If you want some 4th of July party ideas, this list will help with food, desserts and decorations…everything for the ultimate Independence Day celebration!
Independence Day is a great holiday for taking advantage of the summer weather and getting together with friends.
And I do take full advantage…by hosting a 4th of July party every year!
When you have a party for the same group of people on the same holiday every year, it can be a challenge to come up with new ideas to keep the party interesting.
So every year, I’m on the hunt for new 4th of July party ideas, and I thought I would share some of them here.
4th of July Decorations
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Since almost all of my 4th of July parties are outdoor, I focus on decorations that can be used outside…and won’t get wrecked in the rain.
Given that, I would only use paper decorations like these red, white and blue fans* in a covered location.
However, these painted lawn decorations (tutorial HERE) will survive a downpour…which makes them perfect outdoor 4th of July party decorations!
DIY red, white and blue candle holders like these (find the instructions HERE) are really easy to make and can be used either inside or outside.
For less DIY work, hanging flags is a really easy way to add red, white and blue decor without much work.
To see the rest of my favorite DIY 4th of July decorations, click HERE.
One thing that is pretty consistent…I almost always have a cookout, or a bar-b-q as we used to call it when I lived in Toronto. Now that I live in South Carolina, bar-b-q is a way of cooking, not an event. So to keep everyone from getting confused, I call it a cookout now.
Other than the prerequisite thunderstorm that seems to pop up right when we get started grilling, a cookout is the perfect way to have a casual get together for friends and family of all ages.
Here in South Carolina, I usually start late in the afternoon, and do a dinner meal. That’s mostly because it’s really hot in the middle of the day in July!
My backyard is on the west side of the house and it backs onto a ravine with a lot of tall trees. So by about 5 PM, the patio and yard is pretty well shaded…perfect for everyone to be outside!
Having done this for a few years, I have come up with recipes that can be prepared in advance and are easy to cook…two things that make the cooking part of the cookout go smoothly.
If you need some food ideas, take a look at my 4th of July menu HERE.
Of course, if you really want to create some devoted fans, you can make rotisserie chicken (recipe HERE).
I have only made it a couple of times for big gatherings like a 4th of July cookout, but it is always a HUGE success! It is a little more work than my usual recipes (you need more than one chicken to feed a crowd!), which is the reason I don’t do it every year.
Another one of my 4th of July party ideas is to host an early afternoon brunch.
I have done an Independence Day brunch a couple of times, and some of my friends like it better than the evening event. Since most people have to work the next day, a brunch makes sure the party winds down early enough for everyone to get home at an early hour.
It’s also a great option if you don’t want to take on the responsibility for lighting fireworks…everyone will have gone home by the time it gets dark!
4th of July Tablescapes
This is one event where I mostly use paper plates (like these American flag ones*) and plastic cutlery.
It’s just so much easier to clean up afterwards.
Having said that, I do have some friends who prefer to have a proper table setting. And I do love creating tablescapes 🙂
Since I don’t want to add too much extra work, I try to keep them relatively simple and elegant.
If you are setting your tables outside, it helps if you can put up an umbrella over theme. That way you don’t have to make a mad dash to bring all of the dishes in if it starts to rain.
You can see more of my 4th of July table decorations HERE.
Of course, you can’t have a 4th of July celebration without a patriotic dessert! Desserts are a great way to add red, white and blue to your food table.
These mini cheesecakes (recipe HERE) set out in the shape of a flag are actually really easy to make, and everyone LOVES them.
These red velvet cupcakes with berries are another big hit with my 4th of July crowd.
I find cupcakes work better than cake for casual events like this because they are easy to serve and eat. No cake cutting, forks or even plates required!
Here’s my list of patriotic desserts that work well for a cookout. Although some of them are a little more labor intensive than others, they can all be done ahead of time. So they won’t add to your day-of-the-party tasks.
I have to say that at my 4th of July parties, most people are drinking beer. But I do still like to have at least one summer drink option for the non-beer drinkers.
Homemade lemonade (recipe HERE) is pretty much the perfect option for kids and anyone else who doesn’t want an alcoholic beverage. And it also works well as a mixer with vodka (or other liquors) if you are so inclined.
I’m also a big fan of Sangria in the summer. What’s more refreshing than wine with berries?
This recipe for berries and lime sangria uses a rose wine which makes it perfect for a hot summer evening.
Another refreshing option for summer entertaining is Mojitos. There’s something about mixing herbs with your drink that makes them taste really refreshing.
I have 2 favorite recipes the classic mint Mojito and the pomegranate basil Mojito. Although both of these recipes are for virgin cocktails, you can make them into the non-virgin version by adding 1 or 2 ounces of white rum.
My last go-to 4th of July drink option (ok, so it’s not really a drink but you know what I mean) are jello shots. Everyone loves them and you can make them in whatever color or flavor you like. These Pina Colada jello shots always go over really well at any summer party.
But if you want some patriotic colors, try out these red, white and blue jello shots.
Whichever drink you go with, it’s helpful to mix enough in advance that you don’t have to keep making drinks all afternoon.
Even better? Use a beverage dispenser. That way it’s really easy for people to help themselves…and you won’t get any flies helping themselves to your cocktail!
For more ideas, check out these 4th of July cocktails.
That’s the run down of my 4th of July party ideas at the moment (I will add to them as I come up with new ones). Hopefully, you’ve found some inspiration for your own Independence Day party.
Do you have other 4th of July Party Ideas? Tell us in the section below.
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This post was originally published on June 13, 2017 but was updated with new content on December 13, 2023.