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Doís and doníts of planning 4th of July party
Tips for hosting a memorable backyard bash
Published Wednesday, June 26, 2013 7:00 am
by Michaela L. Duckett

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Summertime is perfect for outdoor entertaining, and the 4th of July is the perfect occassion to host your first backyard bash of the season.

First comes summer. Then comes the 4th of July. It’s a federal holiday, and you’ll likely get the day off. So why not host your own Independence Day celebration? With the warm weather, the 4th of July is an ideal time for cookouts and outdoor entertaining. Whether you are a seasoned pro or a new host, the following do’s and don’ts can help you put on an all-out backyard bash or enjoy an intimate gathering for your closest friends and family.

DO set a theme. Ask the best party planners, and they’ll tell you that all great events start with a unifying theme.

For the 4th of July, consider going All-American. This could mean recreating the ambiance of a great American carnival or fair with games and prizes, funnel cake and candied apples. The menu could consist of classic American foods from hot dogs to apple pie and fried chicken.

Or the theme could be as simple as decorating everything in red, white and blue. Incorporate the American flag into your décor and purchase a few balloons and streamers. Use red, white and blue plates, napkins and utensils. You can also ask guests to participate by dressing in American colors.  

Need some inspiration? Look online or check Pinterest for more ideas.

DON’T forget the kids. If children will be attending your party, be sure to have kid-friendly activities readily available. It doesn’t take much to keep the little ones happy. Head to the dollar store and pick up some sidewalk chalk, balloons, stickers, noisemakers, board games, card games and a few bottles of bubbles. Or go all out and spring for an inflatable bounce house.

A little effort will go a long way as the kiddies amuse themselves for hours as the adults relax, take a break and enjoy the holiday.

DON’T wait until the last minute. Get as much prepared ahead of time as possible. If you are trying new dishes, give them a test run in advance to avoid any last-minute surprises.

Get a jumpstart on cleaning the week before. Tackle any outdoor projects like pressure washing, cleaning the grill or mowing the lawn and sprucing up the patio, especially if it’s your first time entertaining outdoors this season. Inside, give your bathroom and kitchen a deep cleaning. If you will have overnight guests, prepare the guest room and wash the linens.

In the days before your event, get your shopping done. If any food can be prepped in advance, get to it. The day before, prep your decorations as well. By preparing in advance, you can relax a little on the day of your party and enjoy yourself and your guests.

DO refresh with a signature cocktail. Not only can a signature drink be refreshing, it is also a great way to get creative with your theme. It’s hot outside, so experiment with frozen beverages, particularly of the red, white and blue variety.

However, be careful not to get stuck playing bartender and constantly having to mix drinks throughout the party. Serve a punch or other beverages that can be made in large batches or by the pitcher. That way you can set up a drink station, and guests can serve themselves.

And be sure to have a selection of non-alcoholic beverages for minors and non-drinkers.

DON’T waste money. If you are throwing a big bash and need extra tables or seating, consider renting (or borrowing) instead of buying if it is more cost effective. If you don’t do a lot of entertaining, but want to make the day special you can also rent a tent, dance floor or even a cotton candy or snow cone machine.

Everyone loves a big barbeque, but costs can add up when cooking for a larger number of guests. Keep expenses lower by creating a menu of a few key crowd-pleasing dishes.

If you have a tech-savvy friend who knows what to do with an iPod dock and some speakers, you can also save by not hiring a DJ.

DO light the night. Holiday gatherings often extend past daylight hours so make sure your party space stays lit after the sunset. LED balloons are a fun way to light up your space. A few strands of holiday lights can also be repurposed for summer parties while adding a festive touch.


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