As Independence Day approaches, you may be preparing to host a barbecue or cookout to celebrate the holiday. After all, it’s a great opportunity to spend time in the sun with friends and family, eat good food, and enjoy some time away from your usual routine.
However, while hosting such an occasion can be lots of fun, it can also be stressful. There are several considerations to make when you’re going to have people at your home – especially if you’re expected to feed and entertain them! It can be much more than simply flying the American flag and dressing in red, white, and blue. We’re here to provide some 4th of July ideas to ensure that your party is a hit.
Know Your Audience
In order to please your guests, you have to know who they are and what they like! Before you start to plan out the details, determine your guest list. Will you have family in town? Are your friends available? What about the families of your children’s friends? Or maybe you’re planning a neighborhood event instead. Whatever the case may be, who will be there is more important to figure out than what they’ll be doing.
Once you’ve assembled the guest list, you can start to think about the more specific details. Where will your event be? Do you have enough room in your backyard to fit everybody? If not, are you okay with some of the festivities taking place indoors? Having a plan in place for staging will make the day of the event much less stressful.
Have a Plan for Food and Drink
Another reason knowing your audience is crucial: you need to know what’s going to fit on the menu! Of course, a backyard barbecue typically involves cooking meat of some kind, but it is best to make sure that works for all your guests. Some may have specific dietary needs (based on preference, religion, allergy, etc.) that you should try to accommodate. A simple solution is to add some veggies to your grill, alongside the meats.
You don’t have to be a pit boss to throw a good cookout – everybody wants to have a good time. If you’re cooking their food, they’ll appreciate you even if you haven’t selected their favorite cut of meat or choice of veggies. While they may not necessarily be "barbecue" items by purist definitions, burgers and hot dogs are usually easy crowd-pleasers.
Still, if your party is small enough and you want to go the extra mile, consider crowdsourcing your menu ideas. If you ask your guests what they like, you can be assured that you’ll satiate their hunger. Plus, they'll likely remember your thoughtfulness.
Alternatively, you can make your event “BYOI” – Bring Your Own Ingredients. If you have a group of people who like to cook (and a large enough grill), you can involve more people in the cooking process. This works on a couple different levels. First, it gives you a little relief from the responsibility of cooking for a large group. It also gives your guests an opportunity to do something fun with you and can be a great icebreaker for guests you may not know quite as well.
In addition to the food, drinks are a critical consideration in the barbecue/cookout planning process. The easiest way to handle drinks: BYOB. Following the same thread as our food conversation, it is not lazy to encourage your guests to bring drinks that they know they’ll like.
Taking this approach relieves you of some financial and planning responsibility. But it also makes it easy for you to be respectful of everyone’s preferences and needs; some people will want light beer for laid-back drinking, some might want to make cocktails or bring craft beer, and still more people won’t drink any alcohol at all. Not to mention, there’s a litany of soft drinks to sift through if you’re buying refreshments for everybody; relieve yourself of that decision-making by inviting your guests to bring whatever their heart desires.
Take Precautions and Stay Safe!
The 4th of July is an incredibly fun holiday, but it can also be risky if you aren’t careful. One area of risk is in the grill – make sure that you’re grilling in an area that is safe to do so – outdoors, away from your house, and on a flat, level surface.
While fireworks can be great fun and a fascinating way to end the evening, they are also a source of great risk., The last thing you want at your holiday party is for somebody to get hurt. USA Today(Opens in a new window) cited a Consumer Product Safety Commission Report that stated approximately 15,600 people were hospitalized with injuries related to fireworks in 2020. Don’t be one of them!
Additionally, consumer fireworks are not legal everywhere, particularly in areas experiencing drought. The heightened fire risk can prove too large a liability. While an injury is the most unwanted outcome at your event, legal troubles are probably a close second. Check your local guidelines and laws before making any fireworks purchases or plans.
The National Safety Council suggests letting the professionals handle the fireworks, but if you do choose to use legal fireworks, they’ve provided the below list of safety tips(Opens in a new window) to help you out. Follow these to make sure you and your guests make it home happy on the 4th of July.
- Never allow young children to handle fireworks
- Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
- Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
- Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
- Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
- Never light them indoors
- Only use them away from people, houses, and flammable material
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person
- Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
- Never ignite devices in a container
- Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
- Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
- Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don't go off or in case of fire
- Never use illegal fireworks
Hosting an event of any size, on any occasion, can be exhausting and stressful. That can be amplified when it’s a holiday like the 4th of July, but you should be sure to find time to appreciate the work you put into the party. It’s supposed to be fun for you too! Don’t lose sight of that while you’re trying to keep your guests happy.
Hopefully, these 4th of July tips will help you enjoy the moment while you provide a great atmosphere for your guests. Happy 4th of July!
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