From all of us here at More4kids, Happy 4th of July Weekend. The Fourth of July celebrates the birth of the United States of America. Founded July 4th 1776, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, America is celebrating its 237th birthday this year (2013).
It is a time for families and friends not only to come together and have fun, but also a time to honor our Veterans and men and women who are putting their lives in danger every day for us, and those who have made the biggest sacrifice for our freedom with their lives. Try to throw your politics aside, and let us all take a moment to think about, and be grateful to all who wear the American uniform, and to our police and firefighters who protect us day in and out. They all deserve our recognition and thanx, more than we can put in words. And don’t forget the spouses and families of those in uniform. It takes very special people to be part of a military family, and our hearts, thanx, and recognition should go out to them too.
No matter whether you travel across the country to celebrate our nation’s birthday, or decide to stay at home in your own backyard, there are many different ways to make this a very special holiday.
All that is needed for a fantastic Fourth are three key ingredients:
1. A Plan
3. and much, much Enthusiasm.
We’ll provide the plan to get you started!
Not lets get the ball on the road and get going!
Hosting a Family Friendly Fourth of July Party in Your Back Yard
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Unless you have a very large back yard, your best bet is to keep your guest list to less than 30 people. Pot luck picnics are by far the easiest. This leaves you time to add unique and festive touches to the event. Ask guests to bring a side dish, and you can take care of the main course, drinks, and dessert. Along with the party planning, these three courses are enough to keep your hands full.
Traditional Fourth of July celebrations usually include hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill. This is a fine tradition, and worthy of continuing. You can dress up the burgers by adding unique condiments, grilling chicken, and offering whole wheat or specialty buns.
If, however, you’re looking for an easy but unique alternative to the traditional burgers and hotdogs routine, look no further than kebabs. Grilled kebabs can be prepared in advance and they offer your guests an alternative to the standard fare.
Here’s a great recipe you might want to try:
Grilled Holiday Kebabs
- 1 lb Chicken breast cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 lb beef cut into 1 inch cubes
- Three green peppers
- Three red peppers
- Cherry Tomatoes
- 3 onions
- 2 zucchini, yellow or green
- 2 cups large button mushrooms
- 1 large bottle of your favorite Italian dressing.
– Place cut chicken into large sealable bag. Place beef into separate large sealable bag. Pour ½ cup of Italian dressing into each bag, seal, and marinate for at least 1 hour in refrigerator.
– Cut all vegetables, excluding cherry tomatoes, into 1 to 2 inch pieces. After meat has marinated, place meat and veggies on skewers as you prefer. (Note—if you’re using wooden skewers be sure to soak them in water for 20 minutes before you place the meat and veggies on them. This will prevent the wood from burning on the grill.)
– Store kebabs in an airtight container until you’re ready to grill. Grill on a medium heat until meat is done.
Now that the main course is taken care of you can focus on the beverages and dessert.
Traditional beverages include ice tea, lemonade, and a cooler full of your favorite carbonated beverages. If you’re looking to add a nice touch, consider using ice rings and offering lemon wraps (wedges of lemon wrapped in 4 ½ in square of cheesecloth and tied off) for the ice tea. Also consider offering this wonderful, tasty, and family friendly punch.
Fourth of July Punch
- 40 oz grape juice
- 2 liter of favorite lemon lime soda
- 40 oz pineapple juice
- 2 oranges sliced thin to float on top
- 2 limes sliced thin to float on top
Mix all ingredients together in a large container.
Makes 8-9 quarts of punch.
Dessert time can be time to get the children involved in the festivities by making Popsicle rockets. It’s easy, virtually foolproof, and your children will be proud of their tasty accomplishment.
4th of July Popsicle Rockets
Here’s what you need to get started: red juice, blue juice and white juice.
Red is easy, blue can be blue Gatorade or Kool aid, and white juice can be lemonade.
You’ll also need two dozen 3oz paper cups and two dozen Popsicle sticks.
- Begin by having your children mix up the juice if need be.
- Pour two tablespoons of the red juice into the bottom of each cup and place in the freezer for 2-3 hours.
- Remove from freezer add two tablespoons of the white juice and place Popsicle sticks into the center of each cup. Take care when pushing the sticks into the mostly frozen red juice. Children can get enthusiastic and push the sticks all the way through the cup.
- Place back into the freezer for another 2-3 hours. Pull out and top with white juice.
- Refreeze until hard. Peel off paper cups and serve when ready!
Of course no party is complete without festive activities. Before the fireworks get started, and while the adults are busy socializing, you can keep the children busy making 4th of July spinners.
If possible, recruit an older child or teenager to help with this project. This will leave you free to socialize with your guests and enjoy your party.
Craft materials you will need:
- Plastic coffee lids, (red, white, and blue colors). You’ll need one for each child and a few to spare in case accidents occur.
Step 1. Have children poke a hole in the center of their lid.
Step 2. Using a pen, have each child draw a spiral on their lid starting at the center and working their way to the outer edge. Ideally the spiral should be about ½ inch wide.
Step 3. Have the children but along the spiral, starting at the outside edge is easier. Be careful not to cut through the hole in the center.
