit down dinner) |
2/person (indoor buffet)
3/person (outdoor buffet)
|Cutlery/Place Setting ||1/person (dinner party) |
(plus extra spoon/fork for dessert)
2/person (cocktail party, forks only)
|Plastic Cups ||4/person (cocktail/outdoor party) |
2/person (dinner party)
|Coffee/Hot/Cold Cups ||2/person (cocktail/buffet party) |
1/person (dinner party)
Use plates, napkins, cutlery and cups in patriotic colors.
See our Fourth of July recipes. Also, don't forget to check out our recipes for a traditional clambake!
Entertainment & Activities
Badminton is one of America's favorite backyard games. If you're heading to the beach or the park, bring along a portable Volleyball Set. Croquet works well for backyard play as does Tournament Bocce, which is a lawn game for two to eight players. Another fun game for any outdoor area is horseshoes. Don't forget old family favorites such as three-legged races and tug of war.
How much you want or can afford to spend should be set firmly at the outset, and the amount adhered to. For some, food may be more important than drinks. Others may want to spend more on entertainment or the location. Whatever your choice, bear in mind that your own backyard is usually less expensive, and easier, than a sit-down meal for a large number of people, especially if the meal involves renting equipment and paying professional staff to help. Borrowing tables and chairs, as well as using disposable tableware is a big saving.
Print out our Party Checklist.