Where I grew up, the 4th of July is the biggest holiday of the year. Bigger than Christmas. Bigger than Thanksgiving. Bigger than Administrative Professional’s Day. People come from all over to hit the beach, go to cookouts, and drink heavily all day. Then they hit the beach, watch fireworks, and drink heavily all night. Welcome to America.
Everyone can take part, regardless of budget. Here are some tips…
The Beach/The Park:
Wherever you’re headed to celebrate, it helps to have a friend in the neighborhood. This is easier said than done, but maybe you’re lucky. Friends can provide a party venue, a bathroom, or even just a place to park while you’re in the area. It would be nice to offer something in return… an inexpensive bottle of wine, some homemade food, or just a favor in the future.
Many beaches or parks will require paid parking. That’s just the way it is. Make up for it by bringing your own drinks and food whenever possible. Why pay a premium at the restaurants when you can prepare a delicious homemade picnic. For some ideas and recipes, look HERE.
If you’re attending, this is easy… bring something for your host. You can ask if there’s something in particular they’d like, or just go with something standard like a dessert, some wine, or some beer.
If you’re the host… make it a pot-luck. As I mentioned above, most guests will offer to bring something anyway, so why not relieve yourself of some of the burden. You can provide the basics like burgers, dogs, salad, soda, domestic beer, inexpensive wine, etc. Just think of some other cookout staples and make the request. You know you have a friend who makes amazing potato salad, right? That’s their job. And your buddy from high school who makes his own wine? Hit him up.
For a while I was one of the “kids” at the party. Now I’ve got nieces, nephews, little cousins, and my friends are even starting families. So this is a new party dynamic for me. I know that these kids need to be entertained or they’re going to wreak havoc on the holiday. One idea is to give the kids a few disposable cameras to share. They can be in charge of photography for the day.
Also, what’s more American than yard games. Toss out some footballs, nerf balls, and frisbees and let them go nuts.
Crafts are another a good way to keep kids occupied. Find some old rags, t-shirts, or pillowcases and have them all create their own patriotic… something. A flag, a bandana, a cape… whatever. You can use whatever colored markers you can find, or pick up some of that special fabric paint at the craft store. Or, grab some red, white, and blue construction paper, and they can make paper chains. remember those things? Find more child-friendly ideas HERE.
From kids, we move on to booze. I’m a fan of craft beer. So it’s tough for me to cut back on this part of my celebration. This stuff can get expensive. I can get 30 cans of domestic for the same price as 12 bottles of micro-brew. Sometimes I’ll mix and match, but that usually winds up costing more. I find that it’s best to pick a brand and stick with it. Every situation has its beer. If I’m in it for the long haul (and also plan on sharing), then I’m going for low price, high quantity. If I’m only buying for myself and want something that tastes good, I’ll get something more to my liking and pay extra for it. Obligatory side note: Always drink responsibly.
Above all, let’s have fun and be safe this holiday weekend. Take care of one another, and take pride in your country. Remember what Independence Day is all about.
Try to watch this without getting misty.