Step 4. Loop the string through the center hole, knot the string, and hang the spinners from a tree or window.
Optional step: If coffee can lids are not an option, you can use colored paper plates. Additionally you can have the children decorate the lids or plates with glitter, stickers, colored glue. Just let your imagination fly.
Firework Safety Guidelines
When night falls, children and adults will invariably want to enjoy a fireworks show. Please follow these guidelines for a safe and happy Fourth of July.
- Only use fireworks and sparklers outdoors.
- Only children 12 and up should handle sparklers.
- Keep several buckets of water available for extinguishing sparklers.
- Obey local firework laws. Some states ban fireworks outright, or during a drought.
- Light only 1 firework at a time.
- Let fireworks soak for 15-20 minutes before disposal.
- Always wear eye protection.
- Alcohol and fireworks don’t mix. Designate a fireworks lighter!
- Adult supervision is a must.
One safety note that I did not realize until recent is that sparklers are the 2nd leading cause of firework injuries. While they may seem harmless always make sure you warn your kids to keep them away from not only their eyes but other peoples eyes when waving them around.
Spicing Up a Simple Family Fourth of July Picnic
Sometimes the best way to spend a Fourth of July, is with your own family. No guests, no parties, just you and your loved ones. The following are a few tips to make your Fourth of July family picnic the best one ever.
It is always good to have a picnic “emergency kit.” A good kit will contain extra paper plates, utensils, wipes, and a plastic table cloth. Additionally, it should have sunscreen and bug repellent, band aids, matches, and trash bags. Pack a Frisbee or ball for entertainment emergencies.
To spice up the menu try cooking chicken burgers using the following recipe.
Fourth of July Chicken Burgers 1 lb ground chicken
2 cups of bread crumbs
½ cup of milk
2 tbs minced onion
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper. You can add more if your family likes it spicy.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Form patties and grill until done. Whole wheat buns, provolone cheese and sliced tomatoes make this burger extra special.
You can also make your potato salad more interesting by using red and white.
Dessert time again is time to involve the children. Invite them to make this wonderful red, white, and blue trifle.
Red White and Blue Trifle. 1 box white cake mix
2 packets of vanilla pudding
1 pound of strawberries, fresh or frozen
1 pound of blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 ½ cup of heavy cream, whipped.
- Make cake and pudding by directions on the box.
- Thaw fruit if frozen. If fruit isn’t frozen, slice into bite sized pieces and add a tsp of sugar to make juices flow.
- Cut white cake into large chunks.
- Using a large clear dish, place a layer of cake chunks onto the bottom of the container.
- Top with a layer of strawberries
- Top with a layer of pudding
- Top with a layer of cake chunks
- Top with a layer of blueberries
- Top with a layer of pudding
- Continue layering until you reach the top of your container then top with whipped cream.
The great thing about this dish is that it’s virtually foolproof and it will look amazing no matter who handles the job, your two year old or your twenty year old.
Heading Out of Town for the Fourth of July
While staying at home can be a wonderful and relaxed way to spend your holiday, several cities across the United States host top-notch Fourth of July Celebrations.
Step into our country’s heritage by visiting the following cities for their Fourth of July festivities:
Boston—Boston hosts “America’s Biggest Independence Day Party” on the Esplanade with the fireworks on the bank of the Charles River. The festivities begin on July 3rd with a Boston Pops concert and wrap up with a flyover by the Vermont National Air Guard and a spectacular fireworks show. Food, fun and fireworks, the festivities are free and you can expect to share the event with approximately 500,000 people.
Washington D.C.—There may be no better place to witness a Fourth of July spectacular than on the mall in Washington D.C. Your family can enjoy an Independence Day parade complete with floats, marching bands and giant helium balloons.
A reading of the declaration of independence can be witnessed on the Constitution avenue steps where you can meet historical figures like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin and you can witness the signing of the declaration of independence. Take your family to the Smithsonian for more educational fun, and don’t forget to save time for the evening concert and fireworks show.
Colonial Williamsburg—Jump back in time and visit living history as it was made. Actors walking the streets and residing in historic houses, bring to life the American Revolution. Give your children the opportunity to meet Thomas Jefferson, see how and where he lived, and view a reenactment of the signing of the declaration of independence. In addition to the military reenactment, children’s activities are provided on the palace green. Music will fill the air all day long with a variety of concerts. The fabulous holiday ends with a fireworks display.
Other wonderful places to consider visiting are:
- Walt Disney World., Orlando Florida. While Disney offers fireworks every night of the year, the Fourth of July fireworks are among the best in the country.
- Austin, TX. The Austin Symphony Orchestra makes this trip worth the effort.
- San Francisco. Pier 39 is the place you want to be during the Fourth of July celebration.
- And New York City for hot dog eating contests and Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks show.
So, Whether you decided to say at home, travel out of town, or host a fantastic party, the best holidays are well thought out and planned ahead of time. Smooth and seamless planning makes for smooth and happy holiday celebrations. No matter where you go or what you do this Fourth of July, spending time with your family will make the time special. Be safe and have fun!
Julie and Kevin