How to Throw a Great July 4th Party

Jun 27, 2013

Between fireworks, barbecues and the red, white and blue, it can be easy to feel a little overwhelmed about throwing a patriotic party. Independence Day parties mark the unofficial start of summer (especially in the Pacific Northwest). It’s an opportunity to get creative with your patriotic color-coordinating skills while having friends over for a fun-filled, old-fashioned party right in your own backyard! We want to make sure you've got everything you need to put together a bottle rocket of a celebration. Below are some simple steps to help ensure you stay organized, sane, and safe and still have a great time.

Set a budget.American flag and fireworks

How much money can you realistically afford to shell out for the big bash? This point can’t be emphasized enough. It’s easy to get caught up in planning and lose track of how much you’re actually spending on the party. Before you proceed with choosing scrumptious snacks and inviting over the entire block, think about your budget as it will probably influence all other aspects of your party. For example, the menu and guest list for a party with a $1,000 budget will probably look a lot different than a menu with a $300 budget. The more people you extend an invitation to, the more expensive your party. Snap!, our exclusive money management tool, will work great for keeping track of your party expenses.

Invite your guests.

You've figured out how much you can afford to spend; now it’s time to spread the good news. Start reaching out to your guests. Do you want to include friends, family, both? What about coworkers or neighbors? Keep in mind it may be difficult for parents to find a babysitter on a holiday weekend. Can your guests invite their significant other or a date? If so, that may add a few extra people to your number.

Plan your menu.

After you know who’s coming, it’s time to buy food and beverages. Your budget and the number of guests will probably determine which foods you can easily serve. A sit down dinner’s great if you’re having less than 10 people. However, if you’re planning on 10 or more, consider a buffet-style arrangement. Barbecuing works wonderfully for larger parties and dinner’s always easier on the host when people bring a side to share. Helpful hint: ask half your guests to bring an appetizer and the other half to bring a salad. That just leaves you with an entree and dessert! It’s summer, so consider making some sangria, but suggest guests BYOB. (Easy sangria recipes can be found at or

Think logistics.

Inform your neighbors you’re hosting a party. It’s the 4th of July, so most people expect a certain amount of fireworks and late-night noise. But it’s still a good idea to extend a courtesy call or stop by next door and give them an invite or some warning. Will guests drive to your place? If so, where will they park? If you need to use a neighbor’s driveway or a shared area for parking, think about bringing a bottle of wine or some sweets with you when you let them know about the party.

Figure out your day-of details.

Paper, plastic or real plates? If you’re using throw-away dishes and utensils, set aside some space for the extra trash. Next, get crafty! Red, white and blue colors make for some great décor. Pro tip: Pinterest is a great place for inspiration. You’ll find how-to’s for patriotic cake pops, candy fireworks, table decorations, party favors, and more. What about entertainment? If you have space in your lawn, set up a volleyball or badminton net. Outdoor fires and s’mores are always crowd pleasers too.

Have some fun.

Sit back, light a sparkler and have a good time. You've worked hard for the big day so enjoy a good time with your family and friends, and stay safe. Happy Independence Day!