It seems like the 4th of July is one of those holidays that sneaks up on us well before we’re ready for it. The moment summer arrives, it’s time to host or attend a party, but it can be difficult to make a year memorable with only a week (or a few days, we won’t judge!) to plan.
If you find yourself in this unenviable position this year, don’t panic. Our list of Last Minute 4th of July Party Ideas will have you feeling just as ready for your party as you are proud to be an American.
Last Minute Additional Seating on a Dime
Unless some poorly-timed rain is headed your way, why not bring some of your more casual indoor furniture out in the sun? If you’re hosting in your backyard (and you don’t have time to pick up some hay bales), scrub down your patio furniture, then drag out a loveseat, set up a futon chair, toss down some beanbag seats, or bring the rolling chairs from the office. Even cushions, rugs, and blankets can be used to create comfy social zones.
Your guests will appreciate anywhere they can kick up their heels, and they’ll understand all too well the struggle to seat everyone one wants to include in the festivities.
First, whether you’re picturing an Americana or classic party theme, you may have more Independence-ready decorations than you think. Consider Christmas decorations: anything red, white, or blue could be incorporated into your display. Red tablecloths from the holidays could be paired with white plates and blue napkins, for example, and often star-shaped decorations translate well to either holiday.
These paper stars are simple to make once you get the hang of it, and make excellent party favors for children as the festivities wind down.
If your party will be outdoors, this adorable star-spangled candle holder project is perfect for citronella candles!
If you’re struggling to light the outdoors, this insider tip from Sunset magazine will help you take your party from bleak to chic on the cheap.
Sunset also suggests chic and simple lawn stars to jazz up your front yard without having to add three dozen mini flags.
Begin with mason jars (blue and clear are both great for this) or small vases, tuck in some red and white carnations, red spray roses, red and white tulips, or white Shasta daisies, then tie a flag-themed ribbon around the jar, add water, and voila! Instant centerpieces.
Tip: Many large floral bouquets in the supermarket are holiday themed as the day approaches, so consider saving time by separating one of these large displays for your own mini centerpieces.
If your party will have a kids’ table, or you think your uncle might wipe barbecue sauce on your tablecloth again, white butcher paper can be a great substitute for your good linens. Set out a few cups of crayons to keep the kids—and your uncle—entertained!
Food and Drinks
When you’re hosting, you likely feel responsible for providing all the grub. We have good news for you: your guests will be delighted to contribute! If you’re going to have a classic cookout, there are a few ways to go.
The easiest option is for you to pick up the meat and bread and have your guests bring the sides and drinks. You’ll only have to make one stop, and it will be fairly simple to assess how much to buy.
For a fun twist, consider asking your guests to bring their favorite barbecue sauce, hot sauce, specialty cheese, home-made salsas, and a burger or dog topping. As they arrive, they can lay out their contributions for everyone to mix and match!
If you prefer to keep things organized, Sign Up Genius and Perfect Potluck are user-friendly, effective, and free. Your guests will appreciate being able to choose how to help, and you’ll appreciate people bringing things you need!
If you want to offer a classic home-made spread instead and you don’t have much time to prepare, we’ve got recipes to help you out.
This list of USA-themed drinks covers both alcoholic and kid-friendly options that range from the most budget-friendly to indulgent: Jello shots, fruit sangria, blackberry-mint julep, watermelon mint coolers are all sure to be crowd-pleasers.
Chips and dip are standard at any party, but this clever hack will take your standard party dip from plain to patriotic.
If you’re popcorn people, this patriotic popcorn bar is a must. It’s easy and affordable to create, but the result is fun and high-impact.
If you wait until the sun goes down, it will be cool enough to make these simple red, white, and blue ice cream sandwiches. This idea is perfect for keeping the kids entertained while they wait for it to get dark enough for fireworks.
If you have just a bit more time to prepare, these liberty-themed strawberries from The Spruce Eats show their red against white and blue with help from white chocolate and shimmering blue sprinkles.
We hope these tips will help you have a memorable 4th of July party, even if you’re constrained by time or budget! Do you have tips for a popping last-minute patriotic party? Leave us a comment and let us know.