There is a popular saying, “All about the Benjamins,” but when it comes to our nation’s independence, it was not only about the Benjamin. Benjamin Franklin was one member of a five-member committee appointed by the Continental Congress to write the Declaration of Independence. This Fourth of July celebrate your independence with a patriotic party. The kind of party John Adams would have felt worthy of the history behind it.
Benjamin Franklin, the same guy whose face is on the coveted $100 bill, was one member of a five-member committee appointed by the Continental Congress to write the Declaration of Independence. The other members were Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman.
After Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft, the other members of the committee made 86 changes, which aggravated Jefferson. According to historian Walter A. Mc Dougall, “Jefferson maintained his text was ‘mangled’ and went into a funk that lasted all summer.”
Did you know that independence was formally declared on July 2, 1776, instead of July 4th? Congress approved the final version on July 4, 1776, but it wasn’t signed until August 2nd, the following month of that year.
On July 2nd, John Adams wrote to his wife that the date would live on and be celebrated by future generations with “pomp and parade…games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations throughout the nation.” Aw, close (by two days) but no cigar.
Well, the date might not be the same, but we can certainly utilize some of his party ideas. For a good time, look no further than John Adams for your party tips…
An awesome, very American way to celebrate our nation’s independence is to have a cookout. In the spirit of creating a sense of unity for an Independence Day celebration, because we are the UNITED States of America, make your cookout a large one. You can even organize a block party to bring everyone together.
Cookouts are simple gatherings with no pretenses. All you need is a place- a backyard, beach or park- a grill, some grub and some tables and chairs. Hotdogs, hamburgers, potato salad, coleslaw and sodas are all standard cookout fare. If you would like to cut costs, you can make it a potluck. That way, everyone brings a dish and shares the responsibility to provide food and drink.
There are plenty of ways to party like a patriot. Since many are planning firework festivities to go into the evening, you will need some creative ways to keep the guests entertained. Tell your guests to wear Independence Day costumes to the party. This will be great for pictures and for an impromptu parade through the neighborhood.
You can also ask guests to bring bicycles to decorate in red, white and blue to put your parade on wheels. This will be particularly fun for any children in attendance.
Freedom for Game’s Sake
Other fun, outdoor activities could include a Patriotic Scavenger Hunt of hidden mini versions of items with historical significance. Some options include the Liberty Bell, Declaration of Independence and toy soldiers. Guests will attempt to solve clues to discover the whereabouts of the items.
You can also have a feisty game of “Capture the Flag.” One team must capture the other team’s flag and bring it back to their territory. If a player is tagged by an opposing team member, they get captured and must be rescued. In keeping with the patriotic theme, one flag could be red while the other team’s flag could be blue.
Freedom to Celebrate Leisure Time
If you want a more laid-back and less physically demanding activity, you can always compile facts about US history, divide guests into teams and have an American history competition. Another fun, indoor activity is easy entertainment. Collect some craft items to create festive wreaths or Uncle Sam Hats that guests can wear and compete for the best one.
To beat the heat that will inevitably be attending any Fourth of July celebration, have a tent, covered patio or shade canopy to allow guests to escape the sun. The goal of your party is to outlast the sun and celebrate the fun.
Hemmingway wrote, “The Sun Also Rises,” but you know what? The sun also sets, and that is when the party really gets started.
However, if you plan to get your party started early, before the sun gets sent to bed, misters and sprinklers can help cool things off a bit without getting everyone too wet. If some of the guests are kids or just people who are still in touch with their inner child, you can always offer water guns for simultaneous cooling off and playtime.
Be sure to position any misters, sprinklers, kiddie pools or slip n slides in places where people can decide if they want to be wet. Some people don’t want their hair to get wet because they are cursed with hair that is more explosive than fireworks and turns to frizz at the first hint of moisture. They may be fighting a losing battle due to the heat, but don’t make it harder for these poor souls and their difficult hair.
Freedom to Capture a Moment and Style
Another great option for an outdoor activity worthy of the holiday is to screen a patriotic movie outside while everyone mingles. If you choose a movie you haven’t already seen, make sure to watch it first so you know if it is appropriate for the audience you plan to have attending your party.
When it comes to the décor of any outdoor Fourth of July cookout, flags should be the feature. Red, white and blue table cloths, napkins and food and drinks will properly compliment the theme.
Decorations don’t have to be elaborate or expensive to make a bold statement. Paint is great for creating an affordable display of enthusiasm for America. Make a plain, homemade burlap table runner stand out by painting red, white and blue stars on it. You can also paint red, white and blue stars on the lawn.
There are many patriotic party banners you can buy to string up over tables, and you can always make your own, if you have the time. To decorate for your party, you can make garland with stars to dangle in open doorways, tissue fan fireworks create little bursts of color over windows and wreaths can dress up doors.
Snow cone cups can be decorated with red, white and blue papers and printed pics of bald eagles. These can be used to hold snacks like chips and pretzels. Fry holders can also be given festive Fourth of July makeovers with simple construction paper. Plus, they are all fun for holding finger foods.
