The high holiday of summer entertaining is upon us, *wink! Who can resist an Independence Day party? If you are hosting this year, this guide is for you.
Fourth of July Decor & Table Setting
If you know me, you know I *love* any excuse to decorate! Red, white, blue, stars, and stripes are the mood of the day but that does not mean you have to go out and buy a whole set of 4th of July themed decor. Classic patterns such as gingham and stripes evoke a summer feeling without being too on-the-nose.
Your choice of flowers will bring your design together, too. For this table, I chose red anemones, courtesy of my dear Fairbanks Florist, for a pop of color. Plus, those bold centers feel a bit like fireworks to me!
Now on the subject of bunting… There is never enough! *wink
Outdoor Entertaining Tips for the Fourth of July
Chances are, when you picture a Fourth of July party, you are imagining an outdoor gathering. Independence Day is peak summer entertaining which means a few considerations should be made:
1. Avoid burns and bites.
Have sunscreen and bug spray on-hand and easily accessible to your guests. A cute basket filled with helpful products will go a long way in keeping guests safe and comfortable.
2. Keep Guests Dry.
Provide plenty of fresh, fluffy towels for guests to use if swimming is involved.
3. Prioritize *Cold* Beverages.
Coolers and ice buckets are a summer entertainer’s best friend. Pro Tip: an ice bucket is more effective when water is mixed in as it is a better conductor than ice alone. Adding a pinch or two of salt to the mix is even better!
4. Make Food Safety a Top Priority.
Take care with foods that can go bad in the heat. Keep cold foods cold, especially seafood and dairy-based dishes. Covering dishes to protect them from bugs is an additional precaution, primarily for guest comfort over contamination!
5. Comfort is Key.
If the party is going into the evening, have blankets available in case guests catch a chill. This is certainly not necessary here in Orlando, but more northern states will cool off when the evening comes.
6. Practice Mosquito Control.
Is your yard mosquito-proofed? No one wants to spend the evening being bit by hungry mosquitos. Treat your yard prior to the party and be sure to place some citronella candles or mosquito prevention tech around the yard.
7. Ask your guests about dietary requirements in advance.
And plan your menu accordingly. For example, thoughtful purchases such as veggie burgers and vegan cheese for your plant-based friend will help them to feel included and valued.
8. Avoid cross contamination when grilling.
When choosing what goes where on the barbecue, take care with allergens where possible. If a friend is allergic to shellfish, cook the shrimp after the burgers to avoid a medical emergency
9. Include non-alcoholic drink options.
For your friends who may choose not to imbibe, have plenty of fresh iced tea, soft drinks, or similar alcohol-free drink options on hand. If you are making a signature cocktail for the party, consider making an alcohol-free mocktail version too! Remember, it is never acceptable to ask why a person is not drinking.
10. Plan activities for children.
If you are hosting a child-friendly party, make sure to include games, activities, and kid-friendly foods to keep them happily occupied.
Independence Day and the American Flag are practically synonymous and you will surely want to include one in your 4th of July decorating. Keep these flag etiquette rules in mind to avoid a faux pas.
- The union (stars), should always be in the upper left, whether on a flagpole or hanging vertically.
- Ensure your flag is in good condition, not faded or tattered, as a sign of respect.
- The flag should never be flown after dark, unless illuminated by a light source.
- Never let the American flag touch the ground.
A Note On Fireworks…
First and foremost, respect the law. If fireworks are illegal within your city limits, do not use them. Often there is good reason for these rules, such as areas where brush fires are common or population density and safety concerns.
If fireworks are legal in your area, be considerate. Excessively loud fireworks can frighten pets, children, and adults who suffer from mental health concerns such as PTSD.
Sparklers are forever my preference as they are quiet and very safe when used correctly. Attending a fireworks display is the safest way to enjoy (and the fireworks themselves are much more impressive, anyway!)
If you do choose to light fireworks, do so with utmost safety in mind for yourself, others, and nearby property. Your window of acceptable time for lighting fireworks is the evening of July 4th. Fireworks should end between 9-10pm out of courtesy to your neighbors and should not be lit for days before or after the holiday. Be sure to clean up any debris caused by your fireworks. And remember, inebriation and pyrotechnics are certainly not friends.
Encourage guests to Uber to and from your party if you know it will be a big drinking day.
If children are present and using the pool, the best possible option is to hire a lifeguard. This will allow everyone to enjoy themselves with less worry. However, if this is not possible, consider having parents trade off with each other to monitor the children in the pool. Having a designated “watcher” is much safer than a joint effort where responsibility is shared.
Young children who are not strong or experienced swimmers should be in proper safety gear, including life vests and floaties.