4th of July Party Planning Checklist

Aug 31st 2022

Bust out your favorite star-spangled apparel! It's the Fourth of July, and we've got your checklist for hosting a barbecue party that'll have even the founding fathers rising up to wave sparklers in the air — without breaking the bank.

No Fourth of July celebration is complete without fireworks and sparklers. Confetti cannons and sky lanterns can also add flair to your festivities without the need for dangerous pyrotechnics.

How to Celebrate the Fourth of July

You can celebrate with style without sacrificing any of the spirit or party aspects that make this quintessential American holiday the festive summer celebration it is. Use this quick and easy four-part checklist to categorize your 4th of July party ideas, each of which we'll explore in-depth below.

  • Decorations
  • Menu
  • Games and entertainment
  • Traditions

Red, White and Blue Decorations

It wouldn't be a Fourth of July bash without decking out your home and backyard with waves of red, white and blue.

Use this color scheme to ground your decor with creative red, white and blue ideas. Be sure to grab the following decorations, all of which work great indoors or out:

  • Tablecloths: Consider a classic all-white or red gingham tablecloth sprinkled with confetti in the Fourth of July's signature color trio.
  • Tableware: Plates, silverware and napkins in red, white and blue color schemes help to tie in the meal with the theme, too. For the eco-minded, consider reusable or portable picnic tableware sets.
  • Table centerpieces: Mason jars with mini-American flags and fresh flowers make a fantastic seasonal centerpiece.
  • Streamers: The classic party decoration can be hung or woven across patios and balconies, and they can even be draped down garage gutters to add breeziness to your decorations.
  • Balloons: Tie inflatable round balloons to the back of chairs or outdoor furniture, or spell out celebratory phrases and greetings with balloon letters.
  • Lighting: Think red, white and blue staple lanterns, colorful fairy/string lights, tealight candles and tiki torches.
  • Miscellaneous decor: Other great Fourth of July-themed decorations include hanging tassel arrangements, pompoms, pinwheel spinners, tied bandanna ropes, draped tapestries and more, each enhancing the celebratory atmosphere and creating a decked-out party vibe.


Fourth of July spreads often reflect that upbeat yet summery, laid-back spirit innate to this day with friends and family.

To get started, select the type of menu you're looking to serve. Some great menu options fitting a backyard 4th of July party include:

  • Classic barbecue: Typical 4th of July BBQ essentials include grilled burgers, hot dogs and sausages, ribs, corn-on-the-cob, potato salad, baked beans and plenty of fresh-cut watermelon.
  • Potluck: Have every invitee bring a dish of their choosing to pass around. Just make sure there aren't too many repeats. Consider assigning food categories for guests, asking particular people to bring cold dishes (coleslaw, salad, etc.), hot dishes (spinach and artichoke dip, mac n' cheese, cornbread, etc.) and desserts (brownies, bars, pies, etc.).
  • Mezze-style: Think plenty of chips and dips, veggie platters, hummus, charcuterie, fresh and chocolate-dipped fruit, kebabs, chicken wings, meat and veggie skewers keeping this style of menu all about approachable finger foods and nibbles.

Craving further inspiration for your party menu? Check out these specific dishes and meal ideas that cater to a wide variety of tastes and budgets, ensuring every guest leaves your party full.

1. Main Entrees

You can't go wrong firing up the grill for a 4th of July barbecue. If you need some ideas for what to serve, try any of the following — many of which have suitable vegetarian and even vegan alternatives:

  • Burgers and hot dogs
  • Grilled sausages
  • Fried chicken
  • Meat and vegetable kebabs
  • Pulled pork sandwiches
  • Barbecue ribs
  • Southern-inspired crawfish boil

2. Side Dishes

Your imagination is the limit when it comes to side dishes for your feast. Each complements and enhances your chosen main entree while providing plenty of choices even for picky eaters:

  • Corn on the cob
  • Cornbread or buttermilk biscuits
  • Potato and pasta salads
  • Roasted summer vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, etc.)
  • Baked beans
  • Panzanella and Caprese salads
  • Chips, guacamole and salsa
  • Veggies and hummus
  • Bacon-wrapped water chestnuts
  • Foccacia bread

3. Drinks

Stay cool and hydrated with these on-theme Fourth of July beverage and cocktail ideas:

  • Homemade lemonade or limeade
  • Sweet tea
  • Tapped watermelons
  • Red, white and blue-fruit sangria
  • Snow cones
  • Regular and boozy popsicles

4. Desserts

Satisfy your guests' sweet tooth with these dessert ideas to round out your party's spread:

  • Classic or mini versions of summer pies (cherry, blueberry and apple for color-scheme points)
  • Berry trifle
  • Build-your-own sundae bar
  • Ice cream sandwiches
  • S'mores station
  • Apple-berry crisps
  • Cooling granitas

Games and Entertainment

Want to ensure friends and family have plenty to do at your party — besides filling their plates and preparing for fireworks?

Consider these great 4th of July entertainment ideas that are suitable across guest age groups:

  • Sparklers and Fireworks: Fireworks on the 4th are required! Using sparklers can create a fun group activity and decrease the risks associated with using larger fireworks and bottle rockets.
  • Cornhole tournament: Set up the classic lawn game for guests to get way too competitive about.
  • Karaoke: Buy or rent a karaoke machine for your friends to belt out their favorite American ballads.
  • Dunk tanks, water balloon or water gun fights: This is a great way to stay cool and have some rousing fun during summer's heat.
  • "Revolutionary" trivia: Split guests into teams for a Revolutionary War-themed round of trivia about colonial America.
  • Backyard scavenger hunt: Tuck patriotic-themed items and prizes around your home and yard.
  • Lawn twister: Spray paint red, white and blue circles onto a patch of lawn, then watch your friends turn into human pretzels.
  • Beer or beverage pong: Go larger than life by swapping solo cups for garbage cans and volleyballs or kickballs for ping pong balls.
  • Glow-in-the-dark capture the flag: This game is a perfect way to ease into the night before bringing out fireworks and sparklers.

Fourth of July Traditions to Incorporate Into Your Party

Looking for even more party ideas to upgrade your Fourth of July? We love these ideas making the holiday a little more special — plus adding to the day's traditions beyond launching some late-night fireworks:

  • Sparkler send-off: Every guest gets a pack of Fourth of July sparklers in various colors and sizes to use throughout the night. For bonus points, you can even add trio-colored Fourth of July smoke and patriotic star confetti cannons to the fold.
  • Berry picking/farmer's market day: Soak up this mid-summer celebration by spending time at a local farmer's market, visiting a produce farm or going berry picking with friends and family. Highlight your goodies on your menu later in your entrees and desserts.
  • Fourth of July jars: The Fourth of July sits right in the middle of the calendar year. Have guests write what they're thankful for this year or what they're looking forward to over the next six months, then slip the affirmations into the jar for safekeeping.
  • Bonfire: You can have some fun with marshmallow roasting, games of telephone, truth or dare and more next to the soothing fire.

Get the Fourth of July Party Essentials You Need for Your Celebration has the party items you need to take your Fourth of July celebration to the next level. When you shop with us, you'll find:

  • Star-shaped sparklers (multiple sizes)
  • Red, white and blue party smoke and fog
  • Confetti cannons
  • Party packs
  • And more

Ready to celebrate this summer holiday in festive style? Explore our themed online party store today!