Fourth of July Activities that Are Fun for the Whole Family

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by: Cara J. Stevens
Nothing says summer like a hometown Fourth of July celebration. Here are some fun, festive ways to celebrate the birth of our nation with your kids, friends, and neighbors!
Fourth of July fun. Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Delano Scott/Released

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.

Get into the Spirit of '76

Next family movie night, stream a movie to enjoy an old-fashioned July 4th celebration. Get into the festive spirit with these family-friendly favorites:

via GIPHY

  • Pollyanna- all ages
  • Free Willy - all ages
  • An American Tail - all ages
  • The Sandlot - 8 +
  • Top Gun - 10 +
  • Avalon- 12+
  • Stand by me - 10 +
  • My Girl - 10 +
  • American Graffiti - 12+
  • Independence Day - 12 +

Hungry for more family-friendly summer movies? Check out Commonsense Media's list.

Plan a Neighborhood Block Party

Progress and technology have sped up the pace of our lives and broadened our words in many ways. In some ways, however, we have given up a lot – the sense of neighborhood and community; the kinship with our neighbors and the time to slow down and spend time in idle chitchat and relaxation. With the Fourth of July not too far away, this is a great time to recreate that spirit of early America. And with things as they are in the economy these days, it's a great time to capture the spirit of a community event where everyone brings a little and gets a lot. Block parties are the Stone Soup of celebrations!

July 4th part food

Get started by creating a flier. Proclaim the first official neighborhood Fourth of July Block Party! Hand it out to everyone on your street or in your neighborhood. The note should include:

  • The time and date of the party
  • Call for volunteers for barbecuing, leading games, set up, clean up, and any sign ups for tournaments such as ping pong.
  • If you're not making it a potluck, you may want to ask for a fair amount of donation per family. 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.
  • Ask people to include their email addresses so you can fill in your sign up gaps and send out reminders. Let everyone know this is a group effort and every family needs to participate and pitch in!
  • Families should bring their own lawn chairs and blankets.
  • Have children decorate their bikes, trikes, wagons and scooters for a parade.

Be sure to have more than enough volunteers -- and small prizes -- on hand, and email everyone with a schedule of when and where they need to report for work! 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. Don't forget to have more than a few trash cans on hand as well as a big bin for recycling.

Fun Fourth of July Activities

Once you have a finalized list, hit your local dollar store or dollar bin to snag decorations, games and prizes. 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

via GIPHY

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 unless you know what you're doing -- 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 without setting the sky on fire:

July 4th party

DIY laser light show projector

  • Lots and lots of glow sticks
  • Insert glow sticks into latex helium balloons
  • Release sky lanterns
  • Set out a sea of floating water lanterns in a pool, pond, or other body of water
  • Hand out party poppers

(photo credit: By Takeaway - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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 and every year!