Each Fourth of July, people gather in neighborhoods across America for the most anticipated barbecue of the summer, full of flags, fireworks, and delicious food.
If you’re planning on leveling up from barbecue attendee to barbecue host this Independence Day, now is a great time to start planning. But don’t worry—no matter how hot the weather might be, there’s no need to sweat the details. We’ve rounded up an easytofollow checklist that will ensure your Fourth of July celebration is the talk of the neighborhood for the rest of the summer.
Casual wordofmouth invites might be fine for lastminute gatherings, but if you want to ensure you have enough food and beverages for everyone, it’s a good idea to come up with a formal guest list and send out paper or online invitations. It’s also helpful to decide at this point if you want to provide all the refreshments, or if you’d like guests to bring a dish to share. We recommend going the semipotluck route because not only will it take a load off your planning plate, but it also gives guests a chance to enjoy a wider variety of food than you could provide on your own.
This planning step is incredibly easy because you don’t have to spend time coming up with a theme. Anything red, white and blue will do, but it’s still fun to pick out patriotic party supplies and decorations, like flags, balloons, paper lanterns, twinkle lights, and more. One great idea for decorations is to fill small Mason jars with red, white and blue jellybeans or other candy that your guests can take home as party favors.
The centerpiece of any barbecue is, of course, the meat, and you have a wide variety of options to choose from. If you go with simple hamburgers and hot dogs, you can set up a burger or hot dog “bar” with every condiment and topping imaginable. Other crowdpleasers for the grill include ribs, turkey legs, barbecue chicken, and even salmon or steaks if you really want to impress.
4. Side dishes
If you decide to provide all the food at your barbecue, opt for easy side dishes like pasta salad, potato salad, baked beans, grilled veggie skewers, and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Another barbecue staple is grilled corn on the cob, which can be served plain with butter and salt, or dressed up with garlic, chili powder, lime juice, or homemade herb butter.
There are plenty of desserts that fit a red, white and blue theme, like a classic cake topped with a flag design made from whipped cream, sliced strawberries and blueberries. You can also make tricolor JELLO parfaits, cupcakes with star sprinkles, or set up an ice cream sundae bar with a variety of flavors, sauces, and toppings.
Aside from the standard selection of adult beverages, it’s a good idea to offer a variety of refreshing beverages like lemonade, ice tea, and fruitinfused ice water for a lowcalorie, thirstquenching drink. You can even have fun with how drinks are served, like filling a plastic kiddie pool with ice and stocking it with soft drinks, water bottles, and beer.
Music preferences vary, but most guests will appreciate a playlist full of patriotic tunes like “Born in the USA,” by Bruce Springsteen, “American Woman,” by Lenny Kravitz, “American Girl,” by Tom Petty, and “Party in the USA,” by Miley Cyrus. As the barbecue winds into the night, you can also set up a karaoke station or organize an American Idolstyle singing competition that’s sure to entertain everyone.
Eating, drinking, hanging out, and fireworks are often all the entertainment a barbecue needs, but being outdoors in the summer almost demands having games available for guests to play. Classic lawn games like croquet, bocce ball, and horseshoes are always popular, or you could try something new like Yardzee (Yahtzee, but with giant wooden dice in a 5gallon bucket) or cornhole (throwing bean bags in a platform with holes). It’s also a good idea to have a variety of kids’ games on hand to keep the little ones entertained, or set up an activity table full of coloring and crafts.
Supporting veterans is the most patriotic Fourth of July activity of all
Celebrating America’s birth on the Fourth of July is a great time to honor the troops who ensure our freedoms endure for centuries to come. At Bullets2Bandages, we donate 15% of our annual profits to veterans’ charities, and our Bullet Bottle Openers and other customizable barware make excellent additions to your barbecue supplies.
Posted by Kevin Kelly
Marine Veteran & Content editor and creator.