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Fourth of July Picnic Ideas

Updated on July 3, 2012
HLKeeley profile image

HL Keeley has received a Bachelors degree in middle grade education. She is currently teaching high school.

Fourth of July is here! It is a day to celebrate America as sole country, a "free" country. Free meaning free to do be run the way it wants to be run. Americans are taught in middle school about the Revolutionary War: Boston Tea Party, Founding Fathers, and of course "Taxation without Representation."

To celebrate America's freedom, towns all across the nation have parades, barbecues, and of course fireworks! Many states cannot set off big fireworks, but the town usually has a display set up for the people to watch.

This article will give you some decoration ideas and party events before the night show!

How America Became Free

First, let us remember how America became free.

On July 4th, 1776, America declared independence from Great Britain. This all began because the colonists did not feel that they were being fairly represented in the law making decisions. When the Stamp Act of 1765 was imposed by Great Britain, the colonist were outraged and deemed the taxation was unconstitutional. After all, the colonists lived in the colonies. The British representative did not know the colonies or the problems. They were being represented by a stranger. Even worse, there was only one representative, barely a whisper of influence.

So the colonies made a shadow government trying to appease the monarchy at first. After a while though, tension between the colonies and the monarchy grew. This leading to boycotts of British imports and trading with Great Britain. The boycotts led to the Boston Tea Party in 1773. Colonists disguised themselves as Native Americans and threw British tea imports into the harbor. Britain angered by the destruction of moneys worth of tea ended self-government and sent politicians to take control of the colonies.

Not all colonists were upset with Great Britain's laws. This caused the division of the colonies, the Patriots (for the colonies) and Tories or Loyalists (for Great Britain).

There is much more to the story before America declared Independence 236 years ago. The reason we celebrate though is because the colonists and our Founding Fathers acted on their beliefs. They believed so strongly in what they were doing that they were about to go up against the world's greatest military. Luckily America got more support than Great Britain. Seeing the promising new country and with a shared dislike for Great Britain, America recruited it's biggest ally, France. Later Spain and the Netherlands would help the small country.

America is free to be the country it wants to be. It is the land of opportunity because that is how America wants it to be. That is what Americans want, not the government, not the president, the citizens. The citizens control the country and government.


Party Ideas

Most Americans use this time to enjoy the outdoors. Home owners with pools host barbecues by the pool inviting family and friends over to enjoy the nice summer day.

When having these parties, it is best to keep the guest in mind. Will there be children? What do I have to offer to keep people entertained?

Setting Up

  1. Music: Just setting up an iPod connected to speakers is a great start! It will give people something to listen to. It is also something for you to listen to while getting ready.
  2. Figure out where you want people to sit. If you do not have a pool, usually a tent would be nice to keep people in the shade. The tent is also great for rain because then everyone will huddle under that instead of the house.
  3. Cover the tables with festive table cloths and center piece, along with matching paper plates and cups. This makes for easy clean up and a nice looking area.
  4. Get all the games and set up the area for festivities. Continue reading for ideas, especially if you do not have a pool.
  5. Have two different color coolers. You can have more, but have red coolers for alcoholic drinks and have blue coolers for sodas. To keep it festive, even have a white cooler with water and juices in it.

Games: Staying Cool

Children are hard to keep entertained especially at parties where adults sit around talking. For adults this is fun, but for children they get antsy.

  1. Set up the sprinkler system. Children would enjoy jumping through the water. The crazy sprinklers are fun as well.
  2. Get the cheap water guns from the dollar store. The children will have fun shooting each other and will make a game out of it.
  3. Water balloons. This is dangerous because children will team up against the adults. They will have so much fun that eventually they want Daddy to join too. They will adore it and make competitions.
  4. Find a teenager. Offer money, if they do not want to watch. Teenagers can conduct games and competitions for the children to play. Scavenger hunts, especially, are much needed for a guardian. They can also lifeguard.
  5. Arts and craft table. Children can make artwork related to fourth of July. American flags out of Popsicle sticks, Tie dying shirts, or painting.
  6. Contests. Scavenger hunts, water balloon toss, pie eating or watermelon eating contest. Children are competitive. Have a prize for all of them at the end so they are all winners.

Pool ideas:

Children are usually content with just the pool and make games with racing. Having a couple of floaters and sinkable toys will keep them busy.


Night Time Activities

When it gets darker out, the children would become tired or would not be allowed in the pool anymore. Some of the adults will be either tipsy or drunk. This is why night time activities will be fun for people. Ending the party with a big bang literally.

Big fireworks might be illegal to do yourself. If they are not, please please be careful when setting them off. Last year, my friend's little sister almost got hit directly by a firework. Have the audience sit very far away from launch site to be safe, especially children. Fireworks are loud and upsetting for young children.

If you are not allowed fireworks, they do have small trick fireworks that might be legally. They are still noisy and neighbors, if not at your barbecue, might be annoyed with them, so do them early when it just turns night.

You can never go wrong with sparklers. Children love them and are safe, as long as children do not poke each other when the sparklers are lit.

Also, glow in the dark bracelets and necklaces are fun for children as well.

Stay away from noise making toys. Children adore them, but parents do not. Some toys whistle when you whip them or goody bag toys come with actual whistles. These are not fun for parents.


Most of the things you need for the party you can find very cheap at a dollar store. If you cannot find it, most likely you can make things yourself like centerpieces.

Go to the dollar store before going anywhere else! I guarantee you will find a lot of creative ideas. For example, if you have mason jars laying around the house you can fill these with red white and blue sprinkles sticking little American flags out of them.

Or you can get those glow sticks and break them. Sprinkle the liquid in the mason jar, so when it gets dark they will begin to glow. During the day you can have a candle in them to keep flies away. Tiki torches also help with this and give more light when it turns dark. You can use tiki torches for any occasion!

For more great saving ideas and creative ideas, I suggest you check out Pinterest! I have found a lot of articles there that I will post at the end of the article!


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    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 

      7 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      I love the mason jar that glow how cool is that? Sharing this!


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