Shutterstock / Brent Hofacker
For most people, the 4th of July is the summer holiday, and really, what’s not to love? You’ve got parades, classic American food, fireworks and, of course, backyard gatherings with family and friends. Want to ensure that your 4th of July party is a firecracker and not a flop? Avoid these six typical party mistakes.
Mistake #1: Grilling only burgers and brats.
Year after year, patriotic party-goers load up on the classic combination of burgers and hot dogs. Although those are definitely crowd-pleasers, July 4th is as good of a time as any to add diversity to the menu. Try new grilled favorites like Barbecued Chicken Pizza or Big John’s Chili-Rubbed Ribs; both recipes pack a ton of sweet, saucy barbecue flavor. Have vegetarians on the guest list? Check out our favorite grilled vegetable recipes.
Mistake #2: Serving the same old beverages.
Another tired move for summer parties is to stock up on soda, beer and other bottled drinks. Make your soiree a bit more memorable by serving a specialty drink. This Red, White and Blue Frozen Lemonade is the perfect option for a 4th of July bash, as it’s festive and easy to make in bulk. (An even easier option? Try our recipe for homemade lemonade!) And, of course, be sure to have plenty of water on hand.
Mistake #3: Skimping on dessert.
The best way to celebrate the sweet land of liberty? Go all out with everyone’s favorite course: dessert. There are many festive finales to choose from, including Patriotic Trifle and Star-Studded Blueberry Pie. A red, white and blue dessert will make a wow-worthy centerpiece for the party, so pay special attention to the decoration of your sweet treat.
Mistake #4: Buying expensive decorations.
Don’t break the bank with expensive decorations-especially if you plan to use them only once. A few pops of color will take your party to the next level. Go the DIY-route by creating pennant strings from butcher’s twine and red, white and blue construction paper. Enlist the kids to help. Hold a decoration night with the whole family a few days before the party. Add bright tablecloths at setup time.
If you’re not a crafter (or just don’t have the time), pop by the dollar store for some balloons and streamers. Arrange them around the edges of your party space for a patriotic vibe on a dime.
Mistake #5: Forgetting to keep the kids busy.
Will there be little ones at the party? Keep tiny fingers from dipping into the frosting by planning a few fun outdoor activities. It doesn’t take much to create a fun game or obstacle course in your backyard. (Plus, it’ll give the parents a chance to relax!) Tucker the kids out-before the firework show starts-with this easy activity.
American Flag Relay Race
12 mini American flags
4 sand-filled buckets
Set two buckets each on opposite ends of the yard, placing half a dozen flags in the pair of buckets at the far side. Divide the kids into teams and line them up behind the buckets without flags. When you say go, the first runner must race to the flags, grab one and bring it back to the team’s bucket before tagging the next person to run. The team to bring back all the flags first is the winner!
You can also make this relay part of a bigger obstacle course that includes events like a three-legged race, bobbing for apples, hula-hooping and more. Just make sure you designate someone-like an older teenager-to supervise.
Mistake #6: Neglecting firework safety rules.
Fireworks are a quintessential part of the 4th of July, but it’s no secret they can be dangerous if not handled correctly. If fireworks are legal in your state, follow these safety precautions when setting them off:
- Keep children and pets away from fireworks.
- Do not set off fireworks if you’ve been drinking.
- Never experiment with homemade fireworks.
- Carefully read and follow the instructions.
- Set up fireworks in a clear area, away from buildings and cars.
- Light one firework at a time and stay clear as it blasts off.
- If a firework is a dud, do not try to relight it.
Avoid each of these 4th of July faux pas and your party will go on with a bang. Good food and drink, festive decor and fun activities practically guarantee that your guests will have a memorable time. But be warned; everyone will ask you to host again next year!
Keep the party going with these block party recipes made for a crowd.