Plenty of US expats this side of the pond mark Independence Day on July 4th. Why not join in the fun this summer, perhaps with a daytime picnic or an evening barbeque with friends and family? Get together, decorate in red, white and blue and celebrate all things American.
Decorate your garden walls, hedges and fences with outdoor bunting, flag pennants, stars and paper fan decorations and proudly display the star-spangled banner on the house. Use your decorating scheme to reflect the three colours of the flag or the stars and stripes patterns. Add large number 4 balloons to your weighted helium clusters. Mark the perimeter with lights and lanterns, with strings of outdoor fairy lights overhead so that you can carry on into the evening. Stock up on plenty of long-burning tealights or the more child-friendly LED versions.
If there are children invited, ask them to come in fancy dress. Even better, extend the theme to all the ages and suggest they come in costume as their favourite American icons – from Marilyn Monroe and Abraham Lincoln to Mickey Mouse or the Statue of Liberty. If the dress code is more relaxed, provide patriotic party hats and head boppers for everyone. Set up a photo booth area, with props. The US theme works particularly well with a Village Fair theme, so why not have various outdoor activities on offer around the garden.
Cool bottles of beer in a large bin or bucket with ice, serving them with wedges of lime and perhaps knock up a punch or two. For softer alternatives, homemade lemonade and iced tea will quench all thirsts. Serve drinks in colourful plastic jugs and glasses you can re-use all summer long. Lay the feast on American-themed tableware or on the grass over checked cloths. For an edible centrepiece, fill a vase, tin bucket or basket with shiny red apples and stud them with flag picks.
For the main course, serve burgers and hot dogs US-style with all the trimmings, BBQ ribs or perhaps a very slow-cooked shoulder of pork. As well as salads, offer corn cobs, coleslaw and oven-roasted potato wedges on the side. Wrap party cutlery in USA party napkins and stand them in tin buckets. For dessert, mix crushed Oreos or broken Reese’s Pieces into softened vanilla ice cream and replace in the freezer until needed for a delicious US twist. Serve in sundae glasses with homemade star-shaped gingerbread.
A separate area set up for children, with a table and plenty of games will ensure that they are all happily occupied throughout the afternoon and evening. You could give their Independence Day party a Howdy Cowboy theme. A few star name stickers will ensure they soon know each another! A piÃ±ata will also add to the excitement for kids. When it’s time to go home, stage a lucky dip with treats wrapped in spotted and striped bags for the children so that they each get a present.
Fireworks are a traditional part of the Fourth of July celebrations, but they can be difficult to lay on. If you can’t set off fireworks at home, at least hand out sparklers for everyone or have a party cannon to set off as the finale. Letting off paper lanterns is a fun way to bring the evening to a close. Glow in the dark illoom balloons look great too and are fun for the kids to take home.