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6 Ways to Plan and Prep for a Relaxing 4th of July

Go out with a bang this Independence Day without breaking a sweat
July August 2023

It’s the biggest holiday of the season, but enjoying a memorable 4th of July doesn’t have to interrupt that lazy summer feeling. Whether you’re throwing an outdoor bash, hitting the road for a picnic, or just sneaking a glimpse of fireworks from the backyard, there’s no wrong way to celebrate America’s birthday. Check out these tips to keep the festivities easy-breezy and stress-free.

Tip 1. Make a plan

A few weeks before the holiday, determine how, where, and with whom you want to celebrate. Summer schedules are often packed with travel, camp, and other activities, so making a game plan early will help everyone get in on the fun. If you’re planning a get-together away from home, such as grilling at a park or beach, confirm whether a reservation or permit is required and apply in the required timeframe.

Tip 2. Choose the menu

When planning what to serve on the 4th, take into consideration location and ease-factor. If you’re taking food to-go, opt for a simple, streamlined menu that doesn’t require many containers. No matter where or what you’re eating, keep prep quick and easy by serving a combo of homemade and store-bought items. Cooking meat to order for a crowd of hungry guests can be stressful, even for seasoned grill-masters. Stick with items that are easily prepared, such as burgers, sausages, and hot dogs, and amp up the festivity with extra fixings.

Tip 3. Consider making your event a potluck

Asking guests to bring food or drinks to share is a smart way to cut down on the labor and cost of hosting. If you’re expecting a large crowd, circulate a signup sheet to ensure there’s enough food without any duplicates (no one wants a holiday barbecue with just 10 bags of the same chips). Break your list down into categories, like mains, sides, desserts, and drinks, so that everyone can enjoy a well-rounded spread.

Tip 4. Make the most of your cooler

Whether you’re celebrating in the great outdoors or just outside your back door, be sure you have a way to keep food cold. Perishable items (anything with meat, eggs, dairy, or mayo) should go back in a cold cooler (40 degrees or below) after 2 hours; on especially hot days, chill after 1 hour. Fill your cooler with ice and treat it as a fridge for items like drinks, condiments, and dressings. If there’s room, nestle bowls with salad and other produce in the ice for optimal crispness.

Tip 5. Stay hydrated 

No 4th of July celebration is complete without drinks, just be sure one of the options available is water. Even if the sun’s gone down, it’s easy to become dehydrated on warm summer days. For other beverages, opt for big batch recipes that can serve a crowd of mixed ages. Punch, lemonade, and slushies are all great options that can easily transform into a grownup cocktail by adding a splash of alcohol. A DIY drink station is a no-fuss way to offer an array of options that guests can serve themselves.

Tip 6. Don’t forget the sparkle

No matter what’s on the menu, a little red, white, and blue goes a long way toward creating a party atmosphere (even if it’s just at home with the family). Look for paper plates, napkins, cups, and disposable tablecloths in festive colors for easy décor, serving, and cleanup. Of course, no July 4th celebration is complete without fireworks. Sparklers work as a fun, inexpensive cake-topper that doubles as an activity. If you plan to watch a professional show, time your event accordingly so you don’t miss the main event. Laws about fireworks vary by state, so do the research if you plan to set off your own.  

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