Here's a quick 4th of July Party Checklist -
7 things to Remember when Hosting a Party:
If you are like many Americans, the way that you plan on spending the nation’s birthday is a fun day of celebrating with friends and family.
Today, the task of putting together the perfect July Fourth party is not as simple as it may seem at first. Some may think that all you need is burgers and hotdogs, but like any party, there are plenty of items to plan and make ahead of time. Here are seven things to remember before you host your next big American celebration.
A 4th of July celebration needs more than just the flag you have flying in your front yard. Just as you would hang decorations for any other major holiday, the decorations will set the tone of the event. However, it can be easy to go overboard, and before you know it, your barbecue looks like an American Party overseas.
It is best to balance cost with what works best with your party space. If you prefer a minimalist take, consider larger decorations like streamers, lights, and even full-sized American flags. If you prefer lots of smaller decorations, plates, cups, handheld flags, and other personal items can be used, especially as place settings or table centerpieces for your guests. Just be sure to restrain yourself; the last thing you want is to look like you are launching an American themed restaurant.
One is of confusion for most hosts is planning their menu. Just what is American food, or which menu items are expected by your guests? Most party hosts serve some combination of hotdogs, hamburgers, and chicken as their entrees. In fact, it is estimated that over the 4th of July weekend, Americans consume an average of 150 million hot dogs. It would seem that hot dogs are certainly the fan favorite, with chicken narrowly beating out burgers (sorry veggie fans). To set your meal apart, consider having a variety of sides, either made by you or brought by guests. Coleslaw, potato salad, and cubed fruit is often a popular choice, as is corn on the cob.
Desserts should be based on how large of a party you are planning, with smaller events being a great occasion for baked goods, while larger gatherings should have something more handheld. Few things are as American as apple pie, while larger groups will probably enjoy chocolate chip cookies.
Finally, it seems one lasting legacy of our Founding Fathers is enjoying alcohol. The 4th of July is a popular beer holiday; just make sure that, as the host, everyone minds their P’s and Q’s. Unfortunately, the 4th of July weekend is also a dangerous occasion with a spike in DUIs and alcohol-related crashes.
With the hotter summer weather, you can expect plenty of unexpected guests in the form of bugs. However, this does not mean that you have to rush everyone inside at the first sign of flies. Obviously, you will not be able to fog your backyard with guests, food, and beverages out; consider finding an all-natural fly repellant instead. No, it will not be as effective as the harsher killer toxins in a can, but with frequent applications, you should be able to fend off the majority of bugs in your backyard.
Other ideas to consider are citronella torches and candles, as well as finding ways to screen in the event area. Even simply keeping the food in a covered area may be able to reduce a number of pests that everyone has to fight off. Finally, consider investing in a bug zapper to draw them away from your guests. Whatever method is best, expect some stubborn bugs to appear regardless.
July 4th should be a casual occasion, especially if you happen to own a swimming pool. Be sure to avoid looking like a caricature, and skip any kind of costume altogether. A smart dress with patriotic theming should be fine, and be sure to find an apron to keep cooking stains off of you. For added effect, be sure to offer some sort of party hat for everyone to wear to ensure that everyone is dressed for the occasion.
Most holidays, save for maybe Christmas, can make it difficult to pair music with. Be sure to have enough current Top 40s tracks, as well as traditional classical, patriotic music (think lots of Sousa and Gershwin). Country and Western is often thought to be very “American,” even if they songs are more regional in nature. Essentially, if you become stuck, settle for a local radio station; most play special holiday weekend playlists.
Honestly, you should plan on skipping setting off your own fireworks. Not only are publicly available fireworks pricey, but they just are not all that exciting. You would be better off forming a caravan to hit up a local display, or setting up the TV and catching a nationally broadcasted display. Better yet is to shrug off all firework responsibilities and end the party in the early evening, giving everyone a chance to find their own.
Games are always fun, but it may be best to stick to classic outdoor BBQ games like sack toss, horseshoes, and hula hoops. Just about everyone can enjoy these activities, and they do not take up much room to play.
The hotter weather should make for only the entrees being hot food items. Sides are best served chilled, or even room temperature, as a compliment to your grilled burgers, dogs, and chicken. Besides, the fewer items you have to cook during the party, the more time you can spend socializing with your guests.
Try and use one specific cooking medium for all of your food. The last thing you need is to be frantically running back and forth between the grill and the oven indoors. Any items that can be prepared ahead of time certainly should be.
Finally, expect food to be harder to find leading up to the big day. If you can purchase items a few weeks in advance and freeze them, you will thank yourself later.
LA Wine Expert "RG"
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