The Fourth of July has long been a favorite holiday of mine. My family hosts a big celebration where all are welcome. Family and friends come from throughout the South, and we spend the holiday bouncing back and forth between games of bocce ball on the beach and my parents’ backyard pool. We pick up a bushel of oysters from Mayport to graze on all day and fire up the grill for a BBQ in the evenings. Once the sun goes down, everyone grabs a blanket and we make our way back to the beach to end the night enjoying the Jacksonville Beach fireworks display.
It’s a holiday we look forward to every year because at it’s core, it encourages us to put down our phones, turn off the TV and be present with each other. Every Fourth of July, I’m reminded why we entertain in the first place — to spend quality time with loved ones. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be fun (although a little pretty decorating is encouraged). Here are a few simple tips for throwing your own festive Fourth of July celebration.
When having a big group over, I like to keep the menu simple with items that can be prepped ahead of time. Dishes like mac ‘n’ cheese, pasta or potato salad and veggie kabobs can be made the day before and cooked right before eating. I also love a pot luck for celebrations like this. It takes a lot of the cooking off of you and ensures there is a dish everyone will love. Plus, fewer dishes at the end of the night since everyone will take their container home with them! If you’re looking for a full menu suggestion, my Fourth of July party guide below has the perfect prep-ahead menu including common allergy adjustments.
While the decor is not the most important part of the celebration (the people are), we all want to create a beautiful and inviting space. I’ve always been a big advocate of simple but impactful decor. You don’t need to go overboard buying everything with a star and stripe on it. Utilizing red, white and blue is all you need to do to create a festive environment. Decorate with items you already have around the house that fit the color scheme and add a few small American flags to complete the look. You can see how I styled my back deck for the Fourth in the party guide below. Don’t worry — I also included links for where to purchase it all. And, thanks to Amazon Prime (the true hero of any party) you can get it all in two days to pull off a stylish last-minute celebration.
In this intense summer heat, a large dispenser of water is a must. A dispenser is my preferred method as it cuts down on plastic bottles and saves you money. Display wine in a large ice bucket and keep a cooler of beer, sodas and other beverages close by. My monogram frost flex cups get used for everything from water to wine to juice because they’re indestructible and dishwasher safe. In the summer, my go-to bar includes water, of course, Rosé, and a couple of growlers of light local beers (like Engine 15’s J’ville Lager or Cundy’s Summer Quencher).
There’s no doubt it’s going to be hot. Encourage everyone to wear bathing suits and set up fun water games in the backyard. A small pool, slip ‘n’ slide and water guns will keep guests cool and kids having fun. Non-water games like cornhole, bocce ball and Jenga are always a crowd pleaser as well. If an afternoon storm pops up, just take the party inside and break out the dominos, card or movies for the kids.
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For the complete guide on throwing a memorable Fourth of July bash with style and ease, download my Fourth of July Party-Planning Guide for free here!
About The Author
Sarah White is the founder of Events Uncorked and helps take the guesswork out of party planning. She understands that planning a get together at home, regardless if it’s dinner with friends or a 4th birthday party, can be a lot to manage, especially when juggling an already busy schedule. Hosting a gathering in honor of someone’s birthday, graduation, wedding, new baby or any achievement is her true love language, and she offers a plethora of party guides and tools to help you do the same by following the five principles of entertaining. Her hope is that this guide gives you the tools you need to celebrate the important people in your life and have fun while doing it.