26 Ideas for the Best 4th of July Party
Whether you want to keep things small or host an epic bash this year, these creative Independence Day ideas will make your celebration truly memorable.
Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.
FOTOGRAFIA INC./Getty Images
Summer parties are back on the calendar!
The 4th of July is always a highlight of summer. It’s the time to be with friends and family while celebrating our freedoms and our great country. Think of how many great childhood memories you have of playing games outdoors, eating too many hot dogs, and then watching the sky light up so brightly you could still see the 4th of July fireworks on the back of your eyelids. There’s a reason Independence Day always nabs a spot in people’s top five favorite holidays.
Unfortunately, it mostly got canceled last year, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Social-distancing rules meant that all the usual festivities—including big parties—were not allowed. So this year, many people want to make up for lost time and host an epic bash. However, the pandemic still isn’t quite over, so it’s important to get vaccinated and follow all your local regulations. And if you’re not yet fully vaccinated or you’re just not ready to mingle, you can always have a more intimate get-together this year with your family and save the big bash for another time. To help you plan the best party possible—regardless of size—we rounded up a whole bunch of clever and cute 4th of July ideas. From festive food and picture-perfect 4th of July decorations to 4th of July crafts and fun 4th of July games, we’ve got you covered. Or, if you’re looking for a change of scenery, check out these 4th of July weekend getaways and let someone else plan the party for you!
Boost your basic BBQ
The backyard barbecue is a staple of Independence Day parties, and here’s a 4th of July idea that will take yours up a notch: Make a hot dog or burger bar with a variety of condiments that go beyond the basics. Think pickled jalapeños, shredded cheese, chili, and crushed Doritos, and add a few bottles of different types of barbecue sauce to try. Or nothing says you have to stick to burgers! Branch out with grilled shrimp, salmon, veggies, street corn, pizza, or sausage. For more ideas, check out our list of delicious things to grill this summer.
Taste of Home
Whip up some flag-inspired food
Now is the time to embrace the kitsch. Strawberries or raspberries, blueberries, and whipped cream on top of a sugar cookie crust make an easy patriotic pizza that’s both festive and delicious. For a savory appetizer, create your stripes with tomatoes, red peppers, cauliflower florets, and peeled cucumber slices, with a mini blue container holding the dip (and topped with some star-shaped cutouts made from cheese) in the upper-left-hand corner.
Up your game with firecracker cocktails
Red, white, and blue firecracker cocktails? Sign us up! You’ll find vodka, blue curacao, grenadine, lemon juice, and a splash of simple syrup in this Insta-worthy beverage. The trick to getting the signature striped look? Layer each ingredient in a glass instead of mixing them together.
Include the kids with rocket pop sodas
Don’t forget about your pint-sized revelers when devising 4th of July party ideas! Forget the Shirley Temples and try this simple festive drink. Take a clear soda, like Sprite or 7-Up, and add a rocket popsicle instead of ice cubes. It’ll add just the right amount of flavor, flair, and fun.
Make candy flag apples
Candy apples aren’t just a fall treat. They also make a delicious and (kind of) healthy 4th of July dessert. Take a red apple, dip the lower half in white chocolate, and then coat the bottom section in blue sugar or sprinkles. Yum!
Go all out with the red, white, and blue
Red and blue berries with white feta cheese bring patriotic vibes to a crisp salad—and all the best flavors of summer together. Keep the theme going with red, white, and blue tortilla chips and a salsa bar; layered berry and whipped cream parfaits in old-fashioned glasses; and three-layer Rice Krispie treats spruced up with food coloring.
Kristen Prahl/Getty Images
Turn watermelon into the literal star of the show
Sometimes the little things make all the difference. Make the unofficial fruit of July 4th even more festive by cutting it into star shapes. First slice the watermelon, then cut out stars with a small star-shaped cookie cutter. It takes just a few extra minutes, but both kids and adults will be delighted.
Transform basic ice cream cones
Who doesn’t love a cold treat on a hot summer day? Take your ice cream to the next level by serving it atop ice cream cones coated in 4th of July–inspired sprinkles. Take a sugar cone, dip it in white chocolate, and then roll it in red, white, and blue sprinkles. Your impressive homemade confection will look like it came from a fancy shop, not your kitchen. For even more homemade goodness, make the ice cream in a bag with the kids.
Craft festive marshmallow pops
Marshmallow pops are an easy-to-make, grab-and-go treat that kids love. Buy giant marshmallows, dip them in water or white chocolate, and roll them in red, white, and blue sanding sugar. Put three (one of each color) on a skewer. For more gooey fun and a science experiment, toast them over a fire and watch what happens to the different types of sugar. Then, snack on them while watching 4th of July movies with loved ones.
Paint your lawn red, white, and blue
Your whole lawn is your canvas when you use utility marking spray paint with oversize cardboard stencils (that you can make yourself) in the shape of stars or fireworks. And don’t worry—it’s safe for grass! Complement your artwork with chalk murals or 4th of July quotes on your driveway.
Set up a Snap, Crackle, Pop station
For this cute 4th of July idea, fill clear jars with “snaps” (bang snap fireworks), “crackles” (sparklers, either the real deal or LED), and “pops” (mini bubble bottles). They’re a cute decoration to welcome guests to your party—and a fun way to keep the party going, especially for the kids.
