Nothing beats a Fourth of July party as a celebration of everything summer, everything American, and everything that’s great about relaxed get-togethers with family and friends. When else can you dress head to toe in red, white, and blue, wave your flag with abandon, and be covered in ketchup, mustard, and corn kernels without judgment? If you’re looking for some fresh ideas for the holiday, you’ve come to the right place. Here are a few tips for throwing the perfect Fourth of July bash this year.

decor-fourth-of-july

Décor

If you are looking to throw the perfect Fourth of July party, the good news is it’s not difficult—or expensive—to pull off a great, inexpensive soiree. Just ask Real Simple, who says they’re “dreaming of an outdoor get-together that’s simple to pull together at the last-minute. Stars and stripes? Obviously. Red, white, and blue palette? No doubt. Easy, stress-free, and kid-friendly? You betcha!” One of their recommended tips? “Load up on party props…from the 99-cent store or your local party store,” where you can find festive, affordable items to bring a bit of flair to your party. Oriental Trading is another great place to find items like this flag garland or this patriotic utensil caddy. You can even get your themed party invites for free on Evite. And if you have the time and are feeling creative, you can find always inexpensive inspiration on Pinterest.

 

american-flag-cake

Menu Planning

If you’re going the traditional route, the biggest challenge for your Fourth of July party menu will be knowing when to apply red and blue food coloring to your dishes.  But if you just want simple, good ol’ fashioned American barbecue, you can skip the food dye and head straight for the grill to cook up some ribs and corn on the cob, or burgers and dogs. Add a couple of sides like potato salad, pasta salad, fruit salad, and boom: simple Fourth of July goodness. Feeling more ambitious? Add in some homemade chips, courtesy of Epicurious, which uses blue potatoes and beets to imbue the hues of the holiday. And don’t forget your festive cocktails! This Red White and Blue Sangria recipe is so cute (and cool on a hot summer day), we couldn’t resist. If Sangria isn’t your thing, Parade magazine offers a few other drink recipes to choose from.

After the meal, break out a show-stopping desert, like this layered flag cake.  Not quite that ambitious? Try this pared-down version. If that’s still a little much for your desert-making skills, decorate a store-bought cake with blueberries and strawberries!

Red, White and Blue Patriotic Friendship Bracelets

Don’t Forget the Little Ones

Because the Fourth of July is typically a family holiday, you can expect your party to be attended by kids. For party success, make sure you have kid-appropriate food (barbecue fare should be fine, but be sure to ask about any dietary restrictions your guests may have in advance). In addition, a few fun activities will help keep the little ones busy and engaged until it’s time for fireworks.

These fun Fourth of July pails can be filled with everything from candy to colored pens and crayons, and make a great takeaway gift for the younger set. Print out some free Fourth of July coloring pages in advance, and you’ve got happy, busy, creative kids. These patriotic friendship bracelets and glow-in-the-dark flip flops make great crafts, and party favors. Or, put those kids to work making these cup holders that will not only make for festive fun, but will also keep your beverages cool!

Which ideas will you incorporate unto your Fourth of July plans?