Barbecues and fireworks are classic ways to celebrate the Fourth of July, but why limit yourself? The two dozen party ideas described below should provide inspiration for your own star-spangled celebration. Best of all, many of these party ideas can be carried out on very little money or preparation. There is no excuse not to celebrate!
1. Everyone Marches Parade
Sure, it’s fun to watch parades, but being in them is more fun. Hold a neighborhood parade or block party where everyone marches, whether in costume or not, with tasty treats scheduled at the end of the route!
2. New Citizens Celebration
Do you know someone who just became a U.S. citizen? Throw a bash to welcome him to America. What could be more patriotic?
3. Fireworks by Candlelight
Find an optimal viewing spot and light red, white and blue candles – or paint old cans and place ordinary candles inside. Gather a few friends and some food, sit back, relax and enjoy!
4. Founding Mothers and Fathers Costume Party
Do you love playing dress up? Throw a party where everyone dresses as his or her favorite founding father or mother, such as Benjamin Banneker, George Washington or Betsy Ross.
5. King George’s Spectacles Viewing Party
Recreate a slice of history! Purchase a reproduction of the Declaration of Independence and invite friends and neighbors to view it on display – each wearing the types of specs that King George might have used to read the text – Hancock’s quote aside.
6. 1950s Style All-American Picnic
During the 50s, the post-war boom allowed many Americans to enjoy prosperity, or at least relative affluence. Celebrate by packing up the car and driving to a local park for a picnic of hot dogs, burgers and corn on the cob.
7. Red, White and Blue Party
Sure, the decorations reflect our nation’s flag, but don’t forget the food! Blueberries, strawberries, potatoes and red velvet cake are just some of the appropriate foods to fulfill a red, white and blue party theme.
8. Visit Your Nearest National Park
Filmmaker Ken Burns calls our national parks America’s best idea. Nearly everyone lives within driving distance of at least one national park. Pack a picnic and visit your nearest park for the day, or camp out for the weekend.
9. Fireworks Tailgate Party
Fireworks and tailgating are both great American traditions. Why not combine them by throwing a fireworks tailgate party? Gather a group of your friends at a good viewing spot for a local fireworks display and enjoy grilled treats while you watch!
10. Star Spangled Beach Party
It’s summer! Celebrate our nation’s birthday with fresh-grilled fish or seafood, beach volleyball, board shorts and bikinis–which made their first appearance on July 5, 1946.
11. Flag Painting Party
Our nation’s flag has periodically adapted itself to accommodate additional states. Why not throw a party where everyone recreates various versions of the flag, from the original thirteen stripes and stars to its present version with fifty stars.
12. Yankee Doodle Birthday Party
It’s America’s birthday! Throw a proper birthday party with red, white and blue cake, ice cream and party hats. Sing “Yankee Doodle Dandy” as a birthday song.
13. Patriotic Wheels Party
Put your party on wheels! Deck out wheeled vehicles of every type in our nation’s patriotic colors. Add streamers on bicycles; red, white and blue bunting on cars and skateboards painted red, white and blue.
14. Charity Begins at Home Party
When Americans are hurting, fellow Americans pitch in to help. Set up a collection box for canned food, unwrapped toys and gently used clothing to donate to a local charity along with the usual festivities.
15. Fourth of July Caroling Party
There are so many patriotic songs. Print out lyrics to such classics as “America the Beautiful,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and of course “The Star Spangled Banner” and sing them while enjoying typical Fourth of July fare.
16. Christmas in July Party
Set up a “Secret Uncle Sam” gift exchange list where each person draws a name of another invitee for a Christmas in July Party. Set a dollar limit to avoid the awkward situation of forcing people to stretch their budgets to purchase elaborate gifts. In fact, it’s more fun to challenge party-goers to come up with gifts that are inexpensive but which reflect the preference of the recipients.
17. Alice in Wonderland Anniversary
Lewis Carroll’s classic tale made its debut on July 4, 1865. Instead of the standard red, white and blue, why not deck out your party site to resemble Wonderland as Alice might have encountered it. Party attendees can dress up as Alice, the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts and the other inhabitants of Wonderland.
18. Lady Liberty Birthday Party
It’s not only America’s birthday, it’s Lady Liberty’s birthday! One of America’s most beloved icons, the Statue of Liberty, was erected on July 4, 1884. Her crown was reopened to the public on July 4, 2009 after being closed for 8 years following the tragedy of 9-11.
19. Aphelion Astrological Viewing Party
The Aphelion marks the point in the year where the earth is at its furthest distance from the sun (Source). Celebrate by hosting a party where you may be treated to the sight of shooting stars along with the traditional fireworks.
20. Dorothy Levitt Road Rally
Today, there’s Danica Patrick. On July 4, 1903, Dorothy Levitt became the first woman in recorded history to participate in a race involving motorized vehicles. Gather a group of your girlfriends and celebrate her legacy in a road rally – while adhering to the rules of the road, of course.
21. Fourth of July Hangout
Are your BFFs scattered to the four winds? Why not hold a virtual Fourth of July Bash by organizing a Google Hangout or a mass Skype chat? Each person can nosh on typical Fourth fare while sharing their favorite fireworks images.
22. Visit Seniors and Vets!
Many seniors spend much of their time alone with few visitors and little to occupy their time. Why not get a group together and visit seniors in your neighborhood or in a local nursing home? Bring them Fourth-themed treats along with your company. You’re sure to make someone’s day!
23. Thirteen Colonies Party
Have a potluck featuring typical foods associated with each of the thirteen original colonies. Partygoers can enhance the theme by dressing in state-themed costumes.
24. Revolutionary Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are family-friendly fun for kids and adults alike. Plant Fourth-themed trinkets and hints around your neighborhood, and award patriotic prizes to the most successful hunters.
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