Sign up here to get our free newsletter

Sign up here to get our free newsletter

Throwing an epic 4th of July party: A beginner’s guide

Happy Fourth of July BBQ and Party Table
Photo credit: MillefloreImages/Getty Images
Last updated:

Of all the holiday parties one can host, we’re pretty partial to a good July 4 party. It takes place in the middle of the year, making idyllic outdoor gatherings possible. It’s bright and happy, thanks to its patriotic color scheme. And, c’mon, the night is pretty much guaranteed to end in fireworks. What more could you want? There is a caveat to raising your hand to host this particular holiday, though — people expect a blast. Like, literally and figuratively (see aforementioned fireworks).

So, yes, absolutely plan to throw an Independence Day party! Just make sure you do a little bit of homework first so that you and your #Merica-loving friends can bask in the glory of your freedom. Because, if we’re really being honest, you might have been going about this all wrong.

To that end, we’ve put together a beginner’s guide to pulling off a fantastic Fourth.

Guests

It’s your party and you can invite however many people you want. However, there’s some unwritten rule of the universe that Fourth of July parties are the most fun when there are more than four people there. To get people excited about your soiree, plan ahead and send out some sort of invitation.

Don’t worry; it doesn’t have to be the pricey printed kind (although if you’ve got the cash flow, go for it!). There are tons of free evites online in cute, patriotic themes. Customize, hit send and watch the RSVPs start rolling into your inbox.

MORE: 11 grilling essentials you need for your next barbecue

Food

Food, food, food, food, food. We’ll say it one more time: food. Maybe it’s all the patriotism that makes people so hungry, but whatever the reason, people love to eat on July 4. The good news is that this is a holiday that you can easily pull off as a potluck by asking guests to each bring a dish. If you do that, though, it’s probably best to have some sort of sign-up so that you don’t end up with 10 potato salads. Unless, you know, you just really like potato salad.

Fourth of July parties are also perfect for grilling, and — yay! — grilling out is a relatively inexpensive way to feed a horde of hungry people, if you opt for simply hotdogs and hamburgers (and the faux-meat versions for your vegetarian friends).

If you’re feeling extra, you can make red, white and blue sangria. Or even more extra, you can be that person: the Pinterester. As in, if your star-spangled heart so desires, go crazy making elaborate appetizers and desserts in red, white and blue hues. You can build an entire Pinterest board full of ideas for your fete.

Seating

Raise your hand if this is the one thing you always forget about when hosting parties (*raises hand*). Fortunately, unless you’re throwing a formal Fourth of July get-together, you’re fine to use plastic chairs, lawn chairs, camping chairs, picnic tables and any other casual seating you can find around your house. But, since it’s unlikely you’ll have enough stashed in your garage to comfortably seat a large crowd, make it a point to eyeball how many you’re missing and ask friends or family to bring some over before the 4th of July party.

Beverages

This is important: You’ll want to establish upfront if your shindig is a BYOB type of deal or you’ll be providing the alcohol. It’s a holiday that many adults associate with knocking back a few, so you don’t really want people having to run out throughout the party in search of local grocery stores with booze in stock on the holiday weekend. If you’re going to have a large crowd and you know they’re going to drink, you can likely save a few bucks by ordering a keg or two (depending on the size of your thirsty crowd). If you prefer bottles or cans, you can get a big bang for your buck by shopping ahead of time at a wholesale warehouse like Costco or Sam’s Club. You might even consider hiring a mixologist to make themed cocktails.

You can find really cute Americana-themed indoor/outdoor cooler floats on Amazon for a steal that are ideal for loading up with ice and drinks. Just be sure (a) to have water and a variety of other non-alcoholic beverages also available, (b) not to forget ice, (c) to make sure no one drinks and drives, and (d) to recycle empty containers.

Entertainment

There’s just something about beating your best friend at a game of cornhole that makes you feel alive. Thanks to July’s typically sunny weather, there are tons of outdoor games you can play to stir up everyone’s competitive spirits and get them mingling. Having said that, it’ll be hot! If your party isn’t a pool party, you could always be the cool kid and have a cooler full of water guns or water balloons set aside for refreshing shenanigans. And if you’ve got kids at the party, print our free patriotic coloring pages for them to color!

Plus, it’s always good to have some sort of entertainment or background music (read: distraction) ready and waiting for your 4th of July party in case your grill master is taking their sweet time with the food.

MORE: Make your own circular American flag towel & be the coolest at the pool

Decorations

Trying to maintain some semblance of a budget? Hit up your local dollar store. They’ll have plenty of cheap decor in red, white and blue, along with a fair amount of Fourth of July party favors. And it goes without saying there are roughly 7 million decoration ideas on Pinterest, if you’re the crafty type.

One thing you won’t find at the dollar store but is always a big hit is a photo opp of some sort. Whether you use a print-out of the American flag as a background or put together your own DIY ribbon banner or patriotic backdrop, friends and family will delight in posing for pics.

More: Turn your pool noodles into a firecracker centerpiece

Fireworks

Depending on where you live, it may not even be legal to purchase and shoot your own fireworks. If that’s the case, make sure you research local options and give anyone who might want to watch the pyrotechnics a heads up ahead of time. If you happen to live somewhere you can shoot off your own fireworks, don’t get crazy. Our forefathers didn’t risk life and limb liberating this great nation only for you to maim yourself in a bottle racket hack gone awry.

Share the photos of your 4th of July party with us by tagging @HomeOftheHolidays and #Holidays365!

Join the party

Celebrate the everyday with vibrant and purposeful content – like new recipes, DIY ideas, wellness tips & beyond – for a happier, healthier and bolder life.

Subscribe now to get

our free newsletter