The 4th of July festivities begin this weekend, are you ready to celebrate America? This year we’re skipping hosting the big party, for a small intimate gathering. So, I’m on the hunt for some easy, stylish decor, food, drink and activity ideas to instantly throw together with little prep work.
I love entertaining and providing the ultimate experience for guests, no frozen food, no named liquor or boring decor here. The music, guest list, hours of indulgent fun—and the details are all in your hands. But with great power comes great responsibility, and if you don’t handle things the right way, your next invite may not be so well received. It’s important to prep ahead of time and pay attention to all the details to create a warm and welcoming feel guests won’t soon forget.
First, you want to set the scene. Where will your guests mix and mingle? Ideally, this holiday is celebrated outside, so make sure you have varying seating areas for your guests to spark up conversations, eat and relax. Also, have an area set up for the bar and a place to hold all the food.During 4th of July pasts (before we invested in our yard) we would rent tables and chairs to provide enough seating and pop up tents for shade, inclement weather and protecting food from pests.
Get creative with seating you can dress up bales of hay or lay festive colored blankets and pillows in the yard. Speaking of pillows add red, white & blue ones to your outdoor furniture to play up the American flag theme.
What should you splurge on when it comes to 4th of July decor? I think you should have a good mix of decor staples and quick clean up products to set out for the party. Think about purchasing items you can reuse — like throw pillow covers, melamine plates in a neutral color, or even the BBQ sign below that you light up when grilling outdoors. Think about themes that work well with your home and area that remind you of America. Try a beach theme, farmhouse theme or purchase some old antiques to show off on table top surfaces and shelving.
What’s a party without music? Show off that American spirit by using one of this playlists or create your own ahead of time, so you’re not constantly playing DJ at your party. This first list includes songs like Surfing’ USA from the Beach Boys, my favorite Hotel California by the Eagles and Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd, it’s mixed with some newer artists like Miley Cyrus and even Bob Marley & The Wailers.
This next playlist featured in Mashable shares all-American classics that Spotify revealed showing each state’s favorite patriotic song based on listener data from Independence Day back in 2014. The classics include God Bless The USA by Lee Greenwood, Living in America by James Brown and The Star Spangled Banner with Jimi Hendrix live at Woodstock. This list features more than 100 songs, sure to get your guests dancing.
After all that dancing your guests are sure to get thirsty and hungry, what’s your favorite offerings to share? I find the food and drink menu should be well-rounded. You should have a varying amount of soda, water, juices and spirits. Try making a few cocktails ahead of time and serve in dispensers for an easy pour. I found this recipe that’s inspired me to try this year from Gimme Some Oven — I love that it’s light sangria with dry white wine and includes champagne. Aren’t the apple shaped stars so cute?
Make sure to choose a signature drink at the party that reflects the menu options. This sangria will pair well with most dishes, but may decide to feature a margarita, mojito or lemonade spritzer. Some of our favorite food dishes to serve for our 4th of July party include hamburgers, steak and chicken skewers, plus flavored sausage rings. You can’t forget the sides though, it’s balances out the meal and gives your vegetarian guests something to pick on.
This salad is a crowd pleaser and goes great as a side at a BBQ. Boil water on high and add the string beans. Blanch the beans then, put them in a cold bath so they stop cooking. Next, cut the baby tomatoes in half place in a bowl with nuts and string beans. Finally, lightly drizzle the oil onto the mix until lightly coated. Throw in a pinch of salt and pepper to taste and stir the ingredients together.
Having salads that are not creamy based will last longer outdoors for the duration of the party. I recently came across this recipe that I plan on bringing to a party we’re invited to this weekend. It’s a simple on the go recipe by Simply Recipes that features my favorite sides: potatoes, string beans and roasted red peppers. I plan on using a balsamic vinaigrette vs. this mustard based dressing used in the recipe.
Growing up my family used to throw backyard parties all the time, I remember all the men would go play horseshoes and the kids would participate in activities like pin the tail on the donkey or bobbing for apples. When Sal and I started throwing our own 4th of July parties (established in 2004) all our friends had young kids that we’d have to entertain. It started out with just a few lawn games, then a bouncy house and finally a full on carnival in our backyard complete with face painters and fair treats.
Now, we have the pool that keeps the kid’s entertained for hours on end, if you have floats, water guns, glow sticks and diving rings they can play with. If you don’t have a pool though, I found these updated games that will keeps of all ages entertained: try a photo booth, bottle ring toss, or even corn hole.
I’m excited we just got Sal a yard chess set for his birthday, so we’ll be busting that out to play this weekend. What are your plans for this 4th of July weekend? Remember if you’re hosting, put a plan in place early, be willing to go with the flow and make sure you have fun at your party too! Your vibe is what will shift your guests mood, so lose the stress and play happy host. Want more party ideas? Check out our Independence Day Pinterest Board.
Happy 4th of July,