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4th of July Decorations, Food and Activities

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July 4th Decoration Ideas
  • Flags – You can hang a real flag or even a red, white and blue windsock. If you do hang a flag, be sure that it doesn’t touch the ground.
  • Decorate your yard – Add a few accoutrements to your flower garden to subtly accentuate the outside of your home. Patriotic pinwheels interspersed among the flowers can dazzle passers-by. If you are having a get-together at your home, kids can take the pinwheels with them at the end of the event.
  • Red, white and blue centerpieces – For your dining table and also outdoor patio tables (if you are having guests over), welcome the celebration with a cheerful centerpiece. Arrange tissue paper or artificial flowers in small white baskets. Guests can take the centerpieces home with them if you wish.
  • Bandanas – Give out gifts to those coming to your home. Offer red, white and blue bandanas as an accessory to their outfits. Tie it around your head, your wrist or your neck. They are inexpensive to provide and fun.


Plan a Red, White and Blue breakfast Start the day off with a breakfast meal that represents the colors of our country’s freedom. Here are some ideas:
  • Red, white and blue parfait – Layer fresh cut strawberries with whipped topping and fresh blueberries. Add a bit of granola for crunch.
  • Patriotic pancakes – Make your favorite flapjacks and top them with fresh strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream. Add the blueberries to the batter for a more festive pancake. This idea works well with waffles and French toast as well.
  • Muffins (blueberry, cranberry, cinnamon), fruit kebabs, festive fruit salad.
Simple Treats
  • Dip the ice cream sides of ice cream sandwiches into candy sprinkles (or just sprinkle red and blue candies/sugar on vanilla ice cream).
  • Mix strawberries, blueberries, and mini marshmallows together into a sweet “salad.”
  • Use blue corn chips to make patriotic snacks – salsa and cream cheese or sour cream can be the red and white. You can also melt white cheddar onto the chips and top with a slice of cherry tomato.
Simple Cookout
  • Barbeque – If you don’t want a lot of fuss, keep it super simple! Have a traditional cookout with hamburger, hotdogs, chicken breasts,  beef kabobs, chips and watermelon.

Independence Day Cookout Menu and Recipe Ideas

  • Grilled Chicken Breasts
Cooking chicken on the barbecue or grill is a healthy version of the traditional fried chicken often served at Independence Day picnics and cookouts. Recipe for 4: -4 chicken breasts Marinade: -1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil -1/4 cup fresh lemon juice -1 tablespoon kosher salt -2 teaspoons black pepper -1/4 cup minced onion -1/4 teaspoon each thyme, paprika and sage The morning of the cookout, mix all marinade ingredients in a zip top plastic bag or glass dish with cover. Add chicken breasts and marinate for 6 to 8 hours, turning every couple of hours. Grill the chicken until the juices run clear, or the chicken breasts reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  • Potato Salad
What Independence Day menu would be complete without tangy potato salad? Recipe for 5: Ingredients: -1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes -2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or liquid from sweet pickles -1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley -1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and black pepper -1/2 cup chopped celery -1/4 cup chopped red or yellow bell pepper -1/2 cup minced onion, preferably a sweet variety -1/2 cup chopped sweet pickles -2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped -1/3 cup mayonnaise Directions: Peel and chop the potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Place them in a saucepan and add cold water to cover and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Drain and cool. Mix together all other ingredients and, when cool, add the potato pieces and stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
  • Watermelon
Another Independence Day tradition, watermelon can be sliced and served as-is, or carved into a basket shape and filled with other chopped fruits. Here’s how to carve one. Ingredients: -1 large, oblong watermelon (not the little round ones) -chopped fresh fruit of your choice Method: Lay the watermelon on its side. Locate the approximate center. Using a flexible, sharp knife, make a downward cut halfway down the watermelon, 2 inches to the right of the center and another one 2 inches to the left of the center. Then come in from the sides or ends of the melon and make a horizontal cut inward until you meet the vertical cut. Do the same on the other side. You should be able to remove a large wedge of watermelon from each side of the center. Next, cut the melon flesh out of the arched top – the basket’s handle – and use a melon baller to hollow out the inside.
  • Dessert – Ice Cream
It’s another Independence Day classic! You can churn your own if you have a hand churn – that’s fun at a cookout. Or, just dish up vanilla ice cream and top with strawberries and blueberries – red, white, and blue! You can also layer this patriotic combination in parfait glasses.
  • Drinks
Lemonade is traditional on Independence Day. You can also serve lemon punch or lemon slushies. Cola is also an American treat.


