Whether you’re planning a meal for four or a meal for 40, “festive” is the word of the day when it comes to the 4th of July. It IS a party which celebrates the birth of an entire country, after all. But aiming for unforgettable doesn’t have to mean going overboard if you’re on hosting detail. Read on for everything you need to know about hosting a fireworks-worthy Independence Day fete without burning yourself out in the process.
2. Invites and Evites
You can’t have a party without any guests. (Well, you can, but it wouldn’t be much fun.) The good news is that it’s easier than ever to announce your shindig. While paper invitations received through the mail are a rare treat these days, there’s no reason not to save yourself time — and save a few trees, in the process — but sending Evites or creating a Facebook event instead. Particularly when time is of this essence, this is an especially effective way to get the word out.
Lots of people travel for the holiday, so sending your invites sooner than later can help make sure your guests can make it. Then again, many people are looking for something to do on the holiday so there’s no shame in deciding to throw a last-minute bash. In fact, texting your nearest and dearest to come on over for some ‘cue and company is the embodiment of footloose and fancy-free fun — with mindful 4th of July menu planning, that is. (See #3.)
Whether you choose traditional paper or of-the-moment electronic, your invitations should convey some basic information, starting with the whens and the wheres. If you’re throwing a good, old-fashioned backyard barbecue, that may be sufficient. However, if your meal has a theme or if there’s any other need-to-know information, including it on your invitation can help ensure that your guests are comfortable and that your party goes as smoothly as possible. From red, white and blue attire to pool party necessities like swimsuits, sunscreen and bug spray, the more informed your guests are in advance, the more relaxed they’ll be come party-time.
One last thing to keep in mind? While we don’t want to rain on your parade, bad weather is always a possibility. Establish and communicate your inclement weather plan in advance to avoid confusion when the holiday arrives.
3. Food and Drink
While you can’t have a party without guests, you can’t have a good party without food and libations. For many people, mere mention of the words “4 of July” bring to mind thoughts of annual favorites, including hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, steak, wings and other meaty goodness. Unfortunately for many hosts and home chefs, these words can also bring to mind thoughts of hours of shopping, prep-work, and slaving over a hot stove or grill.
The good news? Preparing a 4th of July meal doesn’t have to feel like an epic battle. In fact, it can be a downright breeze — with a bit of help from gourmet mail order food that, is. Consider foodie favorite FoodyDirect, which offers a carefully cultivated assortment of appetizers and sides; entrees; and desserts from the country’s finest restaurants and artisan butchers, bakers and beyond — all aimed at helping you pull off a meal without pulling out your hair. And remember: It doesn’t have to be fussy; it just has to be delicious.
The site is even organized into intuitive and user-friendly categories, so whether you’re looking for Best of Barbecue or Boozy Cake, Pies & Ice Cream, you’ll click your way to the perfect meal in no time at all. As if the promise of all this deliciousness isn’t enough, we guarantee that you won’t find anything easier than ordering your 4th of July menu from FoodyDirect this year.
Feeling particularly ambitious? Carry the red, white and blue theme over to your food. It’s easier than you think — particularly when you factor in Carousel Cakes’ creative confections. (Just don’t forget to sing “Happy Birthday” to America before slicing into one of their colorful concoctions.) But cakes have far from cornered the market when it comes to Independence Day desserts. — especially when you consider the expression, “As American as apple pie.”
And can you even call it the 4th of July without ice cream? FoodyDirect can also help you out there with everything from small-batch sampler packs to gourmet ice cream novelties. Our pick for the 4th? Nye’s customizable party-friendly pack of Summer Favorite Ice Cream Sandwiches. These heavenly, handcrafted treats are a favorite of both Oprah and Martha Stewart, and come in phenomenal flavors like strawberry shortcake, key lime pie, Meyer lemon cardamom and raspberry cheesecake. It’s a “festival in a box”!
If you’ve got a fire pit, meanwhile, S’mores are the ultimate interactive late night snack. But why bother with plain old ordinary S’mores when you can order up an exquisite, gourmet kit in either Vanilla Bean or Cinnamon from New York City’s Three Tarts.
The best part? Making the most of mail order food is in the spirit of our country’s forefathers, living embodiments of ingenuity!
(If you’re going for easy cleanup, meanwhile, paper and plastic plates and utensils mean you won’t save time cooking just to spend it washing dishes.)
No 4th of July celebration is complete without refreshing beverages. Iced tea and lemonade are sure to be in demand when temperatures soar, while adult beverages, including everything from All-American daiquiris to free-flowing sangria, are guaranteed to keep the mood merry. If kids will be in attendance, make sure you’ve got a festive option or two for them, as well.
Don’t feel like spending the afternoon mixing drinks? Preparing pitchers of signature alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks in advance and keeping them on ice can keep you working the room, not working the bar.
Lastly, don’t forget about water. If you’ve ever been to a party where ample H20 wasn’t readily available, you’re probably aware of what a party-killer than can be, particularly in July. After all, dehydration puts a serious damper on any gathering.
4. House & Garden
Even the best food won’t keep your guests around if the ambiance isn’t on point. While we love outside-the-box holiday decorating, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better color scheme than tried and true red, white and blue on the 4th of July. You don’t have to spend a fortune to dress up your backyard in patriotic style. A trip to your local dollar store or party supply store will turn up flags, flags, and more flags, as well as other decorations including everything from balloons to floral bouquets.
But just because your pallet is limited doesn’t mean your decorating options are. Creative touches like mason jars stocked with red, white and blue jelly beans add festive flair.
Comfort is also key. We recommend setting up a centrally located station with bug spray and sunscreen and encouraging your guests to help themselves. If you’re planning to party into the wee hours, meanwhile, proper lighting is a must. Wax citronella candles are a smart choice as they do double duty: providing necessary illumination while simultaneously warding off mosquitoes and other pests.
Setting up a space which promotes optimal flow and offers plenty of opportunities for mingling is also a critical part of your party planning process. Also essential? Plenty of shady spots so your guests can stay out of the sun if they desire.
5. Fun & Games
What’s the 4th of July without some classic backyard fun and games? If you’ll have kids in attendance, consider setting up a craft table. They’ll love making everything from patriotic wands to beaded bracelets while their parents will love having them occupied so they can enjoy some grownup fun. Bubbles, limbo, and Twister are also fun for the wee ones.
Another fun 4th activity? Planning a parade of your own. Stock up on supplies like streamers, balloons, and American flags then invite kids to decorate hats, bikes, scooters, wagons and even themselves. Have awards ready to celebrate their handiwork afterward.
But games aren’t just for the young. They’re also for the young at heart. And we challenge you to find an adult who doesn’t love the nostalgia of a good water balloon fight or Slip ‘N Slide. When it comes to crowd-pleasers, meanwhile, you can’t beat cornhole, karaoke, contests across everything from watermelon seed spitting to patriotic trivia.
And what Independence Day is complete without fireworks? Set up a safe distance from the house, make sure there’s plenty of (sober) adult supervision, then enjoy an up-close-and-personal pyrotechnic extravaganza. But even if you can’t light up the sky, bang snaps and sparklers are also a — literal, in some cases — blast.
Gerald Stanley Lee once said, “America is a tune. It must be sung together.” The same could be said of enjoying a 4th of July meal with your nearest and dearest — the more the merrier. Let FoodyDirect help you bring your holiday to life this year. Shop the 4th of July and other events to start planning your next holiday meal, celebratory gathering, or big bash today.