Freedom to Save the Earth and Summertime
A great way to provide guests with what they need to hold drinks and cutlery is to give out decorated mason jars with knives and forks. You can even bundle the cutlery in red, white and blue bandanas for a nice, reusable napkin. The mason jars are perfect for holding drinks without creating more items destined for the landfill.
Instead of using the same old plastic water bottles, serve beverages chilled in reusable glass containers. For your beverage selection, water is essential for your outdoor extravaganza, but you can also serve a specialty drink like a sangria. Mimic the colors of the flag in a patriotic punch. The colors are created by layering cranberry juice, blue Gatorade Frost and 7-Up. Be careful pouring them in, so the liquids don’t mix.
Freedom to Eat
For your Independence Day party, don’t invite boredom. Sticking to old favorites for food options are fine since they are all favorites for a reason, but you can still have fun with old favorites by adding new twists. Special toppings for burgers like pickle and parsley relish or Worcestershire Glazed onions are a way to dress them up. Folks who prefer their food traditional can opt out of the toppings. Condiments can be kept in pretty glass containers in colors that match the décor.
To coincide with the theme of making your party presentation pretty and patriotic, consider letting our florists at Maryjane's Flowers in Sicklerville, NJ, provide the perfect flower bouquet to sit at your table along with your decorated mason jars and fancy fixings.
For dessert, there are few options more American than apple pie. If you are looking for an interactive dessert experience, smores can be good fun, too. Smores involve fire and group participation, so the warm gooey treat naturally brings everyone together. Since July 4th is in the middle of the summer, you might want to wait until dark for the fire and smores.
Some other sweets include ice cream sandwiches dipped in red, white and blue sprinkles. If you want to take it a step further, a make-your-own ice cream sandwiches are fun and a yummy treat. Shortbread cookies with strawberry ice cream in between are popular. Many people also enjoy the combination of chocolate cookies with mint chocolate chip ice cream in between.
Freedom and Fireworks
When determining the grand finale of your late-night independence bash, John Adams would want you to know that fireworks are a factor. If you find yourself wondering how fireworks found their way into the equation, one year after the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted (1777) , Philadelphia adjourned congress and celebrated with bonfires, bells and fireworks.
If you are thinking of fireworks as part of your celebration, it is important to research whether you are in a location that permits fireworks. Laws concerning consumer fireworks vary widely from state to state, and laws between some counties within the same state are different. The same caution should be exercised for the bonfires we mentioned.
Bells should be safe for any place, even if they make an annoying sound. Unless you fail to invite your immediate neighbors to your party and they take it personally, it is unlikely anyone will complain about the ringing of a bell.
If you happen to live somewhere fireworks are not allowed, the city may hold a special event that includes fireworks. If that is the case, find out where a good vantage point would be and see if you can have your party at a spot with good visibility.
They may light up the sky, but fireworks should not be taken lightly. They can be dangerous. In the past, fireworks have been responsible for accidents resulting in serious injury and even death. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2017 Fireworks Annual Report, 12,900 injuries treated in Emergency departments involved fireworks, and there were at least eight deaths reported. In 2014, a quarter of fireworks related injuries were due to sparklers.
Of the many types of fireworks available, the types that cause the most injury are firecrackers, sparklers and bottle rockets. The most common injuries involve burns, and the most abused body parts in these accidents are the hands, head and/or neck and the eyes.
Blindness, third degree burns and even the loss of hands are all potential injuries when fireworks go wrong. Vehicle and home fires have also been reported as consequences of accidents involving fireworks.
Since safety is a concern, fireworks are safest when they are viewed from a distance and operated by professionals. However, if you really want to have a firework finale of your own, safety should be a priority.
Freedom and Safety
Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks or sparklers. Keep children at a safe distance. Many parents do not realize that supervision is not enough to prevent an accident that will forever alter their child’s life. Fireworks and sparkler accidents often happen when an adult is present.
Although sparklers are often seen as a safer alternative to fireworks, sparklers burn at about 2000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt metal and can ignite clothing. Even if the child is not in possession of the fireworks or sparklers, bystanders can also be injured.
If you are planning your own fireworks, make sure all pets in the area are safely tucked away indoors. Fireworks often frighten pets. Pets can be injured or lost and will sometimes flee out of fear of the loud sounds of explosions and lights in the sky.
When you are lighting fireworks, be very careful. Don’t place your body over the device when lighting the fuse and back up after lighting it. Never carry them in your pocket and only light one at a time. If one fails to go off, do not attempt to relight it or even pick it up. Douse used devices with plenty of water before disposing them to prevent an accident and/or fire.
Speaking of water, keep a bucket or a garden hose handy, so you can act quickly if there is a fiasco with the fireworks.
An interesting aspect of this holiday is that we are essentially celebrating a document that was powerful and strong enough to establish the independence and subsequent birth of the United States of America. The old saying that the pen is mightier than the sword just might be proven by the Declaration of Independence.
While you enjoy your Independence Day by partying the way John Adams wanted you to, remember the strength and will of the individuals who recognized the promise of this new world. Stare up at the sky, recognize the bravery of those who fought and appreciate the limitless possibilities available to us in this land of the free and home of the brave.