  • Red, white and blue bracelets – Let them display the colors of the flag and learn their meaning while making bracelets just like at camp. You can also fashion key chains and necklaces.
  • Paper lanterns – Create crepe paper lanterns to not only represent the day but also to illuminate the evening. Each can hold a candle or a battery-powered light for your deck or front porch.
  • Origami – The art of Japanese paper folding can help you out this year on Independence Day. Create beautiful stars, birds and other decorations for your home or festive gathering.
  • For toddlers and preschoolers, “Uncle Sam hat” made from stiff white paper and red, white and blue construction paper.
  • Necklaces and bracelets can be made by various age groups. Just have age-appropriate beads in red, white and blue and age-appropriate necklace material (leather, cloth, ribbon, or upholstery thread for older kids and adults, and yarn, cloth, or string for young kids).
  • Patriotic Pinwheels – Make these mobile crafts using red, white, and blue card stock, unsharpened pencils, and a thumb tacks. You’ll also need scissors.First, cut 2 pieces of card stock into squares (if the paper is 9″ by 11″, just cut 2″ off the 11″ end of each piece). Then, fold the squares into triangles; then fold the triangles in half to make smaller triangle. Unfold, and then use the scissors to cut 4 slits halfway along the fold lines. Take the lower right corner of each triangle (created by the fold lines) and bend it to the center. Do this with all lower right corners until all 4 corners are on top of each other in the center. Use the thumb tack to secure them, then push the end of the thumb tack into the pencil’s eraser.
  • Beads – Use beads to make all kinds of crafts, from headbands (thread beads at intervals onto stretchy cloth), bracelets, and necklaces. Beads can be sewn or glued with fabric glue onto tote bags or tee shirts. Beads can be adapted to fit most age groups, making them a versatile craft idea.
  • Tweens and teens might enjoy decorating a white canvas tote or white cotton shirt.
  • Tweens and teens might also like making their own headbands using stretch cloth and beads.
  • Small children might enjoy making a magic wand using a wooden dowel, white craft foam (to make a star), and red, white, and blue glitter.
  • Of course, the American flag theme can be applied to many crafts and many ages, from simple coloring pages for young kids to sewing a flag-themed throw pillow or tote.
  • Older kids might enjoy Independence Day manicures and pedicures – break out the red, white, and blue nail polish!


  • Printable Games – There are hundreds of printables you can download from the Internet to help kids learn more about the holiday. Tempt them with word searches, crossword puzzles and guessing games. Learn a few colonial games that kids may have played hundreds of years ago like hopscotch, jump rope, three-legged race or rolling the hoop. Perform a skit. Have kids act out a certain scene from the war: Boston Tea Party, British surrender, Paul Revere’s ride, crossing the Delaware or any number of others.
  • Balloon Toss – For a hot July day or evening, balloon toss is just the thing to cool everyone off. Use red, white, and blue balloons. Fill them with water and tie them off. Put the balloons in plastic laundry bins or something similar. Divide guests up into teams of two. Each team chooses one balloon. Each group of two starts out close together, tossing the balloon back and forth. After each successful toss, the pair takes a step backward. The winner is the group who moves the farthest apart without breaking the balloon.
  • Horseshoes – Maybe you can remember Paul Revere as you do this game. If you can find red, white, and blue horseshoes, all the better (but they’re not necessary). Horseshoes work well for all ages; kids can stand closer to the peg.
  • Independence Day Bingo – Buy or design your own July 4th bingo game. Use red, white, and blue buttons or beads (or anything else in appropriate colors!) for the markers. Bingo boards can have Independence Day themes in the squares, such as the American flag, fireworks, the Declaration of Independence, etc.
  • Hay/Straw Bale Maze – With a bunch of straw bales, you can construct a really fun maze. Make a simple one for kids – only 1 or 2 bales high, for instance – and a more challenging one for adults. American flags can be used to mark key intersections, or guests have to find all the flags in the maze before they can come out.
  • Hopscotch Meets Texting – Draw a telephone keypad on pavement with chalk. Then, using a bouncy ball, have guests spell things by bouncing the ball on the corresponding “key” while calling out the letter. What should the guests spell? For kids, they could just spell words and it could be a fun spelling bee. For adults, maybe answers to trivia questions could be spelled out. It’s a creative game that you can design to fit your party.
  • Patriotic Pass-the-Egg – Who says dyeing eggs is just for Easter? Dye some eggs red and blue (leave some white) for a patriotic twist on this classic party game. You can get creative as to how the eggs are passed down the lines of participants. One popular way to play the game is to have 2 lines of players. Everyone in line gets a spoon (red, white, and blue plastic spoons would be good!). The first player at the start of each line runs to a point with his egg in his spoon, then back to the line to pass the egg to the next player in line. Participants can’t touch the egg during transfer; it must be passed using the spoons only. The first line to finish wins.
  • Traditional Outdoor Games – Since it’s summer, outdoor lawn games, races, tag, and other active games you wished you could play in winter can be brought out now! If the weather is bad, go for puzzles (print out a patriotic design onto card stock, glue it onto cardboard, and cut with a box cutter), or read children’s stories about the first Independence Day.

