Hey guys! We just celebrated our youngest’s 4th birthday yesterday (more on that tomorrow), and now I’m looking ahead to our next celebration: July 4th! When we first moved into this neighborhood four years ago, all of our new neighbors told us we’d have to throw a big Fourth of July party, to which we responded, “Sure, sounds fun.” That first year, we invited about 6 people.
Wellllll…it turns out our house is situated on a street that has THE BEST VIEW of our town’s legendary fireworks display. After that first year, our friends turned to us and said, “You know we’re going to be here every year, whether you invite us or not.” So the next year, we invited 50 people. And last year, we got up to 100. Now, I’m no party planning expert, but there are a few things I’ve learned about throwing a bash this big, and here they are:
- Don’t try to make (or even buy) all of the food yourself. I tried that the second year, and was so crazy-busy with food preparation and serving that I couldn’t enjoy our own party. So last year I got smart and asked everyone to bring a side. And I provided:
Pulled Pork (kept warm in a crock pot…this way my husband isn’t tied to the grill all night)
Rocket Dogs (Family Fun)
Ice Cream Sandwiches (Family Fun)
- Provide Plenty of Fluids
Water and juice boxes for the kiddos can go in an enamel bucket (Martha Stewart)
Beer can go in a cooler
A signature drink could go in this guy (World Market)
- Provide comfort.
Make sure you have lots of sunscreen and/or bug spray on hand. I put ours in a bucket near the back door so every one can spray down in a central spot. Light some citronella candles and consider turning on a fan to keep mosquitoes at bay. And make sure you have lots of water!
- Keep the kids in mind.
Buy sparklers. Lots of ’em. Put out hula hoops, bubbles, and sidewalk chalk.
- Don’t have enough tables and chairs? Neither do we! That’s OK, we do have a patio set, a love seat set, a picnic table, and 2 card tables, seating a total of about 25 adults. I also put out a kids’ plastic picnic table and a few quilts on the ground. But the key is to ask everyone to bring a chair for viewing the fireworks, so they can also use it for eating.
Drink stakes are helpful to have on hand (Positively Splendid)
- Make It Festive…
But don’t go nuts. I didn’t really have much the first year, but I’ve been slowly accruing serving pieces, trays, and red, white and blue stuff.
Some bandannas, flags and mason jars go a long way. I also tie the plastic silverware into individually-wrapped bundles with a napkin and some gingham ribbon. And I covered some old cans in decorative paper to hold the sprinklers. Just a little effort, and it looks like a party.
So that’s it. To make it even easier, here’s the formula I follow:
1 main dish, 1 themed food item, and 1 signature drink
+ 1 or 2 decorative ideas
+ comfort items
+ kid stuff
= A PAR-TAY