Create a patriotic lollipop centerpiece
Red, white, and blue lollipops grouped together in a festive jar or vase and tied with a ribbon make for easy table centerpieces for a casual gathering. You can also try this with cake pops dipped in melted red, white, and blue chocolate. Bonus: They are as fun to eat as they are to look at it!
rd.com, Getty Images
Light the way with luminaries
To get in the spirit and share the light with your neighbors, line your driveway or sidewalk with 4th of July luminaries. You can make your own by using a hole puncher to create a firework pattern on red, white, and blue paper bags. Or dye plain, uncooked rice red and blue, and layer it in mason jars. Add LED tea lights for durability and safety.
Fire up a magical bonfire
A backyard bonfire is one of the most memorable parts of any summer celebration, but you can make yours into a true spectacle by adding colors. If you haven’t heard of Mystical Fire, you’re about to be introduced to your new favorite thing. When burned, these powders turn the flames a particular color. You can stick to one patriotic color, like blue, or get fancy and light up a whole rainbow!
Jonathan Mauer/Getty Images
Host a fireworks watch party
If you’re not ready to head to a packed field to watch a fireworks show, pull up a blanket and watch the neighborhood display from your backyard or your stoop if you’re close enough to the action. Or you can make it a neighborhood affair by organizing times and areas to watch each home’s display in their driveway. Another idea: Coordinate a time to block off a street and have your neighbors light off their fireworks in the middle of the road.
Organize a patriotic sing-along
A favorite way to get a crowd warmed up before the fireworks begin is to play popular patriotic 4th of July songs and have a group sing-along. Make your own playlist or use this one from Spotify, and sing your heart out. You can even break out the microphone and turn it into a karaoke party. And don’t forget to belt out the national anthem!
Compete in night games
What’s a beautiful summer night without night games? Once everyone is decked out in their best glow-wear, head outside in the dark to play capture the flag, hide-and-seek, or sardines. Or throw around a glow-in-the-dark Frisbee. To fill the rest of your day, choose from these backyard games the whole family will enjoy.
Challenge guests to a pie-eating contest
Line up your family and friends, give them a bib, tie their hands behind their back, and have a good, old-fashioned eating contest. Pies, doughnuts, and hot dogs are classic competition foods. Or if you are too full from all of your munching throughout the day, you can make whipped cream pies and have a pie-throwing contest. Whatever works!
Get snap-happy with a 4th of July photo booth
Memorialize all the fun with a social-media-worthy photo booth. Set out an oversized holiday-themed frame and some patriotic props, add in a few printable word bubbles, and let your guests take as many pictures as they’d like. Have them send you a few so you can surprise them with an online photo book later. Don’t miss these picture-perfect 4th of July captions for when it’s time to post your pics!
Break out the squirt guns
For this old-school 4th of July idea, you’ll need some plastic cups filled with rocks, printable targets, clear plastic plates, and your favorite squirt gun. You can test your own skill or make it a competition. And, let’s be honest, it will probably turn into a water fight, which is also a good time. You could fill a few water balloons and leave them lying around as well!
Take the coolest photos ever
Cameras plus sparklers can provide hours of fun. And waving sparklers at dusk can make for some magical photos, with streaks of colored light evoking fireflies or even fairies. Try having family members stand in a line, with each person tracing a different letter of a word (like “love” or “USA”)—it won’t look like much at the moment, but it will show up brightly in the picture. A regular camera phone will work, but photographers with a little more time and skill can use these tips for truly stunning sparkler photos.
Play 4th of July bingo
Keep little ones entertained while waiting for the food to finish cooking or the fireworks to start with some Independence Day bingo. Create your own themed boards, or head to Crazy Little Projects for printables with Uncle Sam, stars and stripes, fireworks, past presidents, and more. Use red, white, and blue M&Ms as the markers…and make sure to have lots of extras on hand, because they’re sure to get eaten along the way!
Set up a crafting table
Kids and adults alike can indulge their crafty side by making these cute (and surprisingly simple) decorative U.S. flags. All you need are scraps of ribbon and fabric and dowel or hanger. Or try one of these fun 4th of July crafts to create fireworks-inspired pinwheels, striped votives, and more.
Paint little faces
Face painting is a staple at community fireworks celebrations, but you don’t have to be a professional to do it at home. Transform your families’ faces with luminous face-paint crayons, which will light up under a black light. Kids can color their own faces, or you can draw on flags, fireworks, and words. If you’re artistic, try painting tiger stripes or butterfly wings.
Give out patriotic party favors
These adorable candy rockets are a craft, a toy, and a treat all in one! All you need are toilet paper tubes, wrapping paper, craft paper, tissue paper, tape, and scissors. Fill the rockets with small toys or candy and you’ll have some very happy kids at the end of the day.
Don glow-in-the-dark crowns
Open up a few packages of glow sticks and connectors, place the contents on a table, and let your creativity shine. Kids and adults will love making glow-in-the-dark bracelets, necklaces, belts, crowns, glasses, or other wearable items. Then use your driveway as a catwalk to show off your luminous fashion. You can save any leftover glow sticks for Halloween. What should you do once the festivities have come to an end? Check out these 4th of July sales you definitely won’t want to miss.