Family Activities

Invite your relatives over and enjoy an afternoon laughing and eating. Incorporate the red, white and blue theme into the day. Make the colors present in the food as well as the decorations.
  • Lend your backyard to the fun and food of this holiday. Make it a unique celebration by asking guests to dress up in period pieces. See who can guess who you are supposed to be. Host a colonial scavenger hunt to find buried artifacts.
  • Costume Party – Host a grown-up costume party that evening. Everyone has to come in period dress. Ask them to bring a canned good to donate to the local soup kitchen. Give prizes for the best costume. Serve drinks and food that was served in the 1700s for a more authentic touch.
  • Backyard Camp Out – You don’t have to travel far for this Independence Day camping event. Here are some ideas on having a backyard camp out on the Fourth.
  • Pitch a tent and bring the grill out to the “camp site.” Cook and eat dinner outside. Go for all-American food like hotdogs and hamburgers, and grill potato wedges for fries. Don’t forget the ketchup – and add a few drops of blue food coloring to the mayonnaise!
  • In accordance with your local ordinances, restrictions, and location, light sparklers or set off Roman candles while you’re outside.
  • Bonfire and Stories – In the evening, gather the family at an appropriate location such as a friend or family member’s farm or a state park. Bring after-dinner snacks such as s’mores and sit around the bonfire, telling stories about America’s founding. If you have a veteran with you, let him or her tell stories about serving in the military. You could also prepare readings for your bonfire, such as a reading of the Declaration of Independence or the famous poem, Paul Revere’s Ride.
  • Backpacking – One of the fun things about backpacking is the time you get to spend together as a family. There are no electronic distractions (no electricity at all, in fact!), and everyone has time to think and talk to each other. Why not start a family tradition of backpacking on Independence Day?
  • Day Hike – A day’s hike is another great way to celebrate Independence Day. Perhaps you could hike somewhere that ends in a location with a perfect view of the night’s fireworks. Or maybe you could hike to a place where you can set off your own (as long as it’s legal, of course). This can become a tradition in your family, and it can be a wonderful way to build memories.
  •  Plan a Patriotic movie night at home –  You can learn more about your country’s past by watching a patriotic movie. These movies don’t have to just be about the Revolutionary War. They can be about any war in which the United States was involved. Soldiers represent the ideals and beliefs of a country by pledging their allegiance to fight for it.

Community Activities

There may be several community activities going on the day before and the day of the fourth. Most are going to be free so bring the entire family to join in. you can come up with some of your own ideas for your neighborhood to celebrate as well.
  • Block party – Check with the city to see if you need any permits for such an event. Discuss the matter with your neighborhood association (if you have one), to see if the event is allowed. Set up booths for food, games and music. Another idea is to set up an outdoor projector for a movie. Don’t forget the popcorn!
  • Care packages for the troops – The military troops are the ones who have pledged their lives to defend the freedom of our country. Show your gratitude by assembling and sending care packages to them to celebrate Independence Day. Plan ahead so that the packages will arrive around the holiday (this is especially important when sending overseas).
  • What can you send to the troops? Ideas include: July Fourth t-shirts, goody bags, homemade thank you cards, toiletries, baked goods and the like.
  • Patriotic memorial – On this day, remember those who have given their lives for the cause of freedom. Lay fresh flowers on military graves as a way of saying thank you. Choose red, white and blue bouquets in keeping with the celebration theme. Some military cemeteries only allow fresh flowers so call and check before purchasing anything.
  • Parade – This year, attend the city parade in costume. Dress your best to show your patriotism. For another twist, enter the parade. If you are a member of a local organization, suggest that you march in the parade this year to commemorate July Fourth.
  • Reenactment fun – If you live anywhere near a former battle site, there will probably be a reenactment planned. Get in the spirit of the day and attend the event to see what really went on during the war. It is a great way for people to learn about a specific battle and also to understand history.
  • Theater Play – Watch a play about the Revolutionary War. Learn how the Founding Fathers came up with the Declaration of Independence. See how the colonies fought the British for this land and their freedom.
  • Fireworks –  Everyone loves fireworks but everyone doesn’t know how to be safe with them. Attend sanctioned community fireworks displays. You can buy sparklers for kids but stay away from the big stuff unless you know what you are doing. One suggestion: Park where you can see the fireworks from your vehicle so you can avoid walking a ways or sitting in traffic when the event is over.
  • Volunteer –  Lend your time to give to others. Serve meals at a local soup kitchen in honor of the holiday.


You don’t have to stay where you are to enjoy July Fourth. Travel to other locales to see how they plan on remembering Independence Day.
  • Enjoy your freedom – Take time to enjoy the beautiful country you live in by spending a day white water rafting or even camping. Venture with family and friends and create a new holiday tradition.
  • Visit some battle sites – All up and down the east coast are battlegrounds that will probably be holding events. Take a trip to Valley Forge. Visit the battlefield at Antietam, Maryland. Head to Boston and view a reenactment of the Tea Party. Take a ride down the Potomac. Visit the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. See historic Williamsburg, Virginia.
  • Visit family – This is a perfect time to see family and spend the holiday together. Make it a long weekend (depending on the day of the week that the holiday falls) and take in some sites.

Update – July 2013

Here’s a FREE Printable – 4th of July Invitations

I made a PDF printable for you!  Thanks for stopping by!

Free Printable 4th of July Invitations

Update – July 4th 2014

I’ll be adding MORE to this topic…so be sure to pin this post!

I found this fantastic link (below), July 4th Checklist, which offers several resources for planning your event.

And, I just created a new July 4th Pinterest Board for this topic:

Free Patriotic Printables (Open Link to Print)



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