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Tips for a festive 4th of July party

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To Americans, Independence Day is a meaningful holiday and often the centerpiece of summertime festivities. Commonly referred to as the 4th of July, the holiday celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, in which the colonies officially declared their independence from Great Britain.
Among the more patriotic days on the American calendar, the 4th of July is also among the most festive. Fireworks displays occur across the country, and backyard barbecues commonly begin in the afternoon and last well into the night. Party hosts who want to ensure their 4th of July parties go off without a hitch can consider the following tips.
  • Coordinate the party with the local fireworks display. Nearly every community has some type of fireworks display. As a result, neighboring towns often agree to spread the events out so not all the displays occur on the same night. Communities might host their displays on the 3rd or 4th of July, and hosts should determine which night their community will be offering their show. Because fireworks shows are such a big part of the holiday, individuals might want to host their party the night of their town's festivities. This enables guests to enjoy the display from the backyard or walk to a nearby open field to enjoy the display.
For hosts who are tailoring their party around the local fireworks show, be sure the guests arrive early enough so everyone can enjoy some barbecue before the show begins because hosts won't want to be hovering over the grill when the show starts. 
  • Have something for everyone. Independence Day festivities are for people of all ages, so hosts should have something for everyone. Adults may appreciate a cold beer to accompany their hamburgers and fireworks, but be sure to have plenty of other cold beverages on hand as well. Stock up on soda, ice water and other popular non-alcoholic beverages like lemonade and iced tea. Temperatures on the 4th of July are usually pretty warm, so hosts should buy more than they think they might need, as guests will be looking to stay cool and hydrated throughout the party.
When inviting guests, ask if anyone has any particular food allergies or dietary restrictions. Plenty of delicious vegetable dishes can be cooked right on the grill for vegetarian guests, and foods like fish might be more suitable for guests with preexisting health conditions who should not eat red meat.
  • Decorate. Just because the party is liable to take place outdoors doesn't mean hosts can't decorate. The 4th of July is all about the red, white and blue, so be sure to display the American flag and decorate in the colors of the U.S.A. Purchase Independence Day cups and plates, and encourage guests to wear red, white and blue to the party. Visit the local party store and purchase some red, white and blue balloons. 
  • Even the food can be decorated. Instead of making regular cookies, make American flag cookies complete with red, white and blue coloring, and do the same with the cupcakes. Bartenders can even use food coloring to make the drinks red, white or blue.
  • Host a fireworks display. Fireworks are illegal in many states, so hosts should consult the authorities as to the local fireworks laws before hosting their own party. If fireworks are legal, enlist the help of friends and host your own small show. Keep the neighbors in mind when hosting a private fireworks show, and always keep children away from the fireworks.
If fireworks are illegal in your state, it's still possible to host a fireworks show. Rent a big screen television for the occasion and take it out to the backyard. Once the sun sets, turn on a televised fireworks event (the Macy's-sponsored New York City fireworks show is very popular among viewers, as is the display that takes place in Boston) and encourage guests to sit down on the ground and enjoy the show just as they would if they were in attendance. The show can be just as entertaining, and guests will likely appreciate that they don't have to sit in endless traffic once the display has ended.
The 4th of July is one of the most festive days on America's calendar. With a few simple tips, hosts can ensure a magical night for family and friends.