Do you dream of an old-fashioned celebration with a parade, block party and other Fourth of July activities? It's easy and fun to get everyone into the spirit of the holiday -- and it can be inexpensive, too.
Plan a Neighborhood Block Party
Block parties are the Stone Soup of celebrations! Everyone brings a little and gets a lot! Set up a neighborhood Facebook group to coordinate and get everyone to contribute something, whether that be decorations, music or food. Host it in your back yard or right in the street! (Just make sure you have the right permits first!)
Your invite should include
- The time and date of the party
- A call for volunteers for barbecuing, leading games, setup, cleanup, and any sign ups for tournaments such as ping pong.
- If you're not making it a potluck, ask for a donation. About $5 a person or $15 per family should be enough to buy food, drinks and paper products.
- Ask even numbered houses to bring appetizers; odd numbered houses bring desserts.
- Include a date to RSVP by, and follow up with notes and phone calls to get enough responses.
- Families should bring their own lawn chairs and blankets.
- Have children decorate their bikes, trikes, wagons and scooters for a parade.
Ask friends and neighbors to offer up their barbecues, drink coolers and extra tables for cooking and serving. Shop for groceries at warehouse stores or bulk grocery stores to cut costs.
Fun Fourth of July Games
If you'd rather keep the party smaller (and cheaper), hit your local dollar store or dollar bin to snag decorations, games and prizes. Then invite a small group of friends or just the neighborhood kids over for an old-fashioned backyard barbecue. Make up a list of games and activities to play based on the interest level and ages of your guests.
Younger kids can stay busy doing crafts, decorating their tricycles and wagons for a parade, and playing simple games.
Older kids and adults will love some healthy competition with year-long bragging rights, whether it's a basketball tournament, free-throw contest, ping pong tournament, or even a chess tournament. Water Balloon fights and watermelon eating contests are a great way to cool off and end the fun.
Light Up the Night
When the sun goes down, it's time to light up the night!. If your town holds a fireworks show, grab some bug spray, blankets, flashlights and head out to enjoy the fun. Don't try to create your own fireworks show, especially with kids around. The folks at the Just Energy foundation encourage people to find an alternative to traditional fireworks, and not just for fire safety's sake. It turns out that fireworks release high levels of harmful chemicals that remain in the air and water long after the smoke has cleared.
Instead, check out some alternative ways to light up the night:
- Try a DIY laser light show projector.
- Give children glow sticks and let them run around, waving them in the air.
- Insert glow sticks into latex helium balloons and tie them around your backyard.
- Release sky lanterns, small paper lanterns that float when you light a flame inside.
- Set out a sea of floating water lanterns in a pool, pond or other body of water.
- Hand out party poppers.
Spirit of '76 Movie Night
If your kids are too young for fireworks, or it turns out to be a rainy night, consider a patriotic movie night, instead. Get into the festive spirit with these family-friendly favorites:
- Pollyanna (Rated G)
- National Treasure (Rated PG)
- An American Tail (Rated G)
- The Sandlot (Rated PG)
- Top Gun (Rated PG)
- A League of Their Own (Rated PG)
- Captain America: The First Avenger (Rated PG-13)
- My Girl (Rated PG)
- Independence Day (Rated PG-13)
You can go by the ratings, or you can check out Commonsense Media to determine which movie is best for your kids..
Any way you celebrate it, with friends, extended family, neighbors, or just your immediate family in the backyard, have a fun and safe July Fourth celebration this year!